Four weeks between races this early in the season is clearly far too long. Since arriving at Estoril, the various members of the paddock have been behaving like sailors on shore leave, getting drunk, chasing women and picking fights with everyone in their vicinity. Well, the getting drunk and chasing women part I made up, but the mood in the paddock is deeply pugnacious, as witnessed by the verbal scraps breaking out everywhere.
If the changes to the 2012 MotoGP regulations were aimed at filling out the grid, then they appear to have succeeded. Today, the FIM released the numbers of teams who had put in for a provisional entry for the 2012 season. The numbers were very promising: 16 teams entered, of which 14 were accepted, representing a total of 21 riders.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after qualifying on Saturday:
Edwards and Crutchlow storm to third row in Estoril
Colin Edwards produced his best qualifying performance of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship in Estoril today, the American surging to a brilliant seventh position on the grid for tomorrow's Portuguese Grand Prix.
And Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team-mate Cal Crutchlow equalled his best qualifying result of his outstanding rookie campaign after the British rider set the eighth quickest time in this afternoon's session.
Press releases from the Moto2 and 125cc teams after qualifying on Saturday:
Work To Do At Estoril For Kenny Noyes
Results of qualifying for the Moto2 class:
Results and summary of qualifying practice for the MotoGP class at Estoril:
Jorge Lorenzo has taken his fourth straight pole at Estoril, after quietly chipping away at the times to come out on top. All eyes had been on Marco Simoncelli early on, the San Carlo Gresini rider dominating the first part of practice, but Lorenzo edged Simoncelli with less than 5 minutes to go. The Italian looked like taking back pole again, but he crashed out while on a very fast lap.
Results of qualifying for the 125cc class:
Nico Terol has secured his second pole position of the season at Estoril, continuing his dominance in the 125cc class. The Bankia Aspar rider once again has a huge margin over his rivals, led by Racing Team Germany's Sandro Cortese, while local hero Miguel Oliveira is just behind Cortese. Hector Faubel rounds out the front row of the 125cc grid for tomorrow's race.
Thomas Luthi was the fastest man in the final session of free practice for the Moto2 class, the Moto2 riders getting the best track conditions of the day so far. The track was still damp, though, allowing Kenan Sofuoglu to avoid the chatter that has plagued the Technomag CIP rider so far this season, Sofuoglu topping the timesheets for much of the session, before falling to 2nd towards the end. Catalunya Caixa's Marc Marquez ended the session in 3rd, ahead of Gresini's Michele Pirro, and IODA Racing's Simone Corsi.
Loris Capirossi has topped the third session of free practice at the Estoril circuit, and the fact that the man who has so far struggled to tame the Pramac Ducati was the fastest in the session was a sign of how mixed the conditions were. The track slowly dried out throughout the course or practice, but large sections remained slick, with damp patches throughout. Most of the riders chose to remain in the pits for much of the session, with only a few circulating on track.
Nico Terol was once again fastest 125 man on the track at Estoril on Saturday morning, despite the weather having taken a turn for the worse. The rain meant the competition was closer, however, with Danny Kent posting an excellent 2nd fastest time, ahead of Hector Faubel and Efren Vazquez.
The weather is projected to be unpredictable, with rain likely to fall at various intervals throughout the day.
"It's like kindergarten." That was how one journalist described the spate of complaints, insults and snide comments that filled the rider debriefs after the first day of free practice at Estoril. Casey Stoner accused Valentino Rossi of following him, then went on to talk again about Rossi's mistake at Jerez; Rossi launched a diatribe against Stoner, accusing him of saying a lot of things which were untrue about his move to Ducati; and then Jorge Lorenzo joined in the fun by attacking Marco Simoncelli, complaining that the Italian was a liability and a danger to others.