It seems somehow fitting that the last ever qualifying session for the 800cc MotoGP bikes should be dominated so utterly by the man who has dominated the 800cc era. Despite the fact that Casey Stoner won only the first and the last 800cc titles, he still has the most pole positions and wins in the period between 2007 and 2011. Stoner ended the penultimate day of the 2011 season in style, matching Mick Doohan's record of 12 pole position in a single season and beating everyone else on the grid by over a second.
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.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after qualifying on Saturday at Valencia:
Crutchlow and Hayes ready for season finale
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Cal Crutchlow will start his quest to win the coveted MotoGP Rookie of the Year title in tomorrow's GP Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana from 11th position on the grid.
Results and summary of qualifying for the MotoGP class at Valencia:
Casey Stoner has tied Mick Doohan's record for the most pole positions in a season, by dominating qualifying and securing pole by over a second at Valencia. The Repsol Honda rider took charge of the session early, and was never challenged, putting in a blistering lap with five minutes to go to leave him a second clear of the field.
Result and summary of qualifying for the 125cc class at Valencia:
Danny Webb has taken the first pole of his career, and the first ever pole for Mahindra, in a tense and thrilling qualifying battle in difficult conditions. A shower of rain before qualifying started made the track very treacherous, the surface changing as it dried out throughout the session.
Marc Marquez has been forced to pull out of the Moto2 season finale at Valencia, handing the 2011 Moto2 title to Stefan Bradl. Marquez is still suffering slight double vision from the crash he had during FP1 at Sepang. His vision had improved massively in the past week, but he was still suffering issues with his right eye, something that was causing him problems looking to his right. Marquez had held out hope that his vision would improve quickly enough to be able to try to qualify and then race, but it was not to be.
The Moto2 class took to the Valencia track as the skies darkened, but the weather held off for the third session of free practice for the class. Stefan Bradl ended the session on top of the timesheets, the only man to get inside 1'37, and nearly two tenths faster than Scott Redding, who set the 2nd fastest time. Thomas Luthi was 3rd fastest, with Dominique Aegerter and Yuki Takahashi a little way behind.
Casey Stoner has topped the final session of free practice for the MotoGP class at Valencia, the Repsol Honda rider taking advantage of the dry conditions to post a commanding lead. Stoner's Repsol teammate Dani Pedrosa was 2nd, though nearly two-thirds of a second off the pace of Stoner. Randy de Puniet posted an impressive 3rd fastest time on the Pramac Ducati, over a second behind Stoner but a couple of tenths behind the third Repsol Honda of Andrea Dovizioso, while Yamaha's Ben Spies was a fraction behind Dovizioso.
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.
Some semblance of normality has returned to the MotoGP paddock now that the bikes are back on track, and everyone is back doing what they are supposed to be. "For me, I was happy to be here, be around the team, see all the tributes honoring Marco and see everybody showing a lot of class and a lot of respect," Nicky Hayden said. "It's still kind of there at the back of everybody's mind, but it don't change what I do. We're racers, we ride motorcycles." His teammate Valentino Rossi agreed.
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:
Salom stays upright in the rain
On the slippery Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia many 125cc riders crashed out in the free practice sessions. Luis Salom was determined not to appear on the list of crashers this time. The Spanish rider for RW Racing GP kept his promise to himself and the team and set a respectable fifth fastest time.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the first day of practice at Valencia:
Stoner leads the way as Bridgestone's wets get first workout since August
Round 18: Valencia GP – Free Practice One & Two
Valencia, Friday 4 November 2011
Bridgestone wet compounds available: Front: Soft. Rear: Soft
The first wet MotoGP sessions since Free Practice three for the Czech Republic Grand Prix on 13 August provided some interesting running today on the opening day of the season finale in Valencia.