Result and summary for the 125cc qualifying practice at Donington:
Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow finished qualifying for the World Supersport class at Brno exactly as he had finished it: On top of the timesheets. Eugene Laverty managed to close some of the gap to the young Englishman, but his Parkalgar Honda team still have over 8/10ths of a second to find to match Crutchlow's pace. The Kawasakis of Joan Lascorz and Katsuake Fujiwara round out the front row.
Marco Simoncelli was the fastest of the 250 riders in the last of the morning's free practice sessions, beating early leader Hector Barbera towards the end of the session. Barbera headed 3rd place man Alvaro Bautista, who had a nasty crash down Craner Curves in the final minutes of the session, adding to the bruises he collected yesterday. Thomas Luthi rounds out the top four.
Max Biaggi was once again fastest in the second session of qualifying practice, now having topped all three sessions of practice for the Superbike class. Ben Spies was second quickest, ahead of Jakub Smrz on the Guandalini Ducati and Michel Fabrizio on the factory Ducati. Nori Haga continues to suffer, still only 18th fastest in the combined qualifying standings.
Combined results of both qualifying sessions, riders in bold go forward to Superpole:
Dani Pedrosa was once again quickest during the second session of free practice at Donington Park, the Spaniard edging past his compatriot and intense rival Jorge Lorenzo in the last few minutes of the session. The session briefly saw the remarkable spectacle of Pedrosa and Lorenzo sharing the lead, Pedrosa posting an identical time to the Fiat Yamaha man, before the Repsol Honda man posted an even faster time on the next lap to take the top spot ahead of Lorenzo.
Casey Stoner was 3rd fastest, though the Australian got off to a rocky start, crashing his Ducati on the first lap out of the pits at the Melbourne Hairpin. Stoner returned to the track after sitting in the pits for 5 minutes, and improved his times as the session went on. He finished ahead of Valentino Rossi, who had led early on, but was eventually bumped down to 4th place once the rest of the Fantastic Four got up to speed.
The sun is still out, and the forecast is looking good for a dry qualifying session this afternoon.
It's saturday morning here at Donington Park, and the sun is out. The skies are beautiful, big fluffy cumulonimbus tearing across the sky doing their best cotton wool impression, rather than dumping their contents all over the rolling Leicestershire countryside. The MotoGP bikes are out on track and doing their best to outdo the planes taking off from East Midlands airport in terms of deafening noise. So far, the bikes are winning, but only just.
Traffic is as chaotic as ever. The rolling hills may be beautiful, and the winding country lanes may be charming, but the traffic was already horrendous at 9am, so what it will be like tomorrow we can only imagine. At least large numbers of people are turning up on bikes, improving traffic flow considerably. The thought of the massed hordes of Formula One fans turning up in their cars doesn't bear thinking about. Spectators will be waiting to get in after the race has finished, probably.
Results, reports and photos will be coming in all day, so stay tuned.
Julian Simon took a last minute flyer to top the timesheets at Donington Park. The Spaniard leads a veritable bevy of Iberians, with Joan Olive in 2nd, Nicolas Terol in 3rd and Sergio Gadea in 4th.
Cal Crutchlow's domination of the World Supersport class continued during FP2. The Yamaha man ended the second session just under 9/10ths of a second ahead of Joan Lascorz, and nearly 1.2 seconds ahead of title rival Eugene Laverty. The rest of the field has some work to do before this afternoon's qualifying session.
The radical drop in the size of the MotoGP grid has everyone inside MotoGP worried. First Kawasaki officially withdrew, leaving only Marco Melandri on the Hayate in the class, then Grupo Francisco Hernando pulled out of sponsoring Sete Gibernau's GFH team, dropping the number of entries from 18 to 17. Add to that the shenanigans surrounding Yuki Takahashi's replacement by Gabor Talmacsi, after Talmacsi was able to bring funds to the cash-strapped team, and the picture of a series in crisis is complete.
Clearly something has to be done, to reduce costs and to expand the number of bikes on the grid. Last week at the Sachsenring, the Grand Prix Commission met to discuss the situation, and Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta launched the idea of a two-tier system, allowing bikes with prototype chassis with engines based on production bikes to race against the current generation of fully factory supported prototype 800s. The story was unearthed by Paolo Scalera of the Italian sports daily Corriere dello Sport, and senior MotoGP journalist Michael Scott in last week's issue of GPWeek opined that the move was probably a bullying tactic by Ezpeleta, aimed at forcing the factories into coming up with a counterproposal.
It seems the thought of racing against production-based engines has done exactly that. At Donington, Tech 3 boss and head of IRTA Herve Poncharal spoke extensively to MotoGPMatters.com, covering a wide range of subjects. One of the subjects he discussed at length was the cost-cutting proposals put forward by the MSMA to counter the exodus of teams from the premier class. He revealed that as Mike Scott had predicted, the MSMA had offered to lease engines only to MotoGP teams at a much more affordable price, allowing them to build their own prototype chassis around the engine.
The Spanish veteran Alex Debon topped the free practice session for the 250 class at Donington, setting the fastest time in the final minutes of the session. Marco Simoncelli and Mattia Pasini had made the early running, but as the clock ticked down, a mass of other riders got involved with the race for the top of the timesheets. In the end, Debon beat out Hiroshi Aoyama and Alvaro Bautista, forcing Simoncelli down into 4th. The 250 riders were lucky, though, as they were the only class not to have rain disrupt their session.
Max Biaggi topped the timesheets once again at Brno, the only man to drop under the 2 minute marker during the first session of qualifying. Ducati's Michel Fabrizio improved his position, setting the 2nd fastest time, ahead of Carlos Checa and a remarkable Makoto Tamada on the Kawasaki. Tamada has been very much mid-pack so far this year, but his return from injury appears to have inspired him. Yamaha's Ben Spies was 5th quickest in the session, while Nori Haga improved, but only up to 16th. Qualifying continues tomorrow morning, the top 20 advancing to Superpole.
Cal Crutchlow topped the timesheets in the first session of free practice for the World Supersport class at Brno, completely dominating the field. The young Briton finished over 1.4 seconds ahead of his Yamaha teammate Fabien Foret, no one capable of getting anywhere near him. Behind Foret, the Hondas of Kenan Sofuoglu and Eugene Laverty took 3rd and 4th, just a couple of tenths off Foret's times.