Silva quickest on rainy first day at Jerez
After a thrilling first outing in Qatar, the first European round of the MotoGP™ Championship at the Gran Premio bwin de España in Jerez got underway today, with ever changing weather and track conditions giving the riders a challenge right from the off. The majority chose not to go out in the morning session, with conditions too unpredictable and the session being somewhat of a washout. Yet once things did get underway, Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa topped the timesheets in the afternoon practice session, laying down the marker for his rivals.
It was Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi who was the surprise pace setter early on, yet Pedrosa soon went fastest with a 1.50´780. Rossi had predicted that the wet conditions may suit him and his Ducati, and he didn´t disappoint at the track where he has won a total of eight times, yet was still almost seven tenths down on the Spaniard.
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo, who won last year´s race in the wet, did a limited number of laps, yet put his bike in third place overall. He was followed by Pedrosa’s team mate and World Champion Casey Stoner, who had a somewhat subdued session for his standards.
Taking confidence from Rossi’s performance, the Italian’s team mate Nicky Hayden lapped sixth fasted on the Andalucian circuit, with Monster Yamaha Tech3´s Andrea Dovizioso in tow.
San Carlo Honda Gresini´s Alvaro Bautista placed his satellite Honda in seventh in front of his home crowd, while Tech3´s Cal Crutchlow, who had impressed in Qatar, was in eighth. Crutchlow was once again faster than factory Yamaha rider Ben Spies, who could only manage ninth.
Rounding out the top ten was German rookie Stefan Bradl with his LCR Honda MotoGP machine, who dared a late run on slick tyres as the track dried out towards the end. He could not however improve on his earlier time.
An early casualty of the wet conditions was Speed Master CRT entry Mattia Pasini, who crashed going into turn 13. He escaped unscathed and ended up posting the 12th fastest time. Yet top CRT spot for the afternoon session went to Power Electronics Aspar’s Randy de Puniet in 11th.
On a day where both MotoGP practice sessions had fluctuating wet and drying conditions, it was tough to gauge any real form from riders, as many will have been saving their wet tyre allocation for QP tomorrow. Yet Avinitia Blusens rider Iván Silva will no doubt enjoy seeing his name top of the combined timesheets with a time he set very early in the morning session.
1 Ivan Silva BQR-FTR ESP 1’48.674
2 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 1’50.780
3 Valentino Rossi Ducati ITA 1’51.440
4 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 1’51.873
5 Casey Stoner Honda AUS 1’52.106
6 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 1’52.254
7 Andrea Dovizioso Yamaha ITA 1’53.070
8 Alvaro Bautista Honda ESP 1’53.166
9 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 1’53.352
10 Ben Spies Yamaha USA 1’53.409
11 Stefan Bradl Honda GER 1’53.409
12 Randy De Puniet ART FRA 1’54.155
13 Mattia Pasini ART ITA 1’54.370
14 Karel Abraham Ducati CZE 1’54.378
15 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 1’54.581
The first day of Moto2™ practice saw Frenchman Johann Zarco, riding for the JIR Moto2 squad, set the fastest time of the day with a 1.55´382 late on in the morning session, in front of Marc VDS’s Mika Kallio, who set a time in the afternoon just under three tenths behind.
Third place overall went to Arguiñano Racing Team’s local rider Ricky Cardus on his AJR bike, ahead of Ant West on his QMMF Racing Team’s Moriwaki. Speed Master’s Andrea Iannone did not complete many laps in the second session, yet his time of 1.56´258 in the morning was enough to secure fifth.
Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol’s Marc Márquez, who many expected to be at the top, finished the day in sixth, ahead of Belgian rider Xavier Simeon from the Tech3 Racing Team.
Qatar’s pole sitter, Interwetten-Paddock’s Thom Lüthi was an exact second off Zarcos time at the top, displacing a resurgent Axel Pons, racing for the Pons 40 HP Tuenti team. Rounding out the top ten was NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Alex de Angelis, a mere three tenths behind Pons.
Italian Rookie Romano Fenati of Team Italia FMI laid down the gauntlet in the Moto3™ class, topping the timesheets with a time of 1.49´760 in front of championship leader Maverick Viñales and last year´s pole sitter Sandro Cortese.
All of the riders’ fast laps came in this morning´s dry session, and it was title favorite Maverick Viñales of the Blusens Avintia squad who topped the timesheets early on with Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Miguel Oliveira and RW Racing GP’s Luis Salom in tow.
It was however Fenati who soon shot out in front, beating Viñales’ time by just over two tenths. Red Bull KTM Ajo´s German rider Sandro Cortese soon upped the pace and put his bike third in the standings a further two tenths off.
Oliveira and Salóm finished fourth and fifth respectively, followed by a resurgent Héctor Faubel, riding for the Bankia Aspar Team. Faubel did however suffer a heavy crash in the latter stages, yet was able to take part in the afternoon session.
