Today's two-hour long session took place under dry conditions, with all the riders getting a chance to actually go out and learn the track. The session went mostly as expected, with a few surprises. Casey Stoner dominated once again, and though Valentino Rossi was close for most of the practice, in the last 15 minutes, Stoner turned up the heat and started lapping in the 1'34s, over half a second faster than the rest of the field. Rossi took back a little time on Stoner, but still ended half a second slower than Stoner's fastest time.
Images are starting to appear of Friday's downpour at Misano, and the track is truly awash. It will be a worry whether the track officials can get the track dry and cleared of mud by the time practice starts tomorrow morning.
First of all, a link to some photos over at Racesport.nl. Here's an example of the conditions:
Misano is a brand new track for most of the MotoGP paddock, and to help the riders learn the track, an extra hour of practice had been scheduled for Friday afternoon. The weather gods had other ideas, however, and after heavy rainfall on Thursday evening and Friday caused the track to be flooded, the afternoon practice sessions were called off.
The weather conditions have gotten so bad at Misano that all further action has been called off, with both pit lane and sections of the track under several inches of standing water, and pit crews fighting pitched battles with the elements to avoid flooding in the garages. The event organizers are currently meeting to discuss the remainder of the weekend's schedule, in order to allow more practice time for what is a new track for the riders.
Practice took place in very wet conditions, with Toni Elias electing to stay in the garage, rather than risk falling on his still recovering leg.
The practice sessions scheduled for Misano have been delayed due to a torrential downpour, flooding the pit lane and parts of the track. The rain started on Thursday, and has continued through Friday, throwing the practice schedule into chaos. Ironically, an extra session had been scheduled for the MotoGP class, with extended sessions scheduled for the other classes, to give the riders a chance to learn what is for most of them a new track. More updates as and when they become available.
The redoubtable Toby Moody over at Autosport.com is reporting that the FIM and Dorna will announce today that the Qatar MotoGP round, set to be the season opener for next year, will be run under floodlights as a night race. This option had been discussed previously, with Valentino Rossi, Loris Capirossi and Kenny Roberts Junior running a few laps under floodlights in 2006 as members of MotoGP's safety commission.
MotoGP is the very pinnacle of technological innovation when it comes to motorcycle racing. Whether it be the carbon brakes, advanced engine electronics, trick engine internals or complex chassis design, MotoGP really is pushing the envelope, what's known in computing circles as "the bleeding edge." If you only had a single phrase to sum up the bikes and technologies involved in motorcycle racing's premier class, it would be The Future.
The speculation earlier this week has finally been confirmed. Today, Kawasaki announced that Ant West will join John Hopkins at Kawasaki for the 2008 season. West had been getting closer to clinching the deal over the past weeks, his position getting even stronger after current team mate Randy de Puniet announced that he would be joining LCR Honda.
Motorcycle News is reporting that Ant West is very close to securing the second seat at Kawasaki, alongside John Hopkins, whose signing was announced last month. According to MCN, West's signing will be announced on Thursday, on the eve of the Misano grand prix.
Another piece of the MotoGP puzzle fell into place today, with the news that Randy de Puniet has signed a deal with LCR Honda for two years. The move is something of a surprise, as the Kawasaki has been very impressive this year, in stark contrast to the Hondas, and especially the satellite bikes run by teams such as LCR.
The MotoGP paddock has spent a long time waiting for Dani Pedrosa to finally sign the new contract which HRC have waiting for him. It was thought that much of the delay was due to disagreements about the length of the contract, with HRC wanting Pedrosa to sign for 3 years, while Pedrosa only wanted to extend for a single year. With Pedrosa's displeasure with HRC becoming ever more public, delaying signing the contract seemed understandable, but rather pointless. After all, where, realistically, could Pedrosa go?
Testing continued at Brno on Tuesday, though it got off to a very slow start due to the rain that had fallen overnight. If there's one man that isn't afraid of the rain, it's Anthony West, and so the Australian Kawasaki rider was the first out on the slowly drying track. Once the track dried sufficiently, he was joined by 13 other riders who had stayed on to test. West also spent some time testing qualifying tires, as this was his first opportunity to test the qualifiers outside of an actual qualifying session.
The paddock is awash with rumors at Brno, and one of the most stubborn is not about riders or bikes, but about tires. With Michelin so far failing very publicly to come to terms with the new tire rules, the balance of power has shifted as far as tires are concerned, from Michelin to Bridgestone. The demise of the overnight tire shipment has removed what has turned out to be the sole advantage for Michelin, and more and more teams are looking to switch to winning rubber.
Ever since the news broke that 250cc World Champion Jorge Lorenzo would be moving to MotoGP with Yamaha, there had been intense speculation about how the young Spaniard's role would be fit into the Yamaha team. Normally, the matter would be settled quite simply, as a young and promising rookie would be slotted in as the junior rider with the seasoned veteran, but in Lorenzo's case, this required a little more tact.