QUALIFYING CANCELLED AS RAIN FOLLOWS MOTOGP TO JAPAN San Carlo Honda Gresini Team riders Toni Elias and Alex de Angelis endured a frustrating afternoon at Motegi today, where a heavy thunderstorm flooded the track and forced the cancellation of...
QUALIFYING CANCELLED AS RAIN FOLLOWS MOTOGP TO JAPAN
San Carlo Honda Gresini Team riders Toni Elias and Alex de Angelis endured a frustrating afternoon at Motegi today, where a heavy thunderstorm flooded the track and forced the cancellation of the scheduled qualifying practice for the Grand Prix of Japan. The weather has gradually worsened since the paddock pitched up at the Twin Ring, with the blue skies and warm temperatures that welcomed the teams and riders to the circuit on Thursday making way for cloudy and cool conditions yesterday before today's downpour.
The riders were able to complete the final free practice session this morning in wet conditions, when De Angelis impressed with the seventh fastest lap time despite a low-speed crash, but the quantity of standing water on the track this afternoon made it impossible for the riders to take to the track. With the grid being decided on combined free practice times, Elias and De Angelis, who both struggled to find rear grip on the chilly asphalt yesterday and lapped ninth and fifteenth quickest respectively, will start from those very positions in tomorrow's race. Today's predicament continues an unfortunate trend in the early stages of the 2009 MotoGP campaign, with the opening round in Qatar two weeks ago having been postponed due to rain.
Toni Elias (9th 1'50.209): "It seems like the bad weather is chasing us around the world but looking on the positive side we've had chance this weekend to test in both the dry and in the wet so we have some information to work from tomorrow in either condition. It is not an ideal situation but at the end of the day we're ninth on the grid and it could be worse. We had some problems yesterday but we've got some ideas we're looking forward to trying tomorrow and by starting from the third row we know we still have a chance of a good race. Hopefully the sun will come out for the fans and for us, because there's no doubt a warm track surface would help us solve some of our problems, particularly in finding some more grip on the harder rear tyre that we'll have to use over race distance."
Alex De Angelis (15th; 1'50.601): "Luck certainly wasn't on our side today because as I showed this morning I was competitive in wet conditions. I'm disappointed because I don't think the grid is a fair reflection of our potential today but this is racing and that is the way it goes sometimes. If it rains tomorrow it will be a long, difficult race and there will be plenty of time and opportunity to make up positions. However, if it is dry we'll be going into it with our eyes closed in a way because we made drastic changes to the bike based on the data from yesterday and we'll have to wait until the warm-up to see if they work. It's a tricky one but it's fair to say we'll be more confident if it's wet."
Fausto Gresini - Team Manager: "It is disappointing, especially because this morning -- his crash aside -- Alex was running really well and it would have been nice if he had the opportunity to carry that form into qualifying. If it is a wet race he'll be in good shape, although Toni has work to do, whilst in the dry we have much more potential than our lap times yesterday might suggest. Both riders have positions to make up and it could be a strange race, with nobody really having had the opportunity to find a set-up yet on the harder tyres. It's not so bad for the guys who were on the pace immediately yesterday but it's trickier for the rest of us. It all makes tomorrow's warm-up even more important than normal. We'll see what happens! " -credit: gresini