MotoGP: Indy Qualifying Notes & Quotes

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Red Bull GP

It was an exciting Saturday of MotoGP qualifying for the two Americans at their home track of Indianapolis for the Red Bull Grand Prix.. Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider Ben Spies grabbed the first pole of his MotoGP career. The Texan, who will graduate to the Factory Yamaha team for 2011, posted a 1:40.10.

Spies will be joined on the front row with Fiat Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo, and fellow American Nicky Hayden. The Kentucky Kid also anounced that he renewed his contract with the Ducati Team for the next two years.

Here are some notes and quotes from Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS):

•This is the first career MotoGP pole for American rookie Ben Spies. His previous best was second Aug. 14 at the Grand Prix of the Czech Republic.

•This is the first pole for an American rider since Colin Edwards in May 2008 at the Grand Prix of China at the Shanghai Circuit. Ben Spies’ pole ended a 41-race drought for the top qualifying position by American riders.

•Ben Spies became the first rider on a satellite (non-factory) team to win a pole since Colin Edwards in May 2008 at the Grand Prix of China.

•Ben Spies is the first MotoGP rookie to win a pole position since Jorge Lorenzo won the pole for his debut in the class in March 2008 at the Grand Prix of Qatar at the Losail Circuit.

•Nicky Hayden was the last American to win a MotoGP pole on home soil, taking the top spot at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix in 2005 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif.

•The last time two American riders were on the front row for a MotoGP race was the Grand Prix of Portugal in 2006, when Colin Edwards qualified second and Nicky Hayden third.

•Nicky Hayden qualified on the front row for the first time since he joined the Ducati Team at the start of the 2009 season.

•Jorge Lorenzo has qualified on the front row at all 11 MotoGP races this season.

•Valentino Rossi qualified seventh, his lowest starting spot since the Valencia Grand Prix in 2008, where he qualified 10th.

Indy Qualifying Quotes:

BEN SPIES (No. 11 Monster Yamaha Tech 3, pole, Longview, Texas): “We can’t get ahead of ourselves now, but to be pole, the first pole for me in front of the American crowd and here in Indy, with all the history, it’s great. I’m glad for the Monster Tech 3 team. We made the announcement (about moving to Yamaha factory team in 2011) obviously Friday, so it’s kind of a monkey off my back, and I feel a little bit more comfortable for the rest of the year.”

“But also I’m trying to give as much as I can to them because they’ve helped catapult me in that position. We put it on the line that last bit and got it. To have, like Nicky said, two Americans on the front row here is pretty incredible. I wouldn’t have thought it coming into the weekend, but to be able to do it, now we just get a good start and give it everything we’ve got Sunday and see what we can do. But I’ll enjoy today right now.”

JORGE LORENZO (No. 99 Fiat Yamaha Team, second): “The condition of the track was so hard. So hot, so bumpy. So I tried the maximum to make the pole position, but Ben’s lap was amazing, so I couldn’t make it. And that’s OK. Second position is OK for today.”

NICKY HAYDEN (No. 69 Ducati Team, third, Owensboro, Ky.): “Yeah, it’s my first front row on Ducati, period. I’m happy for it. It’s really important here for the race. The soft tires, we put them on, and it was a big jump. It was like going on qualifiers. Two Americans on the front row is good for MotoGP in America. We hope it brings a big crowd, and we’ll put on a good show and go for it.”

VALENTINO ROSSI (No. 46 Fiat Yamaha Team, seventh): “I am very lucky to not hurt the feet (in qualifying crash), but I am a young rider. We had maximum slide, and it was the worst moment to crash because I was very confident I could improve my lap time. But I lost the front of the bike, and I didn’t have enough time to come back on the bike.”

“Seventh place, I expected worse. I expected to be farther in the rear. It will be difficult from seventh place, but I have a good pace for the race. I’m starting to be more comfortable on the bike and to be able to ride in my normal way. We tried to follow the way of the other bike (Jorge Lorenzo), but it is not the right way for me, so we had to come back to the normal way, to my normal bike. It will be difficult (in the race) to get the victory from seventh, but it isn’t necessary to win, just to finish well.”

COLIN EDWARDS (No. 5 Monster Yamaha Tech 3, ninth, Houston): “I felt like we got the bike pretty good. I didn’t notice a big change from hard tire to soft tire. You know, generally there could be a second difference. But I put the soft tire on and still we were spinning all over the place. I went a little bit faster but not much better than the hard one. I think we’ve got our bike set up, obviously, for the hard tire. But anyways, tonight sucked, but we’ll push tomorrow.”

LORIS CAPIROSSI (No. 65 Rizla Suzuki MotoGP, 10th): “We struggled a lot yesterday (Friday) and this morning. This afternoon we tried to change the setting to get more grip on the front. For sure, we improved but, for sure, we struggled. We try to make it better for the race. We will cross our fingers and do a good race. Our pace for the race would be the high (1:) 41, try to keep that through the race and fight for a top-10 position.”

