Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team riders Colin Edwards and Cal Crutchlow battled the elements once again today to finish a rain disrupted opening day of practice at the spectacular Mugello circuit in sixth and 11th places respectively.
After rain dominated the recent Silverstone and Assen races, there was welcome respite when Edwards and Crutchlow took to the track this morning to begin their preparations for the Gran Premio D'Italia TIM in gloriously hot and sunny conditions.
But during the build-up to this afternoon's second session, dark clouds had gathered ominously above the spectacular 5.245km track, and when the ses sion commenced the track was being covered by light rainfall.
A new surface was too damp for slicks but not sufficiently wet enough to conduct any meaningful laps on Bridgestone's rain tyre for the majority of the 45-minute session. And with light drizzle falling intermittently throughout, Edwards and Crutchlow only ventured outside of their garage in the final five minutes to complete four laps between them.
This morning, Edwards set a best lap of 1.49.810 in near perfect conditions that saw air temperatures hit 26 degrees to finish top non-factory rider in sixth position. The American praised significantly increased grip levels offered by the new tarmac and is confident with more dry track time tomorrow he'll be able to compete for a second row position on the grid.
The rain disruption meant today was far from ideal preparations for Crutchlow as the British rider attempts to qu ickly learn the fast and flowing Mugello circuit, which is one of the most technically challenging on the 2011 MotoGP World Championship calendar.
He set a best time of 1.50.683 this morning and was looking to improve his feeling with the front-end of his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 machine this afternoon before the rain halted his plans.
Colin Edwards 6th 1.49.810 – 21 laps:
“This morning was great and the new surface here is phenomenal. They've done an unbelievable job because the grip is awesome and all the bumps that really upset the bike have all gone too. We know the spring rates on the suspension we normally need to use for this track but we've got to go harder for tomorrow because I've got so much traction the bike is set too soft and its sitting down in the middle of the corner. The only p roblem I had again today was my ribs that are still causing me a lot of pain after the crash in Catalunya. With the few days rest after Assen I was starting to think the muscle damage was on the mend and I could at least sneeze without bursting into tears with the pain. But this morning I felt back to square one and to be honest this afternoon wasn't great for the TV or for the fans, but that rest will probably help me out for the rest of the weekend."
Cal Crutchlow 11th 1.50.683 – 21 laps:
“Without doubt, this is the most difficult track I've had to learn so far this year, but I think 11th position is still a good result and I think with a few more laps under my belt I'd have been into the top ten. The track is so technical and there is a lot of undulation, a lot of blind corner entries and you can't see the exit of the fast chicanes. So it is a difficult track to go fast o n and it is also a very physically demanding track, though the left collarbone I broke at Silverstone isn't too uncomfortable. I'm just upset because I've lost another session because of the rain and that is the last thing I need when I'm trying to learn the track and set some competitive times. When you miss a session it makes the rest of the weekend difficult, but I'll do my best to get a good grid position in qualifying tomorrow. I'm also looking to improve the front-end feeling tomorrow. The front this morning was too vague and we had some ideas to improve it this afternoon but the weather was no good.”
[Press Release Courtesy of Yamaha Tech 3 Racing]