It was a day of contrasting experiences for the Yamaha pair, with the reigning World Champion paying his first visit to the legendary Californian circuit whilst his American team-mate made an exciting homecoming to a track he grew up on in the national AMA series. Whilst Rossi tentatively found his bearings at the rollercoaster track, Edwards benefited from his previous knowledge of its intricate layout to immediately begin set-up work in this morning’s first free practice, which was split into two extended sessions of 55 minutes. The Texan lapped consistently amongst the fastest riders as he ran through a series of suspension and tyre tests, clocking the sixth quickest time of the day in the afternoon’s hour-long second free practice. Rossi, one of ten riders in the MotoGP class to have no previous race experience at Laguna Seca, set his best time in the morning and lies ninth fastest on the combined time sheets. Nicky Hayden (Honda) clocked the fastest time of the day with a lap of 1’24.228 after overturning Troy Bayliss (Honda) in the afternoon session.
COLIN EDWARDS (6th; 1’24.696 – 55 laps)
“It’s great to be back here at Laguna Seca and the support I’ve had even today has been awesome. With this being my home Grand Prix and having Valentino as my team-mate, the backing for the whole team has been incredible. As far as the bike is concerned, we’ve already got the rear end working probably better than anything I’ve ever ridden around this circuit and generally it feels great. The only thing I’m having a little trouble with is keeping the front on the ground and turning into the corners, so we have a few areas that we need to strengthen. I’m really happy with my pace and my lap time because I know there is a lot more to come from us tomorrow.”
VALENTINO ROSSI (9th; 1’24.969 – 72 laps)
“This is an ‘old style’ track and to be honest I think maybe our bike is a little too fast for it, so today I haven’t been able to push to the limit. It is hard to find the right set-up in these circumstances and at the moment we still have a lot work to do. We need more time on the track and more kilometres with the bike to find out where we can push harder, make up some time and be stronger. I am a little concerned about the safety of the track and today we will have a meeting with the other riders to discuss it. Anyway, I have enjoyed riding at Laguna Seca, especially the Corkscrew, because in the past I have only seen it on the television. The big crowds here show that MotoGP should be in America, but we also need to make sure it is safe.”
DANIELE ROMAGNOLI – COLIN EDWARDS’ CREW CHIEF
“It has been quite a challenge for us to find a set-up for the bike at this track but thankfully we have the perfect rider to give us the feedback we need because there are not many people who know this circuit like Colin does. The first step for us this morning was to find the gearbox setting, which we were able to do quite quickly, and then start to work on the front and rear suspension. We have got the rear working quite well but we have some more work to do adjusting the front spring settings which should give Colin more confidence in the bike and push for a much better time tomorrow.”