July 3rd, 2010
Results of qualifying for the MotoGP class UPDATED:
Results of qualifying for the 125cc class:
The collarbone which Thomas Luthi broke at Assen - aggravating a previous motocross injury - and had plated just last Saturday evening has not hampered Thomas Luthi in the slightest. The Interwetten Moriwaki rider ended the second session of free practice for the Moto2 class at Catalunya on top of the timesheets, seemingly unaffected by his injury. Luthi ended the day just three hundredths ahead of Tenerife Pons' Sergio Gadea, and Jack&Jones' Kenny Noyes, the Hispano-American returning to the fore after radically revising setup of his Promoharris bike, and pleasing his sponsor Antonio Banderas who is also present in Barcelona. The Speed Up bike of Andrea Iannone ended the session in 4th.
Jorge Lorenzo topped the MotoGP timesheets once again at Barcelona, putting on yet another dazzling display of speed and regularity during the final session of free practice. But the Fiat Yamaha rider's advantage over his rivals was small: Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa punched in a fast lap in the dying seconds to take 2nd, just five hundredths slower than Lorenzo, while Marlboro Ducati's Casey Stoner another four hundredths behind Pedrosa. Randy de Puniet once again demonstrated his form this season is no fluke, the LCR Honda ending the session in 4th, ahead of a surprising Aleix Espargaro. The Pramac Ducati rider - and local hero - got a useful tow off Casey Stoner, catapulting himself into 5th position, ahead of Andrea Dovizioso.
Marc Marquez continued his domination of the 125cc class at Barcelona on Saturday morning, setting a scorching lap with a few hundredths of the pole record held by Gabor Talmacsi. The Red Bull Ajo rider's time was nearly nine tenths faster than the Bancaja Aspar of Nico Terol, while the Derbis of Pol Espargaro and Efren Vazquez were over a second and a quarter behind Marquez.
Arm pump (or compartment syndrome, to give it its medical name) is an incredibly vexing condition that has troubled many top level motorcycle racers over the years. The latest victim of this problem is Casey Stoner: the Marlboro Ducati rider started to suffer with the issue at Silverstone, and with just six days between the British Grand Prix and the Dutch TT at Assen, Stoner had no time to recover.
With a little longer between Assen and Barcelona, Stoner has had time to work on the problem and recover. The Australian has taken two approaches to solving the problem: changing his position on the bike and a physical therapy to deal with the symptoms: "I've actually done some acupuncture to it, to see if that can release the pressure," Stoner told journalists after practice on Friday. "There's just one muscle that runs up the arm, I can feel it, that's the hard point, that's the tightness, it's so stiff, and it just doesn't want to relax."
Toni Elias completed a day of Spanish domination at Barcelona, by ending the first day of practice for the Moto2 class at the top of the timesheets. The Gresini Moriwaki rider edged out Pons Kalex' Sergio Gadea in the final moments of the session, who had in turn topped the timesheets for the latter half of practice. Shoya Tomizawa put the Technomag Suter into 3rd spot, ahead of Thomas Luthi on the Interwetten Moriwaki and the FIMMCO Speed Up bikes of Andrea Iannone and Gabor Talmacsi.
Jorge Lorenzo has started the Catalunya Grand Prix in inimitable and indomitable style, setting the fastest lap of the first session of free practice for the MotoGP class in a long string of punishingly fast laps. Marlboro Ducati's Casey Stoner is not far off the Fiat Yamaha man's pace, while Dani Pedrosa leads Repsol Honda teammate Andrea Dovizioso in 3rd and 4th, and nothing to choose between them.
Behind the usual suspects in the top 4, Ben Spies really picked up the pace in the final minutes of the session, dropping his lap time by over 1.3 seconds to end the day in 5th, and just under six tenths off the pace of Lorenzo, an impressive feat at a track he is visiting for the first time. Spies finished ahead of Pramac Ducati's Aleix Espargaro.
