With conditions improving rapidly for the MotoGP class, times are starting to drop, though the damp patch in the final corner is still making life complicated for the big bikes. Whatever the conditions, the Hondas are still fast, and Dani Pedrosa was the fastest of the lot. The Repsol Honda man ended the final session of free practice just over a hundredth of a second ahead of his teammate Casey Stoner to end FP3 on top of the timesheet.
Maverick Vinales has taken charge of the final session of free practice for the Moto3 class at Estoril, just holding off Sandro Cortese to top the timesheet. Miguel Oliveira, who led for much of the session, finished FP3 in 3rd, fractionally ahead of Danny Kent and Luis Salom.
Conditions for FP3 were much improved from yesterday, but water is still seeping through the final corner and creating damp patches in the crucial Parabolica. With the whole day expected to be dry, the riders will be hoping the damp patches disappear as the day goes on.
There appears to be a new rule of thumb for gauging the weather: If there's a motorcycle race on, then chances are it will be raining, at least for some of the time. After a weekend of climate-curtailed practice 7 days ago at Jerez, the weather looks like being a major factor at Estoril as well. Though no rain fell during any of the 9 sessions of practice - two Moto3, two Moto2, two MotoGP and three Red Bull Rookies - took place, the rain was still very much a factor. The day started with a wet Moto3 session, the track taking a long time to dry out after the overnight rain that lashed the circuit. The track started to dry during MotoGP FP1, and by the second half of that session, it was dry enough for everyone to run slicks, albeit the softer compound that Bridgestone has brought.
By Moto2 FP1, the track was nominally dry, but problems with the damp remained. Parts of the track have been resurfaced, in particular, Turn 6 and Turn 13, and though the new surface is pretty good in general, the problem is that the new asphalt is still dark, and it is impossible to see where the damp patches are. At Turn 13, the sweeping Parabolica that leads back onto the front straight, the problem is exacerbated by the fact that water appears to be seeping up through the ground, which is still saturated after weeks of heavy rain.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after the first day of practice at Estoril:
Crutchlow continues red-hot form in Estoril
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of practice at Estoril:
CARETTA TECHNOLOGY - Estoril GP day 01
Scott Redding ended the first day of practice for the Moto2 class on top of the pile at Estoril, the Marc VDS Racing rider taking charge of FP2 halfway through the session and posting a blistering lap well inside the lap record, despite the fact that the track was still patchy in parts, especially in the final corner. Try as he might, Marc Marquez could not get close to Redding's time, leaving him as 2nd fastest, two tenths behind Redding and another two tenths behind Thomas Luthi.
Casey Stoner has taken charge of the second session of free practice for the MotoGP class at Estoril, taking a clear lead over the Yamahas of Ben Spies and Cal Crutchlow. On a dry track, though with conditions still some way from perfect, the Repsol Honda man stepped up the pace towards the end of the session to take over from Spies and leave himself over three tenths clear of the Yamahas.
With the weather now settled and the track dry, the Moto3 class took to the Estoril circuit on Friday afternoon to start serious work on finding a set up for Sunday's Portuguese Grand Prix. Local hero Miguel Oliveira set the fastest tim, just edging KTM's Sandro Cortese from the top spot, while RW Racing's Luis Salom ended the session in 3rd. Maverick Vinales finished 4th in FP2, ahead of Alexis Masbou and last weekend's winner, Italian sensation Romano Fenati.
Pol Espargaro has topped the first session of free practice for the Moto2 class at Estoril, the Pons Kalex rider posting a fast lap at the end of the session to edge ahead of Marc Marquez, who had in turn just sneaked ahead of Scott Redding. Redding's Marc VDS Racing teammate Mika Kallio set the 4th fastest time, while Moto2 rookie and last year's 125cc championship runner-up Johann Zarco took 5th place.
Ben Spies has topped the first session of practice for the MotoGP class at Estoril, the Texan getting the best of the tricky conditions to top the timesheets. The track started damp, but was drying rapidly under the Portuguese sun. Most of the riders stayed inside their garages waiting for the track conditions to improve - for Hector Barbera and birthday boy Jorge Lorenzo, they didn't improve enough, the two Spaniards choosing to sit the first session of practice out - but by the end, the majority of the field felt the track was good enough to provide useful data.