MotoGP Rider Quotes
The Ducati Desmosedici GP10 machine of Casey Stoner will start the 2010 MotoGP World Championship from the front of the grid tomorrow night following a sensational qualifying performance from the Australian at the Grand Prix of Qatar.
The brilliance of Stoner's decisive lap was not necessarily in its speed - a 1'55.007 - but in the fact that he set it on race rubber with 16 laps already on the tire. A minor gear shifter problem after switching to a softer tire in the closing stages meant that he was unable to raise the bar as his rivals launched their usual late challenge for supremacy but it proved unnecessary as the gap behind him only closed to 0.355 seconds.
The first MotoGP qualifying session of 2010 saw Fiat Yamaha Team riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo in strong form, taking the second and third spots on the grid behind Casey Stoner to set up an exact rematch of last year's Qatar race.
World Champion Rossi had struggled a little yesterday but was much happier on his bike today after some set-up changes this morning, finding better rear grip and an improved race pace as a result.
Mid-way through the session he moved into the lead for a short while before Stoner bettered his time and edged him back into second. With the hour gone the Italian was up on the clock on his final flying lap but he dropped a few tenths when passing two riders on the fourth sector and had to settle for second, 0.355 off Stoner's time.
After his confidence-inspiring opening day yesterday, Lorenzo took a small step back this evening and found he had less feeling in the rear than previously. He was nonetheless able to put up a spirited fight for grid positions and was happy to qualify third, considering his recently broken hand and lack of testing.
The 23-year-old admits that he still has some pain when braking but is more concerned in tweaking his set-up tonight to put him in the best possible shape for tomorrow night's race, which starts at 2300 local time (2200 CET).
Casey Stoner says: "It is only the start of a very long season but it is the perfect start and I'm really pleased. This bike needs a little bit more time to set up because of the characteristics of the new engine so we'll see how we go at other tracks but it definitely likes this circuit and the team have done a great job. Unfortunately my gear shifter got stuck coming out of turn two on what I'm sure would have been my fastest lap on a soft tyre so we had to rely on my best lap on a race tyre, which had 16 laps on it. That is obviously encouraging for the race but the only objective here is to start the season on the right foot and take some solid points to Japan."
Nicky Hayden says: "We made some changes to the front that have definitely helped me out in the fast corners today but we struggled to put everything together for a whole lap. I did a couple of 1'56.1s but as hard as we tried we couldn't quite drop into the 55s, even though looking at my ideal lap the potential is definitely there. Tomorrow we need to unlock that potential although starting from ninth place, out on the dirt, is not a good place to be - one of the worst, actually. We set our best time on a soft tyre so at least that means we're making progress in that area, which was a target. We still need to improve more tomorrow though."
Valentino Rossi says: "I'm really happy about the work we've done today on our set up and now we have a good race pace with the hard Bridgestone tyres. With the soft one the rear is still sliding a little bit too much, but I think for the race we are okay. My final flying lap was very fast but then I had to pass a couple of riders in the final sector and I lost some time, but anyway we have a good grid position so I am happy. A strong start is going to be very important and we will have to push hard on the first lap to try to stay close to Stoner, who is always very strong here. Honestly I think it will be tough to beat him but we will try our best!"
Jorge Lorenzo says: "I'm really happy about the work we've done today on our set up and now we have a good race pace with the hard Bridgestone tyres. With the soft one the rear is still sliding a little bit too much, but I think for the race we are okay. My final flying lap was very fast but then I had to pass a couple of riders in the final sector and I lost some time, but anyway we have a good grid position so I am happy. A strong start is going to be very important and we will have to push hard on the first lap to try to stay close to Stoner, who is always very strong here. Honestly I think it will be tough to beat him but we will try our best!"
Dani Pedrosa says: "We improved the set-up again today - a little bit in the morning and then a bigger step in the afternoon - and the lap time is coming down which means our position is better than we have been in recently. In the warm-up we will try to optimse the set-up a little more to help us with the race distance and then it's down to the race where I'll be looking for a good start of course. In qualifying I felt more comfortable on the hard option Bridgestone tyre which is why I was pushing hard at the start of the session."
"I wasn't able to improve with the soft tyre so it looks like we'll be going with the hard tyre for the race. It was actually a shame this evening because on my last lap I made a mistake and lost some time, and if I hadn't done that I could actually have been 4th on the grid. Stoner and Rossi look very strong for the race, but there should be a big group fighting for the final place on the podium and I hope to be in amongst it".
Andrea Dovizioso says: "Tomorrow we will start from the second row on the grid, and this is positive because on this track it's not easy to recover positions - it's very important to start well. We had a good qualifying session after having some issues during the first free practice today and our pace is not too bad. I could have gone a little quicker in qualifying, but overall I'm reasonably satisfied. There are two or three riders with similar pace so tomorrow our target is to fight for the podium."
"Casey and Valentino have an incredible pace, but I'm confident I can compete for third position - provided I make a good start. Now we will analyze the data from today and think about some machine adjustments that we will test in the warm-up. Specifically, I was losing a lot of time in T3 and I also need to improve my starts so that's where we'll be focusing. All in all I'm optimistic about tomorrow and I'm looking forward to this race".
