Portugal MotoGP: Qualifying Called Off

Estoril MotoGP

Rain was expected at Saturday’s qualifying session for the Portuguese Grand Prix, the penultimate round of the 2010 MotoGP Championship, but nobody expected a complete washout. Due to the torrential downpours and strong winds sweeping over Estoril from the Atlantic, MotoGP qualifying was canceled.

Sunday’s grid will now be based on the combined times from the three practices, which places the 2010 MotoGP Jorge Lorenzo on the pole for the bwin Grande Premio de Portugal. The Fiat Yamaha rider will be joined up front by Ducati Team rider Nicky Hayden and the nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi.

Jorge Lorenzo says: “It was a pity about this today because we needed a bit more time in the very wet conditions to try to improve our setting more, but there was no way we could have ridden this afternoon. This morning I felt quite good but at the end I was pushing too hard, I thought the other riders were closer to my time and I just went a step too far and crashed.”

“I was lucky, my airbag inflated and I didn’t hurt myself. Now we have to wait and see how the weather is and we especially hope that warm-up is the same conditions as the race, it will be very, very difficult if not. Today I became the Spanish rider with the most poles of all time, joint with Aspar, and this is a great honour for me, I feel very proud.”

Valentino Rossi says: “It’s a real disappointment about today because we had some things we wanted to try, but in the end the rain was just too much and it was too dangerous. It really was impossible to ride this afternoon! In the wet I have a good setting, even if we could have improved a bit this afternoon, but I am happy about the balance of my bike.”

“Now we just have to wait for the conditions tomorrow. We are prepared for the wet; if it’s dry it could be interesting! If it’s dry from the morning and it’s possible to have the warm-up in the dry then it will be okay to have a dry race, but if warm-up is wet and then the race is dry….honestly it’s better not like this! We will just have to wait and see and at least we’re on the front row.”

Nicky Hayden says: “This morning wasn’t so wet but my feeling wasn’t great and I had a crash quite early in the session so we have a few things we need to work on. I know it’s not great for the fans here and the people watching at home but with that amount of water on track it wasn’t worth the risk this afternoon.”

“Of course we accept risks every day in our sport but in these conditions it’s just too much. It was a shame it washed out but for me a front row’s a front row and now we have to try and take advantage of it. The weather looks like it could be good tomorrow, in which case it could be a pretty wild race. We’ll just crack them curtains open, see what we got and try to make a good race.”

This is Lorenzo’s seventh pole of the season. The Yamaha M1 rider also started from the pole at Estoril for the past two years; he won both of those races.

The second row consists of Ducati Team rider Casey Stoner, Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Ben Spies and San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Melandri. As for the returning Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrsoa, he will be starting from 12th.

The man substituting for Mika Kallio during the final MotoGP rounds, Carlos Checa, will start from last on the 17-rider grid. Checa will pilot the Pramac Racing Ducati on Sunday, which will be his first MotoGP start since Valencia in 2007. Checa is currently signed with Althea Racing Ducati in the World Superbike Championship.

MotoGP returned to a three-practice format for Estoril and the final round in Valencia. This format was tested at the debut Motorland Aragon race this year, and received positive results from the MotoGP grid.

Riders were on Estoril for the final free practice session (FP3) on Saturday morning, and it was Lorenzo who was fastest on the rain-soaked track. But his time was still over three-tenths of a second slower than his fastest lap on Friday.

Lorenzo, who was the only rider to post under the 1:49 mark on Saturday, also crashed at Turn 13 at the end of the session, as did Stoner in a similar manner. Rossi was second fastest, with Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso being third fastest at FP3.

Although Stoner crashed, he posted the fourth-fastest time. Rounding out the top five for the quickest riders at Saturday’s practice was Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider Colin Edwards. But since weather conditions were so harsh, the leading times from all three practices combined remained the same as the FP2 order, which is now the qualifying results.

MotoGP officials originally re-scheduled Saturday qualifying, but later decided that the rains were too strong. The last time a similar incident occurred was at Motegi in 2009; at that rained-out race, Rossi started from the pole.

2010 Estoril MotoGP: Qualifying Results

1. Jorge Lorenzo, Fiat Yamaha

2. Nicky Hayden, Ducati Team

3. Valentino Rossi, Fiat Yamaha

4. Casey Stoner, Ducati Team

5. Ben Spies, Monster Tech 3 Yamaha

6. Marco Melandri, San Carlo Honda Gresini

7. Andrea Dovizioso, Repsol Honda

8. Randy de Puniet, LCR Honda

9. Colin Edwards, Monster Tech 3 Yamaha

10. Marco Simoncelli, San Carlo Honda Gresini

11. Aleix Espargaro, Pramac Racing Ducati

12. Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda

13. Loris Capirossi, Rizla Suzuki

14. Alvaro Bautista, Rizla Suzuki

15. Hector Barbera, Paginas Amarillas Ducati

16. Hiroshi Aoyama, Interwetten Honda

17. Carlos Checa, Pramac Racing Ducati