Brno, Czech Republic
2012 Brno MotoGP Saturday Round Up: Of Small Differences Making A Big Difference, And The Last Of The Contracts
Up until the start of MotoGP qualifying, it looked like Dani Pedrosa had the race at Brno just about wrapped up. The media center joke was that they might as well start writing his name on the trophy, so much faster was the Repsol Honda man. And then he crashed in qualifying, and started going an awful lot slower, in a tale that has echoes of Casey Stoner's time at Ducati.
The crash was relatively simple - "maybe I was on the limit too much," Pedrosa said, and Brno with its long corners, some flat and some downhill, means the riders are pushing the front for a lot of the time at the circuit - but the consequences were serious. Pedrosa returned to the pits, got on his second bike, and immediately had much worse chatter than before. Despite the setup being identical on both bikes. This is the kind of thing that Casey Stoner used to suffer at Ducati, two identical bikes that felt different, an issue that he never suffered at Honda. But the problem with hand-built prototypes is that apparently, even tiny deviations can cause a difference in feel, especially when pushed to their very limits by riders as sensitive as Pedrosa.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after qualifying at Brno:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after qualifying at Brno:
Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto2 class at Brno:
Results and summary of the qualifying practice at Brno for the MotoGP class:
Results and summary of the qualifying practice for the Moto3 class at Brno:
Pol Espargaro has topped the final session of free practice for the Moto2 class, putting nearly quarter of a second between himself and 2nd place man Scott Redding. Dominique Aegerter nabbed 3rd, while championship leader Marc Marquez was forced to settle for 4th, nearly four tenths behind Espargaro's time. Thomas Luthi ended in 5th, fractionally slower than fellow Suter rider Marquez.
The mystery of where Cal Crutchlow will end up in 2013 has finally been settled. The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team today announced that Crutchlow will return with the squad for next season, alongside current Tech 3 Moto2 rider Bradley Smith. Crutchlow has signed a one-year extension of his contract with the team, while Smith has inked a two-year deal with Herve Poncharal's team. Crutchlow and Smith will contest 2013 on board Tech 3's satellite Yamaha YZR M1s.
The announcement of Crutchlow and Smith leaves only the San Carlo Gresini Honda seat unfilled for next season, while uncertainty also remains over Ducati's projected junior team. There has been much speculation concerning the Gresini ride: Alvaro Bautista is still in the frame for the ride, although names such as Andrea Iannone, Ten Kate Honda WSBK rider Johnny Rea and even current factory Yamaha rider Ben Spies have been linked with Gresini, though some of those names owe more to the fevered imaginations of the paddock rather than any basis in fact. The satellite Ducati situation is complicated: a decision is yet to be made on a structure, though the idea of Marc VDS moving up to serve as a MotoGP team with Scott Redding on the Desmosedici appears to have been put on hold, and very possibly shelved.
Below is the press release announcing the Tech 3 line up for next season:
Dani Pedrosa has dominated the final session of free practice for the MotoGP class at Brno, setting a searing pace that left the rest of the field gasping for breath. Pedrosa was half a second quicker than the rest of the grid for most of practice, then posted a lap of 1'56.209 on his final lap, getting within a few hundredths of Valentino Rossi's pole lap record set in 2009. Ben Spies took 2nd spot, the Factory Yamaha man the only other rider to get inside the 1'56 mark, but still three quarters of a second down on Pedrosa's time, while Spies' teammate Jorge Lorenzo was for 3rd, eight tenths off Pedrosa's pace. Lorenzo was clearly unhappy with his time at the end, shaking his head on his cool down lap.
The Tech 3 Twosome of Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow took 4th and 5th respectively, though little separates them from the times of the factory Yamahas, while Valentino Rossi continues his decent weekend at Brno, bagging 6th, but more importantly, less than a quarter of a second slower than Jorge Lorenzo. Alvaro Bautista led Stefan Bradl in the dance of the satellite Hondas, while Karel Abraham took 9th, just ahead of Randy de Puniet on the Power Electronics Aspar ART bike.
Sandro Cortese was the fastest of the Moto3 men on Saturday morning, putting in a late charge to secure the top spot. The Red Bull KTM rider ended just ahead of Maverick Vinales on the Blusens FTR Honda, while Cortese's teammate Danny Kent grabbed 3rd. Kent was the last rider to be within a second of Cortese, the track having been dirtied by heavy overnight rain.
Friday would prove to be an eventful first day of practice at Brno. Thrills, spills and plenty of flag waving, mostly of the red variety, as crashes played havoc with the day's schedule. It started in the morning, during FP1 for MotoGP, when Valentino Rossi ran wide in the final corner and his rear wheel kicked up a couple of sizable rocks. The rocks hit Dani Pedrosa, on the top of his foot and the front of his fairing, destroying the screen. How fast was he going when he was hit by the rocks, one intrepid reporter asked? "I don't know my speed," Pedrosa quipped, "but the rocks were going like they were shot out of a gun."
And they weren't small rocks either. Asked what size they were, Pedrosa held up both hands, touching thumbs and forefingers together to make a circle. "Like this," he said. About the size of a grapefruit, then. Pedrosa said he had been worried that the impact had broken a bone in his foot, and the Spaniard was limping visibly as he got off his Repsol Honda, but the pain subsided as the session continued, reassuring him that there was nothing broken, just banged up and bruised.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the first day of practice at Brno:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of practice at Brno: