- Associated Press - Saturday, June 4, 2016

MADRID (AP) - MotoGP riders returned to the track on Saturday, using a modified layout and honoring Moto2 rider Luis Salom, who died a day earlier in a crash in Barcelona.

Less than 24 hours after Salom’s death during practice for the Catalan Grand Prix, racing resumed with changes made to the sector where the 24-year-old Spanish rider crashed.

Riders were not allowed to go through the fast right-handed turn where Salom lost control of his bike on Friday, being forced to pass through a slow chicane before heading into the front straight.

Many riders in all three MotoGP categories went out with stickers remembering Salom, most making reference to his nickname, “Mexicano.”

Fellow Spanish rider Marc Maquez won pole position for Sunday’s MotoGP race, dedicating it to Salom and to his own grandmother, who also recently passed away.

Two other Spaniards were in the front row, with Jorge Lorenzo qualifying second and Dani Pedrosa third.

The qualifying session for Moto2 was marked by another bad crash when Italian rider Franco Morbidelli lost control of his bike exiting a turn and was catapulted into the air. Morbidelli was able to leave the scene on his own but stayed down for a few moments after hitting the safety barrier.

Salom’s teammate at SAG Team, Jesko Raffin, did not compete in qualifying. His bike stood alongside Salom’s on the team’s garage, next to a pit-lane that read, “Always in our hearts.”

“Nobody ever expects something like this to happen,” team general manager Edu Perales said. “In three seconds, life changes. It’s not fair.”

Perales said Salom’s accident was still being investigated, but it appeared he lost the front end of his bike while entering the right-handed Turn 12. There was no early indication that something broke on the bike.

Race directors said the decision to continue racing was made after consultation with Salom’s family, the riders, teams and the safety commission.

“To honor Luis Salom, we will continue doing what he most loved, racing,” read a message posted on Twitter by Aspar Team MotoGP.

Because of Salom’s crash, race officials decided to use the Formula One track layout at the Barcelona-Catalunya circuit, which forces cars to go through a chicane just before Turn 12. Additional practice time was given to riders in all categories on Saturday to let them adapt to the new configuration.

“Now there are two slow turns instead of a fast one, and it made it difficult for us,” said Lorenzo, MotoGP’s championship leader. “But it’s for safety reasons, they had to make the circuit safer.”

Salom crashed hard into the safety barrier and was in cardiac arrest when doctors arrived at the scene.

The rider was intubated and submitted to cardiopulmonary resuscitation for 18 minutes at trackside, and treatment continued for 40 minutes as he was transported to the hospital. Doctors performed exploratory surgery when he arrived but he was declared dead about 45 minutes later.

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Tales Azzoni on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tazzoni. His work can be found at https://bigstory.ap.org/content/tales-azzoni

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