Marco Simoncelli is to receive a fitting tribute at Valencia on Sunday. Paolo Simoncelli, Marco's father, had asked for a minute of "casino" (an Italian word that translates as chaos or noise) instead of a minute of silence, but Marco is to get all this and a little more. At 10:10 local time (find that time in your timezone using this link) riders from 125, Moto2 and MotoGP have been invited to join a lap of honor at Valencia, led by Kevin Schwantz aboard Marco Simoncelli's Honda RC212V.
The lap of honor will be followed by the noise in Simoncelli's name: once all of the bikes have come to a standstill in front of the massed paddock, led by Simoncelli's family and his San Carlo Gresini team, two minutes of Valencian fireworks will ensue, a deafening racket of firecrackers.
Result and summary of qualifying for the 125cc class at Valencia:
The track at Valencia is dry (or almost dry) for the first time this weekend), and the difference it makes on the track is immediate. Lap times have tumbled, though the few damp patches still on the track are just enough of a nuisance to take a couple of seconds off the best time. Johann Zarco was the fastest man in the third session of free practice for the 125cc class, ending the session with a comfortable lead over RW Racing's Luis Salom. Salom was, in turn, just a fraction ahead of Efren Vazquez and Nico Terol, Terol finding his feet again after struggling in the wet on Friday.
Press releases from the 125cc and Moto2 teams on Friday at Valencia, including an explanation from the Gresini team of the logon on the fairings on their Moto2 bikes:
Sandro Cortese has topped a very wet second session of free practice for the 125cc class at Valencia, the only rider to lap under the 2 minute mark in the rain. Harry Stafford was an impressive second, nine tenths behind Cortese, and a few hundredths ahead of Johann Zarco. Championship leader Nico Terol was once again very cautious, ending the session in 12th and over two seconds behind Cortese. With rain forecast for Sunday, Terol will have to go one better and finish in 11th if he is to wrap up the 2011 125cc Championship.
Sandro Cortese led the way on the first session of free practice for the 125cc class, holding off Johann Zarco by the narrowest of margins on a damp and extremely treacherous track. Adrian Martin set the 3rd fastest time, ahead of Efren Vazquez and Marcel Schrotter, while championship leader Nico Terol put in a cautious 10th fastest time, a wise consideration given the number of crashes that happened during the session.
Even as Paris Hilton jets her way across the Atlantic to attend the final race of the Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing 125 team she lends her name to, there appears to be trouble brewing for the American socialite. According to press reports from Spain, Supermartxe, fellow sponsor of the 125cc team is to initiate legal proceedings against Hilton for "repeated breaches of the contracts signed by her, through her representatives Dreamland Comunicación, with Racing Service Investment SL."
The dispute appears to revolve around the interpretation of the contracts between Hilton's representatives and Supermartxe over the exclusive use of her image for the Blusens team, which is currently fielding Maverick Viñales and Josep Rodriguez in the 125cc world championship. Statements from the team claim that Hilton has failed repeatedly to honor her contract obligations, and that they have no choice but to initiate legal action.
Results and summary of the 125cc race at Sepang:
Sepang looks like being a Repsol whitewash this weekend, with Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner and Andrea Dovizioso spread across the front row of the grid for Sunday's race, and FP3 the only session where there wasn't a Repsol 1-2-3 on the timesheets, Marco Simoncelli getting in among the orange, red and black bikes. On Friday, it looked like being a Pedrosa runaway, but his teammates have closed the gap considerably since then. Only the most contrarian investor would risk betting against a Honda victory - and only the brave would take the very long odds on offer for a Honda 1-2-3 - but Pedrosa is not quite the certainty that he was after the first day of practice.
The Spaniard was blisteringly fast out of the box, but as the weekend has progressed, the rest of the pack has closed up, with little to choose between the three Repsols after qualifying. Part of this has been down to tires: Pedrosa has immediately taken a shine to the softer tires, while Stoner has been working with the hard tire all weekend, always his preferred option as a race tire. The problem that Stoner has had has been an inability to get the bike to both turn and grip, sacrificing one to obtain the other. Sepang looks like being one of the surprisingly few weekends when Stoner and his crew have not been able to find a good setup from the start, and the Australian will have his hands full with both Pedrosa and Dovizioso for the win.
Press releases from the 125cc and Moto2 teams after qualifying at Sepang: