Press releases from the 125cc and Moto2 teams on Friday at Valencia, including an explanation from the Gresini team of the logon on the fairings on their Moto2 bikes:
Salom stays upright in the rain
On the slippery Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia many 125cc riders crashed out in the free practice sessions. Luis Salom was determined not to appear on the list of crashers this time. The Spanish rider for RW Racing GP kept his promise to himself and the team and set a respectable fifth fastest time.
"For the last race of the season, I do not take risks,'' said Salom. "It's an important race. For me there is still something at stake: to secure my eighth place in the championship. Besides that I am determined to show a good result here in my home race in front of my fans and sponsors and of course the team. That's why I was a bit careful in the rain.''
One after another slipped off the wet track. The grip was minimal. "Then it is a matter of riding carefully and quietly building up your laptimes,'' said Salom. "I know this track well, I rode here a lot. I know where the limits are. Maybe here and there I could have been a bit faster, but with the fifth time and everything safe and sound in one piece, I am happy.''
ADRIÁN MARTÍN SHINES IN THE SPANISH RAIN
Nico Terol and Héctor Faubel make cautious start to GP de la Comunidad Valenciana
The Gran Premio de la Comunidad Valenciana got underway this morning at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit as the MotoGP paddock prepares to drop the curtain on the 2011 season. Early morning rain left the track damp for the opening 125cc session this morning before further afternoon rain led to a fully wet second free practice. On a crash strewn day Sandro Cortese was able to clock the fastest lap ahead of Johann Zarco and BANKIA Aspar rider Adrián Martín.
Martín shone brightly beneath the dark clouds at his home circuit, the youngster from nearby Chiva once again showing his talent for riding in wet conditions. His team-mate Nico Terol, who is hoping to clinch the World Championship here in front of his home crowd, worked hard to cope with the conditions without taking too many risks and finished the day in tenth place, with the team's third rider Héctor Faubel in twentieth but confident of making major improvements to his pace tomorrow at what is also his home circuit.
3rd Adrián Martín 1.57.352 (26 laps): "This Grand Prix is always special to me and I get a lot of motivation from the unbelievable support of the fans here. It has been an almost perfect start - we have been running at the front all day and I had a really good feeling with the bike. I had a little crash this morning because of the rain but that just made me want to push harder to try and improve. I gathered a lot of confidence this afternoon lapping on used tyres and working with the team to improve the set-up of the bike. We found a solution that gave us a lot of grip on the rear. This bike works well in the wet and I think we have a good setting for the dry too."
10th Nico Terol 1.59.549 (30 laps): "I usually feel very comfortable in the wet but today it wasn't my day. I was too stiff on the bike and couldn't get comfortable but we kept working and gathered a lot of data that will help us improve tomorrow if it rains again. I took things easy this afternoon because it was slippery and the last thing I need is a crash. I ended up tenth but I am not worried because I know we will improve tomorrow. This is a very important weekend for us so I am taking things step by step and staying calm and focused. We just need to find a softer suspension setting with the bike to give us more feel under acceleration."
21st Héctor Faubel 2.00.545 (26 laps): "I struggled to get a feeling this morning because the track was so slippery. We tried a few things to get the engine responding better to the conditions but we had a problem with it and had to stop a few minutes early, which was a shame. Even so we have improved as the day has progressed and the only rider who stood out today was Cortese, who is always good in the wet. We'll have to keep an eye on the forecast for tomorrow - it will be a pain if it rains, for us riders and also for the fans but we have no say over that so we just have to keep working hard."
SECOND POSITION FOR IANNONE IN THE SECOND FREE PRACTICE FOR THE VALENCIA GRAND PRIX
Today's free practice sessions set the beginning of the Gran Premio Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana, the last event of 2011 season.
The weekend started with a day marked by changeable weather, mainly cloudy with various rain showers, which made the situation on the Spanish track particularly complicated in the practice of the morning. As a matter of facts, in FP1 the track was damp and, therefore, Andrea Iannone and his crew preferred to face the session with caution, without completing many laps.
