For the past five rounds, Jorge Lorenzo has dominated qualifying, taking every pole position. But this changed at Czech Republic in Brno Saturday for Round 10 of the MotoGP Championship, as Dani Pedrosa took his third pole of the season.
The Repsol Honda rider was a mere 0.338 of a second faster than Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider Ben Spies. Both riders will be joined on the first row by Lorenzo, the Fiat Yamaha rider 0.357 of a second slower than his fellow countryman Pedrosa.
Taking fourth was Ducati Team rider Casey Stoner, joined on the second row by nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi and Spies’ teammate Colin Edwards.
Out of the top-six qualifiers, Rossi and Lorenzo crashed moments apart. Both are reportedly unharmed.
After some surprising qualifying results at Brno, the riders had much to say:
Dani Pedrosa says: “It was a great qualifying session and to be back on pole position is fantastic after such a long time – the last time was in Italy at the beginning of June. We’ve done a very good job so far this weekend and we have established a good pace for the race, but we still need to keep a clear mind, stay focused, and try to be ready for any conditions because the weather forecast for tomorrow is very uncertain.”
“Anyway, the team did a very good job today and I hope if it’s dry we can have a strong race and go for the victory. I won’t really be approaching the race tomorrow with a particular strategy. In this championship you have to find your own limit because there are a lot of riders going fast and you can only concentrate on your own performance and do the best you can. So I really hope to do a great job tomorrow and at least to be back on the podium.”
Andrea Dovizioso says: “We had a good pace today, and compared to last year here we have found more speed, whereas for some of our rivals this is not the case. This proves that our machine package has improved a lot from last year. Our lap time today was quite good this afternoon but we still have to work to improve our pace because Dani is quite a lot quicker and in the race he is usually very strong. In particular we need to work on the rear end because the machine is pumping and moving a bit too much.”
“I think we are all at the limit with the front end as the accidents of Valentino, Jorge and Nicky show. I tried the hard option Bridgestone tyres today which we didn’t have the chance to test yesterday. It was important to do this in order to be ready for all weather possibilities tomorrow, but I think we have to use the soft option tyres for the race.”
Jorge Lorenzo says: “This wasn’t the best practice session of the year for us. We made some modifications that didn’t work and it was especially a problem in the front, which was closing on me a lot. I wasn’t fast and I was having to take too many risks. Then I made a mistake and the bike went flying! I really hope the engine is okay for tomorrow, luckily I am not hurt and I was able to get up straight away.”
“We are still on the front row and we can’t always be on top! I think tomorrow will be a tough race but we will see how we can improve our setting and see what happens.”
Valentino Rossi says: “I’m okay and I haven’t made any of my injuries worse, so this is the most important thing. I was pushing hard and trying to make my best flying lap and I just lost the front, so maybe we’re still missing a bit of grip. I was really angry when I crashed because I think it was possible to get second or even the pole position!”
“Apart from the mistake though I’m very happy because I feel confident on the bike and I enjoyed riding today; I think for tomorrow I can be competitive. Warm-up is going to be important because we need to try to slightly improve my feeling with the front. We also need to wait to see what the weather does!”
Ben Spies says: “My goal was to be on the second row and I didn’t think the front row was possible, let alone a pole position, so I’m really happy. From the start of the weekend every change we have made to the bike has been better and that doesn’t usually happen. I had a decent pace so I was confident I could have a good qualifying. When we put the second soft tire in I got into first position and I thought people would go faster. I did a really good time at the end but when I saw I was still up there I thought, ‘I could do this.’ Dani did a good job and I didn’t have those last three tenths anyway and the time I set was a good time for me. It would have been nice to have a pole position but at this point just being on the middle of the front row is a great result for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team and myself.”
“I’ll try and get a good start and if I can latch onto those guys for the first six or seven laps I can put together a good race. I’ve struggled in the first few laps in some races but here I’ve been able to get into a fast rhythm pretty quick, so I’m looking forward to it. This is just qualifying but it gives you confidence for the race. I’ve had a podium in my first full season and a front row is another box ticked and that’s very satisfying for me.”
Colin Edwards says: “That’s my best qualifying for a few races and it was looking really good for a while when I got myself into the top three after I used the first soft tire. Unfortunately I just couldn’t quite get the best out of the last two soft tires I had at the end of the session. You have to push so hard to get a good time that you wear the front tire a lot. It is only a small drop because the Bridgestone front is awesome, but it was enough to make the bike not feel as balanced and I struggled to get the bike turned.”
“I just didn’t have the confidence to push as hard as I wanted with a new rear tire and used front. But I know when the grip is the same on the front and the rear that we’ve got a really competitive package. I’m really happy with the bike and the new front-end geometry setting is helping me a lot. I can just ride with more confidence and comfort and the bike turns much better with more weight on the front. We’ve finally got the chassis working pretty good and I’m riding good, so I’ll hopefully get my first top six at this track. It has been a bogey track for me in the past but I’m confident I can get my best result here. Congratulations to Ben too for his first front row. He’s been riding awesome and it is great for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team.”
