We are once again lucky to receive yet more fantastic photos and an on-the-spot report from Scott Jones of Turn2Photography. Enjoy!
Saturday Report From Donington
An English Summer Day
The promised UK weather arrived for Saturday and we spent the morning sessions at the Fogerty Esses, watching the 125s and then Premiere Class tiptoe through the chicane. It was raining hard in the morning and many riders judged the previous day's braking points somewhat optimistically, leaving them trying the grass route back to the tarmac.
Particularly noticeable was the evidence of Ducati’s traction control, especially in Stoner's hands. From the staccato hammering of his GP8 as he exited the chicane, it appeared he was letting the electronics do the work, grabbing a whole lot of throttle and relying on the software to manage the power as it produced that very distinctive cracking sound. When Stoner gained enough speed, the usual angry scream of the Desmoseidici returned as he charged toward Melbourne. The other Ducatis exhibited similar sounds on the exit of the chicane, but none as pronounced as Stoner’s.
Casey Stoner, In Complete Control
Dani Pedrosa's Still Hurting, And It Shows
Alex de Angelis, fast in the dry, slow in the wet
Ben Spies surprised a lot of people
Ant West in his natural habitat
Nicky Hayden is more like his old self
Valentino Rossi: Fast, but not Australian fast
Fortunately, after the 250s finished their morning session the weather eased to a drizzle, then a mist. Randy Mamola’s guests on the two-seater Ducati had an easier time of it than they would’ve had if the rain had persisted. By the time the 800s started their qualifying session, the on again off again rain had left the track between the Old Hairpin and McLeans a treacherous place.
Now That's What I Call TC!
On the climb up the hill, traction control was detectable is varying degrees, or so the unique sounds from each make suggested. As Stoner came under the bridge, his GP8 again crackled as the rear tire fishtailed from side to side. The other bikes showed varying degrees of audible and visual evidence of electronic utilization. Some riders, such as Ben Spies and Jorge Lorenzo, preferred to take the prudent route, while others relied on electronics, and others appeared to be have turned their TC down enough that they could drift their bikes around the turn before McLeans. The later group was the most exciting to watch. Rossi in particular seemed to be giving a clinic on sliding his rear tire up the hill. It seemed only a matter of time before someone went down in this section.
James Toseland feels the pressure
Toward the end of the hour something resembling a dry line had started to appear as those comfortable in the wet chased Stoner’s time. Toseland’s effort ended in front of us as he tried to make it to the Finish line for one more flying lap. He received a standing ovation for the effort from the crowd.
Spies spoke to one of the announcers as we listened in via the loud speakers to a sort of translated AMA post session speech. But he graciously offered Capirossi his wishes for a speedy recovery, and then expressed his appreciation for the unexpected interest in his appearance at Donington and of the many fans he didn’t know he had here in the UK. Spies was clearly pleased with his qualifying performance. At the bottom of Craner on the post session lap, he pumped his fist to the crowd in obvious pleasure and perhaps a bit of relief at having done so well in his first MotoGP qualifying session. We can only wonder what might have happened in the dry. Perhaps we’ll find out tomorrow.