Friday, October 29, 2010

MotoGP: Rain Washes Out 1st FP Session in Portugal, Saturday Schedule Re-Mixed

Nicky Hayden comes into the turn nine area at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the first free practice session for the inaugural Red Bull Indianapolis MotoGP in September of 2008. The weekend not only saw rain on opening day, but the remnants of Hurricane Ike that caused cancelations, postponements and 60 MPH+ winds that toppled the Yamaha tent in the infield, blew trash and anything that wasn't tied down out onto the track surface.
The MotoGP race was shortened for safety purposes, and the 250CC race was called off altogether as a result of the weird weather weekend. Saturday's qualifying sessions were all run in near-perfect 80+F degree weather,which helped keep the fan's spirits up and the weekend from being a completely damp one as well.
The Kentucky Kid took his Repsol Honda to a 2nd place finish on Sunday during the hurricane leftovers, a little over 5 seconds in arrears to eventual winner and '08 MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi on his Yamaha Factory M-1. Rossi's team mate Jorge Lorenzo rounded out the podium for the first motorcycle race held at IMS in almost a century.
After the 2008 season, Hayden, the 2006 MotoGP World Champion, left Honda after six seasons to ride for the Marlboro Ducati team. Rossi will be joining #69 for the 2011-12 seasons on the Ducati team, after having been teamed together with Honda, before Vale split for Yamaha.
Nicky was second in the session this afternoon in Portugal behind 2010 MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo on his Fiat Yamaha. Rossi was 3rd, followed by '07 MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner and 2010 MotoGP Rookie of the Year Ben Spies on the Tech 3 Yamaha.
With what has been a relatively dry season for the MotoGP traveling circus, the stars of the elite World Championship kicked off the penultimate round in Portugal this morning with torrential rains, thunder and lightning that washed out free practice session one, and keeping all but two riders in their respective garage areas. Only Hiroshi Aoyama on the Interwetten Honda and Carlos Checa, in one of two 'guest' appearances on the Pramac Ducati, attempted to circulate the track in extremely dire conditions. The fifteen other riders in the series sat the entire 45 minute session out.

As a result of the all-but-complete wash-out from this morning's session, and free practice session 2 not being run under prime conditions, Dorna has extended tomorrow morning's free practice session 3 to 60 minutes from the standard 45 minutes. Portugal and Valencia (next weekend's final 2010 stop on the MotoGP season) were given an extra practice session to help the teams to better utilize optimum time on the track, but all sessions were also cut-back from the 'old' 60 minute timed sessions to 45 minute sessions.

With the 2010 MotoGP World Championship having been decided two rounds ago in Malaysia, the final two rounds are all about 'who else finishes where' in the other top spots for the season. Ben Spies sewed up the 2010 MotoGP Rookie of the Year title after the last round at Philip Island, but the remaining spots in the top ten in the series are still up-for-grabs with the rest of pack. And those final numbers will be tantamount in establishing the rest of the hierarchy for the 2011 MotoGP season, on AND off the track.

You can read up on today's activities, the changes for tomorrow's schedule and the times for the MotoGP race at Estoril below.
Here are all of the links to today's on and off track action in Portugal for the MotoGP weekend, all thanks to David Emmett at his excellent

Free practice 1 was all but a total wash out due to torrential rains in the area, thunder and lightning all around the track in Estoril:
Free practice 2 went much better especially over half-way through the session at the Portugal round as the track was drying. Both Portugal and Valencia (next weekend's final round for the season) were given an extra session due to lack of quality track time that the teams weren't getting over the weekend, but session times were reduced from 60 to 45 minutes:
Tomorrow's free practice 3 session has also been extended to an hour to give the teams a little bit more time to help find the right set-up with today's first session being a total loss. Here is the updated schedule for tomorrow in Portugal:


As always, you can follow all of the race action this weekend on MotoGP's official site, Here is the link for not only the schedule but the link to MotoGP's Live Timing as well:

Keep in mind that Portugal is +1 GMT or 5 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern time. The MotoGP race will be shown 'live' on Sunday October 31 (Happy Halloween!) at 0900 EDT on SpeedTV.

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