Gran Premio Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana
Report Day 1
Fri, 8 November 2013
As the MotoGP™ action on the first day of Free Practice at the GP Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana concluded it was Marc Marquez who set the pace with his teammate Dani Pedrosa only 0.066s behind him, and title rival Jorge Lorenzo 0.158s off the pace in third.
Despite the windy conditions in the afternoon’s FP2 at the Valencia track, Marquez stepped up the pace in the second half of the session, with his best time of 1’31.220 not far off Pedrosa’s pole record of 1’30.844 from last year. Pedrosa was very close to his Repsol Honda colleague, with both of them still looking for more grip – using both the softer and harder option rear tyres.
Lorenzo improved late on in the session on his regular number-one machine, having spent time before on his number-two bike with holes in the front bubble to cope with the windy conditions. Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow had a great day as he ended up fourth overall despite a late low-side crash, from which he escaped unhurt. The Englishman rides in his last GP for the team this weekend before departing for Ducati.
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi, who is working with Crew Chief Jeremy Burgess for the last time this weekend, was fifth fastest on Friday, 0.4s off the pace. After his statements that he needs to get quicker for next year, he will hope for a strong push in tomorrow’s practice.
The top ten was rounded out by Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda), Alvaro Bautista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini), Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Ducati Team pair Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden. Bradl is keen to resolve front-end grip issues, whilst Batista is working with a new Showa rear shock provided for this weekend.
Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro was unhurt after he crashed his ART machine, which was the new bike him and his team are testing this weekend for the Italian outfit. Despite switching bikes on Monday, Team Manager Gino Borsoi said that the team is pleased to help Aprilia until that day, hence why Espargaro is giving feedback on the new bike featuring a different frame, swingarm and engine. He ended the day 13th on the timesheet.
Having topped the FP1 timesheet, new Moto2™ World Champion Pol Espargaro was fastest again on Friday afternoon at the GP Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana, with his 1’35.548 lap keeping him 0.142s ahead of Tuenti HP 40 teammate Tito Rabat, and 0.426s in front of Interwetten Paddock Moto2 Racing’s Thomas Luthi.
Espargaro will ride a Monster Yamaha Tech3 MotoGP™ bike in testing next week and the pressure is off in many ways, having already clinched the title, but he now intends to end the season on a high. The Spaniard dominated both sessions at the Ricardo Tormo circuit on Friday but almost had a clash with wildcard rider Gino Rea during the afternoon, with both riders just managing to avoid going down.
Behind Espargaro, teammate Rabat aims for a strong finish to the season in his last race for Sito Pons’ outfit, and that pair could do battle for the win on Sunday if today’s pace is anything to judge by. Switzerland’s Tom Luthi would also be a good bet for a podium finish, though having also lapped in the top five Alex de Angelis (NGM Mobile Forward Racing) and Simone Corsi (NGM Mobile Racing) will aim to run at the front as the weekend progresses.
The top ten was completed by Jordi Torres, Mika Kallio, Nico Terol, Xavier Simeon and Julian Simon, all lapping within tenth tenths of a second of the leading time.
The Friday Moto3™ Free Practice sessions at the GP Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana were topped by the trio fighting for the title, with Luis Salom leading Alex Rins and Maverick Viñales.
Salom’s best time of 1’40.403 from FP1 was the best of the day and the Red Bull KTM Ajo man’s best FP2 time was just a tenth of a second slower, as Rins (Estrella Galicia 0,0) topped the timesheet in the latter session with a 1’40.489 fastest lap.
Team Calvo’s Viñales was third best in both sessions and his FP2 time of 1’40.580 was his best time of the day, as the three Spanish title candidates flexed their muscles in front of the home fans.
German rider Jonas Folger (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3) and Australian competitor Jack Miller (Caretta Technology – RTG) were fourth and fifth overall respectively, but both were unable to improve on their morning best times in FP2.
The overall top ten was completed by Efren Vazquez (Mahindra Racing), Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Niccolo Antonelli (GO&FUN Gresini Moto3), Miguel Oliveira (Mahindra Racing) and Alexis Masbou (Ongetta-Rivacold).
Khairuddin has had some costly crashes in recent weeks and he walked away from a big highside at the conclusion of the session, whilst Lorenzo Baldassarri was also unhurt in a light crash towards the end of the outing.
Brad Binder was taken to the Medical Centre with a suspected collarbone injury, as was Alan Techer, after both had FP2 crashes. Whilst Binder was cleared with shoulder contusion, Techer has suffered a left wrist fracture.
