Alex Rins, for the second race in succession set the dominant time in the practice before qualifying with a 1'46.938; He was the only Moto3 rider to dip into the 1'46s. Jonas Folger clocked second fastest with Jack Miller in third at four-tenths back. Rins, within the first 10 minutes of FP3, dropped six-tenths of a second from Luis Salom's lead time from FP2. Then late in the session, Rins and Folger began slugging it out, trading the top spot a handful of times before Rins had the emphatic last word. Last year's winner, Romano Fenati, sat 21st on the timesheet.
2013 Jerez MotoGP Friday Round Up: Yamaha vs Honda, Or Going Just As Fast In Two Very Different Ways
For the past couple of years, it has seemed as if there is some kind of unwritten law which states that any MotoGP weekend must be accompanied by rain. The weekends without the threat of rain or some other form of ill weather have been few and far between, so it is both a relief and a joy to come to Jerez and have the prospect of a full weekend of stable and dry weather. That's not to say that no rain has fallen: this morning, as we walked to the car, we felt three or four large drops, but that was all. From the forecast, this looks like the entire quota of rain for the weekend, and the paddock is duly grateful for small mercies.
A consistently dry track still posed problems for the riders, however. The last time MotoGP was here, back in March, conditions were far from ideal. It rained, every day, with plenty of sunshine in between, leaving the track treacherous and difficult, with low grip levels and a patchy surface. Though the teams collected plenty of data at that test, very little of it is usable this weekend, with much higher temperatures and better grip. Until the afternoon, that is, when the warmer temperatures meant that grip levels started to drop again, a perennial problem at Jerez. The bumps, too, are an issue, with many riders running wide after hitting them as they braked for the hairpins at the circuit.
Despite the fact that the conditions are better, times so far have not been faster than at the test. Quickest man on the first day of practice was Jorge Lorenzo, the reigning champion picking up where he left off at Qatar before the rude interruption of Austin. His advantage is small - just over a tenth over Dani Pedrosa, a fraction more over Cal Crutchlow - but his race pace is impressive so far. Lorenzo put a lot of laps on a single set of tires, testing tire wear, and getting ready for the race.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after the first day of practice at Jerez:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of practice at Jerez:
Briton Scott Redding grabbed the top spot in Moto2 qualifying Friday but his grip on number one is anything but firm. Esteve Rabat finished just .037 seconds behind and more importantly, still holds the fastest time from FP1 of 1'43.227. Takaaki Nakagami took third to round out an all-Kalex top three. COTA winner Nicolas Terol finished FP2 in sixth place, half a second adrift.
World Champion Jorge Lorenzo dominated FP2 in hot conditions at Jerez Friday, setting the fast time early and holding the top spot for most of the session. But it wasn't for lack of trying by the others as the top five riders finished separated only by three-tenths of a second. Cal Crutchlow, nearly mirroring his performance at tests here earlier in the year, set the second-fastest time with Dani Pedrosa in third as the top Honda. Valentino Rossi (fourth) and Marc Marquez (fifth) finished only three-tenths back. Stephan Bradl crashed out with more than five minutes remaining. Both Hector Barbera (FTR) and Aleix Espargaro (ART) put CRT bikes in front of the factory Ducatis of Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso.
Jonas Folger beat the best FP1 time by nearly a full second to top the FP2 timesheets with a lap of 1'47.660. Alex Rins (second) and Maverick Vinales (third) clocked well within a second of Folger as practice wrapped up for the day for Moto3. A power failure in the pits midway through practice forced teams to use starting-grid tire warmers until power was restored toward the end of the session. Luis Salom, fast man in FP1, finished fourth, seven-tenths out.
Spaniard Esteve Rabat finished Moto2 FP1 at 1'43.227, nearly three-tenths clear of the field. Rival Scott Redding slotted into second and Pol Espargaro, who was mid-pack early, came on strong at the end for third. Former MotoGP race winner and Moto2 champion Toni Elias climbed into the fifth spot, just behind Jordi Torres who was the only Suter rider in the top six. Note: Rabat's time would have put him 22nd on the MotoGP FP1 timesheet, ahead of three CRT riders.
