Pol Espargaro has dominated the final session of free practice for the Moto2 class at Silverstone, setting a time nearly a second faster than 2nd-place man Scott Redding. Johann Zarco took 3rd, ahead of Bradley Smith and Andrea Iannone, while championship leader Thomas Luthi ended with the 6th fastest time. The session was affected by the weather, which continues to be unstable at Silverstone, rain falling halfway through sending everyone scurrying back into the pits. The difficult conditions caught out Marc Marquez, the Spanish prodigy crashing heavily in the final corner, but walking away unscathed.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of practice at Silverstone:
With the sun out at Silverstone, though not for long enough to dry out the track, leaving the Moto2 class to lap on a wet track with occasional drying patches. At the end of the 45 minute session, it was Pol Espargaro who topped the timesheets, setting the fastest time despite still having some pain in his ankle after his crash with Marc Marquez at Barcelona. After leading for much of the session, Bradley Smith ended up in 2nd, ahead of Ricky Cardus, his best result on the AJR in Moto2.
After the announcement of Casey Stoner's retirement a few weeks ago and Jorge Lorenzo’s confirmation recently that he will be staying with Yamaha for the next two seasons, everybody is trying to guess the answer to the million--dollar question: which factory will Valentino Rossi be riding for next season?.
But none of this has anything to do with the real interest of the World Championship, where Moto2 and Moto3 classes show the real thrilling action on the track, and we all expect more of the same from a new edition of British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Even though the Silverstone racetrack has a great tradition and long history in British Grand Prix racing, I must confess that I still miss the technical and demanding layout of Donington Park. But business is stronger than passion or any other influence in motorsport in recent times, just as it is everywhere else. With Donington gone since 2009 -after hosting 22 rounds of the British Grand Prix-, at least the speedy Silverstone is still a great place for racing, as we will all enjoy this weekend.
Press releases from some of the Moto2 and Moto3 teams ahead of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone:
MotoGP's 2013 Silly Season is one of the most complicated in many years. Though the retirement of Casey Stoner has opened up the market, the real complication lies with two factors, and the way those two interact. The issue can be summed up in a single question: what are we going to do with Marc Marquez?
It has been clear for some time that Marc Marquez is going to be one of the hottest properties in MotoGP in 2013, the Spaniard expected to graduate to the premier class at the end of this season. Under normal circumstances, this would not be an issue, but the situation that MotoGP finds means that we are a very long way from normal circumstances. The combination of the global financial crisis and the radically depleted field, a consequence of the cost hyperinflation the switch to 800cc caused back in 2007, has meant that the series finds itself in a period of transition, with the return to 1000cc machines just the first step in a major rules shakeup. The scale of the proposed changes - a rev limit, a single ECU, one bike per rider, a cap on lease prices, and a limit to the number of bikes each factory can provide - means that discussions about the rules are ongoing, the situation changing at each Grand Prix as the haggling and horse-trading between the factories and Dorna continues.
For the last couple of days since the Catalunya Grand Prix, I have been wondering and trying to find out why the FIM did not confirm the one minute race time penalty given to Marc Marquez by Race Direction, awarded because of the Catalunya Caixa rider’s risky action over Pol Espargaro during the last few laps of Moto2 race at Montmeló.
As everyone knows by now the Moto2 class continues to provide some of the closest battles for victory in Grand Prix racing history and, even more today than in the past 250 class times, the price paid by riders for this show is still living on the edge of disaster if they chase any chance of glory.
Maybe that was the main reason why Marquez decided to come back to the inside line of Turn 10 as soon as possible after a massive slide on his Suter, which looked to leave him out of the race or at least out of fighting for a place on the rostrum.
Race day at Barcelona saw three different races in each of the three classes, and each with a particular lesson to teach. In Moto3, Maverick Vinales was the only rider to understand that it is better to escape from a battling group than get caught up in all the excitement. Vinales eventually won with a massively comfortable lead, but while there is no doubt that the Spaniard's pace was particularly tough, those in the group behind him gave him a big helping hand by turning on each other instead of banding together to hunt down Vinales for the win. Even 2nd place went to the smartest rider, rather than the most fierce: Sandro Cortese had been forced to ride more carefully due to a very painful right hand he suffered in a crash during qualifying, and by conserving his forces for when he needed them most, he bagged second spot and did very well in the championship race. Brave, mature, and above all intelligent riding by the young German.
The FIM issued the following statement after the incident between Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro, on the penalty applied and then appealed, as reported here. The statement makes it clear that the ruling is still subject to appeal, so this is not necessarily the final word on the matter.
Below is the FIM press release:
The 1 minute penalty Marc Marquez had been handed by Race Direction has been revoked. Marquez was initially penalized after an incident on lap 21 of the Moto2 race at Barcelona, in which he and Pol Espargaro collided, causing Espargaro to crash out of the race. The incident was reviewed by Race Direction, and several hours after the Moto2 race was over, Race Direction issued the 1 minute penalty. Marquez' CatalunyaCaixa team appealed to the FIM Stewards against the penalty, and the FIM Stewards ruled in his favor, overturning it. The penalty would have meant that Marquez dropped from 3rd to 23rd in the final results, scoring no points for the championship.
The incident occurred on lap 21 of the race. Marquez had run a little hot into Turn 10 after being passed by Thomas Luthi, then saved a near crash with the front folding, before forcing his bike back to the inside of the turn, just as Espargaro was trying to pass him. Espargaro had nowhere to go, and he and Marquez collided, causing Espargaro to crash. Marquez went on to finish the race in 3rd, behind Andrea Iannone and Thomas Luthi.
Results and summary of the Moto2 race at Barcelona:
Results and summary of the Moto3 race at Barcelona:
It has been great to have some consistent weather, Casey Stoner said at the qualifying press conference at Barcelona, a sentiment that was shared by everyone at the Montmelo circuit, riders, teams, fans and media. Apart from the anomaly that is Qatar (a night race with practice in cooling temperatures) all of the MotoGP rounds held so far have featured massive changes in weather almost from session to session. With four session all with comparable temperatures - a little cooler in the mornings, a little warmer in the afternoons - the riders have been able to actually spend some time working on a consistent set up.
What they have learned is that the tires are going to be a huge part in Sunday's race. The 2012 Bridgestones are built to a new specification and a new philosophy, softer to get up to temperature more quickly and provide better feedback. This the Japanese tire company has succeeded in spectacularly well, the only downside (though that is debatable) is that the tires wear more quickly. This makes tire management critical for the race, with both hard and soft tires dropping off rapidly after 7 laps, and then needing managing to get them home.