Estoril MotoGP Friday: Simoncelli Reigns

2011 MotoGP FP Results

Last year at the Portuguese Grand Prix, then Rookie Marco Simoncelli finished fourth, which was the best finish so far in his MotoGP career.

During that race, Simoncelli missed out on the podium by a mere 0.059 of a second aboard the San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V.

On Friday, Simoncelli returned to the Estoril Circuit with a year of MotoGP competition under his leathers, and began his quest to be a top contender this weekend. Despite a crash in Free Practice 1, Simoncelli took the top time.

And then the Italian who won at Estoril in the former 250cc class took the top time in Free Practice 2, making him the fastest rider on Friday with a 1:37.663. This gives Simoncelli some incentive as he looks to redeem some points after crashing out at a wet Jerez earlier this month.

Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) says: “The day went well and I am happy. I was fast already in the morning but with few small changes we were able to stay at the top in the afternoon.

“I had a little crash but I’m not worried because I know exactly what I did wrong. I have always gone well at Estoril and so far this year it is looking more than promising. Last year I was in touching distance of the podium so a good result on Sunday would be to improve that 2010 performance by two or three positions.

“In the dry we can be in the mix. We started out with the same setting as Jerez and it went really well. We will have to see what happens in the wet but we shouldn’t have the same problems as Jerez. We’ll see tomorrow but for today we are happy.”

Second fastest out of both sessions Friday was the reigning MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo. The Yamaha Factory Racing rider of Spain, who has won the last three meetings at Estoril from the pole, was only 0.061 of a second behind Simoncelli.

Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing M1) says: “My feeling is good because we have always been in the first positions. In the morning we finished fourth, in the afternoon second. We are close to the first rider. We have to improve a little with our bike, especially with the braking and in particular the first sector of the track.

“If we can improve this, maybe we can be closer to the top. I hope the weather stays dry but we are prepared for anything. Obviously we prefer the dry then the wet conditions. To be honest, the pole position is not my goal. My aim is to finish the race on the podium. If we can’t, then we will just to try to finish. The important thing is not to crash and to get some points.”

Taking third fastest on Friday was Repsol Honda Dani Pedrosa. He was just 0.003 of a second behind his fellow countryman Lorenzo. Pedrosa, who had pins surgically removed from his collarbone following Round 2 in Jerez, has never one at Estoril, and will be looking for his first victory there this Sunday.

Fourth and fifth fastest went to the two men involved in the controversial crash at Jerez: Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi and Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner. Both riders finished with identical lap times: 1:38.102. Rossi has five wins at Estoril, but Stoner has none.

The fastest American was Colin Edwards aboard the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1. He was followed by the rookie Karel Abraham on the Cardion ab Motoracing Ducati GP11.

The final two Americans competing in the 2011 MotoGP Championship finished eight and ninth fastest Friday: Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing) and Rossi’s teammate Nicky Hayden, respectively.

Rounding out the top 10 was Hector Barbera on the Mapfre Aspar Team Ducati.

Returning to the track since breaking his femur at the opening round in Qatar six weeks ago was the sole Rizla Suzuki rider Alvaro Bautista. He was last in both practice sessions, but running strong for a healing rider.

2011 Estoril MotoGP: Free Practice 1 Results

Pos.Num.RiderNationTeamBikeKm/hTimeGap 1st/Prev.
1.58Marco SIMONCELLIITASan Carlo Honda GresiniHonda302.11’38.032
2.27Casey STONERAUSRepsol Honda TeamHonda299.21’38.2410.209 / 0.209
3.26Dani PEDROSASPARepsol Honda TeamHonda300.61’38.2590.227 / 0.018
4.1Jorge LORENZOSPAYamaha Factory RacingYamaha292.11’38.4130.381 / 0.154
5.46Valentino ROSSIITADucati TeamDucati307.71’38.5690.537 / 0.156
6.4Andrea DOVIZIOSOITARepsol Honda TeamHonda294.81’38.7810.749 / 0.212
7.5Colin EDWARDSUSAMonster Yamaha Tech 3Yamaha298.91’38.8620.830 / 0.081
8.11Ben SPIESUSAYamaha Factory RacingYamaha304.11’38.8950.863 / 0.033
9.8Hector BARBERASPAMapfre Aspar Team MotoGPDucati293.51’39.0421.010 / 0.147
10.14Randy DE PUNIETFRAPramac Racing TeamDucati289.51’39.7791.747 / 0.737
11.65Loris CAPIROSSIITAPramac Racing TeamDucati296.71’39.8481.816 / 0.069
12.7Hiroshi AOYAMAJPNSan Carlo Honda GresiniHonda299.31’39.8561.824 / 0.008
13.35Cal CRUTCHLOWGBRMonster Yamaha Tech 3Yamaha293.81’40.1292.097 / 0.273
14.69Nicky HAYDENUSADucati TeamDucati304.01’40.1992.167 / 0.070
15.24Toni ELIASSPALCR Honda MotoGPHonda306.31’40.4072.375 / 0.208
16.17Karel ABRAHAMCZECardion AB MotoracingDucati296.11’40.4692.437 / 0.062
17.19Alvaro BAUTISTASPARizla Suzuki MotoGPSuzuki290.21’41.0343.002 / 0.565

2011 Estoril MotoGP: Free Practice 2 Results

Pos.Num.RiderNationTeamBikeKm/hTimeGap 1st/Prev.
1.58Marco SIMONCELLIITASan Carlo Honda GresiniHonda308.01’37.663
2.1Jorge LORENZOSPAYamaha Factory RacingYamaha297.41’37.7240.061 / 0.061
3.26Dani PEDROSASPARepsol Honda TeamHonda301.41’37.7270.064 / 0.003
4.46Valentino ROSSIITADucati TeamDucati299.31’38.1020.439 / 0.375
5.27Casey STONERAUSRepsol Honda TeamHonda300.21’38.1020.439
6.5Colin EDWARDSUSAMonster Yamaha Tech 3Yamaha297.21’38.2030.540 / 0.101
7.17Karel ABRAHAMCZECardion AB MotoracingDucati282.21’38.4730.810 / 0.270
8.11Ben SPIESUSAYamaha Factory RacingYamaha301.11’38.5630.900 / 0.090
9.69Nicky HAYDENUSADucati TeamDucati307.41’38.5960.933 / 0.033
10.8Hector BARBERASPAMapfre Aspar Team MotoGPDucati297.11’38.6110.948 / 0.015
11.7Hiroshi AOYAMAJPNSan Carlo Honda GresiniHonda291.31’38.6450.982 / 0.034
12.4Andrea DOVIZIOSOITARepsol Honda TeamHonda295.81’38.6580.995 / 0.013
13.35Cal CRUTCHLOWGBRMonster Yamaha Tech 3Yamaha295.91’38.7601.097 / 0.102
14.24Toni ELIASSPALCR Honda MotoGPHonda302.91’38.9121.249 / 0.152
15.65Loris CAPIROSSIITAPramac Racing TeamDucati297.41’39.0211.358 / 0.109
16.14Randy DE PUNIETFRAPramac Racing TeamDucati294.01’39.1371.474 / 0.116
17.19Alvaro BAUTISTASPARizla Suzuki MotoGPSuzuki289.21’40.1732.510 / 1.036