Jorge Lorenzo took his fifth consecutive MotoGP pole position with a fantastic display in qualifying at Laguna Seca.
The World Championship leader beat out Casey Stoner for the pole spot at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix, with a blistering late lap of 1’20.978 to take his 40th career pole.
Ducati’s Stoner looked to be on the verge of his second pole of the season but eventually ended the session 0.191s off the Spaniard.
Securing third spot on the grid and taking his first ever front-row start in the MotoGP class, Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso was a fraction over six-tenths off Lorenzo’s marker.
Heading up the second row, which was separated by 0.071s, will be last year’s race winner Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda).
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Ben Spies will start from fifth after his final lap slotted him in front of Valentino Rossi, as the reigning MotoGP World Champion secured sixth, repeating his position from both free practice sessions as he continues his recovery from a broken leg.
Jorge Lorenzo says: “It is an impressive achievement to take five poles in a row but it was hard. It’s not so important to get pole position, but it is better to make it. Casey set some very quick lap times and I didn’t know if I was going to make it. I did one lap which wasn’t fast enough and I just thought to myself to push even harder one more time and I did it.”
“Pole position isn’t the race but it does help so I’m really happy to have got this fifth pole. Everyone is working very well and this shows it once again. I didn’t think it would be possible today because Casey was so fast but I decided to give it a try and pushed as hard as I could and here we are! I don’t know what to expect tomorrow, it will be a hard race for sure because Dani and Casey are very strong, but we will do the best we can to fight to the end and at least make the podium. I’m excited because it’s always a special race here with a great atmosphere.”
Valentino Rossi says: “We didn’t go too badly today but we need to improve our setting a little bit to get closer to the leaders. Lorenzo and Stoner are very fast but after that there are a few riders quite close together, including me, so it’s not too bad. I think it’s going to be very difficult tomorrow because this track is a lot harder for me than Sachsenring, but I hope I can do a good race. There are a few corners where we know we can be a bit faster so tomorrow morning we will try to make some small changes to the setting to allow that, then I need to get a good start. My leg feels better than yesterday, which is good, the problem today is the shoulder because my left one isn’t strong enough to compensate completely for the lack of power in my right one and now I have some pain in both! My hope for tomorrow is to be able to finish the race without too much pain and to do the best we can in the circumstances.”
Wilco Zeelenberg says: “Earlier on this season I said maybe it was better if Jorge wasn’t on pole because it was less pressure that way, but now we have had five in a row and I have to say that we’re very happy! He was very comfortable out there today and our bike is working very well, so at the end of the session he decided to go for the pole. That last lap of his was incredible; I don’t think we expected him to be that fast! It’s going to be very close tomorrow and it’s a long race, we expect a big battle but we will do our best to be on the podium.”
Davide Brivio says: “We still have some work to do before the race but I think we’re in better shape than it looks! We need to find some small improvements and then we need to decide about the tyres for tomorrow. The pace isn’t too bad but to really be in the race we need to find a couple more tenths. This track is quite hard on Valentino’s body and at the end of the practice he was suffering with his shoulder especially; it’s nore demanding than Sachsenring. It’s going to be difficult for him to finish the whole race tomorrow in top form but we have to remember that this is our second ‘recovery’ race and all things considered it’s going okay.”
Dani Pedrosa says: “We’ve improved the feeling from yesterday and this morning our pace was pretty good – we were closer to the other riders in terms of lap times. This afternoon with the soft rear at the end of the session we didn’t go quicker, but the front of the second row isn’t a bad place to start and we could probably have been further forward if we hadn’t had a bit of an issue with some vibration at the rear of the machine on my final run.”
“We put a lot of laps on the Bridgestone tyres this afternoon – more than 30 on the same tyre – and they are working well. In the warm-up tomorrow we need to make a few final adjustments to the machine settings to improve our race pace by a tenth or two – we’ve got a few things to try. The choice of race tyre will be important so that we have the best feeling for race distance. I think we can be competitive if we make the most of the warm-up well tomorrow”.
Andrea Dovizioso says: “I’m very happy about this session because this is my first front row of the season and qualifying was an area that we had to improve. We were fast from the beginning today and I have to thank the team because they’ve done a good job this weekend. Yesterday and also today I have been losing some time in T4, but for the final qualifying lap I pushed at 100 per cent and did my best final sector time – which gave me my fastest lap time and a place on the front row.”
“I have a good race pace but we still need to improve a little because Stoner and Lorenzo are very fast. There is still a gap but we are not too far away. I think the race pace tomorrow will be between the high 1m 21s and 1m 22 dead, and I’m confident I can fight with the others. Plus, starting from first row makes this easier. For the tyre choice we will probably go with the soft option rear. Our machine balance is good and we have a positive feeling on this track so I’m confident for tomorrow”.
Casey Stoner says: “We’re closer to the front than last week but we still need to improve the bike before tomorrow. I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t make full use of the session this afternoon and ended up going back to the setting we had this morning. We tried a few different things that weren’t really working and unfortunately one of the settings took a long time to change so we wasted time there. To be honest I was happy to post the time I did – I thought we could have gone a bit quicker today considering how good the bike felt from yesterday to this morning but we just didn’t take that extra step. Hopefully we can take it in the warm-up and have our most competitive race of the season tomorrow.”
Nicky Hayden says: “To qualify seventh with such a big gap to Jorge isn’t good enough here at my home race so I’m obviously disappointed but we’re not going home yet. We’ll be back tomorrow ready to step our game up and get in there. The team did a good job from the morning to the afternoon today, which was the first real step we’ve made this weekend, and really we’re only three tenths from the front row so it’s not too bad in that regard. It’s my home race so I want to get amongst them, have some fun and put on a good show.”
Ben Spies says: “It’s a little frustrating to be so close to my first front row but I’m still really happy with fifth position. The last stint was good and I was actually on a front row lap for sure at the end. I was a tenth quicker and then Kallio unfortunately crashed at the Corkscrew. I saw a big dust cloud and yellow flags were being waved. I was really scared that someone was on the downhill part because you can’t see going in there. I wanted to play it safe and I lost a tenth there for sure and that definitely kept me off the front row. I’m happy being in the middle of row two and besides Casey and Lorenzo, I’m in the battle for the podium and that’s where I want to be. I couldn’t be happier with that and if I get a good start and sta y out of trouble then I have the pace to fight for the podium. For the win, those guys are going way too fast now. You never give up but they are on another level right now from everybody. I’ll ride as hard as I can and have some fun in front of the home fans. It’s been great to come home and see lots of support and hopefully I can give them something to cheer tomorrow.”
Colin Edwards says: “I’ve been riding really hard all weekend and giving it my all for the home fans, but I seem to be stuck around seventh and eighth position. I’m not sure what else I can do because I’m putting in my maximum effort and feel good on the bike. The goal is to try and get away with the bunch from Dovizioso down because the top two are way ahead of the rest of us. I need to find some speed in the final section where I lose a bit too much time and now we’ve got to figure out which rear tyre to use in the race. I was convinced yesterday that I’d run the hard option front and rear. But now I’m considering the soft rear. There’s quite a big difference in lap time but I’m wondering how good the soft tyre will be at the end of the race. This is a really important race for me and for Monster so I’ll be giving my all for a strong result tomorrow.”
Loris Capirossi says: “From a complete disaster yesterday, today is much better. Every run I did I went quicker and the feeling got better all the time. We made quite big improvements on the bike and we tried to use very little traction control to make the bike more stable. The engineers worked really well throughout all of today and modified the bike a lot to get the right set-up. I think that after today the bike feels more consistent than it has in the past and this is very important for us. Overall it’s not too bad and I think that tomorrow we can make a good job of things and get a positive result.”