Jorge Lorenzo, on his final lap of the first Jerez free practice, nipped Honda's Dani Pedrosa by .003 for the top spot. Pedrosa, who led most of the session, was relegated to second. Valentino Rossi finished third, a little less than three-tenths off the pace. Cal Crutchlow, who held a top-three spot for most of FP1, finished fourth and COTA winner Marc Marquez came in at fifth, nearly eight-tenths from the top time. Actually, fifth marked a dramatic improvement for the rookie who appeared to struggle early in practice. None of the riders managed to reach Crutchlow's top time from the test here earlier in the year of 1'39.511. Expect times to continue to drop in the warming conditions.
Luis Salom waited until the end to show his hand and it was a winner with a time of 1'48.443 -- two-and-a-half tenths in front of second-place Jonas Folger. Niccolo Antonelli filled out the top three. Perhaps the big surprise of FP1 was Finnish rider Niklas Ajo who led most of the session, eventually putting his KTM into fourth on the timesheet. Overall, times were quick Friday. By the middle of the first practice session, the top 13 riders all had eclipsed the previous lap record of 1'49.760 set last year by Romano Fenati (who placed 16th in today's first practice).
Press releases from the MotoGP teams ahead of this weekend's race at Jerez:
Previews from the Moto2 and Moto3 riders and teams ahead of this weekend's race at Jerez:
So we're back in Europe. Despite the eerie beauty of the night race at Qatar, despite the magnificent splendor of the Circuit of the America's facilities, Jerez still feels like the first proper race of the MotoGP season. The paddock is set up in its full regalia, and all of the hospitality trucks present; the fans will be out in full force - or at least much fuller force than in the previous two races, despite the entirely respectable attendance figures at Austin - and everyone knows the score: where the track entrance is, where the truck park is, where the media center is, what the schedule is. Things have now returned to normal, and we are about to embark on the meat and potatoes section of the championship.
And here we highlight precisely where the weakness of MotoGP lies: Jerez feels like home, and everyone in the paddock immediately feels much more comfortable here than at the previous two races. It is symptomatic of the Eurocentric (and Iberocentric) nature of MotoGP and world championship racing in general that the paddock is so very far inside its comfort zone here. If MotoGP is to expand to the world, this is one thing which urgently needs addressing.
Yet it is hard not to feel comfortable at Jerez. The city still has much of its old world charm, and sports a veneer of wealth from its former role at the center of the trade with the New World, at the height of Spain's conquest of South and Central America. There are also signs of decay; one of the largest motorcycle dealerships on the main drag into town from the circuit has a 'for rent' sign up, though it is still open for business. Downtown, the beggars on the street have changed: no longer is it just those who have clearly always struggled on the fringes of society; now, ordinary men and women ejected from their homes in the wake of mass unemployment and the crisis in Spain's banking system stand, heads down, throwing themselves upon the mercy of passers by. It is a hard sight to bear, in one of the most beautiful places the MotoGP circus visits all year.
MotoGP fans will get a small glimpse of Ducati's future at Jerez this weekend. Ducati test rider Michele Pirro is due to make his first wildcard appearance of the season at the Spanish track. Most significantly, Pirro is to ride Ducati's so-called lab bike at Jerez, which contains a number of major updates to the Desmosedici GP13.
Though it is unclear exactly what Pirro will be riding - in the Ducati press release, Vitto Guareschi says only that Pirro's Ducati "will have some new development parts that will help us to focus on the development for the rest of the championship" - it seems likely that he will be racing the bike he has been busy testing. This machine, first seen at the Sepang test, was also the bike Pirro spent a lot of time testing at Jerez.
Ben Spies will not take part in the Spanish MotoGP round at Jerez scheduled to take place on May 5th. The Texan has been advised to withdraw to undergo further physical rehabilitation after suffering severe muscle pain in his back and chest at Austin.
The problems are a result of the extended recovery period from the surgery he had on the shoulder he injured at Sepang in October last year. Injuries to shoulder ligaments are notorious for taking a long time to heal, and for patients to recover their full strength, and it is this which has been dogging the Texan. With his right shoulder still very weak, Spies has been forced to try to compensate using his back and chest, and this is placing too much strain on his muscles while riding. The Ignite Pramac rider will have further rehab to deal with the strained muscles, and get him ready to return at the Le Mans round of MotoGP in just over three weeks' time.
Below is the press release from the Ignite Pramac team on Spies' condition:
Ben Spies to miss Jerez race
Unfortunately, the pain felt by the Ignite Pramac Racing Team rider at the end of the warm up during last weekend in Austin (Texas), has had more serious consequences than expected.
As a result, Ben Spies will not be able to race at the next round of the Championship, held on May 5th in Jerez, Spain.