Cortese’s team mates Arthur Sissis and Danny Kent continued their impressive form to occupy seventh and eight spot, with Redox-Ongetta-Centro Seta rider Jakub Kornfeil in ninth. Rounding out the top ten was Faubel’s team mate Alberto Moncayo.
– Red Bull Rookies
Marcos Ramirez, the 14 year old Spaniard, snatched pole position for Saturday’s first race in the 2012 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup from British 14 year old Bradley Ray with the last lap of qualifying. Along with them on the front row is Diego Perez, another 14 year old from Spain.
Heading the second row is yet another debuting Rookie, Karel Hanika, the Czech 16 year old edging out British 125 Champion Kyle Ryde. The 14 year old Briton tops a list of returning Rookies with Portuguese 15 year old Ivo lopes completing row 2.
Ramirez admitted his surprise at setting pole time. “Sure I didn’t expect that,” he said, fending of the congratulations of a gang of well wishers. “I was riding hard but I didn’t think I would get pole. Towards the end the tyres were really worn and the rear was sliding around a lot. Also my bike setting is not quite right, the front is running wide through the fast corners so we will think about changing something for the race.”
Equally Ray didn’t hide his pleasure and surprise. He was quickest in the first session as the track started to dry and also headed the leader-board for almost the entire second session only to be denied pole at the last moment. “There were still a few damp patches there even at the end and by then the tyres were well worn,” said the youngster who comes to Spain with 2 victories in the opening races of this year’s British Championship behind him. “The bike’s strong though, it’s working well so I can’t wait to get into the race.”
Perez is equally content with his set-up. “The bike is great I will change nothing, I was really enjoying it and I really didn’t have any problems at all, not from the tyres, nothing.” One of the surprises from the pre season Estoril test where he was 3rd fastest was Hanika and even though he has never been to Jerez before the Czech found no problems at all. “I enjoy the track and I love the bike, I didn’t expect to be this far up the grid, of course it was sliding a bit at the end with the tyres but I am so looking forward to the race.”
Ryde was not displeased with 5th but felt it could have been better. “When Karel came past towards the end I realised that he was quicker through the slow corners, when I tried to go with him the bike wouldn’t let me so we’ve got to think about the suspension. Right on the last lap I got a good run going only to catch the group and get slowed down at the final corners, I think that cost me a second and places on the grid.
Of course not everyone is happy and last year’s Cup winner Lorenzo Baldassarri, the 15 year old Italian, crashed unhurt and starts from the middle of row 4 in 11th place. Philipp Oettl who scored a 1st and a 2nd at last year’s Jerez GP was even more displeased as he is directly behind him in the middle of the 5th row and 14th fastest.
“That’s not where I want to be,” said the German 15 year old, winner of the opening round of this year’s Spanish Championship and, like Baldassarri, swapping back from the 4-stroke they both ride there to the 2-stroke KTM RC125. “I want to be racing for the win and it is hard to do that from back where I am on the grid. I think we have to manage some suspension changes because I am not happy on the bike, mainly the problem is the rear I think. We certainly need to work it out.”
– Repsol HRC
In a rainy day at the Circuito de Jerez, the Repsol Honda Team experienced two very different free practice sessions. In the first, the track started out dry before rainfall dampened the asphalt, with Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner both preferring to stay in the garage until the afternoon. In the second session, Pedrosa recorded the best time of the run, 1.326 seconds quicker than teammate Stoner in fourth.
‘Inbetween’ conditions are the bane of the MotoGP rider. That was the situation on day one at the Circuito de Jerez, leading to the majority of premier class riders not risking a crash in the first practice session. The Repsol Honda Team duo of Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner were two such riders, deciding to wait on an improvement in track aptness for the task at hand after considering the morning asphalt inappropriate for finding a good setting.
The rain became more intense in the second session, allowing the Repsol riders the chance to put fill wets on their Repsol Honda RC213V for a completely wet run-out. Dani Pedrosa dominated the session and became the first rider to go round in under 1’51, with a time of 1’50.780. The Spaniard was 0.660 quicker than second placed Valentino Rossi.
Reigning MotoGP World Champion, Casey Stoner, rode 15 laps of the Spanish circuit and put in his best three times on his second stint, stopping the clock 1.326 seconds off his Repsol Honda teammate.
FP1 – Not qualified
FP2 – 1:50.780, 14 laps, 62 km.
“It has been a strange day due to the weather conditions. In the morning we decided to not go out because the track was not wet enough then we had more or less the same conditions in the afternoon, but it was necessary to do some laps and get some rhythm. The first feeling on the bike was good for me, the bike felt good and I’m riding well but I hope we have better weather tomorrow, full dry or full wet. Anyway, it is important for us to do a good qualifying practice tomorrow and we will need to be clever and quick because the conditions can easily change and in one minute can be the option to make the lap time for the pole and one minute later can be a disaster. So let’s keep focused and try to do a good job”.
