Valentino Rossi took pole for the second race running at Donington Park this afternoon, his fourth of the season and the 56th of his career. Jorge Lorenzo qualified third and, with four poles for him also this year, the Fiat Yamaha Team has now taken the front grid slot in eight out of the ten races. It is also the fifth consecutive race at which both riders have been on the front row.
After yesterday’s downpours, today was dry with sunny intervals and this morning saw Lorenzo second and Rossi third as they got their first chance to work on their dry settings around the 4km track. In this afternoon’s hour-long qualifying session Lorenzo held pole position for most of the session until briefly surrendering it to Dani Pedrosa ten minutes from the end, whilst Rossi struggled slightly to find the best set-up with the hard Bridgestone tyre.
22-year-old Lorenzo moved back to the top just a couple of laps later but was then edged off by Rossi with three minutes to go, as the Italian found his best form at the perfect time. The Spaniard was unable to match the pace of his championship-leading team-mate with the soft tyre and finished 0.286 seconds adrift, whilst a strong charge from Dani Pedrosa edged the Spaniard into third but was not good enough to knock Rossi off pole.
Tomorrow’s race will start at the later time of 1530 local time, which is 1630 CET.
Valentino Rossi Speaks… (Position: 1st, Time: 1’28.116, Laps: 32)
"I am quite surprised to be on pole today because we had a couple of problems this afternoon! This morning unfortunately we didn’t try the hard Bridgestone tyre but we weren’t worried because everyone else had good grip with it. But this afternoon when we finally tried it we found the grip to be not as we expected and our pace with it wasn’t so good. We made some modifications and improved it a bit, then we made a few more and used the soft tyre again and then we were very quick. Like that I could ride the bike how I wanted and it felt great, fast and flowing so this was a good job from the team. We need to do some work to improve our pace with the hard tyre, and then we just have to wait and see what the weather does tomorrow. Whatever happens, we’re starting from the front and this is the most important thing."
Jorge Lorenzo Speaks… (Position: 3rd, Time: 1’28.402, Laps: 35)
"With the harder tyre, we’re definitely ready and I feel very good on the bike. With the softer tyre and on my last run I wasn’t so fast, but we are not too concerned about this. Anyway I feel confident on my M1 and I am enjoying riding here. Tomorrow we don’t know about the weather but I was fast also in the rain yesterday so I know that I can be competitive even if the weather is bad. I am really hoping for a good race here since it’s the last time we will come."
Davide Brivio Speaks… (Rossi Team Manager)
"At the end everything worked out okay and we got a nice pole position, the second in a row. We still have some work to do to improve the race setting to finalise the package in case we have dry conditions tomorrow, but we have the warm-up in to try to fine-tune everything. It looks like it’s more likely that it’s going to rain however, in which case we will use what we learned yesterday."
Daniele Romagnoli Speaks… (Lorenzo Team Manager)
"We are on target, because starting from the front row will be very important for this race. Today we concentrated mostly on our race setting and Jorge’s pace is very fast and consistent. Maybe we should have considered something a bit different for qualifying with the softer tyre, but the most important thing is that we’re in good shape for the race. We hope that we can have the same weather as today tomorrow, but if the rain does come then we have yesterday’s good session to help us."
1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Fiat Yamaha Team
2. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda
3. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Fiat Yamaha Team
4. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro Team
5. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Repsol Honda
6. Colin Edwards (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3
7. Marco Melandri (ITA) Hayate Racing Team
8. Toni Elias (SPA) San Carlo Honda Gresini
9. James Toseland (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech 3
10. Randy De Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda MotoGP
11. Mika Kallio (FIN) Pramac Racing
12. Alex De Angelis (RSM) San Carlo Honda Gresini
13. Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP
14. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP
15. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Marlboro Team
16. Niccolo Canepa (ITA) Pramac Racing
17. Gabor Talmacsi (HUN) Scot Racing Team MotoGP
Donington Park: Record Lap
D. Pedrosa (Honda) 2006, 1’28.714
Donington Park: Best Lap
D. Pedrosa (Honda) 2006, 1’27.676