Gran Premio Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana
Thu, 7 November 2013
Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez and Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo are set for the big decider this weekend at the Gran Premio Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana, where one of the two will walk away as World Champion. They spoke to the assembled press at the Thursday pre-race press conference joined by Repsol’s Dani Pedrosa, Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi, Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden as well as Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Bradley Smith.
In a slight change to the norm, that press conference was preceded by one featuring the Moto3™ title protagonists in the form of Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Luis Salom, Team Calvo’s Maverick Viñales and Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Alex Rins – all of who could also be crowned World Champion on Sunday.
Back in the premier-class however it was Marquez who commenced proceedings: “We need to finish in the top four and that is not easy with all of those guys in MotoGP. The mentality is the same as on other weekends: try to do my best Friday, Saturday in the Warm-Up and the race. We will see whether we can fight for the win, fight for the podium or just fight for some points.”
Lorenzo, who has a 13-point deficit over Marquez, knows he has a tough task at hand: “I am sure that, if he can, Valentino will help me, just as I would help him if he found himself in the same situation as me. The important thing is to be fast from Friday onwards and of course especially in the race. I think Marc and myself should be very proud as two Spaniards fighting for the MotoGP world title. I think the best strategy is try to win the race. That’s it. That’s the only thing I can do. We are fighting with a lot of Honda riders and that’s the only thing we can do. Let’s see if it rains on Sunday, but in normal circumstances I think it is very difficult.”
Pedrosa, who won in Valencia last year, had to respond to journalists on the topic of “Team Orders”: “HRC has no team orders as far as I know and I think he is still 13 points ahead and always on the podium, so I think he’s capable of doing it anyway, but sure I’ll try to do my best in the race. And winning it would be the best way of helping the team.”
Rossi, veering off topic slightly, announced the split from his long-term crew chief Jeremy Burgess: “The target is to fight with the top three each weekend. This season it has happened, but not so often. We have had some very good races, with some podiums, and especially one victory. For me, the best way to help Jorge is to try and be in front of Marc. I know it’s very difficult, but for sure I will try. The rumours are true. Not that I am not happy with Jeremy, but I think next year Jeremy will not be my chief mechanic. It was a very difficult decision for me because I have a great history with him. He is not just my chief mechanic but part of my family and my father of racing. But I have decided that next year I need to change something to try and find new motivation to have a new boost to improve my level and my speed.”
Hayden, who clinched the title here in 2006, does not see a great similarity between his race here and what the two Spaniards are about to commence: “Not really. Obviously it’s a lot better to be eight points down [as he was in 2006]. He has a bigger margin, so he needs more to happen. You have to think Marc is in a much better spot – I would much rather be in his spot than Jorge…actually, I would rather be in any of their spots! Marc is not exactly your typical rookie and you would think without any problems he should get it done, but you never know until the flag flies on Sunday.”
Smith, coming to the end of his rookie season, is pleased with how things have gone, yet also believes that next year’s newbies will maybe have more of an instant impact: “We seem to have been ahead of our own personal targets and also what Yamaha expected of me, so that is really nice. I am pleased with the final outcome and also looking forward to the winter before coming back and having another go next year. I didn’t really have the best end to my Moto2 championship and didn’t come into this season with the highest confidence, so I think my jump was a bit more from what we’ll see from Scott and Pol.”
The Moto3™ contenders are tightly bunched at the top of the table, with Salom holding only a two-point lead over Viñales. The Red Bull rider commented: “I want to say thanks to Maverick and Alex for making this championship so nice. I have enjoyed this year a lot and the position on Sunday won’t matter. Of course I want to win if I can, but I won’t mind about the position. But I will remember this season forever and have always remembered fighting with them. We have won seven races this year, which is a lot and we need to continue as we have been doing across the other races.”
Viñales, who knows he has to win, will be giving all he can to take the title: “I don’t believe it! Japan was incredible. This is an opportunity and we will try to make the best result and find the best setting for the race. We have worked really hard all season but this weekend we’ll try to work even harder than usual. Winning is the only result we can do to win the championship. We’ll try to do our best and do the best possible in the race.”
Rins added: “My team and I will try to work in the same line as we have at other circuits – and that’s it. Maybe in the race we need to do a better strategy, like Salom’s strategy, which with he has won seven races, so maybe I can do that strategy but in the end we will see.”
Earlier in the day, Tech3’s Cal Crutchlow, Tuenti HP 40’s Pol Espargaro and Mapfre Aspar’s Nico Terol took part in a popular Spanish sport called Padel at the Agora Tennis Court in Valencia. They received the best tuition possible with the stars of the World Padel Tour, Pablo Lima, Juani Mieres, Miguel Lamperti and Maxi Grabiel at hand to show them the ropes.