November 6th, 2015
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after the first day of practice at Valencia:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of practice at Valencia:
Thomas Luthi ended the day over a quarter of a second quicker than anyone else, ahead of Tito Rabat and Sam Lowes. Jonas Folger was the only other rider within half a second of Luthi's time ahead of Julian Simon on the second-quickest Speed Up bike.
Jorge Lorenzo leads Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Iannone with Valentino Rossi, Marc Marquez and Danilo Petrucci making up the provisional second row. Aleix Espagaro is the first Suzuki, behind his brother who was seventh quickest.
The top five riders all finished with one tenth of a second, comprising four Hondas, Efren Vazquez, Jorge Navarro, Enea Bastianini and Danny Kent, and one KTM, unsurprisingly Miguel Oliveira, in fourth.
The battle for the title is settled in Johann Zarco's favour, but second place is still up for grabs between Alex Rins and Tito Rabat. Sam Lowes is fending off challenders for fourth place in the title and started his final race weekend this year with a time two tenths quicker than Thomas Luthi and Alex Rins.
Marc Marquez was both quickest and most entertaining in the opening session of the last weekend of the year. With what should have been a crash, the wünderkind of MotoGP saved a front tyre slide on his knee and merely lost some time on the lap. He also fended off title condender Jorge Lorenzo with just under two tenths of a second advantage. Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso were within four tenths with Valentino Rossi fourth quickest, aiming to get as much practice in and end up in the press conference in spite of having a penalty that will be applied after qualifying to send him to the back of the grid.
Danny Kent has started the final weekend for Moto3 with a statement of intent, taking top spot in the first session of practice. It was a close run affair, however: Isaac Viñales, Hiroki Ono and Efren Vazquez all ended FP1 within a tenth of a second of the championship leader. The significance of having three Leopard Racing bikes in the top four will have been duly noted, Viñales the only KTM in the top six. Miguel Oliveira ended the session in 7th, ahead of Romano Fenati and Niccolo Bulega, Bulega making a very impressive debut in the Moto3 world championship.
Thursday at Valencia was one of the strangest days in MotoGP that I have known since I first started covering the sport professionally. Maybe it's just the fact that the usual schedule was disrupted. Every race weekend has a rhythm: on Thursday, it's a late start, then rider debriefs, then a press conference, then work; on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, it's an early start, watch practice, rider debriefs/press conferences and then work.
That rhythm was wildly out of sync at Valencia. Earlier start, Moto3 press conference, HRC press conference, a couple of rider debriefs. Then an unnatural lull, as the riders headed into the press conference room for their meeting with the Permanent Bureau, consisting of Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta and FIM president Vito Ippolito addressed the MotoGP riders and their team managers. Ten minutes after the riders started streaming through the paddock on their way to the meeting, they were all heading back out again.
What happened in the meeting with the Permanent Bureau? The first rule of meeting with the Permanent Bureau is don't talk about meeting with the Permanent Bureau, apparently, as no one was willing to tell us about it, apart from some platitudes from Jorge Lorenzo about it being interesting to get different perspectives from people to get new ideas. Not that anyone truly believed that the riders came out with new ideas, but still.
Press releases from the teams and Bridgestone ahead of the final round of MotoGP this weekend at Valencia:
Press release previews from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams:
The Permanent Bureau issued the following official statement ahead of this weekend's race at Valencia:
FIM MotoGP World Championship
Statement from the Permanent Bureau
Please find below the statement issued by the Permanent Bureau during the meeting with the MotoGP riders at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana:
First and foremost, sport must prevail. This Sunday is the last race of the year, and it is sport that needs to win.
We are proud of the magnificent races you have given us this year. They continue to foster interest in our championship all around the world. We also want to thank you for that.
Over the past days, there have unfortunately been some controversies that have surpassed the limits of a healthy passion and, on occasions, logic itself. You have millions of followers all around the world. They watch and admire your achievements on the track. And they also listen closely to what you say.
What you do and say, could have consequences that are not in keeping with the noble values of our sport.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport issued the following press release, after the CAS dismissed Rossi's appeal for a stay of his penalty at Sepang:
FIM MOTOGP CHAMPIONSHIP 2015
VALENTINO ROSSI – REQUEST TO STAY THE EXECUTION OF THE FIM STEWARDS DECISION IS DISMISSED
Lausanne, 5 November 2015 – The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has dismissed Valentino Rossi’s request to stay the execution of the decision issued by the FIM Stewards on 25 October 2015. Accordingly, the decision of the FIM Stewards to impose 3 penalty points on Valentino Rossi’s record following an incident with Marc Marquez during the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix race held on 25 October 2015 stands and Valentino Rossi will commence the next (and last) event of the season, to be held in Valencia/Spain on 6-8 November 2015, from the last grid position.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport has rejected Valentino Rossi's request for a stay of his penalty, given to him at Sepang. The 3-point penalty, handed to him at Sepang for the incident he was involved in with Marc Marquez, means he will start from the back of the grid for the final race of the season at Valencia.
Rossi will still be entitled to participate in Q2, if he finishes in the top ten after the three sessions of free practice, but the position he secures in Q2 will not count for his grid position. Everyone who qualifies behind him will be moved forward one position on the grid.
The CAS ruling is only on Rossi's request to have the penalty suspended for Valencia. The full case will still be heard in front of the panel of arbitration, but that will still take between six and twelve months, and will have no impact on the outcome of the the 2015 championship. It also means that Rossi has now served his penalty, and he will not have to serve it again after the hearing has completed.
Here is the one thing which everybody has wrong about Valencia: the 2015 MotoGP championship isn't over by a very long chalk. Whether Lorenzo qualifies on pole or the front row, whether Valentino Rossi starts from his qualifying position or the back of the grid, the championship won't be done until the last rider gets the checkered flag. Everything is still to play for.
Why is the championship still wide open? Because Valencia is a fickle mistress, with a record of throwing up more than one surprise. Both Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo have won here, and both men have lost championships here. Both men have dominated, and both men have crashed out. Races at Valencia are rarely straightforward, throwing up startling results more often than not. Throw in a spot of unpredictable weather, and anything can truly happen.
The cause of those surprises? Running a race at the beginning of November in Valencia means the weather is always a gamble. Even when it is dry and sunny, as it is expected to be this weekend, the cold mornings and strong winds can cause tires to cool, turning Valencia's right-hand corners – few and far between – into treacherous affairs. If it rains or is damp, the wind means a dry line forms quickly, turning tire choice into a gamble.