Jorge Lorenzo, with a strong showing at Silverstone, beat Randy de Puniet and Dani Pedrosa to the inaugural MotoGP pole position spot, with both motorcycle racing challengers crashing out in an action-packed final two minutes.
Lorenzo’s GP rivals had caught up with him this morning and he was disappointed to find himself four-tenths down on Pedrosa in third. Jorge was back on form in afternoon qualifying however, spending the first half of the session continuing to strengthen his understanding of the new British racetrack before going into the lead with 20 minutes to go.
He was edged off by de Puniet but, after coming in for a final set-up tweak, a fast flying lap with a superb final split propelled him back to the top of the standings where he stayed, as both his closest rivals ended their final laps in the gravel trap.
Lorenzo’s first pole of 2010 is his tenth in MotoGP and the 36th of his career.
Jorge Lorenzo says: “I am so happy about this first pole of the season, but I’m even happier about the fact that I felt so good on my M1 this afternoon. It is really important to be on the front row for tomorrow because this gives us the best chance of another podium. Today we did 18 consecutive laps with the hard tyre and then another eight with the soft, which is a good sign, but the track was quite cold today and it took time for the tyres to reach the right temperature, so we have to wait and see how the weather is for our final choice. I feel comfortable and I’m really looking forward to tomorrow, although I hopeit isn’t going to rain. Thanks to all of my team for doing a great job today.”
Dani Pedrosa says: “Today we were quite fast in both sessions and we have a good machine setting, so I think we have the potential for a strong race. We still need to decide which of the Bridgestone tyre options we’ll use because tomorrow it looks like it may be warmer than today. I crashed when I was on my last qualifying lap as I braked going into a left hander. I hit some bumps and then the front started to move a lot and then had a little slide.”
“Maybe the bike went over me and at that moment it hurt, but afterwards the pain went away so I’m ok for tomorrow. The lap times were getting faster in each session and I think I’m still learning the track – every time you go out you learn more about the line, the braking points and the corners where the bumps are – and that’s normal on a new track. We’re on the front row which is always important for a good getaway, so tomorrow I hope we can have another good performance”.
Andrea Dovizioso says: “I’m happy with qualifying in fourth place and starting from the front of the second row. I wanted to be a little bit closer in terms of lap times and we still need to improve the pace for tomorrow so that we can fight for first place, but I’m satisfied with the result today. This morning I crashed, fortunately without hurting myself, and I was able to get straight back on my second bike and be back on the pace immediately.”
“Because of this crash we couldn’t do so much comparison work between the two chassis we had available, and so during qualifying I only used the new one, which seems to work well. The track layout is really fascinating – I like it a lot – but the main issue remains the bumps. We’re quietly confident for tomorrow and I’m definitely looking for another podium finish – at least”.
Loris Capirossi says: “We improved a bit today compared to yesterday, but still we don’t have the grip we want and we are really struggling. When we try to get a bit more entry grip it feels like we are going to lose the front and overall it feels like a game and we have to try and play the best we can to work it out. We know we are quite limited in the cold conditions and that is a similar thing to last year. We have never resolved this fully, but we do keep trying and the whole team is making the maximum effort to sort this out. It is a bit stressful for us all, especially because it is the home Grand Prix for us and we want to get the best result we can.”
Álvaro Bautista says: “We have had some problems with the cold conditions, especially this morning as it was almost impossible to ride the bike because both tyres were going away in the corners and I just couldn’t control the bike. This afternoon we changed the bike a lot and put some more weight on the rear tyre to try and get more warmth in it, it was better – but still not enough. I still feel that when I enter the corner I can’t go in too fast as I don’t have enough grip. We will try something else in warm-up tomorrow to get the best setting for the race and we hope that the sun comes out and the conditions will warm up because if it is cold it will be very difficult to ride.”
Nicky Hayden says: “We made a step forward today. Yesterday I knew that we weren’t as far off as we seemed and even though we didn’t quite have the right feeling for the conditions a few small changes have helped make us faster. Said that, my race pace isn’t great – there are a couple of sections where I’m losing quite a lot of time and if we want to have a good race we need to find another few tenths. It will be an interesting race tomorrow because it is one thing to ride on your own at a new circuit and another thing altogether to mix it up in a group. We’ll find out exactly where we are when the lights go out tomorrow.”
Casey Stoner says: “My race pace is fairly decent but the truth is we haven’t improved as much as we would like. The biggest problem we’re having at the moment is keeping the heat in the tyres and that brings on a bunch of other issues. The temperature drops off with every lap that goes by and as a result so does the grip. We also tried to make the bike more stable over the bumps but we lost a bit of handling and rear grip. We’re doing our best to solve the problems and luckily still have the warm-up to try a few more things. Either way I think the race can be much better for us than qualifying.”
