Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of practice at the Montmelo circuit near Barcelona:
MotoGP Moto3 - Positive first day for Team Italia FMI in Barcelona
Fenati closed the first two free-practice sessions in 6th position, Tonucci in 12th.
Team Italia FMI worked on the setup of its Honda FTRs in the morning session, focusing on tyres in the afternoon.
The Italian duo came out strong: Fenati posted the 6th best time with a 1'53"665, about one second behind Frenchman Rossi, who led the filed with a 1'52"624.
Tonucci, who was in Top 10 for most of the session, closed in 12th position with a personal best of 1'54"393.
Team Italia riders went on track with a plea for solidarity in their fairings, which read "HELP EMILIA SMS 45500" to raise funds for people struck by the earthquake in Italy.
Romano Fenati (Team Italia FMI FTR Honda#5) 27 lap in 1'53"665
"During the first two sessions, we worked on the setup. We still have a few issues to fix but the whole team will work hard to prepare tomorrow's qualifying session."
Alessandro Tonucci (Team Italia FMI FTR Honda#19) 33 lap in 1'54"393
"In the second session we managed to solve most of the problems with the setup. It was a good day. I have a strong pace and I'm confident about tomorrow."
Roberto Locatelli (Coordinatore Tecnico FMI)
"The team and the riders worked well today, finding a good setup for the bikes. Both riders improved throughout the session and we have a solid base for tomorrow. In qualifiers we hope to find both a fast lap and a consistent pace."
Good early pace from Repsol riders in Catalonia
Maverick Viñales and Miguel Oliveira place second and fourth, respectively, whilst Rins and Márquez make gradual progress.
Repsol Media Service - Spain, Circuit of Catalunya - Viernes 01/05/2012
The opening day of practice for the Catalan GP saw the Repsol riders up amongst the frontrunners in the Moto3 class, with Maverick Viñales and Miguel Oliveira second and fourth, respectively. The day was a more difficult one for Álex Rins and Álex Márquez, as they dropped down to ninth and eleventh, respectively, in the first session before completing the day in seventeenth and eighteenth.
In the morning run, the Repsol Moto3 group showed that they were up for their home GP. 2011 125cc Rookie of the Year, Maverick Viñales, was fastest with a time of 1’53.168, dropping his times progressively with every lap. 0.466 behind was Miguel Oliveira, whilst teammates Álex Rins and Álex Márquez were slightly lower down the order.
With temperatures reaching close to 30ºC and the track hitting over 50ºC, the second session of the day was a demanding test for the Repsol riders. Viñales was once again one of the men to beat, only surpassed by Frenchman Louis Rossi, 0.150 quicker. Miguel Oliveira was fourth, less than a second back on the top time. Rins was unable to improve on his morning time, seventeenth and just 0.010 faster than Álex Márquez.
Tomorrow sees the second and final day of practices for the Catalan GP.
FP1 1:53.168, 14 laps, 66 km.
FP2 1:52.774, 17 laps, 80 km.
"I am very happy, because we found a good setting that allowed us to ride very comfortably. The Circuit de Catalunya is rather different to the other tracks that we have visited so far, because it has some long corners in comparison to some tight ones at previous tracks. You can see the difference when compared to the 125cc bikes, because we aren't hitting the same speeds on the straights. The temperatures increased significantly between sessions and the track got a lot more slippery, but the race will be at 1pm so that won't be the case on Sunday".
FP1 1:53.634, 16 laps, 76 km.
FP2 1:53.584, 17 laps, 80 km.
"My first impressions here are good, although we are a little far off the top three target. We will analyse different details of the bike in order to see where we can make up the tenths that separate me from the lead trio, and also look at how we can make the bike faster. I am pretty happy in any case and we have a lot of work ahead of us tomorrow. We have no pressure on us, so we are going to focus on improving the rear where I don’t have much confidence. Qualifying is important, but above all we have to find a good race pace and get a decent start".
