Saturday, July 01, 2006
They said no-one would come after the traffic chaos of the last two years but the place is buzzing already. News has spread that Valentino Rossi is much happier with his fitness than a week ago in Assen. He has more movement in his wrist and despite using a light cast on the damaged wrist he is clearly much happier on the bike than at the start of the Dutch TT.
Not so Loris Capirossi who missed the second free practice having done 22 laps in the first. He decided an afternoon’s rest was a far better idea. So beaten up is Loris after that Catalunya crash that he even missed out on his regular visit to the stage on Day of Champions yesterday, the Riders for Health fund raiser.
The Championship leader’s 11th, the World Champion is 12th on the grid and you can’t overtake at Donington until you get to the last three corners. Like Vale said a few races back, you don’t want to be stuck in the midfield ‘cos that’s where accidents happen when the pack bunches at the first turn. Watch out for a few seriously optimistic moves on the brakes at the Esses first time round.
The trouble is, if you’re Nicky or the Doc, that pole man Pedrosa is half a second quicker than anyone else… if he escapes early on he’ll be difficult to catch.
Second man Vermeulen has his best ever dry-weather qualifying position (two Suzukis in the top four again!) and the astounding Marco Melandri is third. He’s still hurting from the Barcelona pile up, as is Capirossi who decided to miss one free practice session yesterday to give his body a bit of respite. He managed fifth today but said the second half of the hour session was not easy. Basically, the three heavy braking efforts at the end of the lap are killing him.
One man who is fit and well is Kenny Roberts Junior. He’s been strong all weekend and has good pace on his raced tyre, although the team say he could have done with an extra tenth in qualifying. But who couldn’t? 1.1 sec covers the top dozen.
Give Kenny that tenth and he’d be fifth. The other guy to watch is Casaey Stoner–fast all through free practice but not quite able to get everything out of his qualifiers.
Nicky Hayden struggled all through qualifying, his RCV looked unstable and twitchy when he got the power on. Remember that he is still on the development bike. They tried a new swingarm but that involved putting the exhaust on the other side of the bike and he didn’t like the sound and feel, it was too different and he wants to test it first.