In the session of the afternoon, after some other rain showers, the riders from the middle class had to get out on a completely wet track and consequently in more homogeneous conditions. The rider from Vasto proved to be competitive from the beginning of the practice, improving his lap-time throughout the time at disposal and holding the first spot till the last moments of FP2. Iannone finished with the second best laptime in free practice 2 (1'52.208).
Andrea Iannone, #29 — free practice n. 2: 2nd with 1'52.208
"This has been a pretty difficult day. In the morning we had some problems and we didn't make the best choices, the track was damp and not really wet in some parts, which didn't really help us. For the afternoon we were hoping to have more definite conditions. As a matter of facts, the track was completely wet and we managed to find a good compromise for the setting of the Suter machine. We completed various laps with an interesting pace and we found some useful options to move forward. Tomorrow we'll see what the weather is like and what we'll manage to do out on the track: I hope it'll be sunny. I'd like to thank Suter and the team for their work."
MARC VDS DUO BATTLE COLD AND RAIN AT VALENCIA
Marc VDS Racing Team riders Mika Kallio and Scott Redding made a positive start to the final round of the 2011 Moto2 World Championship in Valencia today, despite cold and wet conditions dominating the opening day of practice.
Kallio and Redding were 10th and 12th fastest respectively this morning in a session that took place on a rapidly drying after heavy early morning rain drenched the tight and twisty Ricardo Tormo track.
This afternoon's second session was staged on a full wet track and as a result lap times were over 10 seconds slower. Kallio and Redding though took full advantage of the opportunity to fine-tune their wet weather settings and both were delighted with progress made under threatening grey skies hanging above the Valencia circuit, which hosts the season ending GP Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana over 27-laps on Sunday.
Kallio was immediately able to set a fast and confident pace in the tricky conditions this morning, but his smooth riding style really came to the fore this afternoon when he set the fifth quickest time. A best lap of 1.52.693 was just over 0.1s away from third as the Finnish rider was pleased with the rear grip offered by the latest Suter swingarm, which he tried for the first time today.
British rider Redding was also delighted with his start to the season finale having previously struggled in wet conditions this season.
He was only 0.4s slower than Kallio this afternoon to finish in an encouraging 10th place, the British rider delighted to have discovered a wet setting that allowed him to push with a high level of confidence previously lacking in the rain.
Mika Kallio #36 - 1.44.924 - 31 laps - 10th position
"Today was really positive because we weren't sure what to expect from the new Suter swingarm. We can't check its full potential in the rain but deciding to use it today certainly looks like it was the right choice. This morning on the wet tyres I was the fastest rider on track and that was really positive and I felt very comfortable. Some other riders did more laps than me on slick tyres so I wasn't worried to be only 10th. I'm sure this afternoon I could have been in the top three as well but when I was pushing on the last lap I came across some traffic and that cost me a few tenths. I have a good record at this track and I am now hoping we can finish the season on a high note after a difficult time for everybody in the paddock after what happened to Marco in Sepang."
Scott Redding #45 - 1.45.210 - 33 laps - 12th position
"I am really happy with how today turned out. It was hard to really learn anything this morning because the conditions were so sketchy. And I wasn't feeling too confident when I went out this afternoon in the wet because I've struggled a lot in those conditions this season. And in the damp conditions this morning I didn't have such a good feeling with the bike. But we found a really good wet setting with the new chassis and I felt the bike was working better for me straightaway this afternoon. I haven't felt that confident in the rain all year, so if we get a wet race I'll go into it with a lot more confidence. Before in the rain this year I've struggled to be in the top 20, so I feel we've made massive progress today."
