MISANO FREE PRACTICE CANCELLED AFTER TORRENTIAL RAIN Free practice ahead of Sunday's San Marino Grand Prix was cut short today, with all track sessions being cancelled after the opening MotoGP practice when torrential rain left parts of the...
MISANO FREE PRACTICE CANCELLED AFTER TORRENTIAL RAIN
Free practice ahead of Sunday's San Marino Grand Prix was cut short today, with all track sessions being cancelled after the opening MotoGP practice when torrential rain left parts of the Misano circuit flooded and the teams fighting a losing battle to keep water out of the pit boxes.
Even the one session completed by Kawasaki's Randy de Puniet and Anthony West was hampered by heavy rainfall, but all the premier class riders managed to complete their virgin laps of the course before the really serious weather crept in.
De Puniet put in an early, strong ride, coming in seventh on the final timesheets. The 26-year-old Frenchman continued his recent good form, scoring the second fastest time of the day of 210.8 km/h on his 800cc Ninja ZX-RR. Even in spite of the conditions, he complimented his Bridgestone tyres, impressed with their grip around the track. Certainly, he didn't look like a rider who was learning his way around.
Kawasaki team mate, Anthony West, meanwhile, topped the leaderboard to begin with, being the only rider familiar with the newly reconstructed layout (he won a World Supersport race at Misano earlier in the year). But the others soon caught up with him as they got used to the 4.180 km circuit's twists and turns. The 26-year-old Australian came home in 9th with a best lap of 1'50.389 and a top speed of 206.5 km/h, despite a minor crash at turn one.
MotoGP has not visited the track since 1993 and in that time it has been vastly re-structured. Therefore, an extra practice, in addition to the usual two the teams get on a Friday, was scheduled in for this afternoon to further help riders learn their way around.
However, only the first morning session was run before the really torrential rain fell at around noon, flooding parts of the track, much of the paddock and most of pit lane. Teams suddenly found themselves frantically attempting to keep the water at bay but soon hundreds of mechanics, suspension engineers, data technicians and even Kawasaki's Competition Manager, Michael Bartholemy, were doing everything possible to save bikes and equipment in the garages.
As a consequence, the remaining two sessions were cancelled and Saturday's timetable has been rescheduled. There will now be a two-hour long practice from 09:00 to 11:00hrs tomorrow, with qualifying remaining at 13:50. Sunday's 28-lap race will go ahead as planned at 14:00.
De Puniet: #14 - 7th - Best Lap 1'49.724
"I was second fastest in that session, which is quite a good start. Initially, I wasn't doing so well as I had a technical problem and lost 20 minutes; then I restarted, just as the really heavy rain came down and only managed two laps. Later on I got up to first place but then ended up seventh. The bike had a good feeling in the wet and I felt the Bridgestones had pretty good grip on the track, considering how wet it was, but I'm looking forward to riding in the dry because I think I can go even faster then. By the time the really bad weather began, I was in my motorhome. When I arrived back at the pits I saw what was going on in the box and pit lane. There was no way we could carry on today. It was quite an impressive sight, though!"
West: #13 - 9th Best Lap 1'50.389
"Well, that was interesting. It was good to get out there and be at the front for a while, and things were going well, but then I came off. But the other two Aussies, Chris Vermeulen and Casey Stoner, went down too and I didn't want them to feel embarrassed so I thought I'd join in. Seriously though, it was just a stupid thing as it was slippery out there. I went in to turn one, touched the brakes and lost the front. Still, I came back in, went straight out again and my fastest lap of the session was my last, which is a good sign. I've never seen anything like this rain and flooding though. I was looking for the Kawasaki jet ski."
Bartholemy: Kawasaki Competition Manager
"It was a funny day! But I'm happy with these early results. It's a new track and it's not just the riders who need to get used to it but also the crews, for set up and so on. Anyway, it was more like Scotland today than Italy! I hope the circuit improves the situation for next year, as it's been difficult to deal with in the garages. But the weather is due to get a lot better for tomorrow and Sunday so we look forward to Randy and Anthony getting back on the bikes in the morning."