Loris Capirossi says: “We have worked hard today and although we went back a bit this morning it has been a good day. We did quite a lot of work on the engine management side of things and the team did a good job there. We tried two different settings this morning, but ran with just one this afternoon and it worked quite well. The time is not the best because I feel we could go quicker and I know I can go quicker, so I am optimistic for tomorrow and I am sure we can be competitive if the weather is good.”
Álvaro Bautista says: “Fortunately there is nothing broken, so this is the most important thing and tomorrow I will try and do the race. The crash was because as I entered turn three I lost rear grip and I couldn’t do anything about it. I did a big jump in the air and I could do nothing to save it. Tomorrow morning I hope I feel much better and I will try to race because I need to do as many kilometres as I can.”
Randy De Puniet says: “Well… it is awesome to qualify 11th just after 25 days after my operation. I am only 1 tenth to the third row and this is incredible considering my physical condition. Yesterday I focused on easing my body back into the demands of riding my machine and today we experienced three mid-long run (8 to 10 laps) with good results. I know that the race will be tough but if I can keep this pace I could ride for a top ten finish. Many riders crashed this morning and it also happened to me but luckily I escaped unhurt from the incident. I am delighted because my leg is improving day by day even if I will need a painkiller injection to finish tomorrow’s 22 laps.”
Casey Stoner says: This morning went a lot better than yesterday, we found quite a good solution and I was happy with the lap times considering the track was still a little damp after the storms last night. We hoped we could make progress in qualifying this afternoon but at the beginning every setting we tried seemed to go in the wrong direction. When we got the front working better we encountered a problem with the rear and vice-versa and we spent a lot of time coming in and out of the garage.”
“It wasn’t until the last half hour that we found something better and on my second-last exit I tried to push harder but ran off the track a little bit and destroyed the lap time. I decided to come in and have another go on a fresh tyre and if it wasn’t for another rider in my way going into the last two corners I could have been on the front row. I’m disappointed in that respect but relatively happy with our pace in general. A few people are having problems with the front so it will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow, hopefully we can hang at the front.”
Nicky Hayden says: “We started out well and on my first exit on a hard tire I was able to improve my lap time quite a lot. We got into the 1’57s quite quickly and I thought we were in good shape to have a shot at a good grid position. Unfortunately my first flying lap on the softer tyre ended in turn three – I just lost the front quite early on entry, I don’t know why. I know people always see ‘I did nothing different!’ but honestly, even looking at the data, the brake pressure and speed was the same as my previous runs. We need to have a look at that and understand it tonight.”
“Luckily it wasn’t too heavy and everything on my body is fine other than my left hand. It must have got caught under the bike because it’s very sore and even though we tried to go back out I couldn’t change direction. We’ve had it checked out by x-ray which showed we chunk off the tip of the radius, which isn’t good, but my scaphoid is okay and that’s the main thing because I have a screw in there and it’s not damaged. Just walking around the paddock it’s not too painful but we’ll have to wait and see how it goes over 22 laps on the bike tomorrow.”
Mika Kallio says: “For just a few tenths of a second I was not able to enter in the top ten, I missed the ninth position for only two tenths, which it had happened often in recent times. At the beginning of the qualification I had some problems with the rear wheel and I could not get a good time. Once I put soft tires I lowered my lap times and I had reduced the gap from the others riders. I had my best lap time at the end of qualifying session by taking a ride to the limit. Tomorrow morning we will turn again with this type of setting to try to further improve my lap time. I aspire to obtain a position in the top ten in tomorrow’s race. ”
Aleix Espargarò says: “Unfortunately I had a little bit of problems in the curve entrance, I had to brake much more than the other riders to follow the best lines. My gap from the others riders is mainly due to this problem. I was not able to improve my lap time in the last two exit from the box with soft tires, in fact, I registered my fastest lap time at the twelfth lap on twenty-one. Tomorrow morning during warm up we will make various technical modifications with the hope that I can be more competitive in the race.”
Marco Simoncelli says: “I am really annoyed! Once again we´ve started the session with a crash, this time after just three laps. Maybe the rear tyre was still a little too cold and I was unable to control it so I have to hold my hands up and say it was my mistake. Obviously this compromised the rest of the session so all we can do now is reflect on what happened and try to find the right solution to improve our setting in the warm-up tomorrow.”
Marco Melandri says: ” It was a really tough session for us. We changed a lot of things again because we are clearly struggling with the electronics. We haven´t managed to find a good balance under braking with the engine brake system so I am very slow in corner entry. We still have faith that Honda can help us finally find the right electronic setting for the RC212V.”