So it wasn’t a fluke. A bit of respect is due, I think, for Karel Abraham. Third fastest yesterday in the dry and now second on the grid in a wet qualifying. After several years of team and machinery problems and a few nasty, including one potentially career-ending, injuries the Czech had to put up with plenty of smirks when he came back to MotoGP. His dad’s money was mentioned quite a lot: “I never leave the house without a sack of cash” he said. And it’s true Karel is a pay rider, but he is also fast. He won one Moto2 race and would have won more but for a habit of crashing as soon as his home GP appeared over the horizon. In 2011, he fought Cal Crutchlow for MotoGP Rookie of the Year all the way to Valencia. He also stormed into Casey Stoner’s pit at a Brno test to confront the Aussie after an altercation at Turn 1; Karel had to be dragged away by his mechanics. he may be a qualified lawyer but he’s still definitely a motorcycle racer.
That was on a Ducati and even though he had serious machinery and team problems in the years that followed, Karel still says the GP15 “fits me” and while he is not one to predict great things tomorrow he takes some satisfaction from being able to say that he was the quickest Ducati on both days so far. He also likes the track.
Abraham had never ridden the Ducati with rain tyres before today.
Over in Moto2, another very impressive, eloquent, multilingual young man gave KTM pole in only their second race in the class. Miguel Oliveira isn’t a lawyer, he’s qualifying to be a dentist, is fluent in I think six languages and nearly beat Maverick Vinales to the Spanish 125 Championship a few years ago. He won more races but also crashed more. Portugal isn’t noted for its motorcycle racers, but Miguel is changing that. Watch him, he is the genuine article.
Who got pole? Marc Marquez of course despite trying to launch himself into orbit with practice start that saw in back wheel at 90 degrees to where it should have been. Of course he saved it. Cal Crutchlow is of the opinion that anyone else would have had two broken collarbones and a dislocated hip.
Warning: boring tyre stuff follows. The late withdrawal of the fourth, stiffer front tyre following the Safety Commission meeting last night raised a few eyebrows. Cal Crutchlow wasn’t happy that a “rat” was leaking things said in the privacy of the Commission. Marc Marquez managed to be diplomatic in the extreme by pointing out that the tyre would probably have helped him but you cannot just change the rules and overcrowd the race schedule. The unspoken suggestion was, of course, that this was the tyre that Valentino Rossi very much wanted to use, although he did not attend the meeting. Was this really a matter of safety or a technical rule? A rat told me that one rider demanded very loudly of Loris Capirossi why he was bringing a special tyre for his friends: “You never do that for me when I have a sh*t weekend!”
Maverick Vinales? He and his team are delighted with a second-row start Delighted.