Although far from confident they can prevent title leader Jorge Lorenzo winning his third MotoGP race in as many weekends, Repsol Honda riders Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso at least got their Catalunya weekend off to a solid start.
The pair finished first practice in third and fourth places, behind Lorenzo and Ducati's Casey Stoner, with Pedrosa hoping to rise to the occasion in front of his home fans.
“I'm quite happy with the first session today,” said Pedrosa. “It's not going to be easy to improve our lap times but for the first practice I'm reasonably happy with the bike. We started with the hard option Bridgestone tyre and then on the last outing we changed to the soft one, and this was the opposite way of working to most of the other riders so it's natural that we moved forward towards the end of the session.”
With the high temperatures reducing grip levels, Pedrosa and his crew will work on machine adjustments to give his factory RC212V more mid-corner grip in tomorrow's practice and qualifying sessions.
“We can see that we have to improve the grip and so we have to work a little bit more on the chassis set-up for this,” confirmed Pedrosa, who is second in the championship but 47 points from Lorenzo. “The temperature was very high today, and the track surface temperature especially, and this affects the levels of grip. We started at the point where we finished in Assen and the bike feels ok.
“We have to discuss all the details from today in our team meeting tonight but I think we have found a decent direction. In general I'm quite happy so far. Already I can feel the anticipation building for this race and the support from my home fans so I'm excited about the rest of the weekend,” concluded Dani, denied a home win earlier in the year at Jerez when countryman Lorenzo burst past with half a lap to go
Though much attention will be focused on his Spanish team-mate this weekend, Dovizioso is confident he can also pose a serious challenge to the frontrunners. The Italian likes this circuit a lot and was quickly on the pace this afternoon, clocking a time just 0.094s back from Pedrosa's.
“I have a good feeling with the bike and, although it's only a single session today, we succeeded to complete all the testing of different set-up solutions we had planned. We still have to fine-tune the settings of the electronics but I'm satisfied with today's first practice session,” he said.
“Of course we have to continue to work to improve the lap times and close the gap to the front in tomorrow's two sessions, but I'm confident we can do this. It's very hot out there, and from a physical point of view it's very demanding. There is not so much grip and the bike slides a lot because of the heat, but this is also the characteristic of the Montmelo circuit.
“I'm not worried about these hot temperatures which are likely to continue for the weekend and I actually think this can be an advantage for the Honda RC212V. Our pace was quite good for the first day, but we need to be faster tomorrow.”