2016 Valencia Saturday Round Up: Making Lorenzo's Departure Bearable

2016 has been a strange year. New tires have made teams have to gamble much more on set up. New electronics have drawn the teeth of Honda and Yamaha, making it easier for Ducati, Suzuki, and to a lesser extent, Aprilia to catch up. The wet and wild weather has made it even more difficult to get set up right, with session after session lost to the rain. A wider range of competitive bikes has upped the level of competition even further. So we enter the final race of the year having already seen nine winners, and with dreams of a tenth.

That seems vanishingly unlikely. The three riders on the front row at Valencia have won ten of the seventeen rounds, with two more winners on the second row, and other two on the third row. At a track like Valencia, with so few passing opportunities, it is hard to see how a rider who hasn't won yet can make their way past the previous winners to claim victory. They will not get any assistance from the weather – the forecast looks steady and constant, not particularly warm, but dry and sunny. The only way to win the Valencia round of MotoGP is the hard way.

And then there's Jorge Lorenzo. The Spaniard has been up and down all season, at the tender mercies of available grip levels and the nature of the tires Michelin have brought to the races. At Valencia, everything has fallen into place. The rear tire Michelin have brought uses the more pliable carcass which was also available at Brno and Misano. The new profile front tire the French tire maker has brought is stronger in the middle of the corner, which plays to Lorenzo's strengths. And boy, is Lorenzo strong at Valencia.

2016 Valencia MotoGP FP4 Result: Marquez And Lorenzo Battle It Out

The sun was out and Lorenzo was out on a mission to get his name back on top. Once that challenge was done with, the Spanish rider went on to set a string of low 1:31s, all while Marc Marquez was catching up lap after lap. The world champion eventually sneaked ahead by a mere half a tenth but then found the gravel trap with three minutes to go, demonstrating his karate kick on the innocent tyre wall around turn six.

While both rivals proved to have good pace, Maverick Viñales kept close as well, about a tenth behind Lorenzo and showing good prospects for Sunday’s race. Fourth was Andrea Iannone, although the leading Ducati was three tenths down on the top trio, Valentino Rossi close behind his countryman.

2016 Valencia Moto2 FP3 Result: Luthi Dominates Another Morning

After Franco Morbidelli stole his thunder in FP2, Tom Luthi wasted no time in showing his speed on Saturday morning, heading straight to the top of the timesheets and leading the Italian by over six tenths of a second for most of the session. More so, that early time was one tenth of a second faster than Tito Rabat’s pole position time from 2015.

Morbidelli shaved a few tenths off to get as close as two tenths of a second, but the biggest surprise of the session was Danny Kent, the British rider getting as high as third in the final minutes of the session. That pushed world champion Johann Zarco down to fourth position, half a second off Luthi.

2016 Valencia MotoGP FP3 Result: A Marquez Kind Of Morning

In the sunny but chilly Saturday morning session, riders took their time getting close to their FP1 times, Marc Marquez the only one to narrowly beat it in the early part of the session. Andrea Dovizioso and both the Suzukis led the Yamaha duo before everybody put on their qualifying shoes.

Cal Crutchlow was the first to challenge the timesheets, the LCR rider getting himself back into a top ten position before the mad dash started. Although the strategy did not pay off in the end, the British rider getting pushed back once again in the final moments of the session.

2016 Valencia Moto3 FP3 Result: Locatelli Leads Guevara

The day started in less than ideal conditions for the Moto3 class, but Andrea Locatelli put in a late charge to grab the lead, only a tenth off the best time from Friday. With almost thirty riders within a second of the Italian, the hierarchy was a bit of a lottery in the late dash to the flag.

FP1 leader Juanfran Guevara followed in second, almost two tenths off, with a big improver in third, Aron Canet putting his Honda in a prime position. World champion Brad Binder found his way to the top of the timesheets in no time but was eventually bumped down to fourth position.

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