Press releases from the Moto2 and 125 teams after the first two sessions of free practice on Friday:
Luis Salom (9th) in the top 10 despite injured hand
The first free practice sessions of the bwin Grande Premio de Portugal gave the RW Racing Team GP twice a top 10 ranking. Despite the bad weather forecasts the rain stay out during the 125cc class sessions.
Due the postponement of the Japanese Grand Prix, there was a break of almost four weeks for the GP RW Racing team. Luis Salom took full advantage of this break to recover from his hand injury he had suffered during the Spanish GP in Jerez. His right hand is not quite 100% fit but still knew the talented rider from Majorca to finish twice in the top 10 today at the Portuguese circuit of Estoril. In the first free practice it was just sensing how his injury would keep while riding the bike. After a difficult start in the beginning of the session, Salom manage to finish the session on a 10th position.
In the second free practice Salom fell, despite faster lap times than the first session, outside the top 15. The Spaniard had many difficulties getting a fast lap time and he indicated that he was pushing too much. In the last minutes of the second free practice the Spaniard manage to ride more than a second faster of his previous time in the session and finish on a ninth position.
Luis Salom (9th, 1:48.407):
"The enforced break of four weeks following the loss of the Japanese Grand Prix was good to me. In the meantime, I have a little surgery on my right little finger and I had time to recover. While riding the bike I have a lot of pain in my right hand, and especially when I have to brake. Here at Estoril you have a long straight and then you really need to brake hard for the first corner. Especially in this action, I have a lot of pain and I'm losing too much time in the first section. Still, I can look back satisfied on today and I'm happy with a top 10. We also have to find a better set up of the bike and for sure we can improve tomorrow. I know now how my hand reacts when I'm riding and I'm sure it will be better tomorrow. "
Marc Marquez starts the Portuguese Grand Prix with good pace
The Repsol rider returns to the setting where he wrote last year one of the most epic chapters of modern motorcycling history
Marc Marquez returned today to competition at the Portuguese track of Estoril with firm determination and had a good performance. The Repsol rider set the third fastest time in the first session at the beginning of a Grand Prix where rain is expected on the three days. In the afternoon, when rain finally appeared, Alzamora's pupil set the fifth fastest time.
Despite all the set-up work left to do in the young 125cc World Champion bike, who rode again today in the same setting where at the end of last season he had a truly epic race, Marc was able to complete two positive training sessions at the Estoril track. In the morning, the Repsol rider set his best time, 53 thousandths behind the fastest time set by the Japanese rider Takahashi, in the last of the 18 laps he did.
In the afternoon, after making some changes on his bike set-up, Marquez and his team were ready to take the track to check the improvements. Nevertheless, the intermittent rain that fell on the Portuguese track at the end of the MotoGP session forced the Moto2 session to be held on a track half dry and half damp. Only six riders got out under those conditions, while the rest waited patiently on their garages for the track to get completely wet or dry.
16 minutes from the end of the session and with the track wet, Marquez got out on rain tyres to check the asphalt conditions. In the fourth lap, the Repsol rider took the third place, finishing the session fifth after 6 laps. Again, Takahashi was the fastest.
In the combined classification of both sessions, Marc Marquez took the third position in this first day of the Portuguese Grand Prix.
FP1 - 1:42.455, 18 laps, 75 km.
FP2 - 1:53.980, 6 laps, 25 km.
"After these short break, the first training day has been fairly good. Naturally, at the beginning I had not the same confidence with the bike as in Jerez, because after so many days without riding, you do not forget, but you feel a little weird at the start. But we were able to improve during the whole session and we could test some small changes.
Now we know on which points we have to focus and we will see if tomorrow we can ride on dry, to keep improving the set-up. In the afternoon we were not able to do much, as with so little rain, the track was neither dry, nor wet enough. We decided not to do more laps to avoid unnecessary risks".
NICO TEROL TAKES IRON GRIP OVER FREE PRACTICE AT ESTORIL
BANKIA Aspar rider the only man in 1'46 with 0.7 second advantage over nearest rival
Despite a month-long break since the last race things were straight back to normal today as BANKIA Aspar rider Nico Terol resumed business as the man to beat in the Grand Prix of Portugal. The Spaniard took control of both today's sessions from the start, gradually improving his best lap time to leave the rest of the field trailing in his wake. Cortese, Zarco and Faubel were distant spectators and have work to do to close the gap in tomorrow's qualifying session.
