Press releases after Thursday from the 125cc and Moto2 teams at Assen:
Day off because of oil on the track
Luis Salom, like all other rider, had an unexpected day off. All free practices on the Dutch TT track were cancelled in the afternoon, after Alex Baldolini blew up his engine in the morning practice in Moto2, leaving an oil track on the tarmac of at least one kilometer long. Due to the rain the oil spread over the track leaving a spillery film on the wet tarmac.
The organisers tried to clean it with watertanks, vacuum cleaners and even the fire department but after two hours the oil still wasn't cleaned up completely. Race direction then decided to call it a day. It was not only a matter of safety first, but the schedule had such a big delay already it would be impossible to let all practices take place in reasonable time range.
Salom was not happy with the time off. In the morning practice he had not been able to use all the 40 minutes due to the changing circumstances.
"It was difficult," according to the Spanish rider, dressed in TVM colors for the occassion of his teams home race. "Wet and dry changed all the time. Therefore especially tyre choice was not that easy. To be honest: I could only do one decent lap, which put me in eight."
Crew chief Hans Spaan, who won the 125 race in Assen in 1989, advised Salom to start on slicks. "But after two laps he got a bit scared when it started to drizzle. I think he could have continued for a while but when a rider gets scared you have to listen to him. So we put rain tyres on."
The rain wasn't very hard and thus the rain tyres were worn out after a few laps already. "So we waited for a whole and changed to slicks again," Salom said. "That went quite well, but in the last section of the track the rain got worse. I got off the gas and looked behind me to make sure there were no faster riders close behind. Then I saw three, four guys crash. So I made a good decision to close the gas!"
Spaan and Salom are hoping for dry practices on friday. At 8.40 (local Dutch time) the 125's have a one hour free practice. Qualifying practice is at 13.00. "I'm afraid it will be cold and wet that early in the morning," Spaan said. "But the circumstances are the same for everyone and that is an advantage for us. We have ridden and tested in Assen so often, we know by now what to do."
Kenny Noyes Finds New Confidence From 10th Fastest Time On Thursday
After a dismal weekend at Silverstone, Kenny Noyes has found just the medicine he needed to wash the blues away at Assen. The American and his Avintia-STX team made a major change to his FOGI Racing FTR, and the change transformed the bike totally. Now comfortable on the bike once again, Noyes ended a wet and difficult FP1 session in 10th place, his best result of the season so far.
Unfortunately for Kenny, a very severe oil spillage caused the Moto2 FP1 session to be red-flagged, and the resulting clean-up operation meant that the afternoon sessions at Assen were canceled. But after such a morale-boosting session on Thursday, Kenny faces a full day of practice on Friday confident of running where his potential shows he belongs.
10th, Fastest Lap: 1'56.585
Kenny said, "We definitely made a big step today. The big step in the bike means a big step in my confidence, and I feel we have a base again, something to build on. The best thing about the session today was to go out and feel my tires again, feel what the bike is doing, and be able to feel the limits and feel comfortable on the bike."
"We've had a lot of problems during the season, and I think Silverstone was the worst, as far as my confidence in the bike was so low, that everything was really difficult. And here in difficult conditions, I felt comfortable. Unfortunately, we didn't get the second session, 'cos I'm sure we could have continued to improve a little. But we're back where we want to be, and now we've just got to start working, now we have a base."
SAFETY TAKES PRIORITY ON DAY ONE AT ASSEN
Oil left on track by Moto2 rider sees all three afternoon sessions cancelled
A relatively unproductive first session for the 125cc riders in the wet this morning was followed by a non-existent one in the afternoon, when oil left on the track by a Moto2 rider led to the second free practice session being cancelled in the name of safety. The morning session had been affected by drizzle that fell only around certain sections of the track, making it impossible for the riders to judge on slick tyres. As for BANKIA Aspar riders Nico Terol and Héctor Faubel it has been a short but satisfactory opening day at the Dutch TT, which they finished in fourth and fifth place respectively, with their young team-mate Adrián Martín caught out by the conditions and languishing down in 26th place.
4th Nico Terol 1.48.847 (9 laps): "Today was a strange day because we spent very little time on track. This morning we only completed a few laps because the track was partly damp and it was difficult to get a feeling on slick tyres. I have always got on well with this circuit so I am not too worried about the cancelled session. Hopefully the conditions are better in the morning so that we can continue to work. I have spoken to Elena [Rosell], who has had a tough day today because it is not easy at all to take on a new circuit like Assen in these conditions, and I am sure she will bounce back tomorrow."
