Michael van der Mark is quickest ahead of Kenan Sofuoglu and Jules Cluzel. Sofuoglu fell with over ten minutes remaining in the session and was unable to restart.
Jonathan Rea held off the Aprilias of Marco Melandri and Sylvain Guintoli, with Eugene Laverty recording an identical time to Guintoli as the top ten, the ten you'd expect, are all within three tenths of a second. The riders qualified for Superpole One are at least a second off Rea's time, demonstrating a hard divide between SBK and Evo spec bikes.
Tom Sykes was quickest in the second session ahead of Jonathan Rea, but, due to the heat, they weren't quick enough to best Marco Melandri's time from this morning.
Michael van der Mark was quickest in the second session, ahead of Kenan Sofuoglu and Jack Kennedy, but they were not as quick as this morning's times.
Jack Miller is a rider in demand. The current leader in the Moto3 world championship has been linked to several top teams, and has been openly flirting with a step up to MotoGP, skipping Moto2 altogether. The fly in the ointment for Miller is the pre-contract he signed with the Marc VDS Racing team in 2013, securing his services for 2014, 2015 and 2016. Under the terms of the contract, Miller was released to ride for the Red Bull KTM Ajo team in Moto3, as Miller was keen to have a shot at the Moto3 title before moving up a class.
That situation appears to have caused some confusion. Jack Miller told the media as recently as Assen that he has no contract to ride for 2015, and is free to race wherever he wants. That is a position which was earlier laid out in a press release from the Red Bull KTM Ajo team, in which Miller made the same statement. Marc VDS Racing and their team manager Michael Bartholémy insist that this is not the case, and the situation has gotten so far out of hand that the Marc VDS team has issued a press release of their own, clarifying the deal which they have with the Australian.
The undulating hills of Portimão leveled the field and let the agile Suzukis of Eugene Laverty and Alex Lowes sit behind the fast Aprilias of Marco Melandri and Sylvain Guintoli. Pairs of Kawasakis and Hondas filled the remainder of the top eight.
Kenan Sofuoglu and Michael van der Mark go quickest, separated by under a tenth of a second at the end of the session, with Jules Cluzel third quickest.
The Comprehensive MotoGP Silly Season Update: How Things Stand For Honda, Yamaha, Ducati, Suzuki, Kalex, And Even Moto3
The current status of MotoGP's silly season? Two down, plenty still to go. Valentino Rossi may have joined Marc Marquez as the only other factory rider to have put pen to paper for 2015 and 2016, the rest of the grid is still in the middle of negotiating their riders for next year. Even Cal Crutchlow, who has a contract to race with Ducati in 2015, but more of that later.
Who will join Rossi at Movistar Yamaha and Marquez at Repsol Honda? Most likely, the two men who are already there. It is hard to see either Dani Pedrosa or Jorge Lorenzo jumping ship to ride anywhere else. Though HRC boss Shuhei Nakamoto flirted with Lorenzo late last year, he understands that it would be terrible team politics to upset his number one rider, and the man who is likely to bring a fleet of titles to Honda over the next few season.
What HRC needs is a reliable number two rider, and Pedrosa has proven to be perfect in that role. Fast enough to win races of his own accord, and a solid force in the team, not the kind of character to kick up a fuss. He has six podiums this year, as well as a pole position, and can win should Marquez falter. Spanish media are reporting that Pedrosa is close to wrapping up a contract with the Repsol Honda team, with talks having gone at Assen. The new contract would mean less salary for Pedrosa, but at least at Honda, he has a chance of winning races. Big money offers from Ducati and Suzuki are much more of a gamble, with neither bike yet having proven capable of winning.
Press release previews from the World Superbike and World Supersport ahead of this weekend's Portuguese round of WSBK:
MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Why the fans love Goodwood
I never made it to Assen. Instead of heading north east last week I found myself running in the opposite direction, towards Goodwood.
Goodwood’s Festival of Speed is Glastonbury for petrol-heads or Ascot with engines, if you hang out around the Drivers’ Club where there’s a lot of bouffants and blazers. Most of all it’s a living, breathing, ear-shattering museum of motor sport.
That’s the main reason the Festival of Speed attracts a crowd of 150,000 (it would be bigger but they’re not allowed to sell more tickets for fear of grid-locking West Sussex). Unlike most sports, motorcycle racing and car racing have a vast material history. You wouldn’t (well, I wouldn’t) travel halfway across the country to see a hundred years of football goalposts or cricket stumps, but you would (well, I would) go many miles to check out Freddie Spencer’s 1985 Rothmans Honda NSR500 and Giacomo Agostini’s 1969 MV Agusta.
