Movistar Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi had a bit of a disastrous start to the opening session of the MotoGP season finale at the Riccardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia where they are preparing for the 18th round, the last one, the Gran Premio Motul de la Communitat Valenciana.
Troubled start for Rossi who went on a mini adventure through the paddock
The sun was shining down on the Spanish circuit; a massive change compared to the last few flyaway rounds, when they made their way out to begin Free Practice 1. But Rossi broke down and had to park up at the side of the track. He then decided to start running with his bike, he knew there was no way his M1 would restart and so he made his way back to the pits. He grabbed a lift from whoever he could, a bloke on a scooter helped guide him through, before a member of his team pushed him on his scooter back to his garage.
Pedrosa back from injury for the final round
Dani Pedrosa is back in action for the final round of the season on his Repsol Honda having missed the last three due to breaking his collarbone, fibula and toe when he high-sided in Motegi. The Aprilia Racing Team Gresini riders and machinery are sporting a red livery on the bikes, and leathers on the riders to show their support for the charity (RED). They are using the high profile event to raise awareness of the charity who help those in third world countries to combat diseases such as Aids, tuberculosis, etc.
Kallio making KTM’s MotoGP debut in Valencia
The season finale is also the MotoGP debut for the Red Bull KTM Racing Team. The Austrian team ahave been developing the bike to be ridden by Monster Tech 3 Yamaha riders Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith in the 2017 season. At Valencia, Karel Abraham will be putting it through its paces on track.
Midway through the session, it was Movistar Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo on the top of the timesheets ahead of his final round in the MotoGP with Movistar Yamaha. The riders continued to chip away at their times and he was soon joined by Pol Espargaro and 2016 MotoGP champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda). Marquez soon took the lead with a set of flying laps that allowed him to continuously improve.
Several riders were almost caught out, Jack Miller (Estrella Galicica 0,0 Marc VDS) and Loris Baz (Avintia Racing) both were seen running off track avoiding crashes. Bautista, on his (RED) bike, had a ‘moment’ as he passed through turn seven and did well to recover out of it.
Movistar Yamaha teammates quickest after FP1
With four minutes remaining, Lorenzo regained the top spot and continued to improve on his own time. His fastest lap of 1:31.045 was enough to secure him the top spot, and he was joined by his teammate Rossi who was able to overcome his breakdown at the start of the session and was able to find his pace. His third sector let him down, although it was a personal best time for the Italian, it was enough to prevent him from going top.
Marquez was third quickest at the end of the session, and a quick lap from Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), who became the ninth different MotoGP winner this season after claiming his second ever MotoGP win in his career, that he collected at Sepang, was fourth quickest.
Pol Espargaro was the fastest independent team rider in fifth. He has the potential to win the independent team championship, should he claim enough points. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) is leading however he has not yet secured it. Team Suzuki Ecstar teammates Maverick Vinales and Aleix Espargaro were sixth and seventh as they prepare for their final race with Suzuki. Miller was eigth ahead of Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati) who is fighting for the Desmosedici GP17 next year with his teammate Danilo Petrucci, and Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) completed the top 10.
Warmer conditions in time for FP2
Temperatures had increased for the MotoGP class prior to them taking to the track for the second Free Practice session of the day. They queued up at the end of pit lane waiting for the lights to change and to give them the go-ahead to go out on track in the heat. Again Rossi experienced issues aboard his M1 as he was seen going off line as he appeared to have more problems; this time with grip.
Lorenzo was straight back to moments into the session and was immediately reinforcing the quick times he had reached during the previous session. This was the main objective for the rest of the field also who all focused on the tyres, covering race distance, and as they became more familiar with the track in the heat, they decreased their lap times.
Hernandez crashes out at end of session
Unfortunately for Yonny Hernandez (Pull & Bear Aspar Ducati) he crashed at turn 12 of the track towards the end of the session and therefore ending day one for him at Valencia, earlier than planned. The front end tucked under as he braked on the approach to the corner and he and his bike both slid out. He was unhurt, however it is most probably not how he wanted to start his final race in the MotoGP class; he will be moving to the Moto2 team AGR in 2017.
Lorenzo quickest at the end of day one
Lorenzo remained the quickest man at the end of day one, having managed to improve by over half a second and making the time of 1:30.463 the time to beat. Marquez was second quickest and Vinales was third and they were the only riders able to lap under 1:31 minutes. Pol Espargaro was the highest independent team rider as his lap was dead on 1:31 minutes, and Dovizioso joined him to complete the top five.
Aleix Espargaro was sixth quickest ahead of Iannone, Rossi, Petrucci and Pedrosa, who made it into the top 10 despite having to adapt to the bike with his injuries. Crutchlow was 11th quickest and should the results finish as they did on day one, his championship would be safe, however it is not a risk I am sure he is willing to take. Redding was just behind him on the timesheet in 12th ahead of Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing), Miller, and Laverty in 15th.
On their (RED) machines, Bradl and Bautista made up 16th and 17th ahead of Hernandez, Smith, Baz and rookie Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) was 21st. On his first day amongst the competition, Kallio on the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing bike completed the list in 22nd. His pace was over three seconds over that set by leader Lorenzo, he was able to improve on his own time by just under half a second.