FP1 – Not qualified
FP2 – 1:52.106, 15 laps, 66 km.
“It’s been a strange day, but at least we managed a few laps to get some sort of feeling in wet conditions. We came back in to try and change the bike to give more rear grip but by the time we went back out it was already starting to dry a little and the conditions were constantly changing and we couldn’t really get a good understanding of the bike. Towards the end we were fast compared to everyone else but it didn’t really matter by then. it’s just been one of those days, not a lot to be taken from it, we know we have some things to improve if it continues to be wet, hopefully we can get some good track time tomorrow morning before qualifying in the afternoon. At the moment my arm feels ok, but it’s difficult to know when the conditions are like this as you’re not stressing it like in the dry”.
The Grand Prix of Spain got underway today at Jerez with mixed weather conditions providing a frustrating experience. The majority of the MotoGP riders were forced to sit out the morning session as track conditions which were not fully wet or dry meant no valuable set up data could be assessed. The second session in the afternoon proved equally frustrating, starting wet but gradually drying over the 45 minutes.
Championship leader Lorenzo spent the afternoon hunting extra grip from the rear as the wet tyres quickly degraded on the drying track. Team mate Spies concentrated on finding an optimum tyre set up for the first half of the session, also making some small set up adjustments in the hunt for optimum performance.
Jorge Lorenzo / Position 4th – Time 1.51.873 – Laps 13
“This morning we couldn’t practice and this afternoon it was wet and then finally drying at the end. In these conditions we are not so good because the middle of the tyre is dropping a lot, after eight or ten laps we don’t have any more grip so we have to slow the pace. We have to work on that for Sunday if the conditions are going to be the same as today. If it rains with a lot of water then that’s one story but if it’s like today we are not the fastest so we need to gain some grip on the rear.”
Ben Spies / Position 10th – Time 1.53.409 – Laps 18
“Today was good, we started with a wet track and we had to fiddle round with some tyre pressures for a while. We got that sorted and made some changes to the bike to the point where I was comfortable. The tyres had got quite bad by that point; the times were dropping so we were slower, but still as consistently fast as everyone out there. I’m looking forward to tomorrow to see what we can do.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“A very strange first day in Jerez, this morning no practice and this afternoon a half/half practice, not completely wet and drying at the end which ruined the tyres. Difficult to say if we learnt much, we’ll have to wait until tomorrow and hope for either a completely wet or dry session. Today was in the middle, I wouldn’t say useless but nearly useless.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“Unfortunately we didn’t have the perfect weather today. The first session was useless but we worked quite well in the afternoon. We found a balance that Ben liked and he seems quite satisfied with the set up so we’ll see for tomorrow. On Jorge’s side we are still hunting for some more grip from the rear in the difficult condition but we should make a step tomorrow.”
Solid start for Dovizioso and Crutchlow at rain-hit Jerez
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team riders Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow began their preparations for the start of the European phase of the 2012 MotoGP World Championship in challenging and unpredictable conditions at the Circuito de Jerez in Spain today.
Track conditions in this morning’s opening practice session weren’t sufficiently wet to evaluate Bridgestone rain tyres or dry enough for slicks, and with no possibility of carrying out any meaningful set-up work, Dovizioso and Crutchlow didn’t complete a single lap.
The tricky track conditions remained for this afternoon’s second practice, with the session commencing on a wet track under threatening grey and cloudy skies. Patches of dry tarmac started to appear by the end of the session but Dovizioso and Crutchlow spent their time exclusively assessing Bridgestone’s wet weather tyres in case Sunday’s 27-lap race takes place in similar conditions.
Dovizioso was sixth quickest on board his Yamaha YZR-M1 machine this afternoon and seventh on the combined timesheets. His best time of 1.53.070 ensured he finished leading non-factory rider but the Italian is looking to improve rear traction in the wet with rain forecast to play a major part in proceedings for the rest of the weekend.
British rider Crutchlow, who made a sensational start to the 2012 campaign in Qatar earlier this month when he claimed a maiden front row start and fantastic fourth position, was only 0.3s behind his team-mate.
The 26-year-old set a best time of 1.53.352, which put him eighth quickest in the session and ninth overall ahead of factory Yamaha rider Ben Spies. He too will concentrate on improving rear grip in tomorrow’s final practice and qualifying sessions.
Andrea Dovizioso / Position 7th – Time 1.53.070 – Laps 11
“It has been a day of pretty much constantly changing weather and track conditions and unfortunately that meant we were not able to try anything on the set-up of the bike. We did not have dry conditions at all and even though it has been raining we didn’t get the chance to ride in full wet conditions. I went out to try the bike because we might have the same conditions for the race on Sunday, s o it was important to go out and collect some information. For tomorrow I just hope that we can do some more meaningful work. I don’t care if it is wet or dry but anything is better than mixed conditions so that we can focus on improving the bike.”
Cal Crutchlow / Position 9th – Time 1.53.352 – Laps 15
“If we get more of the same conditions for the rest of the weekend then we have a lot of work to do. To be honest we struggled a little bit with a lack of rear grip and that is where we are going to have to work on because we could be racing in similar conditions on Sunday. This track dries really fast and with the rain tyres we are having a lot of spinning. Although we’ve got some issues with the rear grip, I am really happy with my position on the timesheets considering the problems and that makes me really confident that if we make the settin g better I will be very competitive.”
The Ducati Team enjoyed a good start to the Spanish MotoGP weekend in Jerez de la Frontera, with Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden very fast from the beginning. Bad weather affected the day from the beginning, with morning conditions being neither completely wet nor completely dry. This made the first session useless for both Rossi and Hayden, who elected to stay in the garage.
The asphalt was wet enough in the second session to permit the use of rain tyres, and both Ducati Team riders were fast. The Italian was at the top of the time chart for some time before eventually finishing with the second-best time in FP2, behind Dani Pedrosa. His teammate finished the session a respectable fifth. In the combined times for the two sessions, Rossi and Hayden were third and sixth respectively, despite having sat out the morning.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 3rd (1:51.440)
“We go pretty well in the wet. We’re happy to be second this afternoon because it confirms that the GP12 has the same good feeling in the wet that last year’s bike did, and that’s important. I felt good immediately today. We worked on the setting a bit but because we had already started with a good feeling, I was able to immediately ride at the limit and do some good times. Now we have to wait to see what the weather does tomorrow, and especially on Sunday.”
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 6th (1:52.254)
“It’s a shame about the weather. This morning it wasn’t really wet and wasn’t really dry. If we had unlimited rain tyres, I probably would have gone out and had a look, but with rain forecast for the whole weekend, I didn’t want to waste any. We did some laps in the afternoon and checked a couple things. It was hard to say if we made any improvements because the track dried out at the end and was almost ready for slicks. The bike felt decent in the wet, especially the geometry and turning, but it lacked some grip on the edge, which is where we’re we’ll focus tomorrow.”
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium & Hard; Rear: Soft, Medium
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Hard
Weather: Wet. Ambient 19-21°C; Track 21-23°C (Bridgestone measurement)
Avintia Blusens’ rider Iván Silva put in a hot lap on slick tyres during a damp first practice session at Jerez to finish Friday on top of the timesheets.
With conditions neither fully wet nor dry during the first practice session, only eight riders chose to go out in FP1 and those that braved the rain only turned out a few laps in the hope that conditions would improve towards the end of the session. However, sporadic rain continued falling throughout the morning session and continued right until the start of FP2.
The earlier downpour resulted in enough standing water on the circuit to necessitate wet tyres in FP2 and it was Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa who was quickest in the afternoon session with a time of 1:50.870. Second quickest in FP2 and six-tenths of a second back was a resurgent Valentino Rossi on the Ducati GP12 while Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo continued his affinity with the Jerez circuit by posting the third fastest time of the session.
Wet conditions are predicted for Saturday and in accordance with the new wet tyre regulations, Bridgestone, following consultation with race direction after FP1 has made available an alternative wet tyre compound, which at Jerez is the soft compound, for the remainder of the race weekend. Riders can now select a maximum of two front and/or two rear tyres in the alternative wet compound as part of their total allocation of five sets of wet tyres. This change in regulation was proposed by Bridgestone and ratified at the last GP commission meeting at Qatar and ensures riders have greater flexibility in choosing a wet tyre that works best for them.
MotoGP™ action at Jerez will resume tomorrow from 1010 local time (GMT+2) for FP3, with qualifying scheduled to start at 1355 local time.
Hiroshi Yamada – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
“Track conditions today were not the best due to the intermittent rain. Our decision to make the hard wet compound the main wet tyre at Jerez was vindicated during FP2 today, as the extra durability of this option meant riders could better manage tyre wear in what were not fully wet conditions. I am pleased with how the wet tyres performed today in the challenging conditions.
“As wet weather is also forecast for tomorrow, the change in wet tyre regulations which have come into effect this weekend will allow riders to choose a maximum of two sets of tyres in an alternative wet tyre compound, which at Jerez is the soft compound, for use over the rest of the race weekend. Bridgestone proposed this change to give riders greater choice when selecting a tyre for wet conditions and is another step in our efforts to constantly improve the safety of MotoGP riders.”