November 8th, 2014
Marc Marquez has topped the time sheets following MotoGP FP4 at Valencia, the World Champion has lead the way for all four practice sessions so far and looks in ominous form heading into Qualifying later this afternoon and onto race day. Fellow Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa claimed second place and was less than a tenth behind Marquez, Pedrosa has had more victories at the Valencia circuit than any of the current premier class riders and will be one to watch come Sunday.
Andrea Iannone continued his strong return from injury to take fourth spot ahead of Jorge Lorenzo and Cal Crutchlow. Andrea Dovizioso made it three Ducati's in the top six as he edged out his countryman Valentino Rossi and Aleix Espargaro. Former Moto2 combatants Stefan Bradl and Bradley Smith rounded out the top ten positions at the conclusion of the 'race rehearsal' session.
Full Recap and Results Below.
Tito Rabat has topped the third Moto2 Free Practice session at his home track in Valencia, the recently crowned World Champion returned to familiar metronomic form to post several runs of impressively quick laps, going faster and faster as the session unfolded. He eventually topped the time sheets with a lap of 1:35.156, this put him a tenth quicker than his Marc VDS team mate Mika Kallio and a further tenth ahead of Friday pace-setter Johan Zarco.
Thomas Luthi and Sandro Cortese claimed fourth and fifth places respectively ahead of Maverick Vinales and Jonas Folger. The Italian duo of Franco Morbidelli and Lorenzo Baldassarri posted the eighth and ninth quickest times while home town hero Jordi Torres rounded out the top ten aboard his Suter.
Marc Marquez has handled cool and cloudy conditions at Valencia to lead the field following MotoGP FP3, the World Champion was the first rider to break into the 1:30 bracket and posted a leading time of 1:30.950. He was also the first rider to crash for the weekend, suffering a gentle front end lose at turn five. Tech 3 Yamaha rider Pol Espargaro claimed an impressive second place a tenth behind and edged out countryman Jorge Lorenzo who made it a Spanish top three. The factory Ducati pairing of a rejuvenated Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso completed the top five.
Dani Pedrosa had to be satisfied with sixth place and being three tenths shy of his team mate Marquez and he edged out Valentino Rossi and Aleix Espargaro. The British duo of Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith completed the top ten and were the last of the riders to automatically qualify for Q2 later this afternoon. Stefan Bradl ended in eleventh place and will have to make his way through Q1, the German could consider himself unlucky being only half a second slower than the quickest lap time by Marquez and three hundredths behind Smith. The likes of Hernandez, Bautista, Pirro and Barbera will join Bradl and also do their best to also make it through to Q2 later today.
Chilly morning conditions greeted the Moto3 riders at Valencia as the air temperature sat at a brisk fifteen degrees, the track temperature was a degree warmer. Australian Jack Miller excelled in the cooler conditions and topped the session with a time of 1:39.068, his time was six tenths quicker than Niccolo Antonelli managed yesterday. Miller was also consistent - the Championship contender improved his lap time regularly throughout, one run in particular saw three consecutive scorching laps.
Rookie rider Juanfran Guevara continued his impressive second half of the season to post the second quickest time less than a tenth behind Miller. He finished ahead of John McPhee, Isaac Vinales and Championship leader Alex Marquez who was three tenths shy of the fastest time. Husqvarna rider Niklas Ajo claimed sixth spot and was followed by Romano Fenati and Alex Rins. Jorge Navarro guided his Kalex KTM machine to ninth place ahead of his countryman Efren Vazquez who rounded out the top ten.
2014 Valencia Friday MotoGP Round Up: New Bikes, New Collaborations, And A Well-Structured Talent Pipeline
Valencia is always an incredibly busy weekend. The last race of the year means a chance to look back at the season which almost past, and the last chance before the winter break to present projects for next season in front of a large audience, or at least, a large press group. As a journalist, you can end up running around the paddock like a headless chicken, sprinting from event to event with no clear idea of what you are doing and with each new event wiping the memory of the last from your mind.
A selection of the events this weekend: A press conference organized by Dorna featuring the principals from the three factories in MotoGP, to look back over the season and review the future of the sport and how it is promoted (interesting, but long-winded). The presentation of Tech 3's new Tech 3 Classics project, which will see Tech 3 engineers restoring classic racing motorcycles for the general public (mercifully brief, but with some stunning old machinery on display). The presentation of the CIP Moto3 team for next year, with Remy Gardner, son of former 500cc world champion Wayne, to contest his first full Grand Prix season. A farewell to Colin Edwards, organized by the Forward Racing team. The introduction of the collaboration project between Monlau, Marc VDS Racing and Estrella Galicia which will see them racing in all three Grand Prix categories, the Spanish CEV championship and the Pre-GP class in Spain (revolutionary, poetic, and in three languages).
