Positive start of the Italian Grand Prix for Hector Barbera: The Reale Avintia Racing rider holds eighth place in the combined time sheets after the first two practice sessions of the weekend. In the morning, Barbera felt fast immediately riding his Ducati Desmosedici GP16 and he finished the session with the fifth fastest lap time. In the afternoon, in much warmer weather conditions, he finished sixth, lapping just two thousandths of a second slower than in the morning. Barbera was the fastest on Mugello’s main straight today, with a top speed of 352.2 km/h. All in all, he had a strong start of the weekend after a tough first part of the season.

Things went the opposite way for Loris Baz, who struggled more during the first day. The 24-year-old French rider suffered to get the best out of the new Michelin front tyres. But he is confident that working hard with his team, they will be able to find a solution in their quest to conquer the best possible spot on the grid.

“I’m very happy because we didn’t start like this since long time ago. The test at Jerez showed us the way, then we were unlucky at Le Mans, but we completed another crucial test in Barcelona before coming here and today we saw the results. The previous five races have been the toughest of my career, because I knew that I had the package and the team to be fighting at the front. I could see how the other riders using my bike were faster than me, but I didn’t have the feeling to push and it was really difficult. This bike was born with winglets, so from Jerez we just concentrated on putting more weight on the front and we could see the improvement every time I was on track. I was sure that I am still capable of riding a bike and that’s the reason why my team always supported me. So I want to say a big thank you, because it finally seems that we took the right direction. We have to build the momentum tomorrow and battle for Q2, and then give our best in qualifying.”

“It was a difficult day for me. We still have to work to set up the bike with the new front tyre, because although I was happy with my performance at the test in Barcelona, today I struggled a lot with chatter and also the front is pushing in every corner. The only positive thing is that we improved from the morning to the afternoon, so I hope we can go even further tomorrow and get the good feelings I had with the previous front tyre. Right now I’m not thinking about Q2, I’m focused on improving, because right now the main thing is to get the best package for the race on Sunday.”