Loris Capirossi says: "Overall I am quite happy with tonight's qualifying, because after my crash yesterday we struggled a bit in the earlier practice, but at the end of the session we tried something different and in the qualifying it seemed to work well. Once we made the change I immediately went quicker and we modified the bike a bit more for qualifying and from that we found a very good setting. I went well in qualifying and I did 1'56 laps many times and this is good. In the end I followed Valentino and got a bit of help with my lap, but that doesn't matter because I am happy with the result. I am pleased for the team because they made a huge effort after I destroyed a bike last night and the guys didn't get to sleep until about five o'clock this morning! This is a small present to them, but we really hope we can have something better tomorrow to enjoy."
Alvaro Bautista says: "This is my first official crash in a race weekend, but I am still quite happy because I rode well and got a good setting for the bike during the free practice and I feel very good on the bike. I improved my time on the race tyres and this is very important, but I also think I can still go a little bit faster. I have a good race rhythm and even though I am too far back on the grid for what I wanted, I will try to get a good start and run with a good group and see what happens. I am really excited for tomorrow's race and I think I can enjoy myself and we'll see what we can do."
Colin Edwards says: "I made the bike a hundred times better than yesterday. I was really worried after last night that I was going to struggle but I pretty much went back to last year's set-up and I'm happy with it. The bike just turned a lot better tonight and I had a lot more feeling from the front tyre on the brakes. Yesterday I was so lost it felt like I was riding somebody else's bike. I'm confident for the race because I did some good laps on the hard tyre. I'm a bit more consistent than those in front of me on race tyres, so I don't think I'm out of the hunt for fourth place tomorrow at all. At the end of the day I was really close to being fourth on the grid. I had a couple of little issues on the soft tyre but Bridgestone have still done a great job and I'm looking forward to the race because of the consistency I've got on the hard race tyres. As always I'll be giving it my all for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team."
Ben Spies says: It wasn't a good session really and I never got to use the advantage of the soft tyre. I didn't get it done and I never really put in a clean lap. But I am happy with the lap time we put in on race tyres. The positive is I did my fastest time on race tyres that had a lot of laps on them. The top four guys are obviously a little bit quicker on hard tyres. But the majority of the people that were quicker than me were on soft tyres, so we've just got to try to get a good start. I think the race pace I've got is still good, but I'm going to have a hard time passing people down this long straight. I'm right behind Colin on the grid and hopefully jump in behind him and go."
Randy De Puniet says: "Two months ago we had some issues with the new bike at Sepang test but we remained concentrated on our job and I was confident that my crew could give me a better bike. We have improved slowly and my feeling has increased a lot. Since the beginning of this week end we have worked in the right way making some long run on race tyres with an excellent pace. In the qualifying session we have tested our race map and at the end I have lapped on soft tyres gaining the second row. Honestly I was not expecting such a brilliant result but I am very happy and want to thank my crew. Tomorrow's start is really important if I want to close the gap to the front riders".
Mika Kallio says: "We improved as lap time, but we are not happy with how things have gone today. I have slipped at the fourth lap without any error: probably the rear tyre wasn't yet ready and I had to be more cautious. Also by telemetry seems that everything was going well. Coming in the box we had to change the set up of the second bike and only on the last lap of the session I managed to make a satisfactory lap time. It's a shame really, because after the result of today's free practice we could have aimed to better positions. We'll try to improve in tomorrow's race."
Aleix Espargarò says: "We are happy because today we found a set-up of the bike highly satisfactory. A pity that in the first day of work we find too many difficulties, we must improve our performance during the season under this aspect. However, we are really close to the other riders and I am sure that tomorrow we can have some fun during the race. Expect a great show."
Marco Simoncelli says: "Unfortunately the session didn´t start well with the crash, which meant I needed a few laps to regain my confidence and set back the whole programme. It is a shame because we really needed to get through a full session. I just went into the corner too hard - trying to avoid Aoyama I braked too late and lost the front when I tipped it in. I´m disappointed because I had a good feeling in free practice. Now we have the warm up to try and sort a few things out, then it´s a case of giving my best in the race. "
Marco Melandri says: "I am really disappointed. I just can´t get a feeling for the chassis or the engine and everything we try seems to be in vain. We put the soft tyre in and went slower and at this moment in time I am completely out of ideas as to what we can do. Maybe we need a magic wand that we can wave at the bike and everything slots into place. We´ll see what the race is like but I don´t expect it to be a good one for us!"
MotoGP Qualifying Times
1. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro Team
2. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Fiat Yamaha Team
3. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Fiat Yamaha Team
4. Randy de Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda MotoGP
5. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP
6. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Repsol Honda Team
7. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team
8. Colin Edwards (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3
9. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Marlboro Team
10. Hiroshi Aoyama (JAP) Interwetten-Honda MotoGP
11. Ben Spies (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3
12. Mika Kallio (FIN) Pramac Green Team
13. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP
14. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) Pramac Green Team
15. Marco Simoncelli (ITA) San Carlo Honda Gresini
16. Hector Barbera (SPA) Aspar Team
17. Marco Melandri (ITA) San Carlo Honda Gresini
Circuit Record: Casey Stoner (Ducati - 2008), 1'55.153, 168.193 Km/h
Best Pole: Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha - 2008), 1'53.927, 170.003 Km/h