Friday was one of the strangest days in the history of MotoGP. After a first free practice held under picture-perfect sunny skies, the 17-rider MotoGP grid experienced a canceled free practice two.
But not because of rain or anything else Mother Nature can brew up. Rather, the second free practice at Aragon was canceled due to an electrical blackout.
MotoGP says: “This issue was caused by the failure of one of the power transformers at the track, leading to a substantial blackout at the venue. The promoters of the Gran Premio de Aragón did everything possible to fix the issue and allow for the scheduled track activity to go ahead as planned, but ultimately were unable to guarantee the safety standards required of the circuit.”
MotoGP officials say Motorland personnel are working to have the problem completely resolved ahead of Saturday. Due to the canceled free practice, MotoGP will extend Saturday’s free practice session to an hour and 15 minutes ahead of qualifying.
Going into Saturday, the quickest rider is Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa. During FP1, the Spaniard posted a blistering 1:50.281 at the 3.155-mile track. Pedrosa was 0.449 of a second quicker than his fellow countryman Jorge Lorenzo on the factory Yamaha M1, and 0.525 ahead of current points leader Casey Stoner on the Repsol Honda RC212V.
Following is what the riders were saying after the first day at Aragon MotoGP:
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: “In the morning session we were basically trying to get the feeling from the race track and we started well, the bike was working ok. We saw that the softer compound is maybe too soft, so not really the one for the race if the high temperatures remain, so we also tried the medium compound and I felt comfortable.
“In the afternoon the practice was canceled which is a shame as the weather conditions were perfect. Of course we will have a longer session tomorrow morning but you cannot take the same benefit from it.
“With two sessions of 45 minutes you have time to analyze the data and make the changes you need for the second practice, while in 1h15 you cannot. Anyway, it’s the same for everyone, so let’s hope everything is ok tomorrow and we can keep improving the bike and have a good qualifying.”
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: “It was a strange day. This morning’s practice didn’t give us much indication concerning the set up of the bike because we were struggling with the tyres, the track was not so clean and we were spinning a lot, the rear tire was destroyed after ten laps so we had to use a new one.
“Tomorrow we will have 1h15 minutes of free practice. It will be an important session to work on the set up and in particular we will have to work to find more grip in the rear and reduce this spinning. I’m confident that the track conditions will improve tomorrow, especially for the qualifying.
“This morning we finished fifth and apart from Dani [Pedrosa], we are just three tenths from Lorenzo and everybody will lap faster tomorrow. The afternoon was strange because at first the session was delayed and then finally canceled, anyway it’s the same for everybody so there is no problem. We are now focusing on tomorrow.”
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: “We didn’t get that much time on the track this morning, we managed to get some data from the session but nothing that great. The track was a little abrasive and destroying tires very quickly, we went out on the soft tyre and destroyed it in three to four laps so we tried to wait for the end of the session to see if the track got better but it didn’t really change.
“We wanted to see how it would be in the afternoon session but it was a non event, it’s strange as usually it’s a wash out or something but for the circuit power to go down is something a little different! Although we get the time back in the morning, it’s not that great as it makes it a very long day with a lot of riding and it’s pretty exhausting.
“We’ve just got to focus on finding the best set up we can tomorrow, thankfully the weather has been pretty consistent here over the past few days but I’m afraid the track will act similarly, we’ll just have to wait until tomorrow.”
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team GP11.1 MotoGP) says: “We had a little problem at the start of this morning’s session, and I had to come directly back to the garage and lost a bit of time. I started well behind the others, but actually, compared to the last few races, it wasn’t bad once we got going. I think I was the only guy who used the same rear tire the whole session, and I was able to click off three 51s there at the end.
“I was looking forward to riding this afternoon, but unfortunately it was canceled. I hope they get it sorted out overnight, as it wasn’t good for anybody, but there’s no need to dwell on it. Hopefully we can keep it rolling tomorrow, because it’s a nice track. It’s definitely a little bit bumpier than last year, and not really grippy, but I like the layout.”
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team GP11.1 MotoGP) says: “I don’t think it’s ever happened before that we couldn’t do a session because the electricity was out! Joking aside, it’s really a shame. For us it was important to test normally instead of just having a long session tomorrow, because you still lose a quarter of an hour in total, and the type of work that you can do is different, more limited.
“Anyway, we’ll continue with the bike with the updated front frame because the feeling is the same as when I tried it the first time, so it’s worthwhile to continue down this path. We don’t know this track as well as Mugello, and that means we have extra setup work to do, although it’s nothing too major. We must also find more rear grip because it was sliding a lot today.”
Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing M1 MotoGP) says: “This morning we started in a good direction, finishing second just four tenths slower than Dani who was top. It’s too early to make too many conclusions because the track is too dirty so tomorrow will be the real day to see who is fastest. We are very disappointed to not be able to make the second start, we have so many things we wanted to try but at least we have an extra half an hour tomorrow to take profit from.”
Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing M1 MotoGP) say: “This morning was actually quite a good session for us; we were up to third position and then we opted not to change tires and work on the set up.
“It seems everyone else tried the harder tire in the end which worked a lot better so we’re looking forward to using that. We picked which set up we are going to move forward on so the end result of the session was definitely not what the bike is capable of. Tomorrow should be good. I’m annoyed about this afternoon, it’s no one persons fault but it’s frustrating.”
Colin Edwards (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha M1) says: “That was a pretty easy day and to be honest I don’t think I’ve ever been in and out of my leathers so many times in one day. This morning I felt pretty good and comfortable, which was immediately a good sign because I didn’t have a very good feeling with this track last year.
“We struggled for rear grip last year and I rode a soft front tyre in the race to try and find something that worked. But this morning I was happy right from the start on the hard front and rear and we know we can make the set-up better. We had a few ideas to help this afternoon but obviously there were some electricity issues and that’s a pity for the fans that came out to watch us today. It was the right decision so we’ll use the extra rest and come out strong tomorrow aiming to improve our pace.”
Cal Crutchlow (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha M1) says: “I was really happy this morning because it was a good solid start and I really enjoyed riding the track. It was a pity I couldn’t have lapped a little bit faster but I stayed on the soft front and rear tires for the whole session.
“Most of the other guys used the harder tires and when Colin changed he dropped his time by a second. I’m sure I could have done the same and then I’d be looking at being inside the top 10, which is always my goal. It is obviously disappointing not to have the second session because it hurts me more than the other guys.
“I need to be out there learning the track and you lose the momentum gained. I felt really confident at the end of this morning and was looking forward to this afternoon, but now I’ve got to build up my pace all over again. There’s nothing I can do about what happened and I’m confident with more time on track I can climb further up the timesheets.”
Toni Elias (LCR Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: “Aragon is a marvelous race track, but it’s very tough. It took me some laps to feel the bike on these elevation changes but I enjoyed this first run out. We have got some issues with the life of the soft rear tire so we had to change with a harder one and this could be our tire choice for the race because we noticed the tires are dropping very quickly.
“The surface conditions were not excellent and we had a list of adjustments to try in the afternoon but due to this big power shortage we will have to start our setup work tomorrow.”
Randy De Puniet (Pramac Racing Ducati GP11 MotoGP) says: “It’s a shame that we couldn’t go on track in the afternoon, as the morning session went very well. For a long time I’ve looked for such a good feeling with the bike; it’s strange, considering how differently things went at Misano. I’m satisfied. The bike is working like it should, and I want to repeat my performance tomorrow and Sunday.”
Loris Capirossi (Pramac Racing Ducati GP11 MotoGP) says: “It’s my first time at this circuit, and I must say that the track is beautiful, but difficult. This morning I tried to ride as much as possible, and unfortunately, this afternoon we were stuck in the garage. I’m optimistic anyway. The time that I did this morning shouldn’t be considered because I was trying to understand the track. I’m sure that I’ll go better tomorrow.”
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini MotoGP) says: “The cancellation of a practice session due to a power shortage here at Aragon certainly doesn’t look good for a World Championship. The clearly need to look into it and make sure that things are repaired and that it doesn’t happen again.
“Unfortunately we can’t really draw too many conclusions from just an hour on track but things didn’t go badly, other than a few small problems in braking and with corner speed. We are lacking rear grip and the tire goes off after just a few laps. I still think the rubber available to us is too soft and that’s a worry for the race. We also have to work on fuel consumption. Overall this afternoon’s cancellation was not what we needed.”
Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V MotoGP) says: “The cancellation of this afternoon’s session is definitely not a good thing. We tried some things this morning and did some work with the set-up and my feeling was pretty good, even though Aragon is not an easy circuit. Tyre wear is unpredictable and making the right choice for the race will be crucial.”
Alvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki GSVR MotoGP) says: “This morning we started with the softer compound tyres on the bike to get a feeling of the track and up until the middle of the session we were doing ok, but I continued with the same set of soft tyres till the end and by then they were very worn and I could not improve my lap-time. The rest of the guys put in new harder tyres and went quicker than me so I was not too worried about this morning’s position.
“We have to try the harder tyre because I think the softer version is only really good for seven or eight laps and after that in these conditions it will drop off quite a bit. We are really disappointed with what happened this afternoon because we had many things to test, we had a new gearbox, the harder tyres and a new setting to try and get more grip from the rear, but now we have to wait for tomorrow. I know it was the right thing to do as race control couldn’t see what was happening around the track, but it was still frustrating that we couldn’t get on with our work.
“We won’t have much time between the sessions tomorrow to make many changes, so I hope we make the right choice with the direction in the morning, because we can’t afford to go in the wrong way with only two sessions. I am confident that we will still have a good weekend and I am looking forward to the race very much.”