Marc Marquez led the first session of free practice for what is effectively the Ajo Red Bull rider's home race at Barcelona, topping the timesheets with a quarter of a second to spare. The Catalunya native headed up a pair of interlopers, in the form of British rider Bradley Smith and Valencia native Nico Terol, both of whom race for the Valencia-based Bancaja Aspar team. Local hero Pol Espargaro (and by local, we mean really local, as Espargaro is from Granollers, just a couple of kilometers from the Montmelo track) ended the session in 4th, the Tuenti Derbi rider the last man to finish inside of a second.
Despite the bumper crop of entries in the Moto2 class, money is tight, and problems abound. Six races into the season, those problems are starting to come to the boil, as budgets and arguments start to wear thin.
The first victim of the situation is JiR Moto2's Mattia Pasini. The popular Italian has split with the team, run by Luca Montiron, reportedly over "sponsorship problems". According to statements by Montiron over on the official MotoGP.com website, Pasini had failed to meet his commitments to the team's sponsors. Montiron also denied that the Pasini split had anything to do with the Italian's poor result, though the trenchant and vociferous criticism Pasini has aimed at the bike - running under the name Motobi, but basically using a chassis supplied by the Japanese firm TSR - did not endear him to the team. Nor did the contrast with his teammate Simone Corsi, who has had a series of strong rides on the Motobi, have anything to do with Pasini's departure, according to Montiron.
Even though the US round of World Superbikes has come and gone, John Gardner, Media Manager over at Miller Motorsports Park continues to organize teleconferences with the top World Superbike riders, to talk about how the season is progressing. Earlier this week, it was the turn of Althea Ducati's Carlos Checa, currently third in the championship and the best of the Ducatis, despite being on what is in essence a privateer bike. During the call, Checa covered a number areas, including the big improvements that Pirelli has made with the spec tire, the need for more power for the Ducatis, and the minimal effect that the weight reduction has had. Here's what Checa had to say:
After the Misano round of World Superbikes, the WSBK paddock packed up and headed a few miles up the road for two days of testing at Imola. Sterilgarda Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow ended the test on top of the timesheets, breaking the track record along the way. The young Briton finished the test ahead of Xerox Ducati's Michel Fabrizio, while Leon Haslam ended in third. After a difficult weekend at Misano, third fastest was a big improvement for the Alstare Suzuki rider. Ten Kate Honda's Johnny Rea showed a similar improvement, ending testing just a couple of hundredths behind Haslam.
The test also saw a couple of big crashes. Haslam had two big crashes, though it did not prevent him from setting the 3rd fastest time. In the second crash, Haslam slammed into Shane Byrne, the Althea Ducati rider coming off worst, Byrne being examined for a suspected fractured metacarpal bone in his hand.
The World Superbike paddock now heads to the Czech Republic, and the following round at Brno in 10 days' time.
With MotoGP now one third through its 18 race season, the effect of the engine-life regulations - restricting each MotoGP rider to just 6 engines throughout the entire season - is starting to become clear. The latest engine information list - assembled by IRTA and MotoGP Technical Director Mike Webb, and distributed (if you can call it that) by Dorna - provides an interesting perspective on the impact the regulations are having, and how the factories have approached the problems posed by limited engines.
The clear winner that emerges from the list is surely Honda. Of their six riders, three (Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso, and San Carlo Gresini's Marco Simoncelli) have used just two engines, and not had to have a third engine officially sealed. Dovizioso and Simoncelli have distributed their races equally, with three races on each of the two engines, while Dani Pedrosa has four races on his number 1 engine, and just two on his number 2 engine.
The last of Michel Hulshof's race-day photos from Assen. If you like these shots, or would like prints of his photos, you can contact Michel through his website at http://www.sports-photography.org/. You can also follow @ProNikon on Twitter.
The weekend is over, and motorcycle race fans are returning to work, after two days of racing action from Assen and Misano. As ever on a Monday, Infront Motor Sports have posted the highlights from the weekend's World Superbike races on their Youtube channel. So if you have 10 minutes to spare from the start of your working week, then check out all the action from the two WSBK and one WSS race from Misano in the videos below. If you have a little more time - and would like to brush up on your Italian while you are at it - you can watch full videos of WSBK race 1 and WSBK race 2 from Misano posted on the website of Italian TV channel La 7. Nothing adds to the excitement of motorcycle racing like Italian commentary, after all. Here's the highlights:
World Superbike Race 1