Trevor Morris - Mika Kallio Crew Chief
"Today was a really good day and it showed once again just how much Mika's confidence has grown with some good results recently. Right from the start this morning he clicked with the Marc VDS package, even though the conditions were quite tricky. He was right up there on wet tyres and he only did one lap on slicks, so with a bit more time he could have been a bit higher. But on wet tyres again this afternoon he was looking very strong. He wasn't happy with grip right at the beginning but then we made a few changes with the bike, experimenting with the ride height, and he felt more comfortable and he could push a lot harder. We tried the new swingarm today but really we need a dry session to check its true potential. It had some positive points in the wet, so if it stays wet for the weekend we are confident we can be fighting for a strong result."
Bad weather in Valencia: Tom Luthi still in search for suitable set-up
There was no fun in the sun on the opening day of the Valencia Grand Prix. In cloudy and cool conditions with rain drizzles and a wet track that started to dry towards the end of the first free practice session, Team Interwetten Paddock Moto2 rider Thomas Luthi rode to 17th place. The weather deteriorated again for the afternoon session with steady rain and a completely wet track, which made the search for a suitable set-up somewhat easier. Luthi took 14th place in this second free practice session, which proved that he and his team found the right direction with the settings of the bike, even though the result was meaningless for the combined times of day one.
Thomas Lüthi – 17th in 1:46,863 min.:
"The conditions in the first session were half wet and half dry, so we couldn't try anything. I went out on slicks for the last two laps, but it was a useless exercise. This afternoon, it was completely wet and we started with a very hard set-up in order to see whether it suited me. But the bike was unrideable and I dropped back in the timesheets. At the end, we came close to a suitable set-up, even though we are still far from where we need to be in the wet. At least, we know which direction to go if it stays wet tomorrow. If it's dry, we will use our very good set-up base from the last race at Sepang!"
Terrell Thien - Teammanager:
"We can't be satisfied with this result. We started with a very hard set-up and went softer and softer as practice progressed. The bike was better in the end and if the conditions stay wet, we know what to do!"
Alfred Willeke – crew chief:
"The conditions today were really tricky. This track doesn't offer much grip, neither in full wet nor in half dry conditions. We made a positive step in the afternoon session, but it wasn't enough. But I am confident we will work things out tomorrow!"
TEAM GRESINI MOTO2 RIDE IN HONOUR OF MARCO SIMONCELLI
"Race your life" was the message on the side of Team Gresini Moto2 bikes of Michele Pirro and Yuki Takahashi, a tribute to the late, great Marco Simoncelli, who left an indelible mark on motorcycle racing. Both Team Gresini Moto2 riders are eager to end their seasons at Valencia with a performance to honour 'Super Sic' and with Pirro eighth fastest today with Takahashi in thirteenth the potential is there for both riders to have a good race.
Michele Pirro (8th 1'52" 905) "The uncertain track conditions and rain today did not make life easy but overall I must say I am pretty happy. We need to take another step forward with our pace but I think we can manage that with just a couple of small changes. We have a few things to sort but I am confident."
Yuki Takahashi (13th 1' 53" 447) " I am satisfied with my feeling with the bike and confident we can look forward to a good race on Sunday. We have improved with every change we made today so I think we are on the right track to a positive result."
Fausto Gresini "The Moto2 team's tribute to 'Super Sic' was something we had to do and the "Race your life" graphic is very nice. I hope that we can add to it with some good results that pay tribute to Marco. Both Pirro and Takahashi are pushing hard and I am sure they will give their best on Sunday."
Rain king Anthony West storms to eighth place - Neukirchner misses first practice with technical problems
Rain king Anthony West was in fantastic shape during the wet first day of practice for the Valencia Grand Prix. In damp and later on drier conditions of the first free practice session, the 30-year-old Australian MZ factory rider grabbed slick tyres just at the right time and stormed to eighth position. Team-mate Max Neukirchner had no other chance but to watch: The 28-year-old German missed the entire session due to a persistent clutch problem and could not even complete one flying lap. When the rain returned for the afternoon session, Neukirchner was back in the competition and rode to 24th place even though he was way behind his rivals with the set-up of his bike. His lap time in completely wet conditions however was meaningless for the combined lap times, where Neukirchner is down in 38th place. "I want to see both riders finishing in the points on Sunday. They owe this to the team", said MZ CEO Martin Wimmer. "Their performances during this season show that the bikes are good enough for top 15 positions and it's time that they deliver results again, since both went down in the last two races!"
Anthony West - 8. in 1.44,307 min.:
"The conditions were really strange today. It started wet and tried out, so I took slicks at the end of the first session. I only tried to survive but it worked out and I got a good lap time! In wet conditions in the afternoon, I didn't have a really good feeling with the front end and I couldn't push the way I wanted. I still might have gotten a better time, but I was slowed by other riders when it counted. The bike was okay, but we know where we can improve even further!"
Max Neukirchner - 38. in 1:55,373 min.:
"I had a clutch problem this morning and I wasn't able to ride at all. In the wet session this afternoon, it was obvious that we had missed one session and that we were behind with the set-up of the bike. But the more I rode, the better I felt on the bike. In the end, a better lap time was within reach, but I made a mistake in the last corner of of my last lap!"
SIMÓN MAKES RETURN TO ACTION AFTER THREE-RACE ABSENCE
Spaniard back for season finale in Cheste. Elena Rosell adapting well to conditions on unfamiliar bike.
There were Friday falls in MotoGP and 125cc beforehand, and the Moto2 practice sessions were no exception. Their morning runout was undertaken on a wet track that at least dried out before the end of the session, although the afternoon Free Practice was a completely wet affair after a heavy downpour. Stefan Bradl was the fastest in the morning, Andrea Iannone in the afternoon and the former obviously placing highest on the combined timesheet. Bradl leads the World Championship and can be crowned title winner tomorrow, should only rival Marc Márquez continue his absence from the Valencia GP.
Julián Simón was back in action on Friday, after almost a month and a half away from the series. The Spaniard has had another operation on his troublesome right leg since taking his leave of absence, and was cautious on his comeback. Sixteenth fastest in the morning, he rode just five laps in the afternoon in order to avoid running the risk of a crash. He will save his strength for Saturday's double bill of practice and qualifying.
Jordi Torres was also prudent, stil bearing the marks on his fingers from some recent crashes. He clocked the 27th fastest time overall and hopes to take a big step forward tomorrow.
Elena Rosell continued to reward the MAPFRE Aspar Team's faith in her, adapting quickly to some unfamiliar conditions with her Moto2 machine. She made quick improvements at the end of the afternoon session.
16th Julián Simón 1.46.714 (19 laps): "It was great to be back on the bike, and today I was able to see that my leg is definitely in better shape than before the operation. We worked well in the morning, but I didn't want to take any risks in the afternoon when the track was wet. I only completed five laps in FP2. The last thing that I wanted in my condition was to risk a crash. After today we know more or less what is required in the wet. We didn't try much more in order to play it safe and conserve the tyres for if it rains again tomorrow. I am hoping that qualifying is dry, so that I can get a good grid position."
27th Jordi Torres 1.49.428 (34 laps): "It is an honour to be able to ride here at the Valencia GP with the MAPFRE Aspar Team. Today wasn't a nice day, but we hope that tomorrow conditions are better and we can also improve. I think that we have the chance to have a good race in the dry. At the end of the morning session the track dried out a little, but the asphalt was still slippery. Today I took things easy, because I didn't want to push too hard and crash after my recent falls. I had a couple of scares, but this first day has been fairly positive. I hope that the sun comes out tomorrow, and that we can push hard."
35º Elena Rosell 1.52.098 (29 laps): "There were some pretty strange conditions all day, but things went ok for us. The track dried out a lot in the morning, but a downpour just before the afternoon session went against us. We worked hard and picked up a bit of 'feeling' with the bike on this track. It is a shame that it rained, because we need to get as many miles under our belts as we can. These conditions affect us more than others, but we have to wait and see if things improve tomorrow. This track is very slippery, so we have to be cautious and maintain concentration; the smallest blip can be very costly."