FP1 1:54.518, 16 laps, 76 km.
FP2 1:54.735, 17 laps, 80 km.
"That was a tough day. It wasn’t too positive for us and it was hard to find our way, but we certainly have more to do before tomorrow’s sessions. I never felt comfortable and that was nothing to do with any technical issue —the fault was all mine. The aim for tomorrow is very clear: Improve upon our performance from today. In the middle of the session we tried a tyre that I didn’t like so much, which made it difficult to go back to the pace of the morning session”.
FP1 1:54.852, 16 laps, 76 km.
FP2 1:54.745, 17 laps, 80 km.
"I was happiest in the morning, but we have improved the bike little-by-little. The tyres are going to be a key factor here at the Circuit de Catalunya, and we should also take into account how my shoulder will react in these conditions. I hope that we can be at 100% tomorrow. We have to keep on improving every day and improve our times from the previous sessions. Our aim is simply to gain experience in the World Championship and put kilometers on the clock".
ANTONELLI WORKS ON SET-UP AT BARCELONA
Niccolò Antonelli worked hard over today's two free practice sessions at the Montmeló circuit to improve his confidence and feel for the FTR-Honda. The youngster focused purely on the task of finding an improved set-up today without looking for a hot lap, work that will no doubt bear fruit in tomorrow afternoon's all-important qualifying session for the Grand Prix de Catalunya.
Niccolo’ Antonelli (15th 1’ 54” 478) “I am satusfied that we have done a good job today. I wasn't interested in the lap time, just in learning the bike and the track. We tried a variety of technical solutions throughout the day and in the end tried a different rear shock that I felt comfortable with. Tomorrow morning we will work hard again on the set-up before pushing for lap times in qualifying in the afternoon. I would like to be starting near the front of the grid on Sunday.”
Fausto Gresini “Niccolò and the guys did a good job today, working through a lot of different solutions and coming back with some positivie results. The lap time wasn't the main things today, it was more important to find a good base set-up for the bike that gives Niccolò good feeling.”
Lost morning takes its toll
An engine that was not running properly cost Luis Salom the morning session on the first day of the Catalunya GP. And because the Spaniard of RW Racing GP lost the morning he paid the price in the afternoon.
Kalex provided Salom with a new chassis. But a new chassis takes some time to set up. Since the first free practice in Barcelona was lost due to the engine failure, Salom needed the second session to set up the bike. The fact that he managed to set the ninth time of session is a sign he is moving in the right direction.< br />Brad Binder is still riding the ‘old’ bike. He had a few issues with suspension in the morning session but did well in the afternoon with 19th place on the provisional grid.
Luis Salom (9th): "It’s a waste of time we had to change engines between the first and second session. Especially because we had a lot of work to do with the new chassis. It’s a step we have to take. The engine was okay in the afternoon, but I couldn’t ride the bike the way I wanted to. We still have too many issues to solve. Especially in the fast corners I cannot push as hard as I have to.’’
Brad Binder ( 19th): "It’s my first time at Barcelona and although I normally get to learn a new track fast, this is not such an easy track to learn. But I think I doing fine. I have had some issues with the bike and the team is trying to make it more comfortable to ride. In the afternoon I could follow some other riders and take off a full second of my lap time. That’s not too bad. I feel confident for qualifying.’’
Team manager Johan Stigefelt: "It’s a pity we lost so much valuable time with the engine. Luckily everything is working right now and we are in the right direction. The heat is murderous, but for the bikes and the tires is doesn’t seem to be a problem at this point. It’s the first time this season we are in conditions like these. Everybody has to get used to it.’’
POSITIVE START FOR HÉCTOR FAUBEL IN CATALUNYA
BANKIA Aspar rider seventh on first day and second fastest Spaniard with Moncayo in 15th
Good weather at least! The Grand Prix paddock can hardly remember the last time they were able to complete two free practice sessions in dry conditions but this morning the Moto3 riders took to the track in Barcelona at the start of a day of uninterrupted sunshine and warm temperatures. Maverick Viñales took advantage to set the pace the first session but in the afternoon it was Louis Rossi, surprise winner of the last race, who stepped up the pace. The top five riders are separated by a second, as are the next twelve.