The news had been coming for a month or so, but at last it has been announced officially. Valentino Rossi has signed a two-year extension of his contract with the Movistar Yamaha team, and will race with them in MotoGP for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. For the past few races, Rossi had said he had been close to signing a new deal, but had a few details still to clear up. Those details had been resolved at some point between the Barcelona and Assen rounds, with Rossi's new contract signed at Assen.
The new contract is a result of Rossi's very strong showing this season, a major improvement over 2013. Rossi has already matched the number of podium finishes he had last season, with four 2nd places and one 3rd, though he has not yet managed to win a race, as he did in 2013. Improved braking performance from Yamaha has helped make Rossi more competitive, as has a change in riding style. The gamble to replace Jeremy Burgess with Silvano Galbusera as crew chief has also paid off richly. Whether the improvement has come from technical improvement in set up, or a result of increased motivation from the pressure Rossi put himself under with the move remains to be seen.
As always, Bridgestone issued a post-race press release debrief with a senior representative. Today it was the turn of Shinji Aoki, head of the Japanese tire manufacturer's motorcycle tire development department. Aoki discusses the challenges faced by racing on a drying track, the purpose (or otherwise) of scrubbing in new wet tires, and the fact that the harder of the two compounds Bridgestone brought to the circuit went unused.
Dutch MotoGP™ debrief with Shinji Aoki
Wednesday, 2 July 2014
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Extra-soft, Soft & Medium; Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main), Main (Alternative)
Last weekend’s Dutch TT at Assen was affected by variable weather conditions that resulted in the race being a flag-to-flag affair at which Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez won ahead of Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa on the other Repsol Honda RC213V.
With the win at Assen, Marc Marquez brought his tally for the season up to eight, and a clean sweep of the races so far. After the race, many fans remarked on Marquez' remarkable pit swap strategy, jumping straight from one bike to the other without touching the ground, rather than hopping off one and onto the second bike, as the other riders on the grid do. It looks spectacular in photos, such as this one tweeted by Marquez himself, though if you watch the video from MotoGP's Youtube channel, it's clearly more of a hop than a leap.
Did Marquez get any benefit from it? The best way to answer that is to measure it, and fortunately, the MotoGP.com website offers us two ways to do that. The results section of the website holds a PDF with an analysis of every lap done by each rider, broken down into sector times. By taking the times posted by each rider for the last sector of the lap on which they entered the pits, and the first sector of the lap on which they exited the pits, we get a clear idea of how much time riders lost in swapping bikes. In addition, the video of the race on the MotoGP.com website (MotoGP.com subscription required) shows on screen the times riders actually spent in the pits, from crossing the pit lane entrance line to the pit lane exit line. Using these two numbers, we can get a fair idea of who comes out best after making their pit stops.
2014 Assen Post-Race Round Up - Of Tire Gambles, The Wisdom Of Thinking For Yourself, And Lorenzo's Fear
A veritable galaxy of stars may have lined up on the grid for the 84th Dutch TT at Assen, but the real stars of the show were the elements. After the rain wreaked havoc on qualifying, shaking up the grid, it was back on Saturday for two of the three races. Riders and teams were forced to rethink their strategy, make decisions quickly, and gamble on tires and the weather. It made for intriguing races, rather than sheer thrills like the MotoGP race at Barcelona. Changing conditions offered the brave and the smart opportunities, and mercilessly punished anyone who got it wrong. You felt for the 45 minutes of the races that anything could happen.
The Moto3 riders had it easiest of all, conditions cool but relatively consistent. The track did not allow for mistakes, however: Jack Miller's strategy of trying to pull a gap early backfired badly, the Australian crashing out of the lead. Miller's saving grace was that Romano Fenati, his main rival in the title chase, made even bigger mistakes than he did, crashing out twice, and failing to score points. The day belonged to the Hondas, with Alex Marquez controlling the race from the front, despite challenges from teammate Alex Rins and a quickly closing Miguel Oliveira. With two Hondas and a Mahindra on the podium, this was the first time since Le Mans 2012 that a KTM was not on the podium, and the first ever Moto3 race where a KTM engine did not power any of the podium bikes.
Conditions were much trickier for the Moto2 riders, rain falling heavily before the race, but then quickly starting to dry. It was clear that if the rain held off, a dry line would soon appear, and a few riders gambled on fitting a slick rear. The rain did not hold off, however, falling heavily again in the early laps. That put riders like Dominique Aegerter, who had reckoned on using a slick rear, a long way behind the leaders, his tire only coming good in the second half of the race. The rain allowed Simone Corsi and Sam Lowes to get away at the front, pulling a big lead in a short period. The pair looked set to dispute victory between the two of them, but Lowes pushed a little too hard, losing the front and going down. Corsi could have just cruised to victory, but that proved too much to ask, the NGM Forward rider crashing out of a commanding lead at the halfway mark.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after the Dutch Grand Prix at Assen: