China MotoGP: Valentino Rossi hails best day of 2008

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Valentino Rossi reckons the opening day of the China GP was his best of 2008 as he topped the timesheets after the first two free practice sessions at a hot and humid Shanghai.

The Fiat Yamaha rider clocked a best time of 1:59.906 this morning, which was good enough to edge out Bridgestone rival Casey Stoner by 0.257secs on combined times, as the Italian was only one of four riders who failed to go any quicker in hot conditions this afternoon.

The 29-year-old said: “I’m quite happy because it is a positive day for us. Maybe the best Friday in 2008 because we have good life in the tyre.

“Also because in Jerez and in Portugal I was quite fast and always close to the top. We have to work on the bike, especially the electronic side and also because it looks like the grip of the track is coming better and better with more rubber on the surface.

“We are not at the maximum, but the first impression anyway is positive.”

Valentino Rossi was certainly one of the most consistent on track today in preparation for Sunday’s 22-lap race, though he was aware of the threat posed by reigning world champion Casey Stoner, who looked back to his old form after a slump in results in Jerez and Estoril.

“The first impression is that me and Casey are a little bit faster than the other guys, but (Dani) Pedrosa with Michelin also is close.

“I think it will be a good battle and I expect to go faster,” added Rossi, who confirmed he feared a big change in weather conditions for Sunday.

Today’s weather was hot and sunny, but forecasts for Sunday predict heavy rain. And even though Rossi prevailed in appalling conditions at Shanghai in 2005, the seven-times world champion said: “For sure I prefer to race in the dry, because we work quite well and we are fast in the dry condition.

“If it will be wet, we have to race in the wet. The situation for us in the wet is not so bad because the Bridgestone rain tyres are good.

“Casey’s very strong in the wet. But 2005 was one life ago. We had a completely different bike and we had different tyres.

“But I think also if it’s wet the main rival will still be Casey, but we remain quite competitive.”

Combined free practice times from Shanghai:

1 Valentino Rossi (ITA) Fiat Yamaha Team 1'59.906
2 Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro 2'00.163
3 Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda 2'00.361
4 Shinya Nakano (JPN) San Carlo Honda Gresini 2'00.553
5 John Hopkins (USA) Kawasaki Racing 2'00.591
6 Nicky Hayden (USA) Repsol Honda 2'00.607
7 Alex De Angelis (RSM) San Carlo Honda Gresini 2'00.931
8 Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 2'00.964
9 Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) JiR Team Scot MotoGP 2'00.974
10 Colin Edwards (USA) Tech 3 Yamaha 2'01.064
11 Toni Elias (SPA) Alice Team 2'01.326
12 Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Rizla Suzuki 2'01.504
13 James Toseland (GBR) Tech 3 Yamaha 2'01.798
14 Marco Melandri (ITA) Ducati Marlboro 2'01.913
15 Anthony West (AUS) Kawasaki Racing 2'01.984
16 Randy De Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda MotoGP 2'02.026
17 Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Alice Team 2'02.348
18 Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Fiat Yamaha 2'02.480


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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt