Brno, Czech Republic
Results and summary of the qualifying practice for the Moto3 class at Brno:
Pol Espargaro has topped the final session of free practice for the Moto2 class, putting nearly quarter of a second between himself and 2nd place man Scott Redding. Dominique Aegerter nabbed 3rd, while championship leader Marc Marquez was forced to settle for 4th, nearly four tenths behind Espargaro's time. Thomas Luthi ended in 5th, fractionally slower than fellow Suter rider Marquez.
The mystery of where Cal Crutchlow will end up in 2013 has finally been settled. The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team today announced that Crutchlow will return with the squad for next season, alongside current Tech 3 Moto2 rider Bradley Smith. Crutchlow has signed a one-year extension of his contract with the team, while Smith has inked a two-year deal with Herve Poncharal's team. Crutchlow and Smith will contest 2013 on board Tech 3's satellite Yamaha YZR M1s.
The announcement of Crutchlow and Smith leaves only the San Carlo Gresini Honda seat unfilled for next season, while uncertainty also remains over Ducati's projected junior team. There has been much speculation concerning the Gresini ride: Alvaro Bautista is still in the frame for the ride, although names such as Andrea Iannone, Ten Kate Honda WSBK rider Johnny Rea and even current factory Yamaha rider Ben Spies have been linked with Gresini, though some of those names owe more to the fevered imaginations of the paddock rather than any basis in fact. The satellite Ducati situation is complicated: a decision is yet to be made on a structure, though the idea of Marc VDS moving up to serve as a MotoGP team with Scott Redding on the Desmosedici appears to have been put on hold, and very possibly shelved.
Below is the press release announcing the Tech 3 line up for next season:
Dani Pedrosa has dominated the final session of free practice for the MotoGP class at Brno, setting a searing pace that left the rest of the field gasping for breath. Pedrosa was half a second quicker than the rest of the grid for most of practice, then posted a lap of 1'56.209 on his final lap, getting within a few hundredths of Valentino Rossi's pole lap record set in 2009. Ben Spies took 2nd spot, the Factory Yamaha man the only other rider to get inside the 1'56 mark, but still three quarters of a second down on Pedrosa's time, while Spies' teammate Jorge Lorenzo was for 3rd, eight tenths off Pedrosa's pace. Lorenzo was clearly unhappy with his time at the end, shaking his head on his cool down lap.
The Tech 3 Twosome of Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow took 4th and 5th respectively, though little separates them from the times of the factory Yamahas, while Valentino Rossi continues his decent weekend at Brno, bagging 6th, but more importantly, less than a quarter of a second slower than Jorge Lorenzo. Alvaro Bautista led Stefan Bradl in the dance of the satellite Hondas, while Karel Abraham took 9th, just ahead of Randy de Puniet on the Power Electronics Aspar ART bike.
Sandro Cortese was the fastest of the Moto3 men on Saturday morning, putting in a late charge to secure the top spot. The Red Bull KTM rider ended just ahead of Maverick Vinales on the Blusens FTR Honda, while Cortese's teammate Danny Kent grabbed 3rd. Kent was the last rider to be within a second of Cortese, the track having been dirtied by heavy overnight rain.
Friday would prove to be an eventful first day of practice at Brno. Thrills, spills and plenty of flag waving, mostly of the red variety, as crashes played havoc with the day's schedule. It started in the morning, during FP1 for MotoGP, when Valentino Rossi ran wide in the final corner and his rear wheel kicked up a couple of sizable rocks. The rocks hit Dani Pedrosa, on the top of his foot and the front of his fairing, destroying the screen. How fast was he going when he was hit by the rocks, one intrepid reporter asked? "I don't know my speed," Pedrosa quipped, "but the rocks were going like they were shot out of a gun."
And they weren't small rocks either. Asked what size they were, Pedrosa held up both hands, touching thumbs and forefingers together to make a circle. "Like this," he said. About the size of a grapefruit, then. Pedrosa said he had been worried that the impact had broken a bone in his foot, and the Spaniard was limping visibly as he got off his Repsol Honda, but the pain subsided as the session continued, reassuring him that there was nothing broken, just banged up and bruised.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the first day of practice at Brno:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of practice at Brno:
Thomas Luthi was the fastest man in the second session of free practice for the Moto2 class. The Swiss rider just held off NGM Forward's Alex De Angelis, while Marc VDS Racing rider Scott Redding took 3rd. Simone Corsi nabbed 4th, just short of Redding's time, while Pole Espargaro sneaked ahead of Marc Marquez, the HP Tuenti rider 5th and the Catalunya Caixa man in 6th.
The Moto2 FP2 session also saw the end of Moriwaki in the series. Elena Rosell switched from Moriwaki to Speed Up, leaving the grid bereft of the Japanese chassis. Moriwaki won the inaugural Moto2 championship with Toni Elias in 2010.
Dani Pedrosa has topped the second session of free practice for the MotoGP class at Brno, setting the final time in the second half of what would be an incident-filled FP2. Jorge Lorenzo - one of several crashers during the session, had taken an early lead in FP2, but had to cede the top spot to Pedrosa at the end, his session complicated by having to use his second bike. The two Spaniards were the only riders to crack into the 1'56s.
The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha duo of Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow took 3rd and 4th respectively, Dovizioso fast all session, Crutchlow moving up into 4th with his final lap, ahead of an impressive Stefan Bradl on the LCR Honda. The factory Ducati is more comfortable at Brno than at Indianapolis, as witnessed by the 6th fastest time of Valentino Rossi, less than half a second off the pace of Pedrosa, and very close to Bradl and Crutchlow. Alvaro Bautista bagged 7th on the San Carlo Gresini Honda, finishing ahead of the second Factory Yamaha of Ben Spies, the Texan being another of the session's fallers. Aleix Espargaro bagged 9th, over two seconds off the pace of Pedrosa, but ahead of the two satellite Ducatis of Toni Elias and Karel Abraham.
Maverick Vinales took top spot in the second session of qualifying for the Moto3 class, leading comfortably from local man and former Red Bull Rookie Jakub Kornfeil. The two FTR Hondas led a brace of KTMs, Danny Kent taking 3rd ahead of Zulfahmi Khairuddin. Niccolo Antonelli secured the 5th fastest time, finishing ahead of Indianapolis Moto3 race winner Luis Salom.
Red flags continue to be a feature of the first morning of practice at Brno. The second session in a row was stopped for safety conditions, this time after Claudio Corti's Italtrans Kalex had destroyed a section of air fence after the Italian had crashed. Corti walked away unscathed, but the air fence his bike hit had to be replaced.
Pol Espargaro came out on top of the restarted session, the HP Tuenti rider putting in a very fast lap at the end of the session. The Spaniard displaced Thomas Luthi, who had looked strong throughout, the Interwetten rider bumped down into 2nd, ahead of Simone Corsi on the IODA FTR. Mika Kallio took 4th spot on the Marc VDS Racing Kales, ahead of Andrea Iannone and championship leader Marc Marquez. Marquez was unable to match the pace of the front runners throughout, ending the session in 6th, ahead of Nico Terol.
Dani Pedrosa carries his momentum from Indianapolis forward to Brno, topping the first session of free practice for the MotoGP class at the Czech circuit. Pedrosa put in a fast lap towards the end of the session, despite being hit by a stone thrown up by Valentino Rossi's Ducati when he ran wide in the final corner, which left the Spaniard limping, and put a sizable hole through his fairing. Rossi's run off caused the session to be briefly red-flagged while the marshals cleaned the track.
Jorge Lorenzo ended the session in 2nd, just over a tenth of the time set by Pedrosa, while Andrea Dovizioso took 3rd, fractionally behind Lorenzo. Cal Crutchlow was 4th, a couple of tenths behind his Monster Tech 3 Yamaha teammate, and just ahead of the second Factory Yamaha of Ben Spies. Alvaro Bautista was 6th on the San Carlo Gresini Honda, just under half a second slower than Pedrosa.
Valentino Rossi set the 7th fastest time, but was well over a second slower than Pedrosa. Stefan Bradl took 8th on the LCR Honda, just three tenths ahead of Randy de Puniet on the Power Electronics Aspar Aprilia. Yonny Hernandez rounds out the top 10, half a second behind De Puniet.
Jonas Folger's switch to the Aspar team is paying off. After a podium at Indianapolis, the young German topped the timesheets in the first session of free practice for the Moto3 class at Brno, and by some margin. Miguel Oliveira followed, over a third of a second behind, and just ahead of the two title rivals, Sandro Cortese quicker than Maverick Vinales. Danny Kent followed in fifth, just ahead of Alex Rins.
After the news that Valentino Rossi was to make a return to Yamaha after two disastrous seasons at Ducati, Yamaha's press officers were inundated with requests for interviews with Yamaha Racing Managing Director Lin Jarvis at Brno. To accommodate as many people as possible, Yamaha held a press conference to answer the questions that all of the assembled media wanted to put to them.
The subjects covered during the press conference were the motivation for signing Rossi after his two-year absence, whether Jorge Lorenzo had been consulted on the deal, and the pecking order inside the team. Jarvis also discussed the possibility of Jeremy Burgess and his crew joining Rossi at Yamaha, as well as commenting positively on Ben Spies' performance over the past season.
But first he was asked why Yamaha had decided to sign Rossi after the Italian had left on not entirely amicable terms. "The reason to have Valentino back is the seven years of excellent history we had together," Jarvis replied. "We had Valentino with us for seven years, we won four world titles together and we made a great history in the sport and also a lot of positive publicity for Yamaha together. So finally, the reason for having Valentino back is to come back to the good times. The divorce, I'd like to say, was not in my opinion a bad divorce. Of course, any separation has its issues, but we have remained on good terms as Yamaha with Valentino since."