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Friday, June 24, 2011

Conditions play havoc with Assen opening


Track conditions following the first Moto2 practice session at the MotoGP World Championship Dutch TT on Thursday were deemed too dangerous to hold FP2 for any of the classes, despite a team of cleanup trucks spending close to two hours scrubbing oil spilled over one third of the circuit.

The heavy rain during the first practice sessions claimed many riders in crashes, particularly in the Moto2 class, in which Italian rider Alex Baldolini inadvertently left a trail of oil over a considerable portion of the track when he reentered following a crash.

The clean up work initially delayed the start of FP2 125cc session, which was due to begin at 1:15pm, and then finally forced a full cancellation of the afternoon sessions when the MotoGP FP2 was unable to start.

San Carlo Honda Gresini Team rider Marco Simoncelli led the MotoGP field in front of Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner in the first practice at the Iveco TT Assen on Thursday morning. Rain disrupted the MotoGP session from the start, but Simoncelli started the weekend in the best possible way, lapping 0.360s ahead of Ducati Team's Rossi, who is on board the GP11.1 Desmosedici for the Dutch TT. Completing the top three was Repsol Honda rider and series leader Stoner, who was close to half a second down on Rossi.

"It is a shame that we couldn't ride this afternoon because of the track conditions but we will be able to make up for it with the extra time tomorrow," Simoncelli said. "This morning I went very well on a very wet track and we were able to get valuable data and a feeling for the track. I am happy and I can't wait for tomorrow to get back on the bike. We will try something with the front-end set-up and some electronic solutions but already we have good traction and stability on the rear."

The two Italians had tussled to lead the timings early in the session, swapping first and second fastest positions until the Australian stepped into the mix. All three pulled out fast laps at the close of the session, with Simoncelli coming out on top.

"We only had one practice session with the new bike, so it's very early to make a full verdict, but the first feelings are certainly positive," Rossi explained. "The GP11 also went well in the wet, but the GP11.1 didn't just maintain the positive aspects; I actually liked it a little bit more, so I'm curious to also try it in dry conditions. Unfortunately, they canceled the afternoon session because of an oil leak in Moto2; it would have been very nice to continue — in either the wet or the dry — the work that we started.

"Anyway, we're happy for now. The new gearbox helps with acceleration on corner exits, and the rear of the bike is more stable. Now I can ride more naturally. There are still some small things to improve with the bike's character, but we knew that and will continue to work on it."

The three were followed by Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) in fourth and Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing) in fifth.

Cal Crutchlow, after breaking his collarbone only two weeks ago at his home Silverstone race, stuck it out for 13 laps to lay down a time that put him sixth in the standings.

Rookie Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) carried his form over from the weekend in Silverstone with the seventh-fastest time, finishing the practice ahead of Americans Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) in eighth, Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) ninth and Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing) in 10th. Héctor Barberá (Mapfre Aspar) followed with 11th place.

Hiroshi Aoyama who is replacing the injured Dani Pedrosa on the Repsol Honda team, put in a 12th fastest time in the wet session.

The current leader of the Moto2 class, Stefan Bradl put the heat on his intermediate category rivals in the rainy Assen FP1. The Viessmann Kiefer Racing rider opened up the first Moto2 practice session of the Iveco TT Assen weekend riding his Kalex machine to the top of the timesheet with a best lap of 1:54.435 on the historic Dutch circuit. Kenan Sofuoglu (Technomag-CIP) was second fastest, less than three tenths behind the German with Simone Corsi (Ioda Racing Project), who is currently second in the Championship, third quickest in the wet.

Jonas Folger (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) set the fastest time in the first 125cc practice of the Iveco TT Assen. Sandro Cortese (Intact Racing Team Germany) and Maverick Viñales (Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing Team) followed with second and third quickest times.


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