Sad and abrupt end to day of Free Practice for Moto2 at Barcelona

Riders now have to come to terms with the loss of their fellow competitor after he lost his life during a racing incident; which brought the practice day ahead of the seventh round of the Moto2 at the Circuit de Barcelona where Morbidelli lapped the fastest time.

Sad and abrupt end to day of Free Practice for Moto2 at Barcelona
Morbidelli fastest after day one of grief stricken Free Practice at Circuit de Barcelona -

It was a sad and abrupt end to day for the Moto2 class ahead of the seventh round of the championship series at the Circuit de Barcelona in Catalunya. A racing incident caused injuries so serious to SAG Team rider Luis Salom he unfortunately lost his life. The second practice session was cancelled as a result as the tyre wall was damaged under impact.

Riders straight on the pace within minutes of practice beginning

Within ten minutes of the opening practice session for the Moto2 field, they were almost within one second of the current lap records at the Circuit de Barcelona in Catalunya ahead of the seventh round of the season.

Zarco put the mileage in during FP1

2015 Moto2 Champion Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) appeared to be extra determined this round as he spent a lot of time on track and after setting the fastest lap early on was able to grind it down to within under 0.2 seconds closer to the lap record set by Alex Rins in 2015 with a time of 1:46.474. However Zarco’s best lap here in 2015 remains the time to beat with a time of 1:45.895.

2015 Moto2 Champion Johann Zarco -
2015 Moto2 Champion Johann Zarco -

Despite holding the top spot of the leaderboard for the majority of the session, Takaaki Nakagami was eventually able to beat Zarco’s time on his Idemitsu Honda Team Asia Kalex and finished fastest overall after FP1 with a time of 1:46.537. Many riders appeared faster in the first sector indicated by the red MotoGP graphics however they gradually lost time in the remaining three sectors of the track; the final sector being the most crucial area where they appeared to lose the most time.

Dynavolt Intact GP rider Jonas Folger looked comfortable as he lapped the track at Barcelona and finished third fastest at the end of the first Free Practice session ahead of Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) in fourth and British rider Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) in fifth position.

Dynavolt Intact GP rider Jonas Folger -
Dynavolt Intact GP rider Jonas Folger -

Ten riders within one second of leader Nakagami

Lorenzo Baldassari (Forward Team) and Thomas Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten) looked strong midway through the session but were piushed down to seventh and eighth ahead of rookie Miguel Oliveira (Leopard Racing), Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) and the fastest Speed Up Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing) in eleventh. Hafitzh Syharin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia) was the last rider to finish within one second of leader Nakagami.

Corsi’s fastest time came just before he ran off at turn one and was forced to avoid the speed bumps placed in the run off area in the turn. The Italian is sporting a new colour scheme he has introduced in time for the seventh round. In the final stages he was trying to receive a tow from Baldassarri who also looked to be completing a flying lap however they came across traffic in the form of Robin Mulhauser (CarXpert Interwetten) who was late getting out of their way and prevented them from improving.

Second free practice session was underway

Riders took to the track to begin the second free practice session in the sunshine; the last session of the day; as riders pushed incidents occurred with turn ten becoming notorious. Marcel Schrotter (AGR Team) was the first to crash at the corner six minutes after the start of the session. Soon after Isaac Vinales (Tech 3 Racing) also crashed and not long later Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) fell. Fortunately, all three of the riders were unhurt and were able to walk away from the incidents.

Sandro Cortese, Dynavolt Intact GP -
Sandro Cortese, Dynavolt Intact GP -

Before he crashed, Cortese had set the fastest lap with a time of 1:47.277. Folger looked to be in contention of setting the fastest time however a poor final section prevented him from doing this. With thirty-three minutes remaining though, Morbidelliwas successful and set the fastest lap of the day for the class with a time of 1:47.083; he improved on Cortese’s time by 0.194 seconds.

Zarco and Lowes pushing hard

Zarco was pushing in the hope to improve on his time, at one point he was forced to use the run-off area at turn nine. Fortunately he rescued it unlike Lowes who came off at turn five after losing the front end. He ended up in the gravel trap and was finally able to get the bike restarted so he could return it to the pits.

Then came the red flag

Unfortunately with just under twenty-five minutes of the session remaining, Salom had crashed at turn twelve and area of the circuit where incidents are rare as it is a high speed corner with a large run off area. The session was red-flagged immediately and Salom was tended to by track side medical staff, they were soon joined by officials and ambulances and the medical helicopter was deployed.

The medical staff did their best at the side of the track, at one point they were seen administering CPR to the fallen rider. Soon sheets were held up to shield the area as they continued to work on him and get him into a state suitable to transfer him to an emergency vehicle to take him to the hospital.

The scenes at the side of the track were very distressing for all those who witnessed them, and concern immediately had grew among the riders who seemed extremely emotional as things developed. Salom had just managed to set the ninth fastest time of the day after returning from the pits before the incident.

Deceased SAG Team rider Luis Salom #35 RIP -
Deceased SAG Team rider Luis Salom #35 RIP -

Moto2 second Free Practice session cancelled

Due to the deployment of the medical , the time it took to help Salom at the side of the track, and the damage done to the tyre wall after it received officials announced that the session would be cancelled and the day was brought to the halt.

Riders, family, friends and fans now have to come to terms with the loss of their friend and fellow competitior who unfortunately died soon after the incident. It was decided that Salom should go via ambulance to the Hospital General de Catalunya where the trauma team did what they could; Salom underwent surgery but the rider was pronounced dead at 16:55pm.

Results as follows

The early end to the session meant that results were left from before the red flag as follows:

Morbidelli led ahead of Cortese, Folger and Rins. Nakagami was in fifth ahead of Lowes, Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS), Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team), Schrotter and Zarco who completed the top ten. Thomas Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten) was eleventh fastest ahead of Baldassarri, Julian Simon (QMMF Racing Team) as the fastest Speed Up bike, Corsi, Oliveira, Marini and Syharin. Salom recorded eighteenth fastest in the second session ahead of Danny Kent (Leopard Racing), Xavier Simeon (QMMF Racing) and Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing) as the fastest Tech 3 bike.