5th Héctor Faubel 1.49.115 (8 laps): "Once again we have been forced to start a Grand Prix in difficult circumstances. The track this morning was neither wet nor dry and even though you could ride with slicks it was slippery. It is a shame about this afternoon being cancelled because I was keen to ride, even in the rain, but if the track wasn't safe because of the oil left by Baldolini then it is the right decision."
26th Adrián Martín 1.52.701 (8 laps): "I didn't feel comfortable on the damp track this morning and struggled to find a good feeling. It is only the first day here and the track was slippery so it was tough. I had work to do this afternoon but the session was cancelled because of the oil. It is frustrating for me because we needed more time but understandable because the decision was made for safety reasons."
ASSEN GP: IANNONE WITHIN THE TOP-5 IN THE FIRST FREE PRACTICE, SECOND SESSION OF THE DAY CANCELLED
During this weekend the historical circuit of Assen is the venue of the seventh round of the MotoGP World Championship 2011.
In the first session for the Moto2 class, Andrea Iannone managed to set the fifth best lap time (1'55.424) with a total of five laps. The practice of the morning was marked by the rain, which decreased remarkably the grip on the track. A crash without physical consequences prevented Andrea from using the whole 45 minutes at disposal, but he still put together the first reactions for the Dutch track. Later on, with five minutes left, the practice got interrupted because on the track there was a large quantity of oil, which came out from the motorbike of one rider. Despite the hard work done to clean up, the organizers decided to cancel the sessions of the afternoon, so that the riders wouldn't have to face risks and avoiding therefore some very brief practices.
Andrea Iannone, #29 — free practice n. 1: 5th with 1'55.424
"This morning I had a good feeling with the bike, and that's a very positive sign, after all the trouble we had throughout the last GPs. On the other hand I'm sorry for crashing out: I was peeling off the tear off from the visor, so I just had one hand on the handlebar — this was kind of a spectacular crash. Luckily I didn't hurt myself, I just hit my left shoulder. Let's hope tomorrow we will have a dry day, so that we can understand better what to focus on and what to work on, keeping up what we've started today. I'd like to thank Suter and my team for their commitment."
An unusual day for Marc Márquez
The rain, the oil spill on track and a problem with the engine cover of his Moto2 conditioned the first day of the Repsol rider in Assen
Marc Márquez first practice day at the Holland Grand Prix was of little use, as they were cancelled just before the beginning of the second Free Practice session due to some oil spilled on track. The Repsol rider, who could only do ten laps to the mythical Assen circuit due to a problem with the engine cover of his bike, finished the day with an anecdotal 21st position, and did not have any chance to improve due to the cancellation of the second session.
Márquez went out on track determined to take new references for the Moto2 at the Dutch circuit and to start setting a good pace in wet conditions. Nevertheless, after completing ten laps he had to stop due to a problem with his engine cover, that lost spilled some oil over the back tyre of the Repsol rider's Moto2. Before repairing the failure and just 4 minutes before the end of the session, the organizers showed red flag due to another rider's incident, who spilled oil from his engine over more than one kilometre of the track.
After unsuccessfully trying to clean the asphalt to allow the rest of the sessions to take place, the marshals were finally forced to cancel the afternoon practice and tomorrow the riders will have twenty additional minutes in the morning session, so that they can keep working in the set-up of their bikes.
FP1 - 1:57.629, 10 laps, 45 km.
"Today we could not test many things, because in the first free session we had a small problem that prevented us from doing many laps. Everything is solved now and in the afternoon we planned to do more laps and set a good pace under wet conditions, because it seemed that it will take place under the rain again.
But at the end of the first Moto2 session, a bike spilled some oil and the marshals were not able to clean it. We cannot do anything about that, so we can only hope that tomorrow the practice will be under dry conditions —they say they will make the morning session longer to compensate the time we lost today— to try and test the tyres and find a good set-up".
OIL SLICKS LEADS TO FREE PRACTICE CANCELLATION AT ASSEN
MAPFRE Aspar riders both succumb to perilous track conditions but escape uninjured
A crash strewn morning free practice kicked off the Dutch TT in chaotic style for the Moto2 class at Assen, with the complications of a wet circuit were then added to by an oil slick caused by the machine of Alex Baldolini. As several riders crashed the red flag was waved four minutes from the end of the session, which was immediately declared over as Race Diretion struggled to clear the track over lunch. Their efforts proved in vain however and all action this afternoon was also cancelled.
