November 10th, 2013
2013 Valencia MotoGP Saturday Round Up: Of Pressure, Mistakes, Engines, And How To Win A Championship
After all the drama, the talk stops tomorrow. Two titles on the line, and five men to fight over them. On Sunday, there will be no talk of crew chiefs being sacked, of team bosses appealing for penalty points, of teams concocting dubious plans, of teammates, team strategies or team orders. When the red lights go out, and the thunderous roar of four-stroke racing motorcycles fills the natural bowl which cradles the tightly wound ribbon of tarmac that is the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, it is every man and woman for themselves, and the devil take the hindmost. Nearly a hundred young men and one young woman will take to the track on Sunday. Most have already had their dreams of glory shattered; three more will share that disappointment; only two will etch their names permanently into the history books.
Both the Moto3 and the MotoGP titles are still undecided, the winner of each race likely to be crowned champion. The Moto2 title is already decided, and going on the evidence of practice and qualifying, the race could be over within a couple of laps, Pol Espargaro hoping to top off his championship with a win in the final race in front of his home crowd. The HP Tuenti Pons rider has been fastest in every session so far, usually by a comfortable margin, so his objective looks well within his grasp. Others may try to prevent an Espargaro victory march, but it doesn't look like either Tito Rabat, Jordi Torres or Nico Terol will be able to do much about it. Espargaro has deserved his title, repaying the faith Yamaha put in him when they signed him to the Tech 3 MotoGP team at Qatar, before the very first race of the year.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after Saturday's qualifying at Valencia:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after qualifying at Valencia on Saturday:
The Suzuki press office today issued a press release containing a blog entry from MotoGP team manager Davide Brivio. Brivio discusses the progress being made on the MotoGP bike Suzuki are building for their return to the series in 2015:
DAVIDE BRIVIO BLOG
Team Suzuki Press Office November 9.
Suzuki MotoGP Test Team Manager Davide Brivio talks about current progress and future plans for a 2015 MotoGP return at this week’s EICMA Motorcycle Show at Milan in Italy.
I am delighted to introduce myself as the Team Manager of Suzuki MotoGP team and as already officially announced by Suzuki in June, we are now developing our MotoGP racing bike to focus on returning to MotoGP racing in 2015.
This year we have tested the machines at four European circuits; namely, Catalunya, Aragon, Misano and Mugello, as well as several tests at Motegi in Japan.
Through those tests, we can say that we are happy with the results so far as a whole, as we were able to get through them without any major troubles at any circuit, despite many miles under very severe conditions.
Jorge Lorenzo would like to make something clear: Marc Marquez isn't the only rider capable of winning in Valencia come Sunday. To that end, Lorenzo set the fastest time in FP4 with a lap of 1'31.313. Moreover, he spent nearly the entire 30-minute session putting down laps in the 1'31 range -- a pace only Marquez seems to be able to match consistently. Marquez was second-fastest rider in the final free practice with Valentino Rossi in third.
Pol Espargaro isn’t in a particularly generous mood this weekend. Already owning 2013 Moto2 championship, the Spanish rider made it abundantly clear he'd like to win again before graduating to the top class next year. His lap time of 1'35.126 beat second-fastest Jordi Torres by two-tenths of a second. Third-fastest Nicolas Terol was another two-tenths back.
Former points leader Scott Redding -- who likely will take the runner-up prize in this year's Moto2 championship -- currently sits out of the points in 18th position and more than a second back of the leaders. Redding, who is nursing a broken wrist, also will be moving to the top class next year.
Aleix Espargaro and Colin Edwards will race for the NGM Forward team in MotoGP next year, riding FTR-based Yamaha production machines. The announcement had been expected for a very long time, but confirmation only came on Saturday morning at Valencia, as haggling over buying out Espargaro's contract had continued over the past couple of months. Negotiations have finally been completed, and Espargaro has been cleared to join Forward.
Marc Marquez broke the all-time lap record and used the pieces to carve away the hopes of his championship rival in Saturday’s free practice at the Valencia circuit. Marquez’s lap of 1’30.803 is the fastest-ever lap at the 2.5-mile circuit and it bettered Jorge Lorenzo's best by a full tenth of a second. More importantly, Marquez didn't set the time until Lorenzo turned what appeared to the fast lap of the weekend.
And it was -- for about 25 seconds. Then Marquez topped it again.
Valentino Rossi made a late charge to take the third. Dani Pedrosa -- the only rider to win in every class at this Spanish track -- placed fourth with Cal Crutchlow in fifth. Completing the top 10 and avoiding the first qualifying practice are Alvaro Bautista (sixth), Stefan Bradl (seventh), Nicky Hayden (eighth), teammate Andrea Divizioso (ninth) with Bradley Smith in the 10th and final slot. The rest of the riders must head into the first qualifying session in the afternoon with the top-two finishers there given a chance to better their grid positions in the second qualifying practice.
In Saturday’s FP3, Luis Salom did what he does best: Stalk the leaders for the better part of a contest and then pounce at the end. And that is the way in went Valencia, Spain on Saturday with Salom putting a blistering final lap to take the top time with a 1’39.879 -- the fastest Moto3 time of the weekend so far. Maverick Vinales also put in a late, fast lap to set the second-fastest FP3 time, 75 thousandths back. Jack Miller and his FTR Honda spoiled the KTM party with a third-fastest time.
Miller actually hit the top of the timesheet with six minutes remaining in the practice. He was the first rider to dip under the 1’40 mark with a 1’39.963. But within four minutes, Vinales grabbed the top spot again. And it looked to be the top time until points-leader Salom nipped him with at the very end. Both Luis Salom and Alex Rins were slowed briefly by a technical problems that kept the bikes in the pits for short stretches. Maverick Vinales, second in the championship, led most of the session. Alex Rins and Jonas Folger rounded out the top five. Three riders -- Salom, Vinales and Rins -- are separated by only five points in the championship so any of them could claim the title on the season's final race Sunday.