Jorge Lorenzo took his second pole and fifth front row of the season after a scintillating qualifying session in Italy this afternoon, which left the top four riders separated by less than two tenths of a second. His Fiat Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi qualified fourth and finds himself off the front row at Mugello for the first time since 1999, when he was still in 250s.
After topping the time sheets yesterday Lorenzo played second fiddle to his team-mate for most of this afternoon’s session and it was Rossi who sat at the top of the leader board for most of the hour. The Spaniard was consistently fast around the first three quarters of the track but was losing time in the final section, leaving him a few tenths behind the Italian. With five minutes to go and with all riders on fresh Bridgestone tyres the qualifying session looked to be a four-way battle between the Fiat Yamaha duo, Loris Capirossi and Casey Stoner but it was championship leader Lorenzo who came out on top, with an inch-perfect lap which edged him into pole by two hundredths of a second from Stoner.
Rossi has had no less than eleven front row starts at this track and today he looked a sure bet for another as he effortlessly improved his time lap by lap, looking as comfortable as ever in the Italian sunshine. He came out worst in the last-lap showdown however as he lost out to compatriot Capirossi by 0.027 seconds, meaning the world champion will have to start from fourth as he seeks his seventh consecutive win here tomorrow when the lights go out at 1400.
1st – Jorge Lorenzo Speaks…
"I’m really happy about this because it’s a great pole position and I’m really excited to be starting from the front at Mugello. During the session we had some problems in T4 and we still need to try to improve a bit in that section, but I am fast with both types of tyre and in the end I was able to do one very fast lap. My race pace is good and I think that I have the possibility to fight with Valentino tomorrow; in my mind he is still the favourite here. My target is to get a good start and then try to stay with Valentino and Casey, and then I am sure I can be a part of the race. I am very excited and I hope for a great battle."
4th – Valentino Rossi Speaks…
"Sincerely I am quite disappointed to miss out on the first row! Usually I don’t mind so much but here, in Mugello, it’s special so I am sorry for this. It was a great fight today and we had good potential for the pole position but in the end we lost the front row to Loris, who did a great lap. Our setting is good, we have some small details to check but our race pace with the harder tyre is very good so I am not too worried. Of course starting from the second row makes life a little more difficult but we don’t think about this. The weather situation is very important because if it’s like this then we know we are fast but if it changes, which seems possible from the forecast, then it will be a bit more difficult."
Team Manager – Daniele Romagnoli Speaks…
"We couldn’t ask for a better qualifying session than this! Our race setting is pretty good but we still need to improve our time a little in the final sector, which is where we were losing out today. Jorge did brilliantly with the softer tyre on the final run and this is a very important pole position for us. We hope this good weather continues because if it’s like this then it’s going to be a very exciting race."
Team Manager – David Brivio Speaks…
"As far as race preparation goes that was a good session, because we were always fast. In the hot laps with the soft tyres at the end we just missed out on the front row but this is not the end of the world. Our race set-up is very good and, although starting from fourth makes our job a little harder, we know that Valentino will be in the fight tomorrow. We’re looking forward to a great race."
1. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Fiat Yamaha Team 1’48.987
2. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro Team 1’49.008
3. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1’49.121
4. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Fiat Yamaha Team 1’49.148
5. Randy De Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda MotoGP 1’49.499
6. Colin Edwards (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1’49.547
7. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Repsol Honda 1’49.648
8. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda 1’50.073
9. Toni Elias (SPA) San Carlo Honda Gresini 1’50.078
10. Yuki Takahashi (JPN) Scot Racing Team 1’50.305
11. Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1’50.405
12. Alex De Angelis (RSM) San Carlo Honda Gresini 1’50.448
13. Niccolo Canepa (ITA) Pramac Racing 1’50.528
14. James Toseland (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1’50.537
15. Marco Melandri (ITA) Hayate Racing Team 1’50.710
16. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Marlboro Team 1’50.924
17. Mika Kallio (FIN) Pramac Racing 1’51.008
Mugello: Record Lap
C. Stoner (Ducati) 2008, 1’50.003
Mugello: Best Lap
V. Rossi (Yamaha) 2008, 1’48.130