In the end Terol was the only rider capable of breaking the 1'47 barrier, maintaining a pace in the 1'46s for his final four laps, to leave Cortese 0.7 seconds adrift. His main weapon seems to be the final sector, where he is pulling four tenths on the rest of the field. Nico remains cautious, however, and knows that his team-mate Héctor Faubel will be looking to close the gap tomorrow. The 2007 championship runner-up is still re-adapting to the category after dropping down from Moto2 and after making the wrong decision today regarding gear ratio set-up he is confident of making big strides tomorrow. BANKIA Aspar's youngest team member Adrián Martín was able to follow Faubel for a few laps at the end of the session and that allowed him to move up to tenth on the time sheets with improved hopes for tomorrow's grid shootout.
1st Nico Terol 1.46.385 (34 laps): "It is only the first day but I am really satisfied because I was able to set a strong pace in both sessions. My feeling with the bike was unbelievable and luckily the rainy forecasts were wrong so we were able to work well. The track was a little damp so it was hard to find our references out there but in the end I was able to get into the 46s, which is quite a good pace for day one. My rivals are a little behind at the moment but I have to concentrate on my job because everything will be closer tomorrow. I feel in good form and I am trying to make the most of it but I can't afford to take my eyes off the ball because I'm sure Héctor, Cortese or Zarco will be closing the gap tomorrow."
4th Héctor Faubel 1.47.496 (33 laps): "Today we were able to confirm some of the things we discovered with the bike in the test at Cheste. It has improved a little although we made a mistake with the gearbox setting today, which was too short with the tailwind and would have been better a bit longer. I think that alone will gain us half a second. We also went the wrong way with the chassis but even so we are still fourth. Today was the day to try these things but we know what we need tomorrow. Nico is riding really strong but at the moment nobody has put him under pressure so hopefully we can do that tomorrow and make it more fun."
10th Adrián Martín 1.48.532 (27 laps): "I decided to follow my team-mate Héctor towards the end of the session and I felt pretty comfortable to be honest, especially in the first half of the track. We ran into a bit of traffic but I was still able to improve my lap times in his slipstream and I felt good on the bike for a few laps. After that I did a lap on my own and I still felt comfortable. We played around with the geometry of the bike last week at Valencia to try and get it better under hard braking and it seems to have worked."
PERFECT FRIDAY FOR TEAM GRESINI
Following up on a fantastic performance by Marco Simoncelli in MotoGP the team led by Fausto Gresini were equally impressive in Moto2. Yuki Takahashi also set the pace in both free practice sessions today, with the morning staying dry but the afternoon affected by rain. For Yuki it was the perfect way to honour his late brother Koki, who died in a tragic accident near Saitama last weekend. Michele Pirro was also impressive today, lapping fifth fastest this morning and third in the afternoon. It was an important result for the team as they returned to work following a long break since the last race at Jerez. The Team Gresini Moriwaki MD600 is making notable improvements and showing the potential to be even better.
Yuki Takahashi (1st: 1'42.402) "It has been a positive day for us. This morning we went really well and in the afternoon on a slightly damper track we were able to confirm the bike's performance. I have to say that the weekend could not have started better. Now we will look to continue our good work in preparation for the race and try to secure a good starting position for the race. I am happy."
Michele Pirro (5th 1' 42" 706) "I am really happy. This morning on the dry track I had a good feeling with the bike and in the afternoon in different conditions I felt equally good. This is important confirmation that the work we have done with the team over the break has been positive. Tomorrow we want to carry the race set-up work forward and try to get a good starting position for Sunday. I want to thank all of the guys because they are doing a great job!"
Fausto Gresini "It has been a perfect Friday full of fantastic emotions – first of all in MotoGP and then in Moto2, with some extraordinary results. I am happy for myself and for the guys because this is further confirmation of our potential. Yuki was fast and determined despite the pain he is feeling over the premature loss of his brother and I hope he is able to have a great race to dedicate to him. The team has worked hard and well over the break and the confirmation of that is in the improved performance of Pirro, who was fast in both the morning and afternoon sessions in completely different conditions. We have to continue like this and I am sure we will have fun."
