On his last lap of the hour-long MotoGP qualifying session, Jorge Lorenzo secured his second pole position of the season, and his second in succession, using Bridgestone’s harder front and softer rear slicks.
At the end of the session the top six motorcycle racers were all within 0.5 seconds, and Randy de Puniet and Casey Stoner were separated by just 0.006 seconds to complete the front row.
The second row of Ben Spies, Nicky Hayden and Dovizioso was also covered by less than one tenth of a second, setting the scene for what could be some intense battles tomorrow.
Jorge Lorenzo says: “I’m very happy to take my second pole of the season but I feel even more comfortable and confident because I’ve been first in all three practice sessions, despite the other riders pushing hard during qualifying. I think tomorrow’s race could be interesting and of course I want to try to win, but as always the main goal is to finish and take points. I will try to escape but if I can’t I will fight for the podium. We can afford to be very calm because of our lead in the standings but the team and I are still working as hard as we can to keep going at this level; we’re not relaxing.”
Wilco Zeelenberg says: “Once again it’s been a very smooth weekend for us so far and we’re happy to get another pole position. Jorge is satisfied with the improvements we’ve made to the bike since yesterday and he was a few tenths faster today, plus he’s been extremely consistent in his pace so we can see everything is working well. The only thing left for us to do is to make our final tyre choice for the race, because both Bridgestone compounds are working well here. We will wait to see the temperature tomorrow, make some checks in warm-up and then decide.”
Randy De Puniet says: “Everything is going in the right direction for us and we completely deserved this second consecutive front row. I am still the Honda fastest rider and the top privateer rider in the classification so this is not just luck! The guys made an excellent job on the bike and I felt more comfortable in this morning second session. Then in the afternoon we took another step forward working on suspension set up and the bike was close to perfection. We have got the pace to run in top five on race tyres but we need to confirm our mapping for the end of the race when the tyres will drop. Want to thank everybody in the team for their great job”.
Casey Stoner says: “The last set-up we threw in the bike seemed to make quite an improvement. This morning we were pretty happy with it but this afternoon we never really reached where we wanted to. We had a small problem with the clutch – we had some air in the hydraulics and it wasn’t working properly so I had to use the full pump of the clutch just to shift back through the gears. A thing I think we can fix anyway. I got one qualifying lap in and went to start my second but the bike sounded like it backfired and so I decided to call it quits – it was better to be safe than sorry and to start the race tomorrow fresh. We’ll have to wait and see what happens in the race but if we will be able to make some more little steps in the tomorrow’s warm-up we may be not too far off.”
Nicky Hayden says: “We can’t be too disappointed with fifth place and a second row start after the session we had today. This morning I had an engine problem in one bike and when I switched to the other one I crashed it. I wasn’t hurt at all but the bike needed to be rebuilt. The whole team did an incredible job in just a couple of hours – even Casey’s guys gave us a hand. They didn’t even have time for lunch but when I came into the garage for qualifying there were two bikes there waiting for me. I couldn’t get my feeling immediately and the start of the session was tough, but when we got the final tyre in I got my head down under that screen and gave it everything I had. I went from the 1’36s to a 1’34.9 in just one lap but we have more work to do before the race tomorrow.”
Dani PEDROSA says: “This morning we started with some adjustments to the suspension and we went a little harder at the front end. My fastest lap time was ok this morning but to be honest we didn’t find the solutions we were looking for and we still have some work to do to find the right set-up. In T1, where we were losing a lot of time yesterday, things have improved a little bit but clearly not enough – and we also have to improve the feeling when I brake because at the moment I can’t push to the maximum.
It’s a similar situation on the soft or the hard option Bridgestones so that choice isn’t made yet for us. We’ll keep on working this evening and try to make some significant improvements for the race tomorrow”.
Andrea DOVIZIOSO says: “Tomorrow we will start from the second row which is ok, and with a good start I hope to get away with the leaders. The gap to the front of five tenths of a second is not too much and we also have a good race pace, although actually I set this lap when I was following Lorenzo. We have some front end issues that we need to solve and this is what we want to sort out by tomorrow afternoon – otherwise it will be a difficult race.
In fact I’m losing time in T3 and T4, which are the fastest parts of the track, so front end feel is really important here. However, I’m feeling confident and I think that me and the team can come up with some ideas to improve things for tomorrow”.
Marco Simoncelli says: “That´s not bad – I´m happy because we had a few doubts about the bike today but it worked well. We have found the right solution to establish a better feeling and I can ride with more ease. My times were good when I was lapping on my own and I managed to put a good rhythm together. Overall I am happy and conficdent I can have another good race tomorrow. If I can get a good start then there´s no reason I can´t be fighting for a top five finish.”
Marco Melandri says: “Today was a day to forget. It started well because the feeling with the bike was really good and I was ale to put a fast time in on a tyre with a lot of laps on it, so I was happy. Unfortunately it wasn´t to be and now I have to look ahead to hopefully having a good race at Barcelona. I went wide coming into the turn at the back of the pits and tried to get onto the tarmac path back onto the track but I couldn´t get on it and as I headed back towards the track I was worried I might hit another rider so I tried to change my line. Unfortunately I lost the rear on the grass and when I got back onto the tarmac it gripped and threw me into the air. I knew straight away that my shoulder was out.”
