Valentino Rossi became the first rider since the advent of the one-tyre rule to dip under an existing pole position record in the Czech Republic today, taking his third consecutive pole position despite sliding off into the gravel trap with just a few minutes remaining. His Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo qualified second, continuing his 100% front-row qualifying record for the season.
Lorenzo had ruled the standings in both previous sessions and it looked like being the same story again this afternoon, as the Mallorcan went straight to the top and then continued to improve his time around the undulating Brno circuit. Sitting just four thousandths of a second off Rossi’s 2006 pole position record, Lorenzo looked likely to be the one to smash it but it was the World Champion who did so with a brilliant lap with eight minutes left on the clock, shaving 0.046 seconds off the time he set on the way to second place three years ago, back in the days of 990ccc engines.
The drama wasn’t over however as Rossi, pushing hard with two minutes remaining, lost the front in the second sector and slid into the gravel, luckily emerging unscathed. Lorenzo made a last minute assault on the Italian’s time but was caught in traffic and the 22-year-old had to be content with second position. The pair are joined on the front row by Dani Pedrosa, with Tech 3 Yamaha rider Colin Edwards putting in another strong performance to qualify in sixth.
Valentino Rossi Speaks… (Position: 1st Time: 1’56.145 Laps: 23)
"Pole position is great, but the most important thing is that I’m okay after the crash. I have a bit of pain in my right thumb but that’s all, so I think I’ve been quite lucky. I’ll get it checked out at the Clinica Mobile later but I don’t think it’s anything bad. This weekend only one of the front tyres is working well for us, which means we only have four for the weekend, so we’re putting quite a lot of stress on just a few tyres. I arrived to brake very deep and just lost the front, it was unlucky. Anyway, we did a great job in the session and being on pole again is important. We have a good race pace and I think it’s possible to be competitive tomorrow."
Jorge Lorenzo Speaks… (Position: 2nd Time: 1’56.195 Laps: 26)
"This morning we tried the softer Bridgestone tyre but I didn’t feel so good on it. This afternoon we gave it another chance but again it didn’t seem to work so well, so we decided to just concentrate on the harder tyre. I had a very strong pace and like yesterday I felt very comfortable on the bike, but I couldn’t quite get the pole position today. Being on the front row is always important though and we’ve reached this target; we know that we’re very fast. Everyone is excited and motivated as usual and we’re confident that we have the race set-up to allow us to challenge tomorrow."
Davide Brivio Speaks… (Rossi Team Manager)
"We’re in pole but Valentino’s crash was unfortunate, on a lap that might have been even faster! The most important thing is that he is okay, which is a big relief for us all. By the end of the session we’d found a good setting and it looks like tomorrow could be another big battle, let’s hope we’re a part of it! Lorenzo and Pedrosa are very motivated and look very strong so let’s see what happens."
Daniele Romagnoli Speaks… (Lorenzo Team Manager)
"It’s very good to start from the front row again and we’re happy about this. Unfortunately today we didn’t improve our lap time on the soft tyres and so we decided to do the last minute ‘time-attack’ on race tyres, then Jorge also encountered some traffic on his final lap. Anyway we are positive for the race because our pace today was pretty fast, we’re just looking at one or two small areas which we think we can improve for the race."
1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Fiat Yamaha Team
2. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Fiat Yamaha Team
3. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda
4. Toni Elias (SPA) San Carlo Honda Gresini
5. Colin Edwards (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3
6. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Repsol Honda
7. Alex De Angelis (RSM) San Carlo Honda Gresini
8. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Marlboro Team
9. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP
10. Mika Kallio (FIN) Ducati Marlboro Team
11. Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP
12. Niccolo Canepa (ITA) Pramac Racing
13. Randy De Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda MotoGP
14. James Toseland (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech 3
15. Marco Melandri (ITA) Hayate Racing Team
16. Michel Fabrizio (ITA) Pramac Racing
17. Gabor Talmacsi (HUN) Scot Racing Team MotoGP
Brno: Record Lap
C. Stoner (Ducati) 2008, 1’57.199
Brno: Best Lap
V. Rossi (Yamaha) 2006, 1’56.191