Originally published by Julian Ryder on Friday, July 21, 2006
A lot of people are very surprised, not because Kenny Roberts Junior has been fastest in both sessions but because there is very little complaining going on. This is despite the fact that the track is if anything even bumpier than it was last year and there are great patches of worryingly shiny tarmac at the entrance to the Corkscrew and on the exit of Rainey Curve. This doesn’t appear to matter when riders go through one by one, but that could change Sunday afternoon. Kenny reckons it’s the bumpiest track he’s ever ridden on; previously that would have been Welkom in South Africa. Jeremy McWilliams, here in FX, reckons there isn’t one part of the track where a MotoGP bike will have both its wheels on the ground simultaneously.
Yet the MotoGP guys aren’t complaining. In fact they’re being nice about Laguna. The changes to Turn 1 in particular and the run up to the Corkscrew have met with universal praise. As Rossi, said: ‘”I think that they’ve done good work on the circuit and nearly everything we’ve asked for.’ Other top men said much the same, some even went so far as to point out that the bumps were the same for everybody. The man who suffered most here in ’05, Marco Melandri (three crashes including one on the first lap) actually said he likes the place now! This sort of fair-minded approach cannot last…
On track, it has been fascinating to compare the approach of two class and track rookies: Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa. In FP1, Stoner came out of the traps and went straight to the top of the timing screens, and into the gravel coming out of the Corkscrew. Dani Pedrosa worked away quietly to finish the morning in eleventh.
Cut to FP2 and this time Stoner doesn’t manage to keep the bike upright in the gravel and ends up eighth fastest overall with his FP1 time. Dani quietly crept up to third. Thing is, they are only 0.16sec apart and that’s probably how it’ll be all weekend.