Tarmac was near sizzling point and so was the future intra-team battle between Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo, the Spaniards starting the second session of the day swapping seats at the top of the standings. The early battle soon cooled off and some race runs replaced the excitement, with the final five minutes reserved for the charge for top ten positions. Lorenzo was the first to leave a lasting impression on the timesheets with the first 1:38 time of the day, while Marquez’s hard front had enough and took a detour all the way through the turn four gravel trap.
Catalunya heated up nicely for the second set of practice sessions, although cloud cover was still keeping the show under wraps. Despite the improved conditions, riders were not in much of a hurry to improve their morning pace. It was Niccolò Antonelli’s turn to grab an early lead in the session after struggling in FP1 but the Italian’s prime position was snatched away in the final three minutes of the session as rivals picked up some serious speed.
The intermediate class started off their weekend on the revised layout in Montmeló with many of the usual contenders presenting themselves from the word go. Pecco Bagnaia took charge as the early leader, but while the Italian was dusting himself off after losing the front in turn ten, Marcel Schrotter and then Alex Marquez picked him up at the top of the timesheets. The trio continued to battle remotely in the final time attack but it was Bagnaia who had the final say by one tenth of a second.
With the new configuration of the circuit of Barcelona-Catalunya wiping out all track records, one man appeared keen to start writing them up once again. Marc Marquez got straight down to business in familiar fashion and did his best to maintain a whooping one second gap to the pursuers. But in the end, the honour of posting the first benchmark on the new-old layout went to Valentino Rossi, who finally brought a Yamaha in the mix after putting new softs to good use.
A warm but not all that bright morning greeted the lightweight class to the Catalan track and its new configuration. The surface was not quite up to ideal conditions which meant that the first ten minutes of the session were scattered with light crashes, including championship leader Marco Bezzecchi and wishful championship contender Aron Canet, who apologetically bumped Adam Norrodin in turn ten.
From time to time, the media gets hoist by its own petard. A story comes along which everyone picks up and runs with, pushed to ever more dizzying heights of breathless commentary; what ifs, maybes, and wild speculation. Professional sports are soap opera for men, as the great darts promoter Barry Hearn once said, and the logical corollary of that is that sports media extrapolate throwaway comments and a handful of facts into vast sweeping narratives.
Thus it was that what looked like the entire MotoGP media contingent packed into Honda's hospitality unit to hear what Dani Pedrosa had to say during his media debrief. It was both genuinely impressive and actually quite frightening. Normally, somewhere between 20 and 30 journalists and photographers attend Pedrosa's media debrief in the HRC hospitality, which is held upstairs on a unit built in the space between two trucks holding offices. A large balcony spans the space between the two trucks, with stairs ascending to a space full of chairs on the roof of one of the trucks, and a table where first Marc Márquez, and then Dani Pedrosa sit and give their account of the day to the assembled media.
Instead of 30 journalists, there was what looked like between 200 and 300 people. Honda's design is meant to be spacious and airy, but that amount of people standing on the roof of what is basically a truck trailer made it look crowded, and rather fragile. Coward that I am, I chose to stay downstairs, and listen there.
The Grand Prix Commission agreed the following measures at a recent electronic meeting. These include restrictions on testing for 2019 and beyond, the compulsory use of airbags for wildcard riders, and the allocation of extra tires for riders making it through to Q2 from Q1:
Press release previews from the MotoGP teams and Michelin:
Marquez and Pedrosa looking forward to home GP in Catalunya
The Repsol Honda Team is heading to the newly resurfaced Circuit de Catalunya for Round 7 of the season. Championship leader Marc Marquez and teammate Dani Pedrosa had the chance to test the new asphalt and the track’s updated layout before the Italian GP.
Press release previews from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams:
TEAM DEL CONCA GRESINI AT MONTMELO TO STAY IN THE TITLE GAME
Last week’s double podium at Mugello has brought a breath of fresh confidence and excitement in the garage of Team Del Conca Gresini Moto3, who will try this weekend to follow on the same line of work as of late in order to aim at top results with both riders.
Barcelona has always been a challenging track, but the MotoGP paddock has faced additional challenges at the Catalonian circuit over the past three years. The tragic death of Luis Salom – a typical case of confusing the improbable with the impossible, and leaving a section of track with no gravel runoff and fence unprotected – caused the track layout to be changed halfway through the weekend in 2016, dropping the long left of Turn 10 and the sweeping right of Turn 12, and replacing them with the F1 layout.
A year later, the circuit made other changes, revising the F1 chicane to stop bikes which crashed from crossing the track, while still keeping the F1 layout replacing Turn 10, a tight hairpin and quick kink replacing the long sweeping turn. But that, too, had its shortcomings.
Even the revised chicane was a poor compromise, and for 2018, the Circuit de Catalunya chose to make more radical changes. The track badly needed resurfacing, and the circuit chose to reconfigure the runoff at the sweeping right hander which MotoGP used to use instead of the chicane. That restored the old Turn 12 (though it is now Turn 13, confusingly), bringing back much of the track's old glory. The old section, the tighter right hander of Turn 12, followed by the two sweeping turns of Turn 13 and Turn 14 which build towards the finish line.