WORK HIT BY RAIN FOR MAPFRE ASPAR TEAM AT ESTORIL
After a positive morning session Julián Simón decides not to ride in the afternoon whilst Forés completes twelve laps
The first day of the Grand Prix of Portugal was a less fortunate one for the Moto2 riders than it was for their contemporaries in 125 and MotoGP, who enjoyed two dry free practice sessions. The afternoon outing for the intermediate class was hit by rain showers that were only light but heavy enough to spoil the riders' plans. Only sixteen Moto2 riders took to the track in the afternoon, with conditions not appropriate to draw any real conclusions on set-up.
In the MAPFRE Aspar box Julián Simón preferred not to ride this afternoon whilst his team-mate Xavi Forés opted to complete twelve valuable laps as he continues to get to grips with a circuit he barely knows. Simón finished up fifteenth on the time sheets but the Spaniard's position in no way reflects his true potential, having lapped maongst the pacesetters throughout the majority of the morning session before struggling on a hard tyre. Forés was also some way down the timesheets as he grappled with the complexities of the Estoril layout and the rookie is hoping for better weather tomorrow as he looks to close the gap.
15th Julián Simón 1.43.155 (12 laps): "This morning I had a good feeling with the bike. The position doesn't look good but that's circumstantial because of the fact we switched to a hard tyre at the end of the session and couldn't improve our lap times. I was up there from the start this morning and our pace is good. The only thing that didn't work was the hard tyre but it was important for us to rule it out. I think the Valencia test was good for us. Hopefully the weather stays good so we can continue to work on the set-up in the dry. If it rains we will have to just do our best to get a feeling for the wet conditions and get a good grid position for the race. It wasn't really raining this afternoon but the track was too wet for slicks and too dry for wets so we preferred to stay in."
32nd Xavi Forés 1.44.253 (29 laps): "I spent the morning session getting used to the track because I hardly know it. My intention was to complete as many laps as possible and get behind some fast riders to get my lines. At the end the position is quite far down but I was on the same tyre all session and I made gradual improvements, which is another positive. It was a shame about the rain this afternoon because I would have liked to work more on learning the track, especially T4, and tried new things. We didn't go too badly in the wet apart from a little setback with the front tyre. We'll have to wait and see what happens tomorrow but I'd like to get more experience in the dry because I'm sure it won't rain on Sunday."
REDDING AND KALLIO ROAR BACK TO FORM IN ESTORIL
Marc VDS Racing Team riders Scott Redding and Mika Kallio made a brilliant return to form, as the Moto2 World Championship resumed at the Estoril circuit in Portugal today.
With forecast rain and thunderstorms that frequently hit the 2.599 miles circuit failing to materialise this morning, Redding and Kallio were both in scintillating form as they took advantage of an unexpected dry track to both finish inside the top six at the end of the first practice session.
Redding made a sparkling return to the top of the ultra-competitive Moto2 field after a frustrating start to the 2011 season saw him unable to score points in the opening two races in Qatar and Jerez.
The British rider's best lap of 1.42.602 saw him lead the way for much of a closely contested first session and he eventually finished in fourth position, a result that provided the 18-year-old with a welcome confidence boost as he found a positive feeling with the front-end of his Suter MMXI machine after a modification to the position of his footpegs.
Finnish rider Kallio, preparing to make his 150th Grand Prix in Sunday's 26-lap race, was sixth quickest as he made significant progress with a new weight distribution setting that boosted his confidence in the corners. Kallio clocked a best time of 1.42.780 to finish just over 0.3s away from the quickest pace.
Buoyed by their performance in this morning's opening session, Redding and Kallio were looking forward to evaluating further set-up changes this afternoon when rain started to fall just minutes before the start of the second session.
The initial heavy downpour saw Redding and Kallio abort plans to take to the track with track conditions preventing any meaningful testing taking place. The track did dry out towards the end and Redding ventured out in mixed conditions to complete eight laps. Kallio only completed one lap before heavy rain once again started to fall right at the end of the session.