MAPFRE Aspar riders Xavi Forés and Elena Rosell were unable to avoid the carnage, thankfully both escaping injury in their respective crashes. Xavi lost the front after riding straight through the oil slick whilst Rosell, the first Spanish woman to appear at Grand Prix level, crashed twice - once at turn five and once at turn one - in both cases due to the poor state of the track surface. Despite a lack of track time she is happy with her first experience of Moto2 and looking forward to more hard work tomorrow.
20th Xavi Forés 1.57.468 (16 laps): "Up until the crash today had gone really well. We made some big changes to the bike from the last round and the effects were good. The bike was behaving completely differently and we changed a lot of things to make it handle better. I was finding it much easier to ride than in previous races so it was a real shame about the crash at the end. I am happy because the bike is working much better and I think it can help us be much more consistent."
39th Elena Rosell 2.05.708 (10 laps): "Today was tough for me. I was really keen because everything was new to me and the most positive thing is that I love the bike, it felt so agile compared to what I am used to. I had two crashes because of the conditions but thankfully I am not hurt. The cancellation of the afternoon session makes it harder for us but I am upbeat and looking back positively on everything that happened today. The team know exactly how the bike should behave in any circumstance virtually without me saying anything. It is hard to enjoy yourself in conditions like this but even so I loved the track and the bike. The position on a Moto2 machine is much more comfortable and compact and it feels easier to handle."
Thomas Lüthi claws his way back to the top
Team Interwetten Paddock Moto2 rider Thomas Lüthi took a promising sixth place in first practice for the Dutch TT at Assen and showed clear signs of recovery from the difficulties of the last two races. After crashing out of the Barcelona Grand Prix almost three weeks ago, the 24-year-old from Switzerland and his German crew chief Alfred Willecke had decided to rebuild their Suter MMXI prototype in order to increase the safety margin when riding at the very limit. But at the Silverstone round two weeks ago, time had run out to optimise the new set-up, and Lüthi was forced to settle for an unusual 15th place. Now he seems to be able to claw his way back to where belongs, riding within the top group of the Moto2 category once again. The only flaw in an otherwise positive day for Lüthi and his team was the oil-spill of Italian Alex Baldolini who continued to ride along the track with his engine billowing blue smoke. The spillage on the wet track was so massive that all afternoon practice sessions had to be cancelled despite all cleaning efforts.
Tom Lüthi – 6th in 1:55,436 min.:
"The Grand Prix here at Assen started the same way the Siverstone weekend had ended: With rainy conditions! This wasn't a bad thing for us because we came to more valuable conclusions and found a good direction with the set-up. We managed to improve the bike even during the session. I pulled in for a pit stop and I was able to go out again for a few more fast laps before the oil-spill happened. Of course we could have made good use of the afternoon session and it's a pity that it had to be cancelled. But even though, I am in good spirits and full of optimism for this weekend. We changed the base set-up of our bike in order to find more safety, we worked on the geometry, on the suspension and many details. Now it looks as if we found the right solution!"
DUTCH DISRUPTION FOR MARC VDS
Marc VDS Racing riders Mika Kallio and Scott Redding's preparations for the Iveco TT Assen were badly disrupted today after two major oil spills forced the cancellation of this afternoon's second practice session.
Oil was dropped on large sections of the famous Circuit van Drenthe during the final stages of this morning's opening Moto2 practice, forcing organisers to red flag the session on safety grounds.
Finnish rider Kallio had earlier adapted brilliantly to tricky conditions as forecast rain fell heavily on the track and he set a best time of 1.56.145 to finish seventh fastest.
British rider Redding was confident of improving the wet set-up of his Suter MMXI machine after he splashed his way to a brilliant season best fifth place in a rain-lashed Silverstone round 12 days ago.
But a minor electrical fault slowed his progress and he ended the shortened session down the rankings in 31st position, a result that certainly doesn't reflect the 18-year-old's potential for Saturday's 24-lap race.
