Results for the final test of the year for 125 and 250 classes, before the MotoGP series kicks off in earnest at Qatar on Friday night.
Qatar night test 250 results, day 2, Tuesday
|4||Mike DI MEGLIO||2'00.946|
|7||Raffaele DE ROSA||2'01.129|
Qatar night test 125 results, day 2, Tuesday
Ever since Dani Pedrosa's monster highside during the night tests at Qatar just over a month ago, his presence at the first race of the MotoGP season, up this weekend, has been in doubt. The Spaniard came down hard during testing when track temperatures cooled, but his real misfortune was to be speared by his bike as it landed. Pedrosa fractured a wrist and reopened an old knee injury he had just had surgery to fix over the winter, requiring a skin graft to fix.
The wrist injury was painful, but was unlikely to have prevented Pedrosa to have missed the IRTA Test at Jerez, let alone the first race at Qatar. But the knee problem was much worse. The surgery required to fix the problem meant that Pedrosa's knee had to be immobilized for four weeks, and that he would have to build up motion carefully and slowly after that, to ensure the wound does not open once again. The videos of Pedrosa limping about his flat, together with reports emanating from journalists who know Pedrosa personally seemed to suggest that racing at Qatar could well be an impossibility for Pedrosa, rather than just unwise.
The good news for Pedrosa and his fans is that the Spanish star has decided he will attempt to race at Qatar. In his personal blog on the Repsol website, Pedrosa announced that he felt he would be fit enough to race. He said that he was recovering well, but he would only just be fit in time: "The truth is that time has been very tight; when the practice was held in Jerez I could only bend the knee 90º. But over the last ten days it has been getting better and in the end, making use of the time right up to the last moment, we have decided to go to Qatar and race in the first round of the 2009 World Championship."
World Superbikes, Race 1
With three poles and three wins in a row, all eyes were on Ben Spies at the start of the first Superbike race, but they would have been better focusing everywhere. Spies fluffed the start, diving into the first corner in fifth place, behind a gaggle of Ducatis. Regis Laconi led the way, ahead of Noriyuki Haga, Max Neukirchner and Troy Corser.
Laconi was not to lead for long, Haga deking out the Frenchman after just a couple of corners, Neukirchner following in his wake. The German waited for the front straight to pounce, unleashing the speed of his Suzuki to take the lead over the line. But Haga had been expecting him, and dived back inside into Turn 1 to take back the lead, and was off.
At one of Noriyuki Haga's strongest tracks, Ben Spies knew that he couldn't afford to let the Japanese Ducati man get way. Gifted one position when Troy Corser crashed out from a promising 4rh place, Spies started to chase Regis Laconi down. The Frenchman was fast losing ground to Haga, but still fast enough to be troublesome, as it took Spies until lap 5 get past the DFX Corse Ducati.
By this time, Haga's lead was up to 2 seconds over Max Neukirchner, and 2.7 over Spies. The Texan turned his attention to the next obstacle in his path, Neukirchner's Alstare Brux Suzuki. Over the course of four laps, he hunted the German down, but as he entered Turn 1 right on the German's tail, he pushed the front a fraction too hard, sliding down gracefully into the gravel and out of the race. Next time around, Haga's pit board read "19 OUT", and the Xerox Ducati rider knew the race was in the bag. He put his head down, and ran fast, smooth laps to take a comfortable win.
It goes without saying that motorcycle racing is a dangerous sport, but what people tend to forget is that training for motorcycle racing is often even more dangerous. After all, the only way to train the skills required to control a motorcycle close to the limit is by riding a motorcycle close to that very same limit. And the penalty for getting it wrong can be pretty harsh indeed.
This is a lesson that Marco Simoncelli has learned the hard way. The reigning 250cc World Champion fell during motocross training at the quarry used by Valentino Rossi and his friends, and fractured his right scaphoid. Simoncelli was taken to hospital at Modena where the fracture was diagnosed, and was later treated by Dr Costa of the Clinica Mobile which accompanies both the MotoGP and World Superbikes series around the world.
Simoncelli's fracture puts his participation in the first round of the 250 World Championship at risk. According to GPOne.com, the fracture isn't serious enough to rule Simoncelli out altogether, but he will be far from 100% at Qatar. Dr Costa told GPOne.com "whether Marco rides at Qatar or not does not depend on his wrist, but on the will of Marco to ride."
Whether Simoncelli rides or not, his season will get off to a bad start. With Simoncelli and Alvaro Bautista pushing each other hard during preseason testing, Simoncelli's fractured scaphoid gives Bautista an immediate advantage.
Results of World Superbikes Race 2 at Valencia:
Results of the first round of the European Superstock 600 Championship race at Valencia:
Results of the 2009 Valencia World Supersport Race:
Results of the first World Superbike race at the Valencia round:
Results of the first round of the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup at Valencia:
Ever since Dani Pedrosa broke his wrist and reopened an old wound on his knee, his participation at the first race in Qatar has been in doubt. The skin graft to his knee meant that the Spaniard's leg had to be completely immobilized for 4 weeks. There was little chance that he would ever make it to the IRTA Test at Jerez, but the Repsol Honda team had hoped to have Pedrosa back for the opening race at Qatar.