Álvaro Bautista says: “Today I’m much happier than I was yesterday. I was a hard first practice and last night I thought a lot about the track, because it was incredible to ride here for the first time. Today I have a much clearer idea of the track and where my reference points need to be. I went much faster today than yesterday and I felt I was able to push on a used tyre and get a good rhythm. For qualifying we tested the harder compound tyres, but my feeling wasn’t as good as with the softer ones, so I think we will be using the soft option for the race. I was happy with my qualifying lap-time because I have made a big step over the two days and now I want to look at the telemetry to see where the places are on the track that I can still improve. Tomorrow I’ll be happy to take some more steps and improve my time and feeling in the race. I hope that for the race I can go faster and I’m very confident that if I can get a good start I can stay with the middle group and battle for a top-10 finish.”
Mika Kallio (Pramac Racing) had a crash at the top of the corkscrew at the very end of the session, following his fall in the morning practice, and Roger Lee Hayden (LCR Honda) had a run off at the same spot and another at turn nine in a complicated session for the stand-in.
Aleix Espargarò says: “This track is wonderful but you have to know every bit. I improved by almost three tenths of a second my best lap time of yesterday’s free practice, but it was not enough to gain a better position. A pity, because this morning I was again in tenth position. I haven’t had a good lap pace during my last exit from the pits, I did my best lap after just five laps but I didn’t improve my lap time in the remaining six laps before the checkered flag, I had traffic problems or I made some small mistakes that did not allow me to be fast. Tomorrow morning I’ll try to take advantage of the entire warm up to get more feeling with the circuit. I’ll give everything to get a good result.”
Mika Kallio says: “This is not the right way! This morning I missed half of the second free practice because I slipped. Today I clocked my best lap time during the last full lap on the track that I made. I was further improving my time but I was too fast at the corkscrew and I found myself on the inflated air protection on the runway edge. We are more than two seconds away from the pole position and this suggests that the situation for tomorrow’s race does not seem the best. Me and my Team will try to work the best we can during tomorrow warm up to climb position during the race.”
Roger Lee Hayden says: “Today was much better! We went almost 2 seconds faster than yesterday and it was a nice feeling because the Team have been working hard to improve the bike for me. Even though we are the last bike on the grid we are improving every lap and with the changes that we will make for the warm up I am confident we can make a good race. I am quite happy with the way qualifying has went: all I am missing is time on the bike. It is such a good feeling to race at my home GP with all my family and friends supporting me and I want to say a massive Thank You to the Team for this opportunity and for the way they are making the bike work for me”.
Alex de Angelis says: “I had many problems this morning, because the bike was not right in any way, especially with the front I had problems. But in the qualifying we found a solution, mainly the problem with the grip was almost solved. Then I was nearly 1-½ seconds faster straight away and that is great. Of course we have to continue like this and improve more, but I am happy that the direction is the right one. At the end of the session I really started to have fun riding the bike. It is not enough yet and we still have a lot to do, but I am much more satisfied than I was yesterday.”
Daniel M. Epp says: “The practice did not go as I expected today, fortunately it improved a bit during qualifying. There is still a lot of work to do for us with the settings and I hope that we will find a solution to solve the remaining problems before tomorrow’s race.”
MotoGP Laguna: Qualifying Times
1. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Fiat Yamaha Team 1’20.978
2. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro Team 1’21.169
3. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Repsol Honda Team 1’21.617
4. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 1’21.655
5. Ben Spies (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1’21.679
6. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Fiat Yamaha Team 1’21.688
7. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Marlboro Team 1’21.920
8. Colin Edwards (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1’22.217
9. Marco Simoncelli (ITA) San Carlo Honda Gresini 1’22.300
10. Hector Barbera (SPA) Aspar Team 1’22.366
11. Marco Melandri (ITA) San Carlo Honda Gresini 1’22.407
12. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1’22.647
13. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) Pramac Green Team 1’22.712
14. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1’22.770
15. Mika Kallio (FIN) Pramac Green Team 1’23.127
16. Alex de Angelis (ITA) Interwetten Honda MotoGP 1’23.226
17. Roger Lee Hayden (USA) LCR Honda MotoGP 1’23.764