Fausto Gresini says: “It was a sweet and sour day today. Starting with the sweet Simoncelli showed that he is growing with every race and the gap to the front is closing, which gives us a lot of pleasure. He is improving his riding with every lap and that augurs well for the rest of the championship. The sour side of the day was another innocuous but costly crash for Melandri when he looked set to have a good weekend. Whenever a rider is injured and can´t make it to the grid there is always a great sense of loss in the team. Fortunately the injury is not quite as bad as we thought and we hope to see him back on the bike as soon as possible.”
Álvaro Bautista says: “This morning I had some problems with my left arm and I felt quite a lot of pain. I think it is because this track is very physical and requires a lot more work with my arm. For this afternoon I took some pain-killers, but it was still very uncomfortable so I tried to take things a bit easier, so I could save myself for the race tomorrow. We resolved some of the problems we had from yesterday and made some improvements, but we are still not quite there. I still have some problems changing direction as I feel that the bike is very heavy because I don’t have the strength in my arm. We still have some small things to try in warm-up to make some small steps to make things better. I want to start well and stay with a good group and be able to push more as the race goes on. I hope the pain doesn’t get any worse during the race and I can enjoy it. I am confident that I can make a good result, but the main thing is to enjoy riding the bike.”
Loris Capirossi says: “I don’t really know what to say today! We did change the bike a bit to alter the way the weight transfers and this gave us a bit of traction back, but still we are not competitive enough. It seems if we improve the rear we are losing out on the front. We just cannot find the best solution and all the guys are working so hard to make things better. We improved the electronics this afternoon and I am happy that we have made a step there. We hope that we can make a small step in the morning because we don’t want to start making big changes to the bike now. We’re still confident we can run higher than the qualifying position and we’ll just have to see what tomorrow brings.”
Paul Denning says: “There is no great satisfaction to be taken from the result today, but after the Silverstone weekend at least we can say that we have made a start to rebuilding the season. Loris is only 0.9 seconds off the front row and while that gap is too big, it’s a lot smaller than it was a week ago. Unfortunately Álvaro is struggling more with his injury than he was last week and despite showing good potential in some parts of the track, he is struggling in the important fast changes of direction – both with the bike setting and his injury – so the team will be working hard tonight to make it easier for the race tomorrow. Our target for tomorrow is not too far-fetched – we’d like to see both riders finish the Grand Prix, score some points and take a better platform on to Catalunya next weekend.”
Marco Rigamonti says: “Despite the tenth position, we further lowered the lap times achieved in the second free practice this morning. We have another jolly that will try tomorrow morning during the warm up. Aleix is doing very good on this circuit and if he will start good in the first sector of the circuit joining the leading group, he will be able to make a very good race. We’ll work hard tonight on the data we have obtained today so that we can help our rider to be one of the leader in the tomorrow race.”
Aleix Espargarò says: ‘Pity for the final position. After the excellent practice results of yesterday and of this morning I thought of being able to gain a better position. I’m happy to have been constantly in the top ten. From these qualifications I have understand that I have a good race pace that I can use during tomorrow’s race. I like a lot this track, I hope to get a good result. ”
Mika Kallio says: “Since yesterday I wasn’t able to find the right feeling with my bike on this circuit. I reduce by almost a second the time I had yesterday during the opening practice, but it wasn’t enough to gain positions. During the qualifying my technicians have worked hard to modify my bike and make it as balanced as possible for this circuit. Tonight they will do other changes that we will try in the warm up. I am not satisfied for the last races results, tomorrow will be the time for a change.”
Tohru Ubukata says: “The lap times were quicker again today as the track condition is better than it was yesterday. Almost all the riders set their best times in qualifying using the softer option rear slick, but Andrea recorded his best on our hard rear tyre. Jorge’s second best time was also set on a harder rear and this would still have been good enough for pole so it shows that there is a good performance overlap between the two rear tyre specs we have here in Assen.
“The hard front slick was the favoured choice for all riders for the extra braking stability it affords in these hot conditions, so we can expect this to be the preferred race tyre tomorrow. Rear tyre choice is likely to be more difficult to predict however as we can see that both specs are working well and have sufficient race distance durability. Some bike and rider packages favour the extra traction provided by the harder option rear slick, whereas some are able to use the extra edge grip of the softer slick to their advantage so this factor will play a large part in each rider’s rear tyre compound selection for the 80th Dutch TT.”
1. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Fiat Yamaha Team 1’34.515
2. Randy de Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda MotoGP 1’34.797
3. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro Team 1’34.803
4. Ben Spies (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1’34.926
5. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Marlboro Team 1’34.999
6. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Repsol Honda Team 1’35.015
7. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 1’35.162
8. Marco Simoncelli (ITA) San Carlo Honda Gresini 1’35.283
9. Colin Edwards (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1’35.393
10. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) Pramac Green Team 1’35.593
11. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1’35.664
12. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1’36.344
13. Mika Kallio (FIN) Pramac Green Team 1’36.502
14. Hector Barbera (SPA) Aspar Team 1’36.569
15. Kousuke Akiyoshi (JPN) Interwetten Honda MotoGP 1’38.198
Assen: Record Lap – V. Rossi (Yamaha) 2009, 1’36.558
Assen: Best Lap – C. Stoner (Ducati) 2008, 1’35.520