The Grand Prix of Valencia got underway today in difficult track conditions. The morning practice was run on a partly damp but drying circuit and the afternoon session was fully wet. Yamaha Factory rider Ben Spies took his first ride this morning since withdrawing from the Malaysian Grand Prix, gradually building up speed to finish in sixth, 0.7 seconds from first in the difficult conditions. The afternoon session saw the Texan crash out after a small mistake braking into turn one, crossing the white paint and losing grip on the slippery surface. Spies escape relatively unscathed but sore and unable to complete the session, wrapping up in 14th place.
Jorge Lorenzo’s replacement rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga was fully committed to the challenge of learning the Valencia circuit in today’s treacherous weather conditions. Nakasuga-san gradually built up confidence over the day as his circuit knowledge increased, moving from last place in the morning practice to 11th in the second session.
Position 6th – Time 1.46.259 – Laps 26
“I’m a little beat up but that’s normal after a crash. I got a little wide over the white line and hit a puddle and hydroplaned the front, lost it and went down. The bike was starting to feel pretty good and we were getting up to speed. It’s not the best way to come back, I’m not really happy about it but we’ll look forward to tomorrow and make it better. We made a change at the beginning of the second session which was bad, then went back to the settings from the morning and were making progress so we’ll continue with that set up in final practice.”
Position 16th – Time 1.46.581 – Laps 37
“This is my first time at this track and it was pretty difficult at the beginning to learn the way. I’m more comfortable now as I can remember the layout. I would prefer a dry track as I think it’s very easy to crash here in the wet. On Sunday I believe I can challenge for a good position, this is my target.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“A rainy first day in Valencia. We were afraid because it can be very slippery and Nakasuga-san has never ridden here before. He did quite well in the end, step by step he improved and quickly understood the track conditions. The weather actually gave him a little extra time to slowly learn the track and build up pace. We are quite satisfied with the set up so far and also his performance. We’re not sure what the conditions will be like tomorrow but we believe he still has room to improve. A tough day for Ben, hitting the white line is bad under these conditions but thankfully the crash was not so serious and he is ok for tomorrow.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“Unfortunately Ben crashed today and hit his shoulder on the ground. For sure this isn’t going to help his physical condition over the weekend as he’s pretty sore. Hopefully he can manage the pain and keep pushing to deliver as strong results as possible. Nakasuga-san did a good job today for his first time here in wet conditions. By Sunday he should be used to the track so we’ll see what he can do.”
Crutchlow and Hayes shine on wet first day at Valencia
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team riders Cal Crutchlow and Josh Hayes quickly got to grips with challenging conditions at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia today to finish a rain-hit opening of practice displaying impressive speed and consistency.
British rider Crutchlow was 10th quickest in this morning’s opening practice session on a damp track after heavy early morning rain had soaked the 2.489 miles circuit. He posted a best time of 1.46.581 to finish just over a second away from the fastest pace.
The second session took place on a full wet track after torrential rain battered the Valencia circuit in the build-up to the start of the 45-minute practice. Crutchlow once again ad apted himself superbly to the tricky conditions and he briefly topped the timesheets as he worked on improving the wet setting of his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team machine to find better traction.
With the track surface much wetter than in the morning session, lap times were slower as a result but Crutchlow’s best time of 1.49.350 secured the 26-year-old fifth place.
Today’s performance from double American Superbike Champion Hayes, who is replacing injured compatriot Colin Edwards, was truly outstanding. Hayes has no knowledge of the tight and twisty Valencia track and he had never ridden Yamaha’s prototype YZR-M1 machine before today.
The wet conditions didn’t make his task any less complicated but Hayes acquitted himself magnificently and this morning he was only 1.5s away from the top 10.
Quickly adapting himself to the Bridgestone rain tyres and t he sophisticated electronics on the YZR-M1 machine, Hayes opted to gain as much experience as possible this afternoon by staying on track throughout the session. He completed 24 successive laps and managed to clock a best time of 1.50.509 to finish in 10th position. His time was good enough to comfortably outpace regulars Loris Capirossi, Hector Barbera. Hiroshi Aoyama and Toni Elias.
Crutchlow and Hayes rode with Sic58 stickers on the front of their Monster Yamaha Tech 3 bikes today in honour of Italian Marco Simoncelli, who lost his life in a tragic accident during the Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang on October 23.
Position 10th – Time 1.46.581 – Laps 33
“Today was a positive start to the weekend and I think I could have gone a fair bit quicker at the end of this afternoon’s session and been challenging for the top three but I made a couple of small mistakes on my last lap. But I was still fifth fastest though and I felt pretty comfortable in the full wet conditions. I am happy enough even though the track hasn’t got much grip at all. It was very slippery and you’ve got to be careful because it is easy to make a mistake. But the bike definitely felt better in the full wet rather than when it was a bit sketchy this morning. I just hope we get a dry session tomorrow to get some time on the bike in the dry. Nobody wants to be starting the race with no dry track time, so we’ll have to see what happens with the weather. If it is wet tomorrow I’m sure we can make some improvements and go a bit faster.”
Position 15th – Time 1.48.037 – Laps 38
“My first day in MotoGP has been very difficult and quite scary at times to be honest. Before I went out this morni ng I don’t think I have ever been so nervous in my life. I was happy with my lap times this morning in tricky conditions but then in the full wet this afternoon it meant it was quite a scary introduction to MotoGP. Although I’ve not experienced the full potential of a MotoGP bike because of the wet conditions, it is obvious that the Tech 3 Yamaha is a very good motorcycle and the Team has done an excellent job to try and make me comfortable. All I had to do was ride the machine and try to improve. Right now it is not so much about the set-up of the bike, it is just me learning the bike and I will continue that process tomorrow. I just hope that at some point I will get to have a dry practice so I can get to grips with the carbon brakes. I don’t want to be going into the race on Sunday having to learn to ride in the dry and also adjust to the carbon brakes after two wet days. That would be the worse scenario for me but I enjoyed today a lot. It was a great experience and once again I want to thank everybody at Yamaha, Tech 3 and Monster that made this possible.”
2011 MotoGP Spain
1 Casey Stoner Honda AUS 1’45.513
2 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 1’45.736
3 Valentino Rossi Ducati ITA 1’45.828
4 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 1’46.073
5 Loris Capirossi Ducati ITA 1’46.108
6 Ben Spies Yamaha USA 1’46.259
7 Randy De Puniet Ducati FRA 1’46.371
8 Toni Elias Honda ESP 1’46.393
9 Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 21’46.402
10 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 1’46.581
11 Alvaro Bautista Suzuki ESP 1’46.922
12 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 1’46.967
13 Karel Abraham Ducati CZE 1’47.079
14 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda JPN 1’47.581
16 Katsuyuki Nakasuga Yamaha JPN 1’48.382
(Marco Melandri, 1/1/2005)
Fastest Lap Ever:
(Valentino Rossi, 10/29/2006)
Last Years Winner: