Assen, The Netherlands
Pol Espargaro has set the pace in a breezy half wet-half dry Moto2 FP3. The ever improving conditions saw the Spaniard lap within a second of his quickest dry Thursday time. Espargaro's team mate Tito Rabat finished in second place ahead of Marc VDS riders Mika Kallio and Scott Redding. Frenchman Johann Zarco ended up in fifth position in front of Thomas Luthi, Anthony West, Xavier Simeon, Mattia Pasini and Alex DeAngelis completed the top ten.
The session was red flagged with fourteen minutes remaining after a monumental high side for Rafid Topan Sucipto. The Indonesian rider received extensive medical attention track side. After a lengthy delay he was thankfully declared 'OK', breathing, moving his arms and legs and conscious, the QMMF Speed Up rider was taken away in an ambulance for further treatment. Additional delays were then encountered as the site of Sucipto's crash had to be cleared of any debris and oil.
A drying track at Assen made conditions difficult for the third and final session of free practice for the MotoGP class. Conditions meant that nobody could improve their times, leaving the riders qualified for the two qualifying sessions this afternoon unchanged.
Alvaro Bautista was the fastest man in an otherwise meaningless session, the Spaniard going out on slicks late on in the session. But it was Marc Marquez who ventured out on slicks first, and he paid the price, suffering a massive highside as he braked for the Ramshoek corner. The Spaniard cracked the little finger in his right hand, but that injury will not prevent him from taking part in qualifying later today.
Alex Rins has taken top spot in the final session of free practice for the Moto3 class at Assen. The Estrella Galicia 0,0 rider put over a third of a second into Maverick Vinales, and six tenths into his teammate Alex Marquez. Luis Salom ended the session in 4th.
Jorge Lorenzo has already undergone surgery in Barcelona to have a titanium plate fitted to his collarbone. Lorenzo flew back to Barcelona on Thursday night, and was wheeled directly into hospital in Barcelona, where he underwent a two-hour operation to plate and fix his collarbone.
Yesterday, it looked as if Lorenzo would miss Assen completely. The press release issued yesterday suggested that Lorenzo would have to wait at least 48 hours before undergoing surgery. But after being judged fit for surgery, the reigning world champion decided to have surgery done as quickly as possible. Informed rumor in the paddock is that Lorenzo is to fly back to Schiphol Airport today, where he will be driven to the Assen circuit. He will not take place in qualifying, but as he has already set the fastest time in free practice so far, he is certain to go through to QP2, which means he will start from 12th if he does not ride. These are just rumors at the moment, but the fact they are so widespread lends them some weight.
Below is the official press release issued by Yamaha after Lorenzo's surgery:
Lorenzo Undergoes Successful Operation in Barcelona
Assen (The Netherlands), 28th June 2013
Winning a MotoGP championship - in fact, winning any motorcycle racing championship - is very hard indeed. It takes years of training, and a full season of utmost concentration, and hours, days, weeks, months of hard work to get everything as perfect as possible. Losing a championship is done in seconds, maybe milliseconds. A single, small mistake, and you can throw away everything you have devoted your life to achieving.
Jorge Lorenzo came into Assen on a roll, off two victories in a row, at Mugello and Barcelona. Assen is a track which suits the Yamaha, and at which Lorenzo is outstanding. He was comfortably fastest in the morning session, ahead of Cal Crutchlow on the other Yamaha, and was just starting to get into the swing of things on a soaking track when he hit a patch of water deeper than he was expecting. In the blink of an eye, he was tossed from his bike and onto his shoulder, suffering a displaced fracture of his left collarbone which will ensure that he will miss the race on Saturday at Assen. The momentum Lorenzo had been amassing in the previous races just hit a brick wall.
Lorenzo crashed at the worst part of the circuit conceivable. He entered the Hoge Heide corner - a fast right-left flick, with a little bit of camber - at 238 km/h, according to a Yamaha spokesperson, hitting the same section of track he had been riding over for the past seven laps in a row. But the rain which had been falling heavily and steadily had caused water to gradually start pooling in ever greater quantities on the track. The eighth time Lorenzo hit that corner, the situation had changed, just enough for him to be catapulted off his bike and break his collarbone. It was an uncharacteristic mistake from an otherwise flawless rider.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the first day of practice at Assen:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after practice on Thursday at Assen:
The Yamaha factory team issued the following update on Jorge Lorenzo's condition after his crash at Assen, in which he broke his collarbone:
Lorenzo Heads to Barcelona for Surgery
Assen (The Netherlands), 27th June 2013
Yamaha Factory Racing rider Jorge Lorenzo will travel to Barcelona this evening by a chartered private jet following this afternoon’s crash during free practice for the Assen TT.
Lorenzo suffered a left clavicle fracture after falling at over 200kph on the fastest corner of the track.
A further medical update will be issued in due course.
JORGE LORENZO'S COMMENT FOLLOWING TODAY'S ACCIDENT AT ASSEN:
Yamaha issued the following press release after the first day at Assen, including a medical update on Jorge Lorenzo. Lorenzo is being held in hospital at Assen, where he is undergoing further check ups to ensure he has no internal injuries. He will fly to Barcelona on Friday, and should be fit for surgery to fix the injury in the next 48 hours. The press release is shown in full below:
Disaster for Lorenzo Whilst Rossi Finds Form in Assen
Assen (The Netherlands), 27th June 2013
Despite being the fastest rider in the first day of practice today, the Assen TT proved again to be a disaster for the third year running for current World Champion Jorge Lorenzo. The Mallorcan had dominated the morning dry session and had shown an impressive pace in the afternoon’s wet practice until a huge high side at the fastest corner of the track. The first diagnosis is a left clavicle fracture which will require surgery. As a result the title challenger will miss Saturday’s Dutch Grand Prix.