Héctor Faubel wasn't awarded any points for leading the race at Le Mans two weeks ago but it certainly seems to have helped his confidence. Today the BANKIA Aspar veteran began work with a new Kalex chassis, reporting good front grip and better flexibility already. Héctor gradually improved his pace on the new machine and finished the day seventh fastest, 1.1 seconds off the day's best. His team-mate Alberto Moncayo was eighth fastest this morning and after some set-up experiments that backfired this afternoon he was unable to improve and dropped to fifteenth.
7th Héctor Faubel 1.53.766 (33 laps): "I am very happy with the new material we have received for this race. The new chassis worked well from the firsts session and we took another step forward this afternoon. We are a little over a second off the top but with a positive feeling for the bike and another day tomorrow to work on the set-up. We have started the weekend on the right foot, with a more responsive machine that is improving with every change. This is positive because it means we have more room to improve. The front is solid and the bike sits well so I am very happy with it. We'll keep working on the chassis set-up tomorrow and I hope we can improve more before qualifying."
15th Alberto Moncayo 1.54.422 (31 laps): "The day started well and we had a good feeling for the bike this morning, using the base set-up from Le Mans. In the afternoon we tried a lot of different things with the set-up, with some alterations to the swingarm, but they weren't effective so we need to go back a step tomorrow. The engine wasn't running as well as we would like either so that's another thing that held us back. We are not worried though and I am confident we can qualify well tomorrow."
Redding on the pace at sweltering Catalunya
Barcelona, Spain - 01 June 2012: Scott Redding was third fastest, and Mika Kallio eighth, as the two Marc VDS riders made a flying start to the Grand Prix of Catalunya today.
Redding set the third fastest time in this morning's first 45-minute free practice, but improved his lap time by a further 0.3s during this afternoon's second session, which was held in sweltering conditions.
The 19-year-old Briton continued with the less aggressive riding style used for the first time in Le Mans, and was one of only two riders within one second of Tom Lüthi's fastest lap.
Kallio also looked comfortable during this morning's free practice, topping the timesheet early on before ending the session fourth fastest.
The 29-year-old Finn made some gearing changes to his Kalex Moto2 machine ahead of this afternoon's second session, but the changes didn't give the improvements expected and Kallio was unable to improve his lap time.
Both Marc VDS riders are confident of further improvements during the third and final free practice session, ahead of tomorrow afternoon's all-important qualifying session.
Scott Redding #45: 3rd - 1'47.171
"Both sessions were good today. The bike still instils confidence. I feel comfortable and relaxed even on the fast laps in the hot conditions this afternoon, so we're still continuing in the same way as we did at the Navarra test and at Le Mans two weeks ago. We're also making progress with the bike and I know I still have more in my pocket if I need it. If we can carry on in this direction tomorrow then we should be able to qualify well up the grid for Sunday's race."
Mika Kallio #36: 8th - 1'47.719
"The bike felt good this morning and the lap times came quite easily, but we felt we could improve the bike further by making some changes for this afternoon's free practice session. Unfortunately, the changes we made to the bike didn't quite work as expected and the bike was almost impossible to ride. It was vibrating and chattering everywhere and it just wasn't possible to improve my time from this morning. At least we know what doesn't work now, so for tomorrow we'll go back to a slightly modified version of this morning's set-up. Better to find out today than tomorrow, I guess!"
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
"Both Scott and Mika were on the pace this morning but, while Scott decided to stick with what he had in terms of set-up, Mika decided to make some quite radical changes to the bike for this afternoon's session. Scott was able to close on Lüthi and Espargaro at the top of the timesheet in the second free practice session, and was the only one of the top three to improve on his time from this morning. He did a good job and is looking strong ahead of qualifying tomorrow. Unfortunately Mika went the wrong way with the changes and his bike was chattering so much he was unable to push for a lap time during the session. I hope tomorrow, when he reverts to the previous set-up, he will be able to get a little closer to the frontrunners."
Hard day at the office for Marc Márquez
Repsol rider devotes first free practice sessions for Catalan GP to modifying setting of Suter chassis.
Repsol Media Service - Spain, Circuit de Catalunya - Friday 01/06/2012
Marc Márquez began his Grand Prix weekend with a day of intense work in the garage. The first two practice sessions were used by the Repsol rider to best set him up for tomorrow’s qualifying session. His best time at the Circuit de Catalunya came in the morning run: 1’47.935.
Adjustments made to the setting of his Suter chassis were begun in the morning, as Marc Márquez’ crew made the most of high air temperatures and track temperatures reaching 42ºC. The Spaniard completed 18 laps of the track, clocking his best time in his second stint and going under the 1’48 mark.
The mentality for the second session changed little: Work, work and more work in the garage. The Repsol rider performed three stints, recording his fastest lap in the first of the trio. On the remaining runs he made further modifications with qualifying in mind. Márquez was consistently riding in the 1’48s in the afternoon.
In the combined standings for the Friday sessions, the Repsol rider acheived the sixteenth best time of the day.
FP1 - 1:47.953, 18 laps, 85 km.
FP2 - 1:48.171, 14 laps, 66 km.
"To tell the truth, I found things quite difficult today; more so in the afternoon, because in the morning I felt fairly comfortable. The most important thing is that we have drawn some positive conclusions and have a clear idea about where we can improve tomorrow, because we went backwards with the way we worked today and need to take things in another direction. I think that these practice sessions are for doing that, so we will see if we can continue preparing things for the race tomorrow, which is the most important thing.
I had some distinct problems, first in the front and then with the rear, and generally didn’t feel comfortable on the bike. I don’t think that this will be an issue tomorrow, as we have been able to see what works and what doesn’t. My hand is only bothering me when I get off the bike, as I don’t feel it hurt at all when I ride".
GINO IN SEARCH OF SUTER SETTING
Gino Rea completed his first laps of the Circuit de Catalunya today with the added workload of finding a base set-up for the Suter machine that he only rode for the first time at Le Mans two weeks ago. The Brit struggled to make progress in the day's two free practice sessions but will work hard to recover ground tomorrow ahead of qualifying.
Gino Rea (27th 1’ 49” 383) “We had some different parts to try on the bike today from Le Mans and they changed the performance of the bike drastically so the first session was like a shakedown for me, also because I had to get to learn the circuit, which is really nice to ride. We need to find a good setting but we improved the lap time this afternoon and with lots of room for improvement we need to stay positive and work to find something better tomorrow.”
Fausto Gresini “Unfortunately we have yet to find a solution that gives Gino full confidence in the new bike. He is not able to push it as hard as he would like and doesn't have a good feeling with it. Tomorrow we will work on the setting and the suspension and try to find the right way forward.”
WILAIROT MAKES PROGRESS IN CATALUNYA
Ratthapark Wilairot took another step closer to the front today at the start of just his second outing on the Suter machine, proving that the change of chassis was the right step. There is still plenty of work to do to break into the top fifteen but 'Feem' is confident he is now on the right lines and that is his clear aim for tomorrow's qualifying practice.
Ratthapark Wilairot (17th 1’ 48” 356) “Today we didn't do a bad job. We are still 1.5 seconds from the top, which is too much, but at least we are improving. We received a new front fork and we have been working step by step to improve the bike here. The conditions were very hot this afternoon and we felt better this morning but I am confident we can improve tomorrow because I think we have found a good setting."
Fausto Gresini “I am pleased that Feem is starting to feel the benefit of the change in chassis. The team is working in the right direction and I am sure that with their determination they can break into the top fifteen, which is not easy in this category. We need to find more confidence between the riders and the bike tomorrow and try to push for a good grid position on Sunday.”
TONI ELÍAS TAKES IMPORTANT STEP AT HOME GRAND PRIX
Catalan rider thirteenth fastest in free practice, team-mate Terol in 24th
Home favourites Pol Espargaró and Marc Márquez arrived at their home Grand Prix today as two of the three riders separated by just three points at the top of the Moto2 standings but it was the third of the trio - Swiss star Thomas Luthi - who made the early running in free practice. As the heat intensified much of the field struggled to improve their lap times from the morning to the afternoon, Luthi and second-fastest Espargaró included, but there is no doubt that the pace was just as hot as the conditions, with Andrea Iannone's lap record from 2010 already smashed by almost a full second.
Two of the few riders to make improvements this afternoon were in MAPFRE Aspar Team colours, with Toni Elías finding more than a second despite the hot track conditions and Nico Terol almost half a second. For the former it was a day of hard work as he experimented with a variety of changes that gave him more confidence with his bike in the fast turns and it ended in a satisfactory manner as he significantly increased his pace and performance. Terol worked to successfully solve a chatter problem from the morning to the afternoon but he is still struggling for rear grip and has work to do ahead of qualifying tomorrow afternoon.
13th Toni Elías 1.47.851 (38 laps): "I am really happy because since Le Mans we have talked a lot and put a bunch of ideas on the table with my crew chief. We have analysed my riding style and from this morning made some changes that worked straight away. We have taken a big step forward with the set-up that will allow me to get more confidence from the chassis and also get the bike turning more quickly. I am happy with this first day and it is positive that we have improved from the morning to the afternoon and closed the gap to the top guys in every sector. If tomorrow we can find the half second that we are losing in the final sector then we'll be in the mix for a good result on Sunday. That's the area we'll be working hardest on tomorrow."
24th Nico Terol 1.48.542 (42 laps): "We had some unusual problems this morning that we have not suffered before. I was struggling for front grip and getting a lot of chatter in the last two corners. At the end of the session this afternoon we went for a much harder tyre and that improved things but then I started to struggle for grip on the rear, especially in the fast corners which are so crucial to the lap time here. Anyway, at least we know which way we're going with the bike and I was able to improve my lap times in the afternoon despite the fact that the track conditions were deteriorating."
Difficult tyre choice for Lundh – Finsterbusch sidelined with injury
At the Grand Prix of Catalunya, Sweden’s only Grand Prix racer Alexander Lundh had to learn a new track once again. After a few initial sighting laps on a scooter on Thursday afternoon, the 25-year-old MZ Moto2 factory rider found his way around the challenging 4,7 kilometre track of Montmeló quite quickly, before running into tyre trouble in the afternoon.
His team-mate Toni Finsterbusch, MZ’s entry in the Moto3 category, is not taking part at the Catalunya Grand Prix. The German teenager suffered a fractured collarbone in a practice crash at Le Mans two weeks ago. When his Moto3 rivals started their battle for the best lap times at Montmeló, Finsterbusch went back to his doctor to remove the stitches from his operation wound. Right after the Le Mans Grand Prix, the collarbone had been fixed with a titanium plate and seven screws. Finsterbusch now follows the medical recommendations to give his shoulder some more rest before returning to action at the British Grand Prix in two weeks.
Toni Finsterbusch (Moto3) - injured:
“There are nicer things than seeing your doctor whilst all the other riders are having fun on a Grand Prix track. But now that the stitches have been removed, I should get more movement in my arm very soon. Unfortunately, my right wrist also suffered some damage in my Le Mans crash. There are no fractures, but it’s badly swollen and I don’t have enough movement to control the throttle. Even though, I am back doing normal exercise routines without using my arm too much. I’m 99.9 per cent sure about my comeback in Silverstone in two weeks.”
Alexander Lundh (Moto2) – 30th position in 1.49,845 min:
“The afternoon session was a waste of time. I had done a best lap of 1.49,845 in the morning and I was confident of breaking into the 1.48’s in the afternoon. But we tried a few chassis modifications that didn’t work and we also chose another tyre that turned out to be the source of all my problems. It took us a long time to figure out that it actually was the tyre that slowed me down, so I only managed to do one decent lap in 1.50,185 minutes, which was slower than I was in the morning. Apart from the tyre problem, the bike works fine, so I should be able to significantly improve tomorrow.”
Bel-Ray Racing-Weekend Racing Preview – May 31, 2012
Racing competition for Bel-Ray’s professional teams will take place this weekend in the United States, Spain and France with motocross and road racing events.
With Bel-Ray lubricants providing the performance and protection required, the Power Electronics team of Aleix Espargaro and Randy DePuniet head to the Circuit de Catalunya for this weekend’s Moto GP event. Both riders have fond memories of this track as Espargaró scored his first podium at this circuit in 2011 and De Puniet his first win in 2003. Espargaro spoke highly of the track and what was necessary to improve on his previous round’s 13th place finish. “I live virtually next door to the circuit, so I have a lot of great memories here. It is quite a fast track and I love the majority of the corners. I am looking forward to racing in Spain for the second time this season and I usually go well at fast tracks, so in general, I am hopeful that this can be a positive weekend for us.” He added, “we have to continue working in the same way as we have up to now and try to be amongst the fastest CRT bikes on Saturday and finish the race as best we can on Sunday. Hopefully it will be a fight between my teammate Randy and myself to be the top CRT." DePuniet suffered a DNF in front of his home crowd at the last round in France, but comes into this weekend fully healed from his Estoril crash and is confident of a top performance this weekend. "I am feeling highly motivated ahead of the Catalunya Grand Prix, firstly because I am almost completely recovered from the pain in my ribs following the crash at Estoril. I adore Montmeló as a circuit and I have two wins there in the 250cc class, including my first ever in 2003, as well as some good races in MotoGP to look back on. Just thinking about the circuit brings back good memories.”
The Mapfre Aspar team is prepared for the second race of the series on their home soil this weekend as the Moto 2 continues in Spain. The Bel-Ray backed team of Toni Elias and Nico Terol are ready for the home track advantage as both riders have history at this famous track. Elias is eager to perform in front of the home crowd this weekend and he spoke about his chances. "I love Montmeló and I have great memories of the track. I rode a Grand Prix bike there for the first time when I was just fourteen years old and I have cut my teeth there as a racer over the years. I am very motivated for this race, which we approach with a lot of energy and enthusiasm in the belief that it can be a turning point for our season.” Teammate Terol also spoke highly of his chances this weekend. "It's another home race, the fifth round of the season and we go there in good form. I like the fast turns at Montmeló as well as the braking into turn one and the last two corners, which are the secret to a good lap time. I am in form and expecting a lot from this weekend."
The Bel-Ray backed Bankia Aspar team of Hector Faubel and Alberto Moncayo come to the Spanish circuit in Montmeló with high hopes. In terrible weather conditions, Faubel led the race before going down and Moncayo held on for a strong podium finish. Considered a home race for the team, both racers are looking for a podium finish this weekend. Moncayo spoke about his finish and looked ahead to this weekend. "The confidence boost of a podium finish in the last race will be an important factor this weekend. It proves that we are doing a good job and the bike is developing as it should, so the team and I are all happy. The last round was a turning point for us and now we just need to keep working hard and looking to the future.” Faubel spoke about the home race pressure and his new found confidence following LeMans. "Montmeló is a special circuit, it's a home race for us - close to Valencia - and the fans always give us a lot of support, so it's a special race. It was a shame about the crash but there is always the risk of that happening in the wet. Anyway, I am taking the positives, which are that I was able to run at the front again and be competitive. Hopefully, at Montmeló that good feeling and high performance level can continue in the dry conditions."