A few Moto2 and Moto3 riders stayed on for a final day of testing at Jerez on Friday, using the clear skies and good weather to put in a few more laps ahead of the 2016 season. Sam Lowes topped the timesheets on the final day of testing, though his advantage over Taka Nakagami was just a few hundredths of a second. Danny Kent made major steps forward on his second day on the Kalex Moto2 bike, getting within a quarter of his fellow countryman Lowes, and ahead of Moto2 veteran Luis Salom. Moto2 rookie Miguel Oliveira was over a second slower than his teammate, but still made good progress in his adaptation.
Lowes' time was impressive, but he still could not match the time set by Alex Rins on Thursday, Lowes coming up just under a tenth of a second short.
Times at the end of Friday from Jerez:
Thursday times from the Moto2 and Moto3 test at Jerez. More bikes are present, but not all are running with transponders.
|4||FABIO DI GIANNANTONIO||ITALIAN||GRESINI RACING Moto3||HONDA|
|5||ROMANO FENATI||ITALIAN||SKY RACING TEAM VR46||KTM|
|6||MARIA HERRERA||SPANISH||TEAM LAGLISSE||KTM|
|7||ADAM NORRODIN||MALAYSIAN||DRIVE M7 SIC RACING TEAM||HONDA|
|8||NICOLO BULEGA||ITALIAN||SKY RACING TEAM VR46||KTM|
|9||JORGE NAVARRO||SPANISH||ESTRELLA GALICIA 0,0||HONDA|
|10||ALEXIS MASBOU||FRENCH||SAXOPRINT RTG||PEUGEOT|
They say that truth is stranger than fiction. The more pressing question is how to distinguish between the two. Narratives are easily created – it is my stock in trade, and the trade which every sports writer plies – but where does stringing together a collection of related facts move from being a factual reconstruction into the realms of invented fantasy? When different individuals view the same facts and draw radically opposite conclusions, are we to believe that one is delusional and the other is sane and objective? Most of all, how much value should we attach to the opinions of each side? Do we change our opinion of the facts based on our sympathy or antipathy for the messenger?
That is the confusion which the final round of MotoGP has thrust the world of Grand Prix racing into. What should have been a celebration of the greatest season of racing in the premier class in recent years, and possibly ever, was rendered farcical, as two competing interpretations of a single set of facts clashed, exploded, then dragged the series down into the abyss. Bitterness, anger, suspicion, fear, all of these overshadowed some astonishing performances, by both winners and losers. Looked at impartially, the Valencia round of MotoGP was a great day of fantastic racing. But who now can look at it impartially?
Press releases from the teams in the Moto2 and Moto3 classes:
The title still to be decided, Miguel Oliveira needed to win and have Danny Kent finish fifteenth or lower to take the title.
There is nowhere left to hide. On Sunday, it is time for the men and women of Grand Prix racing to stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood, and lend their eyes a terrible aspect. Much is at stake: a Moto3 title that really should have been wrapped up by now; a MotoGP title rendered complicated by the impetuosity of youth and old age; and just sheer thirst for glory in Moto2. Glory is what is at stake in all three classes, what young men and women dedicate their lives and sacrifice their bodies and their time to chasing. Sweet victory is there for the lucky few, the bitter draught of defeat for the rest.
It looked like the cards had already been dealt ahead of Sunday's race when the Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected Valentino Rossi's request to have his three penalty points suspended. Then Rossi came out swinging on Friday and Saturday, not his usual eight or ninth times, and a struggle to make it through to Q2, but strong pace from the outset and competitive times. "I've been impressed with how fast he's going," Nicky Hayden said of Rossi after qualifying today. "He's looked very solid. We know he's a nine-time champion because he's fast on Sunday, but he's come out of the gate, might not be breaking track records, but compared to a normal Friday, Saturday, he's looking strong."
Then came qualifying. Rossi had earned passage to Q2 by right, and had told us on Friday he would be treating qualifying the same as he had every weekend, pushing hard for a fast lap. Rossi seemed to have the upper hand going into Q2, especially as Jorge Lorenzo was clearly suffering with nerves. He forgot to take off a tear off in the pits, then spent long seconds trying to sort it out with his assistant, before finally leaving the pits in a bit of a fluster. Not a good omen, we all thought.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after qualifying:
The last Moto3 qualifying of the year and the title is undecided. Two men are capable of going home with the title, Danny Kent and Miguel Oliviera, although Kent only needs two points. If Kent gets in the top six in this session, he's very likely to find the required points.
Miguel Oliveira has taken top spot in the final session of free practice for the Moto3 class, with a last-gasp effort to dislodge Jorge Navarro. Navarro had in turn displaced John McPhee, the Scotsman having led for the latter part of FP3, before being overtaken in the last few minutes as riders rushed for a quick time. Romano Fenati ended the session in 3rd, ahead of Jakub Kornfeil, making it three KTMs in the top four. Nicolo Bulega continued to impress, taking a solid 5th spot in the FP3.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of practice at Valencia: