2011 Sachsenring MotoGP FP1 Result: Simoncelli Tops Crash-Strewn Session

Marco Simoncelli topped the timesheets in the first session of free practice at the Sachsenring, but though the San Carlo Gresini Honda man's times were impressive, the big news from the session was the number of riders crashing at Turn 11, the fast right hander at the top of the hill. Toni Elias was the first victim to be claimed by the hill, followed by Casey Stoner, Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa, everyone sliding at high speed into the gravel and tumbling. Stoner's crash looked the nastiest, the rear whipping round and tossing him over the handlebars of his Repsol Honda as it caught and highsided, but everyone came away relatively unharmed. Valentino Rossi was the rider to suffer the most, the slide burning a hole in his leathers on his forearm, and he was taken to the Clinica Mobile for treatment. The injury was only minor, however, as the Italian rejoined the session with a few minutes left to go.

Though much has been made of the Bridgestones tendency to let go when not warmed up properly - and Casey Stoner had warned about that corner yesterday, as Turn 11 is the only really fast right hander, coming after a long series of lefts -  there was perhaps more to these crashes than that. Conditions were certainly very cold, making the tires sensitive to temperature, but Stoner's crew told MotoGP.com staff that the strong, gusty wind at the top of the hill made that corner even more difficult than usual, and that could have been a contributing factor.

Leaving the crashes to one side, Simoncelli led the session by a margin of over half a second for most of practice, his rivals only closing the gap towards the end. Casey Stoner ended in 2nd - though only after saving a huge front end slide on his fast lap at Turn 11 once again - with Jorge Lorenzo in 3rd. Nicky Hayden was fast all throughout the session, finishing in 4th, ahead of Andrea Dovizioso and the wily Karel Abraham, the Cardion AB rider catching several tows to up his pace. Abraham was at the head of a gaggle of Ducatis, with Hector Barbera and Randy de Puniet in 7th and 8th, while Ben Spies and Colin Edwards ended the session in 9th and 10th respectively.


Pos No. Rider Bike Time Diff Diff Previous
1 58 Marco SIMONCELLI HONDA 1'22.823    
2 27 Casey STONER HONDA 1'23.004 0.181 0.181
3 1 Jorge LORENZO YAMAHA 1'23.046 0.223 0.042
4 69 Nicky HAYDEN DUCATI 1'23.205 0.382 0.159
5 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO HONDA 1'23.355 0.532 0.150
6 17 Karel ABRAHAM DUCATI 1'23.416 0.593 0.061
7 8 Hector BARBERA DUCATI 1'23.433 0.610 0.017
8 14 Randy DE PUNIET DUCATI 1'23.534 0.711 0.101
9 11 Ben SPIES YAMAHA 1'23.558 0.735 0.024
10 5 Colin EDWARDS YAMAHA 1'23.594 0.771 0.036
11 26 Dani PEDROSA HONDA 1'23.604 0.781 0.010
12 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA SUZUKI 1'23.989 1.166 0.385
13 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW YAMAHA 1'24.162 1.339 0.173
14 46 Valentino ROSSI DUCATI 1'24.512 1.689 0.350
15 7 Hiroshi AOYAMA HONDA 1'24.620 1.797 0.108
16 24 Toni ELIAS HONDA 1'26.060 3.237 1.440
17 65 Loris CAPIROSSI DUCATI 1'26.334 3.511 0.274


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Here with some of the 125 riders (Harry Stafford and Danny Webb ) who have a lot of experience at this track. They report turn 11 was slippery after "cleaning" took place wednesday. However no one recalled it being a particularly bad spot.
Just reviewing the crash stats aggregated over the past 5 years can confirm Turn 1 is the killer by far with turn 12 at the bottom of the hill 2nd most dangerous. We speculating that the combination of the extra hard tyres on cold day with the first right hander after many lefts in sequence might be the culprit. David have you heard anything further?

There are problems at the top of the turn ("a tricky patch of tarmac" is how it was relayed to us), and that, combined with very cold temperatures and high winds (that's the spot where the wind hits the bikes as they crest the hill) is probably to blame. Difficult conditions, combined with unforgiving tires. Will be asking the riders about this later, and giving an update tonight.

Stoner's was a proper crash.

The transition from tarmac to gravel when a rider slides at speed seems more dangerous to me because there's usually a bump. Unpleasant to watch them impacting and get flinged in the air and possibly roll out of control.

I assume Nicky didn't get the GP 11.1 for this round?
I hope for him that they will allow him to use the old bike at Laguna in this case!

But the fact that he's already using his 4th engine on the GP11 means that when he'll switch to the GP11.1 with 2 brand new engines at Laguna Seca, his fate will be sealed at the same time as his 5th and 6th engines...

I understand that Ducati wants both riders on the GP11.1 to gather more data to help Vale. I also understand that the GP11.1 has a much better rear section.

Nicky is glad he's gonna be on the same spec as Vale however given Rossi's results and overall his pace on the GP11.1, it's hard to say if the switch would benefit Hayden.