The rain from the day before had passed through to start Friday with perfectly clear blue skies! We had an early start, got to they track and they had coffee, breakfast waiting for us. We were bussed to our station and there was a cooler, ice, water and our flags already there waiting for us. Clear view or T1-5 and a big screen in front of our turn to let us know what’s happening on the other side of the track… as well as 2 separate closed circuit radios to let us know everything happening on track. We set up the chairs we brought, slapped on some sunscreen and we were ready for the bikes! Ready to watch a day of practice from the best seats in the house!
Free Practice 1 started with Moto3 on a green track, still a little damp from the rain the night before. Danny Kent was on top position, followed closely by Jack Miller by only 0.51 seconds. We could see the beginning of a dry line, but were told that there were still a few damp spots on the other side of the course as MotoGP came out for FP1. Crutchlow and his bike took a huge tumble, luckily uninjured and was able to jump on his second bike to try to shave off more time. Hector Barbera originally to be replaced by Toni Elias, not racing because of a broken leg injury from five weeks prior, took a big highside at T16. He was taken to the medical center where they determined that he had three fractured vertebra and out for the rest of the weekend if not more. Pol Espargaro took first from Marc Marquez at the end of FP1 for Moto2.
As the “Happy Little Clouds!”, as Bob Ross would say, rolled in, so did the rolling rumble of the AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Harley Davisson spec bikes for their practice session. Familiar with P.J. Jacobsen and Michael Barnes from our local tracks we were excited to see them race and do well this weekend and cheering them on from our turn! It was a nice change of pace to see these American Harley V-twins speed past.
Free Practice 2 commenced after lunch on a dry track and Sandro Cortese took first from his teammate Danny Kent in Moto3. In MotoGP, Dani Pedrosa took to the track with determination! We watched as he picked up a wheel out of T4, hold the power past us in F5a and through to T5 where he gently brought his wheel down after he already set up and leaned to turn. It was flawless, beautiful and something the cameras definitely don’t pick up on video! Pedrosa took advantage of the dry track and shaves off 2.323 second off his FP1 time and setting a lap record. Ben Spies took a surprising close second. Moto2 followed with Pol Espargaro dominating rival Marc Marquez beating him by over half a second! Last to take the track for the day was the XR1200 bikes for Qualifying Practice where P.J. took pole by leaving his competitors a second and a half behind.
It had been a long day, but we were jumping up and down in excitement for P.J. As we were working at our station all day, our friend Steve Hoedecker took advantage of a complimentary buddy ticket we received and walked around the track and took pictures with my Canon pocket point and shoot camera I lent him. The photographs below were taken by Steve to capture what we missed around the track. Thanks Steve!