Silverstone, Great Britain
Sandro Cortese topped the final session of free practice for the Moto3 class at a blowy and blustery Silverstone on Saturday morning. The German ended the session nearly two tenths ahead of Maverick Vinales, with Miguel Oliveira another two tenths behind in 3rd. The Frenchman Alexis Masbou set the 4th fastest time, ahead of British rider Danny Kent, who ended the session in 5th.
"It was an up-and-down day," Ben Spies said after practice on Friday, and truly, he spoke for a large part of the paddock. It started with the weather: the overnight rain continued for the better part of the morning, leaving the track soaking during FP1. The sun came out at lunchtime, quickly drying out the track, helped by the strong winds buffeting the circuit. The dry track helped, the wind certainly didn't. "That's what happens when you build a circuit on an airfield," Cal Crutchlow commented curtly, after complaining about being blown around by the gusting wind in the afternoon.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the first day of practice at Silverstone:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of practice at Silverstone:
After the morning rain, the sun came out in the afternoon at Silverstone, drying the track out quickly for the second session of free practice at the circuit. Despite a quick shower which fell in the middle of the session, the track stayed in pretty good condition, helped in no small part by the strong winds which are blowing here.
In the dry conditions, it was Casey Stoner who set the quickest time of the afternoon in the final minutes of FP2, dislodging an impressive Alvaro Bautista from the top spot. Stoner held off challenges from Ben Spies, the factory Yamaha rider putting together a much more solid session after his crash in the wet session this morning. Bautista's 3rd place was some consolation after the San Carlo Gresini Honda had regularly featured at the top of the timesheets, but put him ahead of all but Stoner and Spies.
Sandro Cortese topped the second session of free practice at Silverstone on Friday, taking advantage of a much drier track to improve on the times set this morning. The Red Bull KTM rider was nearly four tenths quicker than Efren Vazquez, the Laglisse man having been fast in the rain this morning as well. Romano Fenati was 3rd quickest, clearly more comfortable than this morning in the wet, while Alex Rins took the 4th fastest time ahead of Maverick Vinales.
With the sun out at Silverstone, though not for long enough to dry out the track, leaving the Moto2 class to lap on a wet track with occasional drying patches. At the end of the 45 minute session, it was Pol Espargaro who topped the timesheets, setting the fastest time despite still having some pain in his ankle after his crash with Marc Marquez at Barcelona. After leading for much of the session, Bradley Smith ended up in 2nd, ahead of Ricky Cardus, his best result on the AJR in Moto2.
Valentino Rossi has topped the first session of free practice for the MotoGP class at Silverstone, taking advantage of the soaking track as the rain continues to fall here. Rossi led a Ducati 1-2, with Nicky Hayden finishing in 2nd, less than a tenth behind his factory Ducati teammate. Andrea Dovizioso was the fastest Yamaha, taking 3rd nearly eight tenths slower than Rossi, and staying ahead of both Casey Stoner on the Repsol Honda and his Monster Tech 3 Yamaha teammate Cal Crutchlow.
Stefan Bradl completed another impressive session, ending FP1 in 6th, ahead of the second Repsol Honda of Dani Pedrosa, while championship leader Jorge Lorenzo set the 8th fastest time. Alvaro Bautista - who crashed halfway through the session - set the 9th fastest time, while Hector Barbera rounded out the top 10. Bautista was not the only crasher: Ben Spies also crashed at the same place as the Spaniard, after posting respectable times during the first half of practice. Both Bautista and Spies had big highsides, but both men walked away relatively unhurt.
Danny Kent has topped the first session of free practice for the Moto3 class at Silverstone, the young Englishman going fastest on wet track. Arthur Sissis impressed with the 2nd fastest time, two thirds of a second behind Kent, while Efren Vazquez ended the session in 3rd. Championship leader Sandro Cortese took 4th, ahead of Frenchman Louis Rossi and young German rider Jonas Folger.
Two topics dominated Thursday's round of talk, rider debriefs and press conferences - well, three actually, but the Marquez/Espargaro clash at Barcelona was really just rehashing old ground - and they were contracts and tires, probably in that order of importance. With Casey Stoner retired and Jorge Lorenzo having renewed his contract with Yamaha for two more years, attention is turning to the other players in the field, and so every rider speaking to the press was given a grilling as to their plans for next year.
That interrogation revealed only a very little. In the press conference, Jorge Lorenzo admitted he had been made an offer by Honda, and had only decided to sign for Yamaha once Lin Jarvis upped his original offer in response to Honda's. Lorenzo would not be drawn on the size of the sums involved - a clumsy and badly phrased question in the press conference asked by me was easily evaded by the Spaniard - but logic dictates that it would be more than the reported 8 million a year his previous contract was worth. But money was not the main driver behind the signing, Lorenzo said. "I listened to my heart, and my heart said Yamaha." As Lorenzo's team manager Wilco Zeelenberg said at Barcelona, and repeated again at Silverstone, Lorenzo wants to win championships, and Yamaha gave him the best shot at doing that.
After the announcement of Casey Stoner's retirement a few weeks ago and Jorge Lorenzo’s confirmation recently that he will be staying with Yamaha for the next two seasons, everybody is trying to guess the answer to the million--dollar question: which factory will Valentino Rossi be riding for next season?.
But none of this has anything to do with the real interest of the World Championship, where Moto2 and Moto3 classes show the real thrilling action on the track, and we all expect more of the same from a new edition of British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Even though the Silverstone racetrack has a great tradition and long history in British Grand Prix racing, I must confess that I still miss the technical and demanding layout of Donington Park. But business is stronger than passion or any other influence in motorsport in recent times, just as it is everywhere else. With Donington gone since 2009 -after hosting 22 rounds of the British Grand Prix-, at least the speedy Silverstone is still a great place for racing, as we will all enjoy this weekend.
The retirement of Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo's contract renewal with Yamaha have given a massive boost to MotoGP's silly season, with much talk, rumor and speculation about who will be going where in 2013. Journalists are currently grilling anyone without a contract for next year - and that basically means everyone except Stoner, Lorenzo and Stefan Bradl - about their plans for next season and the state of negotiations. With Lorenzo out of the way, the next two key players are Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa, and while Rossi is restricting his comments to his commitment to making the 2012 Ducati work, Dani Pedrosa is being a little freer with his comments about his future.
At Silverstone, MotoMatters.com spoke to Pedrosa for a few minutes about his plans for next season, and the state of negotiations. In the discussion, Pedrosa touched on a few subjects, including his thoughts on retirement, an option he gave serious consideration last year, after a long period of injury. Below is a transcript of the conversation:
Q: Jorge Lorenzo has renewed his contract for 2 years with Yamaha, are you thinking about your future? Are you talking to Honda, or other manufacturers?
Press releases from some of the Moto2 and Moto3 teams ahead of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone:
On a sunny and pleasant Thursday, the day before the MotoGP riders are to take to the track at Silverstone for the first day of free practice, the questions ahead of this weekend should be obvious: Have the Hondas really found something at the Barcelona test to fix the chatter that has plagued them this season? How will Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa get on with the new "33" spec front tire, now that the old construction has been withdrawn from the allocation? Does Jorge Lorenzo's new two-year contract with Yamaha mean he eases up or he pushes harder to extend his impressive lead in the championship? And just how much more progress can the Ducatis make in the dry without any major updates? Are Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi any nearer to closing in on the Tech 3 Yamahas, their first port of call on the way to the podium fight?