World Superbikes Portimao - Friday Afternoon Report

The weather continues to confuse and confound expectations here in Portugal, with rain and sunshine alternating almost minute by minute. The track, despite the sunshine, has barely been dry, however. As a consequence, times have been difficult to judge.

The World Supersport qualifying session was a case in point. The American Josh Hayes led for much of the session, having gone out on wet tires, and as a dry line was starting to appear, he pulled in for some intermediates. As he headed out of pit lane to start his next lap, it started to rain, and by the time he was halfway round the track, the dry line was completely gone, and his chance of provisional pole along with it.

In the end, it was the Frenchman Mathieu Lagrive who got it most right, topping the timesheets ahead of Hayes on the Parkalgar Honda, with Joan Lascorz and Gianluca Vizziello rounding out the front row. Kenan Sofuoglu continued to show just how much better he is on a Supersport bike than on a Superbike by setting the 5th fastest time, ahead of Gianluca Nanelli, with the Hoegee Suzukis of Barry Veneman and Didier van Keymeulen rounding out the second row. Jesco Gunther took 9th, while the 2008 World Supersport champion Andrew Pitt was down in 10th.

The disparity in times showed just how difficult the conditions were. Lagrive was 1.4 seconds faster than Hayes, while Hayes was 1.5 ahead of Lascorz. The top 10 are separated by 6.3 seconds.

The weather was slightly better for the World Superbike session, and for a while, it looked like being an all-British front row, with Ten Kate Honda's Johnny Rea, the HM Plant Hondas of Cal Crutchlow and Leon Haslam, and Ventaxia Honda's Chris Walker heading the timesheets. But by the end of the session, it was Troy Corser who took provisional pole, forcing Haslam down into 2nd, with the Ducatis of Michel Fabrizio and Ruben Xaus filling out the front row.

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Ronald ten Kate: "Once We Know The Rules, We'll Build A Bike"

When Dorna and the FIM first announced the provisional rules for the new 600cc four-stroke formula to replace the existing 250 class, the first thought that crossed most racing fans' minds was: "Ten Kate". The Dutch team has dominated the World Supersport – the world's premier 600cc four-stroke formula – since 2002, constantly managing to stay at least one step ahead of the competition, despite not enjoying the kind of factory support that other teams have had.
 
Today at Portimao, Ronald ten Kate confirmed to MotoGPMatters that the team is extremely interested. "It's definitely a class that we think that we should be in," ten Kate said. "We're just waiting for the rules to be announced so we can start building a bike." 
 
With Moriwaki already having built a prototype, more as an engineering demonstration than as a competitive item, interest is starting to grow in the new class. If Ten Kate do build a bike and enter the class, then they are likely to start the series as the team to beat. With their current record in the World Supersport and World Superbike series, beating Ten Kate is going to be a pretty tall order.

 

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Portimao World Superbikes - Friday Morning Report

Heavy rain overnight on Thursday meant the inaugural day of practice got off to a late start here in Portugal. There are still problems with drainage, and parts of the track were flooded. What was worse was mud on the track, which had to be cleaned off before proceedings could start.

While the track was fixed quickly, facilities around the circuit are a little more problematic, with power being alternated between the pit garages and the hospitality area, the electricity supply blowing fuses with alarming regularity. And because the outside of the track is still basically a construction site, vast quantities of rich brown mud is being tramped everywhere. At least there is an army of cleaners keeping the buildings almost spotless, but they are having to work for their money.

When practice commenced, times dropped rapidly as rubber started to be laid on the brand new surface. During the first free practice session of World Supersport, Joan Lascorz started quickly, before Parkalgar Honda's Josh Hayes took over the top spot. The Mississippian was making good use of the track knowledge acquired here during testing last week, and was getting quicker when he crashed going into turn 1. He ended the session in 5th place. Joan Lascorz took back the top spot while Hayes limped back to the pits with a damaged bike. 

Lascorz finished the session on top, ahead of Matthieu Lagrive, Kenan Sofuoglu, clearly much happier on a Supersport bike than he was on a Superbike, and the Dutch Hoegee Suzuki rider Barry Veneman.

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Live From Portimao - It's Wednesday And The Roads Aren't Done Yet

MotoGPMatters.com is in Portimao this weekend, to cover the World Superbikes finale, but mostly, to seize the last chance of seeing Troy Bayliss out on track. This morning, we headed out to find the circuit and give it the once over, and we have to say that it's an impressive facility. 

