By: Gordon Hatch, MotoGP Correspondent
- Simoncelli fastest at rain soaked Assen
- Second practice canceled
- Moto2 rider causes oil spill
Oil on track leads to FP2 cancellation despite torrential downpours!
Marco Simoncelli leads the way on a washed-out Day One at the Iveco TT Assen in Holland that was affected by rain early on and then the afternoon sessions were cancelled due to oil being spilled on track during the Moto2 practice. The San Carlo Honda Gresini rider topped the timing sheets ahead of Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro) and Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda).
While the track marshals did their best to clean the oil that was left on the track following an incident involving Moto2 rider Alex Baldolini, whose bike broke down and emptied the contents of its belly pan over a large section of the Dutch circuit, their efforts were in vain and following a long wait, the fans were eventually informed that the afternoon sessions had been cancelled.
With this weekend’s race taking place on Saturday, which has been the tradition at the track since hosting a round of the original FIM World Championships in 1949, there was much confusion early on regarding the question whether the 17-strong MotoGP grid would get extra practice time tomorrow along with the 125cc and Moto2 teams.
The MotoGP paddock was already buzzing with exciting new developments this weekend, the main one being the announcement from the Ducati Marlboro Team that Rossi was to ride a new version of its current 800cc bike. Named the GP11.1 the bike is effectively next year’s chassis and rear section with a modified 800cc engine in place of the 1000cc motor the team will race with next year when the capacity returns to the litre capacity.
Having tested the bike only three times this year, Rossi is confident that he can perform on the new incarnation following on from a tough beginning of the season. His second place in the wet this morning on what is effectively a brand-new bike will no doubt be a boost but the Italian and his crew will be hoping for dry weather to see how the bike measures up against the rest of the field.
When the 45-minute session got underway this morning the conditions were tricky from the of but this didn’t stop Simoncelli attacking the track as much as he could and his time of 1m 49.036s was not reachable by Rossi (1m 49.396s) who also pushed to his maximum on his wet Bridgestone tyres to finish ahead of Stoner who set a time of 1m 49.527s to secure third position on his RCV212V.
The top three were followed into 4th place on the timing screens by Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso with a 1m 49.640s that was good enough to finish ahead of reigning MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing) who was the last rider under the 1m 49 bracket after setting a 1m 49.995s. Lorenzo was followed by Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Cal Crutchlow (1m 50.386s) who is riding with a badly injured shoulder after breaking it in multiple places last time out during practice for his home GP in Silverstone.
Finishing in 7th position was the Czech Republic rider Karel Abraham for his Cardion AB Motoracing team onboard his Ducati GP11 after posting a 1m 50.413s. Abraham sits ahead of Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) after setting his best time of 1m 50.968s. Edwards, who is still on the mend after breaking his collarbone at the Spanish GP in Catalunya, will be hoping that the rain continues after grabbing third position at the British GP in Silverstone.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro) managed a best time of 1m 51.277s on his GP11 to finish ahead of 10th place man Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing) who set a best time of 1m 51.590s on his YZR-M1. Following the two Americans into 11th spot was the Spaniard Hector Barbera on board his Mapfre Aspar Ducati after setting a 1m 52.646s.
Hiroshi Aoyama, who is the regular teammate to Simoncelli in the san Carlo Honda Gresini garage, is this weekend filling in for the injured Dani Pedrosa on the full-factory Repsol Honda RC212V. The Japanese rider managed a best time of 1m 53.132s to finish the session in 12th spot. Rizla Suzuki rider Alvaro Bautista was next up on his GSV-R after posting his best time of1m 53.164s.
Toni Elias (LCR Honda) remains in a state of limbo on his machine with the Spaniard seemingly not able to come to terms with his RC212V and finished today’s session in 14th on a time of 1m 53.323s. Elias finished ahead of Pramac Racing’s Loris Capirossi (1m 53.348s) and he was followed home by Kousuke Akiyoshi who fills in on the San Carlo-clad machine for his fellow countryman Aoyama. The final and 17th spot on the sheets goes to Frenchman Randy de Puniet (Pramac Racing).
Race officials have confirmed that due to the oil spill today, there will indeed be extra practice time allotted tomorrow as was rumoured earlier in the day. The MotoGP field will get 90 extra minutes practice tomorrow ahead of the Qualifying session that takes place in the afternoon.