Aleix Espargarò says: “Too cold and unluckily I wasn’t able to use in the best way the last part of this afternoon session. This is shortly what happened today. There isn’t much more to say: I am disappointed. I was expecting at least to be in the top ten. I like the track a lot and I hope that tomorrow I will make it to start well in the Grand Prix to reach the group of the fastest riders. I don’t want to disappoint my Team.”
Mika Kallio says: “Since yesterday I didn’t manage to find the right feeling with the bike. When I try to follow other riders, I lose too much space in every part of the circuit. This makes us understand that the situation, even for tomorrow’s race, isn’t the best. My Team and I will surely not give up and we will try to work at the best during tomorrow’s warm up to climb the classification during the race. We will give all we have!”
Ben Spies says: “Qualifying wasn’t too bad but I feel like it should have been a better outcome than what it was. I’m riding really hard and I was pretty close to being on the second row but I’d like the lap times to be coming a little bit easier. On the speed charts we’re down a bit and that is making it difficult and if I don’t get a good start it will make it hard to pass people. But I’m happy with my riding and the set-up of the bike and the lap times are consistent. I certainly tried as hard as I could and on the last lap I might have picked up another tenth to get on the second row but de Puniet crashed in front of me and that definitely cost me a small bit of time. My ankle is not too bad and shouldn’t be a problem in the race. I was actually going to come into the pits because th ere had been a few crashes and I was only doing 70 per cent of my normal speed when I got caught out. It can happen but I’ll be ready to give my maximum effort in the race.”
Colin Edwards says: “That was really hard work and I just can’t ride the bike to the level I know I can. I’m just not comfortable and to ride as hard as I had to just for tenth, I’m not happy. There are guys that I beat easily last year that I’m struggling to match at the moment and it certainly isn’t through a lack of trying. It is hard not to get frustrated but I am doing my absolute best to improve and get some more speed out of the bike. But we’re struggling for engine speed and I can’t get a decent setting with the chassis. Tenth is not a position I’m happy to be in but I’ll give it my all in the race tomorrow because everybody at Monster Yamaha Tech 3 is working hard to impr ove the situation.”
Marco Melandri says: “It has been a good session during which we have worked well and given ourselves a shot at an even better race. I´m a little annoyed about finding Barbera on the racing line when I was going for my first hot lap and lost a few tenths of a second on turns two, three and five. However, for the rest of the lap I was riding well. The following lap I started out very strong, but the tyres had already lost grip. Damn! Tomorrow we will work out exactly which tyres to use for the race, but the feeling is good. We´ve done a good job of cutting the distance between us and the fastest riders, and I think that with a good start I can be one of the big players tomorrow afternoon.”
Marco Simoncelli says “Unfortunately the crash that I had this morning with cold tyres had a knock-on effect o qualifying. We lost ten-to-fifteen minutes that would definitely have proved useful. In any case, I can say that we are happy despite the setback. I like the track and the bike hasn´t been bad at all. We need a few improvements, but we can aspire to a good race tomorrow and to fight for fifth or sixth place. We´ll see. I am ready for it.”
Tohru Ubukata (Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department) says: “Today the softer option slicks were clearly favoured by riders with the low temperature. Ambient temperature can affect tyre warm-up performance, and the softer slicks are able to reach their optimum temperature faster in these conditions but some riders like Jorge, Dani and Andrea used the hard rear tyre for part of the session and performance was still acceptable. The conditions are cold here, but this is what we predicted for this grand prix when selecting tyre compounds.”
“The track was cleaner today and the riders and teams are benefitting from more track time with every day and this iswhy the times are faster. Every rider favoured the softer option front tyre today, because it gives better warm-up performance in these cold conditions and there are no heavy braking points so a stiffer tyre is not necessary for increased stability. I expect the softer front to be favoured for tomorrow as weather conditions are forecast to be similar, but we have seen both the medium and hard rear compounds performing well so far this weekend so rear tyre choices for the race will be more mixed.”
MotoGP Qualifying Positions and Times
1. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Fiat Yamaha Team 2’03.308
2. Randy de Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda MotoGP 2’03.434
3. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 2’03.586
4. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Repsol Honda Team 2’03.995
5. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Marlboro Team 2’04.332
6. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro Team 2’04.394
7. Ben Spies (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 2’04.477
8. Marco Melandri (ITA) San Carlo Honda Gresini 2’04.555
9. Marco Simoncelli (ITA) San Carlo Honda Gresini 2’04.868
10. Colin Edwards (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 2’05.035
11. Hector Barbera (SPA) Aspar Team 2’05.354
12. Hiroshi Aoyama (JAP) Interwetten-Honda MotoGP 2’05.712
13. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) Pramac Green Team 2’05.748
14. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 2’05.821
15. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 2’06.607
16. Mika Kallio (FIN) Pramac Green Team 2’06.980