Valentino Rossi added a third pole position to an enviable haul from 2009 at Sachsenring on Saturday, coming out on top in a drenched qualifying session at the Alice Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland.
Rossi’s last gasp 1’32.520 lap was not only enough to head the timesheet by over six-tenths of a second, but it was also sufficient to give him a first ever MotoGP pole at the German track.
Rossi relegated Fiat Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo to second on the grid, and the two share the front row for the sixth time this season. Joining them in the first line of attack will be fellow title contender Casey Stoner, a further six-tenths down on Rossi’s marker in the qualifying run.
Lorenzo and Stoner had experienced big crashes at Laguna Seca last time out, but this time they were two of the few riders not to have experienced ‘a moment’ in preparation for the Sachsenring race. An area ahead of turn eight proved costly for a number of riders on Saturday afternoon, with falls for Marco Melandri, Toni Elías, Randy de Puniet, Alex de Angelis, Nicky Hayden and Niccolò Canepa adding to Chris Vermeulen’s Friday hit and James Toseland’s morning moment. Canepa first hit the gravel of his own accord, then later became involved in Hayden’s crash when the American speared him off track.
Hayden took his best qualifying result as a Ducati Marlboro rider to date with fourth place, ahead of San Carlo Gresini Honda’s De Angelis and LCR Honda man De Puniet on the second row.
Marco Simoncelli took his second pole position of the year in a similarly wet 250cc qualifying session. The reigning World Champion cannot take the leadership of the series with a win at Sachsenring, but needs a strong result in order to move back into the title frame.
The Metis Gilera rider’s task will be made more difficult by the men joining him on the front row. Héctor Barberá’s run of pole positions came to an end, but he still placed alongside his Italian rival and showed a promising pace in the wet.
The top two in the class, Hiroshi Aoyama and Álvaro Bautista, made marked improvements from a disappointing Friday session to come good in qualifying. Mapfre Aspar rider Bautista used a late push to maintain his perfect record of front row starts thus far in 2009.
One of the most diligent riders in the wet morning session, Karel Abraham’s labour paid off with fifth on the timesheet, his best ever qualifying position. Team Toth rider Mattia Pasini -who crashed twice in the space of 30 minutes- placed sixth and joins Abraham, Alex Debon and Hector Faubel on row two.
Julián Simón followed up his timesheet-topping exploits in both 125cc Free Practice sessions with the quickest lap of the smaller class’ qualifying session. The Bancaja Aspar rider did so after riding round in 1’38.671 on a drenched track, just edging out teammate and title rival Bradley Smith.
The duo were out on their own as the only riders to go round in under 1’40, with Marc Márquez the closest to their times onboard the Red Bull KTM. Completing the front row for the German round of the series is home wildcard Marcel Schrotter, surprising onboard a Honda.
Nico Terol was unable to put in a late hot lap after crashing out when leading the way, and dropped down to the second row to join Alexis Masbou, Takaaki Nakagami and Efren Vazquez.