TOP TEN FOR DE PUNIET

Kawasaki”s Randy de Puniet got another opportunity to display his wet weather prowess in Shanghai this afternoon, finishing the day tenth fastest as near constant rain meant that both of today”s hour-long free practice sessions were run in damp conditions.

Making his first appearance at the Shanghai International circuit as a MotoGP rider, the 25-year-old Kawasaki ace quickly got to grips with learning the circuit in difficult conditions, to finish this morning”s free practice seventh fastest.

Changes to the engine and chassis settings on de Puniet”s Ninja ZX-RR for the afternoon free practice session didn”t result in the improvements expected, but the Kawasaki pilot was quick to improve upon his lap times after switching back to a set-up he was more comfortable with.

De Puniet”s Kawasaki teammate, Shinya Nakano, ended this afternoon”s free practice session 14th fastest, after losing confidence in the front end of his Ninja ZX-RR once a dry line had started to appear around the 5.281 km Shanghai International circuit.

Although disappointed not to have placed higher on the timesheet, the 28-year-old Japanese star remains confident that changes to the set-up of his Ninja ZX-RR overnight will allow a significant improvement in his lap times tomorrow, regardless of whether conditions are wet or dry.

 

Randy de Puniet: 10th – 2”11.425”This afternoon we tried some changes to the chassis and engine set-up to see if we could improve upon the feeling in the wet conditions, but I think we went a little bit in the wrong direction. We switched back to a set-up closer to that of this morning and my feeling was good, so at the end I was able to improve with each lap and I”m happy with what we”ve achieved. Today wasn”t qualifying, and it is important that we use free practice to explore all the options with the set-up of the bike, which we did. Okay, so we came back to similar settings, but we now have a very clear direction for tomorrow if practice and qualifying is again wet. I also had some chattering at the three first gear corners, which makes the bike a little difficult to control, but I”m confident that we can find a solution for this also tomorrow.”

 

Shinya Nakano: 14th – 2”12.496
”When the conditions were completely wet then I was okay, but as soon as a drying line started to appear I wasn”t so confident and I didn”t have a good feeling as to how hard I could push. The grip here is impressive in the wet, I had my knee down through every turn and the rear was gripping rather than spinning, but I just seemed to lack confidence in the front, especially under braking, which meant I wasn”t able to carry the speed through the faster corners. And the high-speed corners are critical to a good lap time here, so this is something we need to address tomorrow. The weather forecast is predicting a dry race on Sunday, so hopefully we will also have dry conditions for tomorrow”s practice and qualifying sessions.”

 

Naoya Kaneko: Technical Manager
”We still need to make some refinements to the wet set-up of the new bike. Already we are looking to improve the power delivery in wet conditions, making it more linear so that the bike is easier to control when grip levels are low. On the chassis side we have focused on finding a good balance, to reduce weight transfer when the rider comes off the throttle and onto the brakes, as excessive pitching makes the bike unstable on corner entry. But I”m confident that we can find a solution to both these problems with some more time spent refining our wet weather settings.”

 

FREE PRACTICE – COMBINED TIMES
1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Camel Yamaha Team 2”12.060ยง; 2. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Ducati Marlboro Team +0.355; 3. John Hopkins (USA) Team Suzuki MotoGP +0.614; 4. Sete Gibernau (SPA) Ducati Marlboro Team +0.794; 5. Nicky Hayden (USA) Repsol Honda Team +0.854; 6. Marco Melandri (ITA) Fortuna Honda +1.018; 7. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team +1.422; 8. Casey Stoner (AUS) LCR Honda +1.623; 9. Makoto Tamada (JPN) JIR Konica Minolta Honda +1.920; 10. Randy de Puniet (FRA) Kawasaki Racing Team +2.032; 14. Shinya Nakano (JPN) Kawasaki Racing Team +3.103

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