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.
Alex de Angelis leads a horde of Italians at the end of second session of free practice for the Moto2 class, holding off Andrea Iannone, Raffaele de Rosa and Mattia Pasini on a soaking wet track. Championship leader Stefan Bradl ended up with the 7th fastest time, seven tenths behind De Angelis, but only a little over a tenth off De Rosa in 3rd. With more wet weather expected on Saturday and Sunday, both qualifying and the race look to be an interesting prospect.
A rain-sodden track which dried as the second session of MotoGP free practice progressed saw Alvaro Bautista come out on top. The Rizla Suzuki rider was fast throughout the session, taking control in the final five minutes from Ducati Marlboro's Nicky Hayden. Hayden was on course to take back top spot from Bautista, but a couple of slides in the second sector slowed the American up.
Sandro Cortese has topped a very wet second session of free practice for the 125cc class at Valencia, the only rider to lap under the 2 minute mark in the rain. Harry Stafford was an impressive second, nine tenths behind Cortese, and a few hundredths ahead of Johann Zarco. Championship leader Nico Terol was once again very cautious, ending the session in 12th and over two seconds behind Cortese. With rain forecast for Sunday, Terol will have to go one better and finish in 11th if he is to wrap up the 2011 125cc Championship.
Stefan Bradl topped the first session of free practice for the Moto2 class at Valencia, the Viessmann Kiefer rider the fastest on a drying track. Bradl was a third of a second faster than Kiefer teammate Randy Krummenacher, and over nine tenths faster than JIR's Alex de Angelis. Marc Marquez did not ride, the Spaniard still suffering from double vision, and announced that he will not race this weekend or test the Honda MotoGP bike on Monday.
Casey Stoner has topped the first session of free practice for the MotoGP class at Valencia, grabbing the fastest time in the final minutes on a drying but still difficult track. The Australian ended ahead of his Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa, the Spaniard finishing the session in 2nd. The Repsol Hondas led the Marlboro Ducatis, Valentino Rossi finishing in 3rd in front of Nicky Hayden, the Ducatis always performing better under damp conditions than in the dry.
Sandro Cortese led the way on the first session of free practice for the 125cc class, holding off Johann Zarco by the narrowest of margins on a damp and extremely treacherous track. Adrian Martin set the 3rd fastest time, ahead of Efren Vazquez and Marcel Schrotter, while championship leader Nico Terol put in a cautious 10th fastest time, a wise consideration given the number of crashes that happened during the session.
It's a good thing that we're going to go racing again. Marco Simoncelli's tragic death at Sepang has cast a very heavy and very dark pall over the MotoGP paddock, and two weeks of inaction - the one thing that motorcycle racers cannot bear, along with just about everyone else in the paddock - meeting again at Valencia with the purpose of racing has given some direction again.
The Misano World Circuit is to honor Marco Simoncelli by renaming itself after the Italian, who died in a tragic accident in Sepang. In a press statement issued today, the track announced that it was in talks with Simoncelli's family, the foundation that has been set up in his name and with the fan club to find the best way to name the circuit after Simoncelli.