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MotoGP Winter Test Schedule For 125, 250 And MotoGP Classes

The schedule for the official tests has been announced. The MotoGP and smaller classes will test separately. Highlight of the test season is as ever the official IRTA test at Jerez, also known as Grand Prix Zero. Here, a BMW coupe will be up for grabs during a special qualifying session held on the last day.

MotoGP

November 26-27 Jerez Spain  
December 1 - January 20 Winter test ban
February 5-7 Sepang Malaysia  
March 1-3 Losail Qatar Night Test
March 28-29 Jerez Spain Official IRTA Test

125 and 250 class

December 1 - January 20 Winter test ban
January 26-28 Jerez Spain  
January 31-February 1 Valencia Spain  
March 25-27 Jerez Spain Official IRTA Test
April 6-7 Losail Qatar  

 

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MotoGP 2008 Valencia Test Times Day 2 - Hayden Fastest In The Wet

The rain returned to Valencia on Tuesday, and the track saw little action, most riders going home. Only 7 riders hit the track in the afternoon, and as a few days earlier, Nicky Hayden was quickest in the wet.

The times:

1 Nicky Hayden Ducati 1'48.287 20 / 20
2 Andrea Dovizioso Honda 1'48.296 17 / 18
3 Marco Melandri Kawasaki 1'48.786 23 / 26
4 Niccolo Canepa Ducati 1'49.917 24 / 25
5 Mika Kallio Ducati 1'50.275 25 / 26
6 Toni Elias Honda 1'54.057 14 / 16
7 Loris Capirossi Suzuki 1'57.322 6 / 7

 

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MotoGP 2008 Valencia Test Times Day 1 - Finalized

Times from the first day of testing at Valencia. These will be updated as soon as official times are available. All times were set using the new standard tires provided by Bridgestone, with a choice of either a soft or a hard compound available. For comparison, see the fastest lap each rider set during the race on Sunday.

Times courtesy of GPOne.com and Motociclismo.es

Times at 5pm, the end of the test:

1Casey StonerDucati1'32.46431 / 54
2Dani PedrosaHonda1'32.67224 / 60
3Valentino RossiYamaha1'32.92120 / 34
4Chris VermeulenSuzuki1'33.14241 / 67
5Loris CapirossiSuzuki1'33.32537 / 75
6Alex de AngelisHonda1'33.37535 / 77
7Jorge LorenzoYamaha1'33.55041 / 44
8Andrea DoviziosoHonda1'33.67538 / 57
9John HopkinsKawasaki1'33.76044 / 74
10Marco MelandriKawasaki1'33.78247 / 75
11Randy de PunietHonda1'33.83239 / 80
12Nicky HaydenDucati1'33.96074 / 79
13Toni EliasHonda1'34.12978 / 81
14Sete GibernauDucati1'34.45121 / 52
15Mika KallioDucati1'34.79357 / 60
16Olivier JacqueKawasaki1'34.92548 / 71
17Niccolo CanepaDucati1'34.99559 / 62
18Yuki TakahashiHonda1'35.20372 / 73
19Gabor TalmacsiAprilia1'38.47255 / 57

 

Fastest lap of each rider during the race on Sunday:

Pos.No.RiderManufacturerFast LapDiffDiff Previous
11Casey STONERDUCATI1'32.582  
22Dani PEDROSAHONDA1'32.7960.2140.214
346Valentino ROSSIYAMAHA1'33.0750.4930.279
44Andrea DOVIZIOSOHONDA1'33.3130.7310.238
569Nicky HAYDENHONDA1'33.3930.8110.080
65Colin EDWARDSYAMAHA1'33.3990.8170.006
756Shinya NAKANOHONDA1'33.5500.9680.151
865Loris CAPIROSSISUZUKI1'33.6261.0440.076
915Alex DE ANGELISHONDA1'33.8391.2570.213
1048Jorge LORENZOYAMAHA1'33.8841.3020.045
1121John HOPKINSKAWASAKI1'34.0351.4530.151
1233Marco MELANDRIDUCATI1'34.1171.5350.082
1352James TOSELANDYAMAHA1'34.1501.5680.033
1414Randy DE PUNIETHONDA1'34.2251.6430.075
1550Sylvain GUINTOLIDUCATI1'34.4621.8800.237
167Chris VERMEULENSUZUKI1'34.5952.0130.133
1724Toni ELIASDUCATI1'34.6342.0520.039
1813Anthony WESTKAWASAKI1'34.7152.1330.081

 

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2008 / 2009 Provisional Testing Schedule

With the new tire regulations comes a severely reduced MotoGP testing schedule. Here's the testing schedule as it stands:

October 27 - 28 Valencia Spain
November 26 - 27 Jerez Spain
February 5 - 7 Sepang Malaysia
March 1 - 3 Losail Qatar
March 28 - 29 IRTA Test, Jerez Spain

More details when they become available.