Mika Kallio #36 - 1.56.145 - 15 laps - 7th position
"It was quite a frustrating day but I think it was the best decision to cancel this afternoon's session. I felt quite comfortable this morning even though the track didn't have as much grip as I expected. We worked on improving my feeling with the bike in the rain after we found a decent set-up at Silverstone, but we'll have to wait and see what the track conditions are like tomorrow. With all the rain and oil, track conditions could be quite different and that is an area where I need to improve. A few times this season when the grip level has changed from one day to the next, I have found it quite difficult, so we'll concentrate on that for the whole day tomorrow and try and get a good position on the grid."
Scott Redding #45 - 1.59.017- 12 laps - 31st position
"Today wasn't an easy day with the rain and the small technical problem this morning followed by second practice being cancelled because of the dropped oil. We had a small electrical fault and the bike wasn't running properly, so without that issue I know I would have been much higher up. The track was quite strange today because Assen normally has really good grip in the rain, but this morning I didn't have a lot of confidence. The bike set-up felt quite harsh but I'm not too fazed by it and a few tweaks overnight and we should be in business. I was fast in the rain at Silverstone and I know we can improve the bike from there in the wet, so if we get more rain tomorrow I'll be ready for it."
Trevor Morris - Mika Kallio Crew Chief
"Mika felt pretty confident on the bike today and we concentrated on improving his feeling from the wet race at Silverstone. We ran almost the same set-up but he was a little bit surprised by the track conditions. He expected the grip to be better but it was actually worse than Silverstone. We had a small issue with the front suspension but it is just a setting issue and not a confidence or feel problem. We weren't going to change anything for the afternoon session but just do some laps to get some more confidence. Mika was strong in the rain in Silverstone, so with more wet conditions predicted, I'm confident he can challenge for the top ten in qualifying and the race."
Oil spill cuts day short for Neukirchner and West
The first day of practice for the Dutch TT at Assen was cut short for MZ factory riders Max Neukirchner and Anthony West. When Italian Alex Baldolini continued riding on despite an engine problem and blue smoke billowing from his Suter MMXI prototype, he sprayed so much oil onto the wet Assen circuit that all afternoon sessions had to be cancelled despite frantic clean-up efforts.
But the mood was still upbeat within MZ Racing. Max Neukirchner, who had battled to a strong twelfth place in the wet race of Silverstone two weeks ago, was in good shape again. Even though the 28-year-old German had to settle for 18th position so far, he knows exactly what to change on his FTR bike in order to end qualifying on Friday with a good grid position. His Australian team-mate, rain specialist Anthony West, was also in better spirits than expected after his 25th place. Together with MZ CEO Martin Wimmer, he is currently experimenting with new set-up solutions on his FTR chassis that are supposed to give him and his results a much-needed boost.
"As the results in the last races were worse than one year ago, Anthony's former crew chief Anthony Dwight and MZ Racing have decided to go separate ways", explained Wimmer. "At Barcelona and at Silverstone, Anthony was two seconds slower with the FTR than he was in 2010 with our own steel tubular trellis frame, even though our frame was heavier and the FTR is considered more competitive. We couldn't go on like that and we now try a new approach, hoping to get to the source of Anthony's problems. For the time being, I will take the responsibilities of a crew chief, and after the German Grand Prix at Sachsenring, we will decide how to continue in the future. We hope to be able to find a good set-up as early as here at Assen so we can help Anthony to get back on the right track."
"At the same time, our test rider Arne Tode successfully tried a new tubular steel frame in the Spanish Championship race at Barcelona last weekend. Our goal is to further develop this new chassis and to get Tode to race with this typical MZ frame at the German Grand Prix as a wild card entry. Both FTR chassis of Neukirchner and West remain an interim solution until our own chassis is fully competitive!"
Max Neukirchner – 18th in 1.57,414 min.:
"In the end, I found some sort of rhythm, but it took me a long time to get the right feeling. Especially on the first three laps, I found the track to be extremely slippery, and I had a lot of rear end slides before learning where the limit was. I am reasonably happy with 18th place, because we are far from having a good rain set-up, but we know what we have to do. The front fork settings, for instance, were much too hard and therefore I lost a lot of time!"
Anthony West – 25th in 1.58,471 min.:
"It was a bad practice for me because I have never been so slow in the rain. Normally I would ride within the top five under such conditions, and today I was way back in the field. The reason for my poor result is mostly that we are still trying to find a good setting with the bike. But even though we were slow I think we found a good direction to start with tomorrow morning. I am disappointed that the afternoon session got canceled because we need the time on the track. We made big changes and we are definitely on the right way!"