The rain, which has been chasing motorcycle races around this season, finally got bored and moved off on Saturday, giving the track at Estoril a chance to dry. The final corner, which proved so treacherous on Friday, was greatly improved - and made even better by the addition of a cone on the inside of Turn 13, marking where the wet patches were so the riders could take a line inside them. But the wet patches were still there, with water apparently seeping up from the ground to be sucked to the surface. The repairs to the track had been half the problem; the new asphalt was still so fresh that the bitumen was sucking up water from below. Not a lot the track can do about such a problem, and rather cruel to be punished for trying to fix the track in the first place.
While their resurfacing attempts may not have paid off as intended, the circuit management's bargain basement approach to ticket pricing made a huge difference. The track was busier on a Saturday than any time I have ever been here, with many fans deciding that for the price of a tank of gas and a cheap hotel, they would head for Estoril. With tickets selling for between 2 euros for the cheapest single-day entrance to 20 euros for a three-day grandstand pass, the entertainment is also a little limited. Jumbotrons around the track are few and far between, the only one I have seen has been opposite the main grandstand. But for 2 euros, and with some great seating around Estoril, who is going to complain?
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after qualifying for the Portuguese Grand Prix:
Confident Crutchlow blasts to front row in Estoril
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after qualifying at Estoril:
ANTONELLI TO TAKE PORTUGUESE BOW FROM ROW FOUR
Colin Edwards has broken his left collarbone in a crash during qualifying for the Portuguese MotoGP round at Estoril on Saturday. The NGM Forward rider was knocked off his bike in the latter part of qualifying practice, as he cruised around off the racing line. Randy de Puniet lost the front of his Power Electronics Aprilia machine, which slid along the track and hit Edwards' Suter BMW. Edwards fell heavily, suffering a mild concussion and injuring his collarbone in the fall. De Puniet was taken to the medical center, where he was diagnosed with bruising to his finger, and general soreness.
Results and summary of qualifying for the MotoGP class at Estoril:
Casey Stoner will start from pole for Sunday's MotoGP race at Estoril, setting the fastest lap in the final minutes of an incident-packed session. Stoner's advantage over teammate Dani Pedrosa is minimal, and not much bigger over surprise 3rd place man Cal Crutchlow, the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha man grabbing his second front-row start of the season.
Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto3 class at Estoril:
Sandro Cortese will start from pole for the Moto3 Portugese Grand Prix on Sunday, after largely dominating qualifying for the smallest class. While Maverick Vinales and Miguel Oliveira got close to Cortese throughout QP, Cortese was always able to respond, ending the session with an advantage of over three tenths over Vinales. The Spaniard will start from 2nd on the grid, with local hero Oliveira completing the grid.
Marc Marquez has ended the final session of free practice for the Moto2 class at Estoril on top of the timesheets, leading the session by a very comfortable margin, having put a third of a second over the rest of the field. Thomas Luthi took 2nd spot, the Swiss rider in turn nearly four tenths of Scott Redding. Pol Espargaro finished the session in 4th spot, ahead of a much improved Julian Simon and French Moto2 rookie Johann Zarco.