Randy de Puniet was fastest during practice at Valencia. Many prototype riders didn’t even venture out due to the mixed conditions on track after early morning rains.
Early rain made for a slow-going first practice session at Valencia on Friday, though the consistency of the downpour allowed riders to test their full wet set-ups on the newly surfaced track. By the afternoon the rain had stopped, but left a half-wet, half-dry track that was of little use to much of the field. Lap times improved for those that did venture out in FP2 though, and at the end of the session it was Power Electronics Aspar’s Randy de Puniet who topped the timesheet. The French rider narrowly edged out San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Michele Pirro in second and Ducati’s Nicky Hayden, fastest during FP1, took to the track late in FP2 on a pair of slicks to claim the third-fastest time of the day.
Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham notched the fourth-fastest time, followed by Hayden’s teammate Valentino Rossi in fifth. The Doctor was one of the first prototype riders to run laps on slicks during FP2, posting his best effort on the fourth of just seven full laps during the entire session. Came IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci finished FP2 in sixth with Avintia Blusens’ Ivan Silva nipping at his heels just 0.004 seconds back in seventh. Speed Master’s Roberto Rolfo claimed the eighth spot while Paul Bird Motorsports’ James Ellison and Silva’s teammate Hiroshi Aoyama took ninth and 10th respectively. Aoyama is filling in for the injured Yonny Hernandez during the final round of MotoGP action, but is set to take a spot on the Blusens squad in 2013.
Dani Pedrosa put in laps during FP1 with a wet condition set-up but stayed in the garage for most of FP2.
While prototype riders were out in force for FP1, hardly any ventured out for FP2. 2012 title winner Jorge Lorenzo of Yamaha Factory Racing , Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa and his teammate Casey Stoner all made no attempt at a flying lap in FP2.
“Like a lot of times this year we’ve had quite an easy Friday with not so much training,” said Lorenzo. “In the morning we made a few laps but in the afternoon it was mixed so we decided not to take any risks. There is a new surface on the track and we need some time to test it, especially in the dry.”
“Today it was important to go out in the morning because the weather conditions are not clear and it’s possible that we may have rain on Sunday,” said Pedrosa. “In the afternoon we decided not to go out, so let’s hope we have at least one dry session tomorrow to better understand the changes in the circuit and work on the best setup for the race.”
Lorenzo’s teammate, Katsuyuki Nakasuga (filling in for the injured Ben Spies) went down in FP1 but was unharmed. The Yamaha crew was able to get his machine in order by FP2 and the Japanese rider took four laps before retiring to the pits.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Racing’s Cal Crutchlow ran a handful of laps early in the session and was able to cut two seconds from his FP1 time, but he too returned to the pits soon after. Crutchlow’s teammate Andrea Dovizioso opted to remain in the garage for the duration of the afternoon practice. In the view of many the day was a bust and most are hoping for at least consistent, if not dry, conditions moving forward to get a better sense of how to tune for the new track surface at Valencia.
“Today wasn’t a great day to be honest,” said Crutchlow. “I was looking forward to seeing how the new surface was in the dry but unfortunately the weather was a disaster. In this morning’s session I should have been a lot faster and higher than eighth but I sat in the box for the last 10 minutes when the times were improving. I went out at the start of this afternoon’s session but the conditions weren’t wet enough for rain tires or dry enough for slicks, so it was best just to stop and not take any risks. Hopefully we can get more time on track tomorrow because I’m looking forward to finishing the season with a strong result.”
Forecasts are calling for mixed conditions through the weekend at Valencia, with a break in the rain on Saturday and possible showers returning Sunday.
MotoGP Valencia Friday Results 2012:
1. Randy de Puniet (ART) 1’36.965
2. Michele Pirro (FTR) 1’37.084
3. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1’37.389
4. Karel Abraham (Ducati) 1’37.782
5. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1’38.115
6. Danilo Petrucci (Ioda-Suter) 1’38.300
7. Ivan Silva (BQR) 1’38.304
8. Roberto Rolfo (ART) 1’38.905
9. James Ellison (ART) 1’39.837
10. Hiroshi Aoyama (BQR) 1’40.497
11. Claudio Corti (Inmotec) 1’42.993
12. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1’44.384
13. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1’44.564
14. Katsuyuki Nakasuga (Yamaha) 1’45.180
15. Aleix Espargaro (ART) 1’45.426
16. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1’45.490
17. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 1’45.678
18. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’45.945
19. Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha) 1’46.021
20. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1’47.527
21. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1’47.825
22. Colin Edwards (Suter) 1’49.748