MotoGP Qualifying Canceled at Portugal
A second day of torrential rain and high winds forced today’s MotoGP qualifying session at Estoril for the Portuguese Grand Prix to be canceled. In many places the circuit was flooded, causing the cancellation on safety grounds and meaning that the grid for tomorrow’s race will be decided based on the fastest laps from the free practice sessions.
Although the circuit was submerged in the afternoon, conditions for the morning’s free practice session were not as bad and all MotoGP riders took to the circuit to complete one hour of wet running, with every rider using Bridgestone’s wet tires.
The session was increased in length to one hour after the disruption to yesterday’s first practice session. Before this weekend there had only been four fully wet sessions all year: warm-up at the German Grand Prix and the Czech Grand Prix, FP2 at Aragon and FP1 at the Australian Grand Prix.
The weather this MotoGP weekend is making up for that though as so far this weekend only two of the scheduled four sessions have been run in their entirety with the Friday morning practice being heavily disrupted by rain and qualifying being canceled altogether.
This means that Fiat Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo will start from pole position tomorrow, ahead of Ducati Team rider Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha), with Casey Stoner (Ducati Team), Ben Spies (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha) and Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini MotoGP) completing the second row.
The top six MotoGP riders all set their best lap times yesterday afternoon at Estoril, at the end of the session when the conditions were drying. LCR Honda rider Randy de Puniet in eighth and Rizla Suzuki Hector Barbera in fifteenth also set the fastest laps yesterday, whereas the rest of the field recorded their personal bests this morning.
This weekend is a new experience for Bridgestone as it is the first time since becoming Official MotoGP Tire Supplier that every session on Friday and Saturday has been wet. Under the regulations, if tomorrow’s warm-up session at Estoril is also wet then each rider will receive an extra set of wet tires for the race.
Tohru Ubukata (Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tire Development Department) says: “The weather this weekend has been torrential and the amount of rainfall has resulted in a lot of standing water on the circuit. The rainfall was so heavy that it soon soaked the track and also the runoff areas and so qualifying session was canceled by the organizers on safety grounds.”
“Even though this morning was wetter and track temperature was lower than during yesterday afternoon’s practice, I am happy with our wet tire performance because many MotoGP riders continued with just one set and confirmed race distance durability this morning.”
“Now we just have to wait and see what the weather will do for the race tomorrow as this will of course play a big role in deciding the teams’ race tire choice. If it is dry it will be challenge for teams to arrive at the ideal setup with no dry running this weekend.”