Scott Redding #45 - 1.42.602 - 25 laps
"That was a lot more like it after what has been a pretty difficult start to the season. I felt better right from the start this morning because we changed the footpegs back to a position I used last season and I immediately felt a lot more comfortable. I've not been able to get a confident feeling with the front-end so far this season but moving my body position forward has put more weight on the front and I felt like I could push with the same trust and confidence that I had with the front at the end of last season. In the dry I'm really confident and I actually felt I was doing much better in the tricky conditions this afternoon. The track was pretty greasy and it is in those conditions where I'll admit I'm probably at my weakest, so I went out and just got a few laps under my belt and some feeling in case we get those conditions for the race. You never know what is going to happen with the weather in Estoril, but I feel we are prepared for whatever the elements throw at us."
Mika Kallio #36 - 1.42.780 - 22 laps
"Today was a very positive day even though we lost one complete session because of the rain this afternoon. This morning was a big improvement compared to where I have been in the first two races and I felt much more confident on the bike. At the last race in Jerez we moved a lot of weight to the front of the bike to help improve the turning performance and before I went out this morning we'd added even more weight because we felt we'd gone in a good direction. Although it is opposite to the way I normally set-up my bike, it was an instant improvement and as I adapt more to this setting I am getting more comfortable but more importantly I'm getting faster. This weekend is my 150th Grand Prix so hopefully I can deliver a good result for the Marc VDS Racing Team because everybody has been working incredibly hard to get us back in the top six where we belong."
Michael Bartholemy - Team Manager
"Today was a very good day for the Marc VDS Racing Team and long overdue after what has been a difficult start to the 2011 World Championship. I'd say today was a typical Estoril experience with the conditions changing a lot. But we have to be very satisfied with this morning. Scott dominated the first session for a long spell and it was only at the end when he tried another tyre that some of the other riders put him back in fourth. But Scott looked like the Scott of old today and he has shown a good pace. It was also important for him to do some laps in mixed conditions this afternoon. The conditions were very similar to this at the start of the race in Jerez and Scott found it difficult, but he has gained some valuable experience this afternoon. Mika was also impressive today, so if the race is dry then we can be confident that he can be very competitive. He only managed one lap this afternoon so we can't make any judgement on his potential if the race is wet. But I'm happy that he's started to show more of his true potential. When you leave the first two races without any points then the pressure increases on everybody, but we have bounced back well today and we are very optimistic for the rest of the weekend."
Thomas Lüthi powers to second In first practice at Estoril
On the first day of practice for the Grand Prix of Portugal, Team Interwetten Paddock Moto2 rider Thomas Lüthi immediately set the pace and swept into the lead of the first free Moto2 practice session. With a taller gearing, the 24-year-old from Switzerland could have gone even faster, but eventually settled into second place just 0.011 seconds behind Japanese rider Yuki Takahashi. Shortly before the second session in the afternoon, it started to drizzle and the track remained in treacherous half-dry, half-wet conditions for the rest of the session. Lüthi took the same decision as the majority of the Moto2 field and stayed in his pit garage rather than taking unnecessary risks.
Thoms Lüthi - 2nd in 1:42,413 min.:
"We had a very good session this morning. I found a good rhythm and a good feeling for the bike almost immediately, also because we hadn't changed much on the bike after the Grand Prix of Jerez. In the afternoon, we wanted to improve even further and try some more things on the set-up of the bike. But that all fell through due to the tricky track conditions. If it had rained more, I would have gone out for sure, but the track was neither really wet nor really dry, so there was no chance to work on the set-up at all!"
Alfred Willecke, Crew Chief:
"The surface of the track in Estoril is very bumpy so you need a bike which is smooth over the bumps. We started with our basis set-up from qualifying in Jerez and during the session we tried to optimize the geometry of the chassis. This step felt positive, but we have to confirm those changes again, which wasn't possible in the afternoon because of the weather!"
Terrell Thien, Team Manager:
"We are right up with the front runners again. If we had used a longer gear ratio, Tom could have gone faster, but nevertheless we are satisfied. If we had had real rain we also would have went out in the afternoon. But under these conditions it wouldn't have made sense to waste a set of tyres which we are probably going to need if it rains again tomorrow!"