It is enough to make you forget about the fact that there are bikes out on track preparing for the last races of the season on Sunday. That is, after all, the actual raison d'etre of the Grand Prix paddock, and the reason we are gathered here in the first place. Even there, new projects were on track distracting the focus from Sunday, offering a glimpse of the bikes which will feature next year. Suzuki is at Valencia for a wildcard appearance, the first time the new GSX-RR has raced ahead of the factory's return to MotoGP. And Hiroshi Aoyama has been handed the Honda RC213V-RS, Honda's new Open class bike for 2015, much to the chagrin of Scott Redding, who is battling with Aoyama for the top Open Honda slot this season.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after the first day of practice at Valencia:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after practice on Friday at Valencia:
Moto2 rider Johan Zarco has followed the lead of Niccolo Antonelli and Marc Marquez before him to lead both Friday practice sessions at Valencia despite a crash with five minutes remaining. The Frenchman was very consistent throughout, reeling off a succession of impressive lap times in the low 1:35 bracket. He eventually topped the field with a time of 1:35.263 which was one tenth quicker than he managed in the early session and put him exactly one tenth clear of Tom Luthi in second place.
World Champion Tito Rabat appeared relaxed at his home track and took it easy by his usual tireless standards, he completed a lower volume of laps than usual but still claimed third spot ahead of his team mate Mika Kallio and Suzuki-bound Spaniard Maverick Vinales who rounded out the top five.
2014 World Champion Marc Marquez has displayed ominous consistency on his way to heading the MotoGP FP2 session at his home track in Valencia, his time of 1:31.454 was two tenths slower than his quickest time in the morning's session but was enough to put him a tenth clear of Andrea Dovizioso in second. Aleix Espargaro continued his strong Friday form to post the third fastest time and edge out Jorge Lorenzo who made it three Spaniards in the top four.
Cal Crutchlow continued to show newly found pace aboard his Ducati to take fifth spot - just over two tenths away from Marquez' best time. Dani Pedrosa focused on fine-tuning his race setup and ended up a further two tenths behind Crutchlow. Honda rider Stefan Bradl ended seventh on the time sheets ahead of Tech 3 riders Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith while Valentino Rossi rounded out the top ten. 'The Doctor' was six tenths shy of pace-setter Marquez and has work to do in order to be thereabouts for qualifying tomorrow and more importantly for the race on Sunday.
Niccolo Antonelli has topped the second Moto2 Free Practice session at Valencia, the Italian youngster posted a time of 1:39.647 to improve on his morning benchmark by seven tenths of a second and put him just two tenths shy of the quickest ever lap of the circuit, which was set by Alex Rins to clam pole position last year. Jack Miller ended the session in second place two tenths behind Antonelli but narrowly ahead of his Championship combatant Alex Marquez, the Italian duo of Enea Bastianini and Andrea Migno completed the top five.
Romano Fenati made it four Italian riders in the top ten to finish sixth on the time sheets, he was followed by Alex Rins and Mahindra's Brad Binder. Racing Team Germany riders John McPhee and Efren Vazquez rounded out the top ten. The session underlined the competitive nature of the Moto3 class this season as the top 20 riders were split by one second, all the ingredients are there already for another cracking race on Sunday.
The last race of the season is always a little bit special. They are even more special when riders are still scrapping over the spoils, battling for titles, for positions, for honor. There is much at stake at Valencia: a Moto3 title, second place in the MotoGP and Moto2 championships, and the team championship in MotoGP. Above all, though, there is victory, the glory of joining the elite band of Grand Prix winners. At the end of the day, that is what motivates motorcycle racers most on any given Sunday.
Top billing at Valencia is the race which is first, but with the most at stake. On Sunday, Jack Miller and Alex Marquez will slug it out for the 2014 Moto3 World Championship. The race at Sepang set up a fantastic season finale, with Miller riding an intimidating race to cut Marquez' championship lead. Just 11 points separate the two men, putting Marquez easily within reach of the Australian. But Miller will need help: it is not enough for him to win, he also needs to put a few riders between himself and the Estrella Galicia Honda of Marquez. As Miller found out at Sepang, that risks letting someone else slip ahead of him, making his quest even more difficult.
The math is relatively simple. Those 11 points would be enough for Miller to take the title, the Australian already having more wins than the younger Marquez. That means finishing ahead of the Estrella Galicia Honda, but above all, keeping him off the podium. A 3rd place finish would be enough for Marquez to lift the title, even if Miller were to win the race. Things get more difficult if Miller doesn't win: if he finishes second, then 6th will do for Marquez; if Miller ends in 3rd, then 11th will be sufficient for the Spaniard. If Miller doesn't get a top five finish, then his title ambitions are gone.