It was a wet and gloomy return to home turf for Fiat Yamaha Team rider Valentino Rossi today, as heavy rain greeted the MotoGP paddock on the opening day of the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello. The weather was in stark contrast to the bright Tuscan sunshine that's generally expected at this race and made for a muddy day on the hillsides for Rossi's army of Italian fans.
An early morning shower meant that this morning's first free practice was run on a drying track, with times decreasing throughout. Rossi was quite fast early on but did not go out when the track was at its driest and times were fastest, finishing the session in tenth. This afternoon was an even wetter story, with a heavy shower during the first quarter of the session and steady drizzle from then on meaning that there was standing water on the track throughout, but it gave Rossi and his crew an important chance to gather more information about the Bridgestone rain tyres and also to refine their wet set-up. The Italian was very pleased with the improvement and finished the afternoon session in fourth, setting a best time in the wet of 2'02.327, although he remains tenth in the combined standings due to the faster times from this morning.Rossi's team-mate Lorenzo meanwhile was also impressively fast in the wet this afternoon, finishing the second session in sixth. Luckily today's rain looks like being a one-off and better weather is forecast for the next two days, with both Fiat Yamaha riders looking forward to getting started on their race set-up in the dry tomorrow.
Valentino Rossi 10th in combined standings - Time: 1'58.672; "There was really a lot of water here today! It's a pity because it's wonderful here when it's sunny and I think that like this it's not so fun for the fans, plus we've really lost a whole day of practice because it seems it's going to be dry from now on! This morning was very tricky with the track quite patchy, so I preferred to take it easy in these conditions. This afternoon was very useful however and we were able to make some important modifications to our wet set-up, which enabled us to go quite fast at the end and finish fourth. At the start of the session it was so wet that it felt a bit dangerous, so it was necessary to be very careful, but it was better in the second half and I am glad we've had this session because it reassures us that we're fast also in the wet. From now on here I think, and hope, that it's going to be dry so we will start again tomorrow. Missing one day like this means that our setting for Sunday in the dry won't be as perfect as it might have been, but anyway we would still prefer it to be dry, for us and for the fans!"
Jorge Lorenzo 14th in combined standings - Time: 2'00.004; "Today I am actually very happy because we were quite fast in the rain! When I first rode the M1 in the wet I found it very hard but bit by bit we have improved and today I felt quite confident. The morning was very strange and I didn't want to take too many risks; my ankles are feeling much better but I don't want to make any more mistakes! This afternoon however when it was fully wet I did a lot of laps and I was able to make one long run of 19 consecutive laps, during which I was able to find a good rhythm. We tried some new Michelin rain tyres and it seems they're very good, so I'm happy about this. Now though I hope it's going to be dry because it is easier like this and also it means the race will be shorter, which I prefer while I am still not physically at 100%."