ALVARO BAUTISTA (No. 19 Rizla Suzuki MotoGP, 11th): “After yesterday (Friday), I learned most of the track and improved my lap time. I tried to push harder in the qualifying at the beginning; I had some problem with the front and did not have much grip. At the end, I had a good reading. Tomorrow I cannot lose grip in the race. The first laps will be important and if I can stay with the riders, I will improve my drive and my standing. This track is very strange for me. It is not like a normal track, very difficult to understand. Just in exiting the corner, I feel no shake, more quiet; so I continue with the new chassis.”

RANDY DE PUNIET (No. 14 LCR Honda MotoGP, 17th): “I’m not happy. It’s difficult for me to be consistent and get good lap times. I’m not happy with the fit on the bike. I’ll have to improve tomorrow because this race will be long, and the track will be difficult for me. It will definitely be a test for me.” (On the track conditions and his outlook for the race): “The track is fine. It is the same as yesterday. There aren’t any real problems with track condition. The race is going to be hot, but it shouldn’t be a problem. For me, the real problem is the fitting of the bike. That’s something that will definitely need to improve for tomorrow. If I can get a good fitting with the bike, then I think I could get a top-10 result.”

HIROSHI AOYAMA (No. 7 Interwetten Honda MotoGP, 13th): “It was a tough day today. We still have things to improve on with the bike. The race and qualifying are always different, so we’ll have to wait and see how well I can perform tomorrow. I’m getting more comfortable on the bike, but it is tough to put together some good lap times.” (On his condition and the race): “That is something that definitely remains to be seen. The race is 28 laps, and today I was only able to do seven or eight laps without stopping.”

“It will be difficult to get through the race without being 100 percent better. The race is going to be long and hot, and the thing that I’ll have to do is make sure that I get a good start and get ahead of some of the other guys. I need to get some more confidence in myself and the bike, and that just takes more laps to get the feeling back.”

CASEY STONER (No. 27 Ducati Team, sixth): “Definitely not where I expected to be. We thought that as things went this morning weren’t too bad and we’d build from that, but as the session went on we started having more and more issues with the front end. We’re sort of going in the wrong direction a little bit, and we’ll just have to correct that tomorrow. I was a little disappointed that was the only one session with how the race is going to be. It’s going to be warm tomorrow. Unfortunately, today was the only session that we had to get a decent setup for the race in this environment. We’ll just have to see what we can come up with tomorrow.”

ANDREA DOVIZIOSO (No. 4 Repsol Honda Team, fourth): “I’m pretty happy about the result because we are really close to Dani, who I think is the fastest rider with a hot tire. We had a good pace. The conditions this afternoon were much worse than this morning because the temperature is so high. The grip here is zero and with this temperature it is worse, so we saw many crashes. That is also a consequence of the bumps. There is a lot of bump and no grip so it is easy to crash.”

“I think we have a good possibility to fight for the podium and maybe for the victory. It will be so important to start very well because there is a few riders that doesn’t have the pace to fight for the victory, and they are real aggressive. So we need to start in front of them because you can lose time, and this will be so important.” (About running a new fork): “We tried (running the new fork) and we compared, but we come back to our … suspension because of the bumps it was working worse.”

DANI PEDROSA (No. 26 Repsol Honda Team, fifth): “This morning I improved quite a lot. The feeling with the bike was quite better from yesterday. In the afternoon I start pretty well, but on the soft tires I don’t know why I wasn’t able to feel it good. I couldn’t improve my lap time so much. I wasn’t happy at the end, but I try tomorrow to do a good start. I’m sure the race is going to be hard because the heat is tough here both physically and for the tires. The tires will suffer quite much. It’s about the rhythm tomorrow, I think.”

MIKA KALLIO (No. 36 Pramac Racing Team, 15th): “Of course, I cannot be real happy at the moment. Like all this weekend, we were more or less in the same position. We could only improve so much during the week, and that was the biggest problem. Like everyone else, they were improving at the same time that we were improving, and we couldn’t make any big step and now we are there. We need to see what we can do tomorrow in the warm-up. Maybe we’ll try something different, and we’ll see if we can find something.”

ALEIX ESPARGARO (No. 41 Pramac Racing Team, 14th): “I crashed, and I could not start the bike again. I take the second bike with more front tires and I push as much as I can, but I cannot do nothing. The track was a little better than this morning. I think it was more slippery than yesterday, and this morning, but it goes the same for everybody that it was more slippery.”

MARCO MELANDRI (No. 33 San Carlo Honda Gresini, 12th): “It’s been a very bad day for me. I have no feeling with the bike, and we miss a lot of grip and the traction control doesn’t work like I want, so it’s going to be very tough. I’m not happy.”