The traditional MotoGP season finale got underway in Valencia today in miserable weather conditions, with rain falling throughout the day. World Champion Valentino Rossi, chasing his tenth win of the season, was fourth overall despite a slip-off in this afternoon’s second free practice session.
This morning’s session was run in very heavy rain and cool temperatures, and Rossi completed just eight laps of the 4km circuit. The afternoon saw the rain ease off somewhat however and the Italian and his crew were able to make more headway with their wet-weather set-up, completing 21 laps and finishing the session fourth fastest. Rossi was luckily unhurt when he lost the rear at the last corner and slid into the gravel in the first half of the session and was able to remount and continue work on his second machine.
Rossi’s Spanish team-mate Jorge Lorenzo had a promising opening day at his home race, finishing third in both sessions whilst Nicky Hayden topped the time sheets in both the morning and afternoon.
Position: 4th Time: 1’46.070 Laps: 29
“Today was a difficult day because this track is quite bad when it’s wet and cold like this – the asphalt really doesn’t give enough grip. This morning I went out just when it started to get really heavy and so I wasn’t able to do any good laps, but this afternoon was better. In fact I felt good and I was quite fast with the Bridgestone wet tyres, so I think we have good potential if the conditions are like this again. Unfortunately I had a small crash at the last corner when I made a mistake and lost the rear, but I wasn’t hurt at all and I was able to go back out with a slightly harder tyre and continue to work. Anyway, we were fourth finally and I am quite happy although we can be faster. Now we have to wait and see the weather for tomorrow.”
Jorge Lorenzo made a return to home soil in Valencia today but it was a somewhat rainy homecoming for the 21-year-old as the final race of the season got underway. The Fiat Yamaha rider formed a bright spot in the gloom however as his M1 is carrying a special paint job for this race, incorporating the national flag of each of the 14 countries in which he has won during his world championship career.
This morning’s first free practice session was run in very heavy rain but Lorenzo made a good start and was third fastest. This afternoon, in slightly drier conditions, he made more progress with the wet setting of his Yamaha and his Michelin rain tyres and was once again third fastest. With today’s weather looking a possibility for tomorrow as well, the rookie and his crew will be looking to continue improvements, especially to the front-end of his bi ke, in order to maximise their potential before qualifying.
Lorenzo’s world champion team-mate Valentino Rossi was unhurt in a low-speed crash this afternoon and finished just behind Lorenzo in fourth, with Nicky Hayden leading the way.
Position: 3rd Time: 1’45.959 Laps: 39
“It’s a pity to be coming to Spain in the rain but anyway we made a good start today and I am quite happy. This morning was very wet and it was quite difficult to ride, but this afternoon the conditions were a bit better and I was able to be quite a lot faster and also do some good work on the set-up of my bike. My Michelin tyres are working well in the rain and I think we can make some more progress tomorrow if it’s like this again, although of course I hope for sunshine! It’s nice to be back in Europe but it’s very busy for a Spanish rider at Spanish race and I have to have a lot of time for everybody! I have a special livery on my bike, which I like very much; it has the flags of all the countries where I have won and was designed by a member of the public in an Italian competition. It’s all of ‘Lorenzo’s Lands’!”