After a morning session that was effectively written off by heavy rain and storms the MotoGP class was finally able to make progress at Estoril on Friday afternoon in the second practice at the bwin Grande Premio de Portugal.
World Champion and race winner at Estoril for the past two seasons Jorge Lorenzo was the fastest rider round the track in the 45-minute run, as he posted a best lap of 1:48.522 on his factory M1 to get his weekend off to a solid start.
“I love this track, I have won here both times in MotoGP so I am very happy to be here,” Lorenzo said. “Unfortunately the weather was terrible this morning and there was no point in riding, then this afternoon it was still very difficult, with a lot of water on the track and you had to be very careful.
“I felt good despite the conditions and step-by-step we improved so that at the end, when it was slightly drier, I was able to set a good time and we are on top. Tomorrow we will have two longer sessions so we will be able to recover some of the lost time, let’s hope for no more rain!”
Ducati rider Nicky Hayden was also on form as he finished just 0.135s behind the Spaniard, with Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha) completing the top three and the final rider to get under the 1:49 barrier on day one.
Australia’s Casey Stoner, who is going for a fourth win in five races this weekend, was fourth with an effort of 1:49.061, which made the Ducati man the last to get within a second of Lorenzo.
“We feel we could and should have been faster today but we struggled for some reason with edge grip,” Stoner said. “When I picked up the bike the traction was good but on the edge it wasn’t. We also had some problems with the front brakes and I was having to adjust in every corner.
“Said that, we’re quite happy. I felt confident in these conditions and it looks like we’re going to have more of the same over the remainder of the weekend. We have work to do but for the moment I feel comfortable.”
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Ben Spies and San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Melandri were separated by just six-hundredths of a second as they rounded out the session and day one as the fifth and sixth fastest riders respectively.
LCR Honda rider Randy de Puniet had led the session early on and his final time of 1:50.043 placed him seventh in the order, with Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini), Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) and Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki) all setting top-ten times.
Despite the appearance of the sun late in the session the track remained wet, leading to crashes for Héctor Barberá (Paginas Amarillas Aspar), Dovizioso, Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) .
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) was on track as he continues his recovery from injury and he placed 13th, with Carlos Checa 17th as he started his two-race stint with the Pramac Racing Team. Aleix Espargaró (Pramac Racing) and Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda MotoGP) – who was the only rider to record a lap time in the morning – completed the session 14th and 15th fastest respectively.
In the Moto2 class Fimmco Speed Up rider Gabor Talmacsi was the rider who led the way on the first day as he set a best time of 1:50.916 to top the timesheet across both sessions, and the Hungarian was the only rider under 1:51.
Julián Simón (Mapfre Aspar), who did not ride in the morning, was second at 0.388s off Talmacsi, with world champion Toni Elías (Gresini Racing) showing no signs of any ill effects from a fall in the morning session to set the third best time, as the track provided a much better surface than the rain-drenched one encountered only hours before.
Kenan Sofuoglu, who is riding for the Technomag-CIP team in the final two rounds, was fourth quickest at just over a second off the lead time, as Raffaele De Rosa (Tech 3 Racing) and Alex de Angelis (JiR Moto2) rounded out the top six.
There was still a cautious approach being adopted by the majority of the riders as a gap of over 3.6s separated the top ten, but the Moto2 class were afforded the chance to roll out on slick tyres during the session.
Meanwhile Andrea Iannone (Fimmco Speed Up), who is closely matched with Simón in the fight for runner-up spot in the Championship, could only set the 34th fastest time in the session.
Alberto Moncayo set the quickest lap in the second 125cc practice session as the weather continued to make it difficult for the riders to gain a foothold in their preparations for Sunday’s race. The Andalucia Cajasol rider’s time of 2:05.490 was just over five seconds off Bradley Smith’s effort from the morning session, as he led Johann Zarco (WTR San Marino Team) by a little over a full second in the FP2 timings.
With the track still wet there were again a number of falls during the 40-minute session, with title chasers Marc Márquez (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) and Pol Espargaró (Tuenti Racing) both going down – the former having completed just two laps and not returning to the track for the remainder. Both escaped injury as their bikes took the impacts.
Nico Terol (Bancaja Aspar) – the third rider still in contention for the title – Esteve Rabat (Blusens-STX) and Espargaró completed a top five which was spread across a gap of 1.655s, with the morning session’s fastest Smith placing sixth but remaining the quickest of the day.
Those experiencing the perils of the wet also included Randy Krummenacher (Stipa-Molenaar Racing), Simone Grotzkyj (Fontana Racing), Danny Kent (Lambretta Reparto Corse), Danny Webb (Andalucia Cajasol), Efrén Vázquez (Tuenti Racing) and Zarco as the conditions remained hazardous.