Report and results follow.
Report and times follow.
Valentino Rossi was quickest in the untimed free practice session, dominating the timing sheet from beginning to end. Jorge Lorenzo on the other Yamaha and Marc Marquez on the Honda were unable to unseat Rossi, and a 1'34.079 at the flag ensured he ended the session on top, looking very much like the Valentino Rossi of old.
As the session came to an end, the top position was traded amongst the top riders, minute by minute, with dry weather letting them ride unhampered for the first complete session all weekend.
Thomas Luthi sneaked ahead of Maverick Vinales from a fourth-sector blitz on a lap that didn't look like it would take the top spot. Luthi had dominated the session, posting fast laps at will. Mika Kallio was third quickest and within one twentieth of a second of Luthi's time.
The weather at Misano finally stopped hampering qualifying and let the riders put in some dry laps to determine who will be in which qualifying session. Andrea Iannone was quickest, without even needing a tow from a factory bike, with Andrea Dovizioso only four hundredths slower. Many teams used the session to put in five or six lap runs to make up for the lack of dry time, choosing to dial in the right settings rather than aim for outright fast laps.
On a drying track, Alex Marquez pipped Alex Rins for the fastest time in a session red-flagged by Roman Fenati destroying his bike, without injury, by touching a patch of astroturf on the exit from the last corner. The session was restarted with two minutes to run, but even in the mad dash, nobody could unseat Marquez.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after the first day of practice on a soaking wet Misano:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after a soaking practice at Misano:
2014 Misano MotoGP Friday Round Up: Wet Weather, A Terrible Surface, And A Raft Of Rider Announcements
For anyone on a budget, Misano is one of the cheaper MotoGP rounds to attend. Ticket prices aside, the area has a large amount of tourist accommodation, and the race takes place right at the tail end of the tourist season, when hotel prices are starting to drop. Buses run to and from the circuit from Riccione, making transport to and the track affordable. Misano is a great circuit to go to if you are trying to keep costs to a minimum.
Misano may be a cheap weekend for fans, but it certainly wasn't cheap for the teams in all three classes in MotoGP. The rain-drenched conditions on Friday saw riders crashing left, right, and center, in Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP. They racked up a grand total of 62 crashes in all three classes, in just a single day. Given that crash damage on Grand Prix machinery tends to start at a minimum of around a thousand euros, going up arithmetically with the severity of the crash and the class the bike is racing in, a conservative estimate of the grand total for repairs on the first day of practice would be enough to pay for a ride in Moto3. Or possibly even on a MotoGP Open class bike.
The cause of those 62 crashes? The water certainly didn't help. Rain fell through the night and all day, leaving the track soaked and standing water on some part of the track. But it wasn't just the water, the surface of the track itself was very poor, and rubber left on the track made braking on the racing line a treacherous affair, riders in all three classes going down as the front locked up. The fact that Bridgestone had started the MotoGP riders off on the harder of the two wet tire options didn't help either. It was an understandable choice: in previous years, when riders have used the softer wet tire, they have ended up being destroyed at Misano. But on a track with standing water to cool the wet tires, tire temperatures were never raised enough for the soft tires to start to show any significant wear. The harder front tire never really reached the temperature at which it started to offer any real grip.
It has been a busy day for announcements at Misano. After the earlier official news that Aprilia will be returning to MotoGP in 2015 with Gresini, this afternoon, Avintia Racing announced they will be switching to Ducati hardware for the 2015 season and beyond.
At a press conference held in the Avintia hospitality unit, Antonio Martin, boss of both Avintia Racing and the Avintia construction company which is the team's title sponsor, and Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall'Igna announced a two-year deal, which will see Avintia field Ducati Desmosedici GP14s running Open class software in 2015, and GP15s running the spec software in 2016. Hector Barbera will be on one bike in 2015, but the second seat at Avintia is still open.
Dall'Igna told the press conference that the move was very important for Ducati, as it would give them a head start on working with the Open software, which will form the basis of the spec software to be introduced from 2016 onwards. That had been the objective with Yonny Hernandez at Pramac, but when the special exception was made for Ducati to use their own software, Hernandez was given the Ducati software to use, rather than the Open class software.
Jonas Folger and Julian Simon topped the drying session, but were still fourteen seconds off the dry pace of last year. Hafizh Syahrin, third quickest, continues showing good pace in the wet.
While the weather doesn't improve, Andrea Dovizioso does, putting in a laptime over a second quicker than Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez.
Alex Rins one again leads a tumultuous wet qualifying, with times several seconds slower than this morning's wet session. Alex Marquez and Jack Miller rounded out the top three in another session filled with wet crashes.
After the official announcement by Gresini, Aprilia have also issued a press release announcing their return to MotoGP:
APRILIA TO ENTER WORLD MOTOGP CHAMPIONSHIP ONE YEAR AHEAD OF SCHEDULE
ROBERTO COLANINNO: "30 WORLD TITLES WON IN LESS THAN 10 YEARS".
Misano, 12 September 2014 - Aprilia (Piaggio Group) officially announced that they will enter the Grand Prix motorcycle racing in the MotoGP class.
The Aprilia brand's return to the top world motorcycling competition will take place in 2015, a year ahead of their previously announced plans.
The intent of the Piaggio Group's strategy to commit the Aprilia brand in the MotoGP class is to favour a rapid growth of competitiveness, focusing all Aprilia Racing's technical and organisational efforts on developing prototypes. For this reason, Aprilia Racing will send its bikes onto the track supported by a cooperation agreement which has been reached with Gresini Racing.