Mattia Pasini has taken advantage of difficult track conditions during the second Moto2 practice session to top the time sheets. The Italian set a cracking last ditch lap, some seven tenths faster than Mika Kallio in second. The perilous session saw no further rain fall and an ever drying track, but Pasini's time of 1:47.835 was still almost ten seconds off the fastest time set in FP1 earlier in the day.
Johann Zarco headed the time sheets for large amounts of the session and ended up in third place ahead of Ricard Cardus, Randy Krummenacher, Mike Di Meglio, Scott Redding, Anthony West, Toni Elias and Alberto Moncayo completed the top ten. The slippery session was high in incident as at least eight riders crashed pushing hard to find the limits of the ever evolving Assen circuit, thankfully no injuries of note were encountered.
Jorge Lorenzo has fractured his left collarbone during practice at Assen. The factory Yamaha man was thrown from his bike at the Hoge Heide left-right flick, the fastest part of the circuit, and landed right on his shoulder. He was taken to the medical center, where examination revealed a fractured collarbone. Lorenzo is to fly back to Barcelona tonight, to have surgery on the collarbone. He will not take part in the race in Assen on Saturday.
The injury came at the worst possible time for Lorenzo. Although a fractured collarbone can be fixed quickly with a plate, that still leaves the injury painful and weak. With the Sachsenring in two weeks' time, followed seven days later by Laguna Seca, Lorenzo faces two tracks consisting mainly of left-hand corners, placing a lot of pressure on the injury. If Lorenzo is capable of racing at Sachsenring, he will face a very difficult challenge securing strong results. One DNF and the possibility of two further weak results would make it very difficult for Lorenzo to defend his championship.
More news on Lorenzo's injury if and when we receive it.
Marc Marquez has topped a torrentially wet second free practice in impressive fashion, leading wily veteran Valentino Rossi by two tenths of a second. There was quite a large gap back to Dani Pedrosa in third place whose lap time put him ahead of fellow Honda rider Stefan Bradl, the Ducati pairing of Dovizioso and Hayden and Cal Crutchlow in seventh. The session was a nice opportunity for CRT riders to show their talents and get their name up in lights as Danilo Petrucci, Yonny Hernandez and Michael Laverty rounded out the top ten positions.
The big story of the session however was an enormous crash for world champion and in-form man Jorge Lorenzo. The Yamaha rider suffered a scary high side at the fastest corner of the notoriously quick Assen circuit. He was able to walk away gingerly, but appeared to be nursing his left arm in a fashion that would indicate a potential collar bone injury. He was later helped into an ambulance and given an initial assessment. The Spaniard was finally taken to the circuit medical centre for further treatment of a suspected fractured left collar bone, more information regarding the injury will be provided as it's made available.
Thursday afternoon action resumed as championship leader Luis Salom headed the timesheets in Moto3 FP2. Light sprinkles of rain appeared early in the session and cool track temperatures meant that initial lap times were quite a bit slower than those set in FP1. As the drizzle cleared Salom was able to put together a string of hot laps and finish proceedings ahead of the morning's pace setter Maverick Vinales, as most riders began improving on their day's best times.
Riding with an injured wrist Jonas Folger did very well to post the third fastest time ahead of Spaniards Rins and Marquez. Alexis Masbou, Isaac Vinales, Alan Techer and the Australian duo of Arthur Sissis and Jack Miller rounded out the top ten placings. With five minutes remaining the rain began to fall heavier than it had all day and saw the few riders circulating head back to the pit lane. Alex Marquez was the only rider to go out and 'test the waters' on full wet tyres, cleverly taking the opportunity to boost his experience riding in tricky conditions.
Pol Espargaro has topped the timesheets at the conclusion of the opening Moto2 practice session at the Dutch TT. The Kalex rider ended the session a tenth of a second ahead of championship leader and title rival Scott Redding. The gap to Dominique Aegerter in third was almost half a second, setting up the prospect of a mouth watering head-to-head battle between Espargaro and Redding during Saturday's race.
Frenchman Johan Zarco finished proceedings in an impressive fourth position ahead of Xavier Simeon, Mika Kallio and Esteve Rabat. Anthony West appeared to have found some much needed form to post the eighth fastest time ahead of Takaaki Nakagami, who was an even second behind pace setter Espargaro. Swiss Suter rider Randy Krummenacher rounded out the top ten. The session saw spots of rain fall in the closing stages and the predictably unpredictable Assen forecast is for further showers as the day and race weekend progress.
Riding a wave of momentum from his hometown victory in Catalunya, Jorge Lorenzo has shown fantastic form in the opening practice session of the Dutch TT at Assen. The factory Yamaha rider set the pace by three tenths of a second with a lap time of 1:35.263. Cal Crutchlow was his closest rival on the timesheets finishing up in second place, a further three tenths ahead of Marc Marquez in third.
Valentino Rossi started the cold and cloudy session strongly, but had to settle for fourth place, failing to match the scintillating and ominously consistent pace of his teammate. Dani Pedrosa rounded out a very familiar feeling top five. A special mention goes out for Aleix Espargaro aboard his ART machine. The Aspar rider managed to set a lap time good enough for sixth place, finishing ahead of no less than six prototype bikes.