Action got underway today at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia ahead of this Sunday’s championship showdown, the Gran Premio Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana.
As one of the two protagonists for the title, Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo came out fighting in the two free practice sessions. With a blistering pace from the outset, Lorenzo wrapped up the morning run in second position, 0.018 seconds from Marc Marquez on top.
The defending champion carried his speed straight into the afternoon session, leading from the start. As rivals Marquez and Pedrosa increased the pace, Lorenzo made some set up changes and moved to second position behind Pedrosa. The last ten minutes then became a flurry of activity as the three Spaniards turned in hot laps, Lorenzo delivering a 1’31.378 to finish third in the combined times, 0.158 seconds from the top.
Teammate Valentino Rossi started the weekend’s action strongly in the morning practice. The nine-time world champion led early on before dropping to sixth, just 0.68 seconds from the top as the frontrunners increased the pace.
Rossi got straight down to business in the second practice, holding second on the timesheets from the beginning behind his teammate in first. By mid session the Italian was sitting in third place, having reduced the gap to the top to just over 0.3 of a second. As the later lap times tumbled Rossi was able to close the time gap from the morning session, finishing in fifth in the combined times with a 1’31.639, 0.419 seconds from first.
3rd / 1’31.378 / 27 laps
“This afternoon was very windy so it was very difficult to make the same lap time of the morning but we managed to improve it a little bit. We adjusted the bike a little electronically and also the suspension. We are quite close to everyone and ready to keep working tomorrow.”
5th / 1’31.639 / 27 laps
“Today was not so bad, especially this afternoon. I am quite satisfied with the practice. The level is very high and the top seven or eight riders are very close. This afternoon we were able to close the gap, I am now just 0.4 from pole position and I have quite a good pace. I’m quite happy with the work on the bike. I’m quite fast in the middle of the track but I lose some time on T1 and T4 so we have to work a bit. We have to try to do a good result for the last race of the season, stay close to the top three and see what we can do.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“The first day of practice is done. The boys are very tight at the top. We have space to improve but it looks like the weekend will be nice weather so different from the last couple of years here. Lap times are already quite fast but I guess tomorrow we will break lap records because the tarmac is good and the grip is very good. The boys are very close together so I think it will be tight tomorrow. So far we are happy with the result but of course we need to work and try to improve.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“We are not leading but we are satisfied. For the first day we were able to get a lot of information. Both riders are quite happy. We are for sure going to work and improve the areas where we are suffering. We were also able to test both tyre compounds and we know we can make a step tomorrow.”
Crutchlow makes fast start ahead of final Tech 3 appearance
Cal Crutchlow warmed up for his final appearance in the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team in Valencia with an incredibly strong performance in today’s two practice sessions at the tight and twisty Ricardo Tormo track.
In gloriously sunny and warm conditions this morning, Crutchlow was an encouraging seventh fastest with a quickest pace of 1.32.434 that left him just 0.052s outside of the top six.
A strong breeze had picked up in advance of this afternoon’s second 45-minute session, but Crutchlow impressively slashed almost a second off his pace to surge up the rankings into fourth position, courtesy of a lap of 1.31.503.
Only dominant Spanish trio Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo lapped faster than the 28-year-old today, who is hoping to mount a podium challenge in his last appearance for the French-based Monster Yamaha Tech 3 squad in front of a sell-out crowd on Sunday.
Crutchlow walked away unhurt from a crash on his last lap at Turn 11 to finish just 0.124s outside of the top three and 0.282s away from the best lap posted by Marquez, as he once again led the non-factory challenge in Valencia.
Teammate Bradley Smith also enjoyed a magnificent start to the final round of 2013, the British rider storming to the fourth best time this morning. Smith took full advantage of the surprisingly pleasant conditions to clock a best time of 1.32.086 that saw him eclipse the pace of Valentino Rossi and Crutchlow on the Yamaha YZR-M1 machine.
Smith was able to lap slightly faster in FP2 and he was eventually eighth on the combined rankings, but encouragingly he was just a fraction over 0.5s away from the top six, as he concentrated on assessing both soft and hard rear Bridgestone options ahead of the 30-lap race.
4th 1.31.502 – 42 laps
“I am happy with my start to the weekend because this afternoon I made a big improvement and I felt fast and strong in FP2. I am disappointed that I crashed right at the end of this afternoon’s session. I didn’t have a bad feeling with the bike but I was trying to improve the bike in the corners and I lost the front. I was trying to roll through the corner faster but obviously I have found the limit. But it was a very positive session and I am in the top four and being so close to that Spanish trio gives us a lot of confidence for the rest of the last weekend. My crew did a great job again today and this is a difficult weekend knowing I am leaving after this race. But that makes me even more determined to ensure the last race is a positive one and we can end a brilliant time together on a high.”
8th 1.31.985 – 45 laps
“The great thing about today is that I felt immediately comfortable on the bike. This morning’s fourth position though made the situation look a bit better than it probably was because I put in a brand new tyre right at the end of the session to set my fastest time. This afternoon I was able to improve again and it was good because we got time on the soft and hard Bridgestone options to assess both for the race. We still have a little bit to find with the setting on the hard tyre and we will try and use it again tomorrow to get as much information as possible before deciding what will be the choice for the race. But it has been a positive first day and I am quite close to the front so I am looking forward to the rest of the weekend.”
2013 MotoGP Spain
1 Marc Marquez Honda ESP 1’31.220
2 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 1’31.286
3 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 1’31.378
4 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 1’31.502
5 Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 1’31.639
6 Stefan Bradl Honda GER 1’31.858
7 Alvaro Bautista Honda ESP 1’31.873
8 Bradley Smith Yamaha GBR 1’31.984
9 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati ITA 1’32.363
10 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 1’32.395
11 Andrea Iannone Ducati ITA 1’32.596
12 Michele Pirro Ducati ITA 1’32.756
13 Aleix Espargaro ART ESP 1’32.809
14 Claudio Corti FTR Kawasaki ITA 1’33.172
15 Colin Edwards FTR Kawasaki USA 1’33.252
(Casey Stoner, 1-1-2008)
Fastest Lap Ever:
(Daniel Pedrosa, 11-11-2012)
Last Years Winner: