Cardion AB Motoracing debuting the Ducati GP12 at the beginning of the 2012 season. Just after practice at Misano, Cardion AB announced they would leave Ducati and move to the Aprilia CRT machine for 2013.
The MotoGP practice sessions at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli in San Marino were virtually useless to riders thanks to continually changing weather conditions. Most of the top contenders didn’t risk any track time, as intermittent rains and heavy winds left patches of wet scattered throughout the track in the morning and afternoon. Those who did take to the track did so cautiously, with the top time of the day posted by Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham at 1’42.030 in FP2, almost ten seconds slower than FP times set in 2011 in dry, sunny conditions. Behind Abraham was CRT rider Danilio Petrucci of Came IodaRacing Project with Paul Bird Motorsport’s James Ellision following in third.
Just after the sessions ended, Abraham and his team announced that they will break with Ducati for 2013 in favor of the CRT machine built by Aprilia. The decision has been in negotiation for some time according to Abraham, who commented on the switch shortly after it was announced.
“The 2012 season has regrettably been a step backwards,” said Abraham. “It’s a pity that we are finishing our co-operation with Ducati in these circumstances, but this year things haven’t been working as well as they should. We have been in negotiation with Aprilia for quite some time, and I think the partnership’s got a good future. I see it as the best possible solution. It’s going to be a lot of hard work, but we think it’s important to be going forward and not just running on the spot.”
On the whole, nine riders posted times in FP1 and 11 went out in FP2, most of them from the CRT field. San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Michele Pirro had the fourth-fastest time, set in FP1, and Avinta Blusens’ Yonny Hernandez was fifth with the time he set in FP2. There were only four factory riders to brave the conditions in either session and Honda’s Jonathan Rea, substituting for the injured Casey Stoner with Repsol, was fastest among them, coming in sixth. In light of the precarious conditions, Rea was unable to generate any useful feedback for his team in preparation for the rest of the weekend.
Jonathan Rea got a few practice laps in but fluctuating conditions kept him from doing any real race-prep.
“It was a frustrating day with these weather conditions,” said Rea. “This morning the track was slightly wet and began to dry up towards the end of the session, but then it began to rain again, so we didn’t make it out at all. Then in second free practice I went out straight away with the slick tire to try and get some kind of feeling and I only managed a few laps as the tire wasn’t getting up to temperature.
“It was a pretty pointless exercise and I didn’t have any real feedback to give to the engineers. It’s a strange situation when the temperature is so low that none of the top riders even go out on track. We need to cross our fingers for some sunshine tomorrow so I can find a good rhythm on the bike and gain some confidence in the tires in time for qualifying.”
Yamaha’s Ben Spies was another factory rider to venture out on track, but his experience was similar to Rea’s and he came away with little to show after the day was done. Spies finished with the eighth-fastest time.
“We didn’t really get anything from the few laps we did, it’s been pretty much a waste of a day for everybody,” Spies explained. “We can’t control the weather and unfortunately it was just too mixed conditions to do anything. We did a couple of laps to check everything was ok just in case qualifying is like that so we have a feeling for it. Other than that we just sat around, drank coffee and watched everybody.”
Ducati’s Nicky Hayden has been chomping at the bit to get back on track since his crash in preparation for the Indianapolis Grand Prix, an incident that took him out of two rounds of competition. Hayden went out in the morning session and put in just four laps to test his still-recovering right hand.
Ben Spies had to show off the new “Race-Blu” livery which Yamaha will run during the Misano and Aragon races.
“There’s not really much to report today,” said Hayden. “We did a lot of sitting around and waiting. I went out a little bit in the damp this morning with a wet setup, just to check the bike. I cruised a couple of laps and my hand wasn’t too bad in those conditions, but we were all obviously way off the pace. I really won’t know more until I get out in the dry and see if it’s even going to be possible to race. I don’t have much strength, and although it was fine for light braking, it could be a different story in the dry.”
San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista was the final factory rider to log time, coming out in FP2 for seven laps before going back into the garage.
Spies’ teammate and current points leader Jorge Lorenzo opted to save engine life and avoid any unnecessary risk on track by staying inside the entire day. His closest rival, Dani Pedrosa of Repsol Honda, did the same.
Conditions are expected to improve as the weekend progresses.