That was optimistic, and Pedrosa was never going to be at 100% for Qatar, but the possibility of even riding is looking ever more remote. The World Superbike paddock is not the first place you would expect news about MotoGP to surface, but as the series is currently in Valencia, there's a large contingent from the Spanish press present, and wherever the press gather, rumors persist.
The latest rumor among some of the well-informed sections of the Spanish press is that Pedrosa will not be riding at Qatar. His condition is not improving fast enough, and he will instead choose to sit the first MotoGP round out, in the hope of being in better shape to contest the rest of the season. The decision is a sensible one, as the night race at Qatar can prove treacherous, with temperatures dropping rapidly, making setup and grip unpredictable at best. Missing one race would leave Pedrosa at a distinct disadvantage in the championship race, but racing with the risk of crashing and making his injury worse could potentially rule the Spaniard out of title contention.
So far, no official word has been forthcoming from the team, and it is unlikely to emerge until shortly before the race itself. But we should learn soon enough whether this rumor is just that, or whether the MotoGP championship will start its opening round with just 17 riders.
Only 19 riders started the Superpole session at Valencia, Shinya Nakano having qualified for the session, but unable to participate after breaking his collarbone. During the first 12 minute session, tactics were mixed, with some riders choosing to use one of their two qualifiers, to ensure they got another shot at a decent grid position. For Ruben Xaus that didn't work out well, crashing out on a fast lap before he had the chance to set a time good enough to qualify.
But Xaus wasn't the only big name to be dropped at the first time of asking: both Aprilia's Max Biaggi and Yamaha's Tom Sykes couldn't set times fast enough to get into Superpole 2, and will start from the 5th row of the grid.
Out after Superpole 1: Biaggi, Sykes, Xaus
Ben Spies set the fastest time in Superpole 2, in just a single fast lap. Remarkably, on his slowdown lap, he ran wide and off the track, and was forced to abandon his bike and run back to the pits. There were a lot of people pushing during the session, as Nori Haga almost came a cropper, having a big wobble round the back of the circuit, and Shakey Byrne crashed out while on a very fast lap, having set the 2nd fastest time at the first intermediate point.
Newcomer John Hopkins struggled a little with the qualifying format, finishing 16th, although a couple of fast laps were ruined when the rear started sliding round Valencia's notoriously tricky long downhill left hander before the final turn.
Out after Superpole 2: Ryuichi Kiyonari, Leon Haslam, Jakub Smrz, Shakey Byrne, Broc Parkes, Troy Corser, Brendan Roberts, John Hopkins
In the final session of free practice before Superpole, Max Biaggi set the fastest time on the Aprilia, with this morning's fastest man Ben Spies forced down in third. But the big surprise was the man who as second fastest: Leon Haslam hasn't been able to crack into the top ten so far this weekend, but in this session, the Stiggy Racing rider chopped 4/10ths of his best time so far, coming painfully close to cracking into the 1'34s. Finding that much speed just 15 minutes before Superpole is due to start will be a useful leg up for Haslam.
Results of the second free practice session for World Superbikes at Valencia:
Going into the qualifying practice session for the World Supersport class, the outcome seemed like a foregone conclusion. In both free practice sessions, local hero Joan Lascorz had ripped up the timesheets, far and away the fastest rider at the track. And at the start of qualifying, this pattern looked like being repeated, with the Motocard Kawasaki man taking the lead from the off. And as the session progressed, Lascorz kept chipping away, extending his lead over the chasing pack.
The pole looked to be in the bag, but Lascorz hadn't counted on the wiles of Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow. In the dying minutes of the session, the Briton put in two blistering laps to smash Lascorz' pole record from 2008, and take pole for himself, with an exceptional lap of 1'35.865, pushing Lascorz down to 2nd on the grid. But as has been the case all weekend, Crutchlow and Lascorz have been a cut above the rest of the field, with third place man Ant West nearly 8/10ths behind Lascorz on the Stiggy Honda. Lascorz' Motocard Kawasaki team mate Katsuaki Fujiwara completes the front row of the grid.
The session was a troubled one for several riders, with Andrew Pitt, Eugene Laverty, Matej Smrz, Joan Lascorz and Doni Tata Pradita all crashing out, Pitt managing to do so three times. The time lost to crash damage left Pitt down in 9th, heading up the third row of the grid, two places ahead of his Ten Kate team mate Kenan Sofuoglu. Clearly, Ten Kate is still having teething problems with the 2009 CBR600RR. Winner of the last race Laverty, meanwhile, will start from 13th.
Full results of the qualifying practice session for the World Supersport round at Valencia: