The new track surface at Valencia received mixed reviews with Jorge Lorenzo pleased with the improvements and the more consistent nature of the track whereas Casey Stoner thought that the changes “sucked.”
Speaking at the end of a day run in the mixed conditions the leading MotoGP riders all commented on the upgraded surface with Lorenzo the most complimentary:
“The tarmac is different and the grip feeling is quite a bit different [compared to last year],” commented the world champion. “There are no bumps and it is a pleasure to ride the track without bumps.”
Lorenzo did however admit that “I don’t really know the real level of the grip on the track because this morning was wet. In some corners it seems that I have a lot of confidence but on the straight it was spinning a lot.”
The complain that there was a lack of grip when the bike was upright was echoed by the rest of the riders with Andrea Dovizioso saying:
“The easiest way to feel the grip is on the straight,” said the Tech3 rider. “When everyone went out at the start we were all spinning in every gear on the straight and when this happens it means that the grip is completely zero and a disaster! Under acceleration and on the straight the grip was zero but on angle the grip was good.”
For Dovizioso’s teammate, Cal Crutchlow, the lack of grip presented problems during the afternoon session with the Englishman admitting that, “In the straight line there was actually no grip and we were spinning in sixth gear! I couldn’t even pass a CRT bike on a straight because it was just spinning up.”
When asked for his opinion after the afternoon session Stoner said:
“The surface sucks; especially in the wet,” commented the double world champion. “It doesn’t drain away at all and it’s very slippery; there’s no traction what so ever and in general I don’t feel that the bumps have gone.
“There’s a few major bumps that are better than last year but in general I now feel a much better consistency with the smaller bumps. There’s also a couple of big joints in critical braking points that aren’t in the best position, where James Ellison crashed, and they hold a lot of water.”
Wet weather has traditionally been the only opportunity for Valentino Rossi to shine on the Ducati and the Italian was quite pleased with the improvements made to the track surface. The Ducati has struggled to deal with bumps throughout the season thus far and a smoother surface would certainly give the Italian manufacturer a much better chance of having a strong finish to his unhappy two year stint with the team.
“The new surface is good,” said Rossi. “They did a great job and it is a lot less bumpy. We don’t know however the level of grip and the work of the tyre on the new surface. Usually a new surface is a bit more slippery but we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to know for sure. First impressions though are quite good.”