The baking Barcelona sunshine brought track temperatures through the roof for the start of MotoGP FP2. The session was headed by a revitalised Valentino Rossi, the Italian setting a time of 1:42.297, the fastest lap of the weekend so far and quicker than the existing circuit race lap record. His teammate Jorge Lorenzo, who looked in seriously ominous form early in the session, ended up in second place only four hundredths behind Rossi. He was followed closely in third by fellow championship favourite and countryman Dani Pedrosa, the Spaniards appear to be reveling at their home track.
Isaac Vinales topped the time sheets for the second Moto3 free practice session at the circuit de Catalunya. The track temperature had risen by ten degrees since the morning session and Vinales' time of 1:52.339 was some three tenths slower than the fastest time set in the cooler FP1. Alex Marquez finished FP2 in second place ahead of Isaac's more fancied cousin Maverick, Alex Rins, Luis Salom and Efren Vazquez rounded out an all-Spanish top six.
Pol Espargaro has begun his season revival by setting the pace in the opening practice session of his home Grand Prix. The Spaniard finished a tenth ahead of Swisse rider Thomas Luthi, who sat at the top of the time sheets for much of the session in a strong showing after starting the season injured. Veteran Alex DeAngelis rounded out the top three in a surprisingly strong showing aboard his Speed Up machine.
Casey Stoner has quashed rumors that he could make a return to MotoGP. In an interview with the British magazine Autosport, he says he will not come back to Grand Prix racing while it continues in the direction it is heading in. "I'm closed. I'm done with it," Stoner told Autosport.
Jorge Lorenzo has set a blistering pace in the opening practice session of the weekend at Catalunya. The Spaniard took over at the top in the second half of the session with a scorching time of 1:42.422. Championship leader Dani Pedrosa, participating in his 200th Grand Prix weekend, set the pace in the early stages and ended the session a mere two hundredths behind his compatriot. Cal Crutchlow continued his impressive early season form to finish in third place, less than a tenth behind his fellow Yamaha rider Lorenzo.
Luis Salom has carried the momentum from his win into Barcelona, dominating the first session of free practice at the circuit and posting a new lap record in the process. Salom was over eight tenths quicker than Maverick Vinales, while third place man Miguel Oliveira was over a second behind the Red Bull KTM rider. Oliveira led a brace of FTR Hondas, Jack Miller taking fourth spot ahead of Isaac Vinales, while the two Alexes, Rins and Marquez, took sixth and seventh respectively.
This is going to be a big weekend in MotoGP, perhaps one of the most significant in a long while. The outcome of Sunday's race is unlikely to be earth-shattering - the chance of the top three being entirely Spanish, and composed of two Repsol Hondas and a Factory Yamaha is pretty large - and the championship will look much the same on Sunday night as it does now. Yet this weekend will be key.
Press release previews from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone ahead of this week's Catalonian GP at Barcelona:
Yamaha Prepare for Battle in Barcelona
Gerno di Lesmo (Italy), 11th June 2013
Press release previews from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams ahead of this weekend's races at Barcelona:
Redding and Kallio ready for Spanish showdown in Barcelona
Gosselies, Belgium - 11 June 2013: Scott Redding heads into this weekend's Grand Prix de Catalunya with a commanding 43 point lead in the FIM Moto2 World Championship standings, after back-to-back wins in Le Mans and Mugello.
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That the Red Bull Rookies Cup has been a huge success goes without saying. Former rookies now fill the front of the Moto3 grid, and are starting to make an impact in Moto2. The goal of the Red Bull Rookies Cup, of bringing young riders from around the world into Grand Prix racing has clearly been met.
Dorna took Suzuki's departure from MotoGP at the end of the 2011 season badly. After bending over backwards to accommodate the Japanese factory during their final few years in the class - giving Suzuki an exemption from the (now defunct) Rookie Rule, allowing the factory a larger engine allocation, and finally accepting the reduction from a two-rider effort to just a single entry, that of Alvaro Bautista - Suzuki finally pulled out of the series altogether, though they promised to return at a later date.
The troubled waters through which Cal Crutchlow has found himself sailing with Yamaha have been calmed a little. The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider and his manager Bob Moore held their first face-to-face meeting with Yamaha bosses Lin Jarvis and Masahiko Nakajima on the Sunday night after the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, to discuss the options for extending their relationship for next year.
Racing first came to the undulating Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in 2008, opening for business with the last World Superbike race of the year, just before the global economy collapsed. Since then, its appearance on the calendar has danced around the calendar, sometimes early in the year, other times late, and it was very nearly removed from the calendar last year through financial concerns, but luckily for fans of racing, even though so few of them actually turn up at the circuit, racing continues there.