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2008 Valencia Day 3 Warmup Times - Stoner Dominates As Ever

Pos.No.RiderManufacturerFast LapDiffDiff Previous
11Casey STONERDUCATI1'32.844  
22Dani PEDROSAHONDA1'33.3820.5380.538
369Nicky HAYDENHONDA1'33.5990.7550.217
45Colin EDWARDSYAMAHA1'33.6050.7610.006
546Valentino ROSSIYAMAHA1'33.6760.8320.071
614Randy DE PUNIETHONDA1'33.7490.9050.073
715Alex DE ANGELISHONDA1'33.9731.1290.224
84Andrea DOVIZIOSOHONDA1'33.9821.1380.009
956Shinya NAKANOHONDA1'34.0101.1660.028
107Chris VERMEULENSUZUKI1'34.2521.4080.242
1133Marco MELANDRIDUCATI1'34.2801.4360.028
1248Jorge LORENZOYAMAHA1'34.3281.4840.048
1350Sylvain GUINTOLIDUCATI1'34.3381.4940.010
1465Loris CAPIROSSISUZUKI1'34.5151.6710.177
1521John HOPKINSKAWASAKI1'34.5871.7430.072
1652James TOSELANDYAMAHA1'34.7001.8560.113
1724Toni ELIASDUCATI1'34.9572.1130.257
1813Anthony WESTKAWASAKI1'34.9922.1480.035

 

Circuit records:

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Yamaha Could Be Interested In 250 Replacement Class

At the end of the season, Yamaha's top engineers usually give a presentation on the inner workings of their championship-winning M1. So it was earlier this week, but during that presentation, comments were made which were even more interesting than the notes on the MotoGP bike.

Shigeo Kitagawa, head of projects for Yamaha's racing department, told journalists that they could also be interested in supplying equipment for the new four-stroke class which is to replace the current 250s in 2011. "In the past, we had a near-monopoly in the 250 class with our TD 250 and TZ 250," Kitagawa said. "At the moment, we are engaged in MotoGP, but that doesn't mean to say that once the rules are clarified, Yamaha won't be interested in producing a low-cost machine, especially if it could also be used in national championships."

So far, the consensus has been that the 250 replacement class - due to consist of 600cc four strokes - will be Honda's plaything. But with Yamaha's long history in 250s, plus their failure to win a World Supersport title since 2000, there's every reason to assume that Yamaha have an interest in getting involved. Whether the 600s are as interesting as the 250s have been remains to be seen. But with more than one manufacturer involved, the class is starting to show potential.

 

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2008 Valencia Qualifying Report

Opinions about the proposal for a single tire manufacturer are still divided among the riders, but there is one thing that all of them agree on: They are going to miss the breathtaking sensation of pushing the astonishingly grippy qualifying tires to their very limits. Nicky Hayden has said the tires are so good, that "you get off the bike and you're shaking." For riders so used to being right on the edge to be shaking takes something quite remarkable.

So there was some disappointment when the weather on Saturday started off as gray and wet as it had been on Friday. It looked like the last chance to use qualifiers might be gone, but as the afternoon started, the rain stopped, and the track started to dry out.

The track filled quickly once qualifying started. With the race expected to be dry, teams and riders were anxious to find a race setting that might work on Sunday. After three drenched sessions of free practice, they had learned more than they needed to know about riding in the wet.

The track was still cool, and spotty in patches, so times came down slowly. It took 5 laps before the times even got into the 1'34s, Randy de Puniet the first to crack that barrier on his LCR Honda. De Puniet was joined seconds later by Loris Capirossi, then Shinya Nakano, the Japanese Gresini Honda rider taking half a second off the Frenchman's time, with a lap of 1'34.437.

Three minutes later, Nakano's time was beaten, Nicky Hayden taking over the top spot with a 1'34.351. The Kentucky Kid had been fastest in all three wet sessions, and was showing he was quick in the dry too. Hayden was on a strong run, going on to take 3/10ths off his time on the next lap, with a time of 1'34.009.

His team mate, with whom Hayden had been engaged in a war of words by proxy, was not about to let Hayden run away with the session, and with 15 minutes gone, set the 2nd fastest time with a lap of 1'34.195.

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