Thursday, March 20, 2014

Team Drive M7 Aspar's Nicky Hayden & Hiroshi Aoyama Report on 1st Day Practice in Season-Opening MotoGP Round in Qatar

20/03/14. 01 GP QATAR - LOSAIL - FP1                                                                                                       


DRIVE M7 Aspar rider benefits from gear ratio change whilst team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama suffers electronic issues

The first exchanges of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship took place under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit tonight, where a single free practice session for the premier class saw several surprises and a fast pace that was close to the lap record (1.55.153 – Stoner 2008). Having missed the test here last week there was no sign of Márquez, Rossi, Pedrosa or Lorenzo at the sharp end of the timesheets in the opening session as Aleix Espargaró, Álvaro Bautista and Bradley Smith benefitted from their preseason work and occupied the top three positions.   

DRIVE M7 Aspar Team's new rider for 2014 Nicky Hayden is well known for his work ethic and it was in evidence today as he racked up more laps than any other rider (twenty) within the 45 minutes available. The American clocked his best effort on lap eighteen, stopping the clock at 1'56.670 to secure a place in the top ten overnight and almost match his fastest time from the preseason test at this track. Hayden reported improved performance from his machine thanks largely to some small changes to his gearing and chassis set-up but there were reverse fortunes for his team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama, whose evening was ruined by a series of electronic problems.

10th Nicky Hayden 1.56.670 (20 laps): “At the start of the session I was struggling to get comfortable with the engine braking in corner entry but after a few laps and especially after the red flag we managed to slightly improve the situation. We have more or less got the same setting and feeling that we established by the end of the last test, with some changes to the gearbox setting that have helped us in the straights. That has helped us to close the gap to the guys at the top, the bike is working better in the higher gears and pulling harder down the straights. We also made a chassis set-up change that is helping me get the bike stopped. To be honest it feels better than expected, which is a nice way to start the first Grand Prix of the season. The test we had here was obviously very useful, we are making progress every day and the relationship with the team continues to get smoother and stronger.”

17th Hiroshi Aoyama 1.58.182 (13 laps): “It was good to get the first free practice session of the season under our belts. We started the session with a lot of motivation but unfortunately after just a few laps we had an electronic problems and had to change bikes. We had more problems though and had to come in three times for the electronics. It is a bit of a mystery because we didn't have anything like this in the test so now we need to work out what the source of this problem is. I am sure my crew will be able to fix it and we will have a good feeling tomorrow. Anyway, if you are going to have problems like this it is better that they happen on the first day!”

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