Warm Up took place under damp but sunny conditions. Conditions for the race are likely to be dry, but the weather radar shows clouds and rain just off to the North of Estoril. The question remains whether they will fall on Estoril during the afternoon. They may be Casey Stoner's salvation, if they do.
Saturday afternoon's qualifying practice session started warm and dry, conditions better than on Friday afternoon, when the session had started with a cool track. The riders had also had the benefit of a dry practice session in the morning, in which they had all improved their Friday times, and race setups were starting to materialize.
Ever since the start of Kawasaki's MotoGP project, one of its main problems has been the lack of a rider capable of winning championships, to help push the development of the bike forward. Their signing of John Hopkins in a multi-million dollar deal went some way to address that issue, but Team Green's ambitions are obviously much higher.
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The third free practice session at Estoril's Portuguese Grand Prix started half an hour later than planned, after morning dew had left the track damp and treacherous. Though the spring sunshine soon chased away the damp patches, the air and track temperatures meant that the conditions remained cooler than the riders would have wanted.
The weather had improved considerably this afternoon during MotoGP's FP2 session, the session starting sunny and dry. But sunny as it may have been, at the start of the session, the track was still pretty cool, as a coterie of crashers hit the deck on their first laps out of the pits. The fallers included Alex de Angelis, who has managed to fall off in almost every single session of practice so far this year, James Toseland, and the reigning champion Casey Stoner.
The morning started wet, with rain during the 125 practice session, but though the MotoGP riders went out on a damp track, at least the rain had stopped. The rain was good for some, though, as Ant West finally found himself running nearer the front, rather than at the back. West was joined early on by Chris Vermeulen, the other wet weather wizard, but Vermeulen's time didn't improve as fast as the conditions.
British MotoGP fans can finally breathe a collective sigh of relief. There had been much speculation (and a great deal of fear) that Yamaha would hold back the air spring engines after both Colin Edwards and James Toseland had put in outstanding performances at Qatar and Jerez, to ensure that the Tech 3 riders didn't get in Valentino Rossi's way in his fight to reclaim the MotoGP title.
It's been no secret that Marco Melandri has had a terrible time adapting to the GP8 since hist switch to Ducati at the end of the year. And Melandri is not the only rider to suffer: both Toni Elias and Sylvain Guintoli have struggled aboard the Ducati for the satellite Alice team. Yet reigning world champion Casey Stoner continues to dominate the MotoGP class, despite his recent setbacks at Jerez.
Although we are not much given to rehashing race team press releases here at MotoGPMatters.com, much preferring to go searching for actual news, from time to time, we get sent something which captures our imagination. Anthony Murphy, A reader of the site sent us a link to the Kawasaki Racing website, with a video of Kawasaki's new screamer engine.
It was MotoGP's least favorite destination for any number of reasons: It was half a world away from most teams' headquarters; there was minimal local interest; the track was designed for Formula 1, which made for poor motorcycle racing; the track was located miles from the city; the air quality was appalling, on a good day; and the journalists which cover MotoGP were kept on a tight leash by the authorities, in case they said anything wrong about the host country.
GPOne.com is reporting that Jorge Martinez of Aspar may look elsewhere for MotoGP bikes for 2009. Aspar has made no secret of his intention to enter MotoGP next season, and his name has long been linked with Suzuki.