During Saturday’s morning practice session for Valencia MotoGP, nobody could catch Casey Stoner. And the Australian carried this momentum through qualifying, Stoner placing his Ducati Team GP10 on the pole.
Joining him on the front row at the Spanish circuit are this year’s MotoGP Champ Jorge Lorenzo and the rookie Marco Simoncelli aboard the San Carlo Gresini Honda.
Casey Stoner says: “This morning we were struggling a little bit with the front because you have to spend a lot of time at this circuit with the bike leaned over so this afternoon we tried a lot of different things without really finding the right feeling. When I went out on a soft tire I didn’t think I’d be able to beat Jorge (Lorenzo) or Marco (Simoncelli) but it gave me the confidence I needed to go much faster and I set a lap time I was very happy with.”
“I actually made a couple of mistakes on my last two laps otherwise I think I could have improved it but the important thing is that I was able to give Ducati another pole position before I sign off. There are a couple of sections where we need to improve for tomorrow but other sections that remind me of Phillip Island in the way I can attack them so overall I am comfortable and confident. It will be an emotional day I’m sure tomorrow but for now my job is to focus on the race and achieving the best result possible.”
Stoner was the only rider to post under the 1:32 mark during all three-practice sessions and qualifying for the final round of the 2010 MotoGP Championship at Valencia. His blistering time of 1:31.799 was 0.331 of a second faster than Fiat Yamaha M1 rider Lorenzo.
Lorenzo, who donned a crystal-encrusted helmet for his home race, led most of the 45-minute qualifying session, but Stoner began dominating during the final six minutes.
Jorge Lorenzo says: “I’m really excited and proud to be on the front row in front of the Spanish crowd, at this home race. Especially racing here; the last race is always special and everyone wants to do well. I tried my best to make the pole position today but Casey was really very quick today, I couldn’t beat him. Let’s see if we can keep in contact with him tomorrow in the race, if we can stay with him we can challenge.”
“We will try the maximum as always. X-Lite has honored me with this special helmet and I am so proud of it, it looks like diamonds in the sunshine! Thanks to everyone and I hope to make a good race in it tomorrow.”
Simoncelli has progressively gone faster during his rookie season, and his 1:32.144 lap time earned him his first front-row start in the premier class. The Italian will be seeking to better his best results of the season, which was fourth at Estoril last weekend. Simoncelli was just over a tenth of a second slower than Lorenzo at Valencia qualifying.
Marco Simoncelli says: “It ‘s been a beautiful day but to be honest the whole weekend was beautiful, from the first qualifying session for this afternoon with qualifying for the race tomorrow. I managed to be always fast and consistent so I am very happy to be successful in this endeavor to position themselves in the front row on the grid.”
“With the bike now is a confidence and this is extraordinary for several races. At this point I hope to go to the ‘fence’ of the best tomorrow, because it would be a really good season finale for me, for my team and Honda.”
Leading the pack on the second row is nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi. The Italian was over a half of second slower than Stoner, and is seeking a victory during his last race on the Yamaha M1 before moving to Ducati next year.
Valentino Rossi says: “It was a difficult day but luckily we were able to improve the setting right at the end of the session, giving me a bit more grip and allowing me to push for a fast time at the end. We’re fourth and considering how the practices have been this really isn’t too bad.”
“We will have to see tomorrow, it’s going to be very hard and we’re still in a bit of trouble, while the others are very fast, but if we can improve a bit more then we can try to challenge. It’s not particularly difficult to overtake at this race so the second row isn’t a big problem if we have a good pace. Stoner is very fast here, it looked like he was in a different sport today, but it’s my last race for Yamaha and I will do everything I can to be on the podium.”
Joining Rossi on the second row are two Americans, Ducati Team rider Nicky Hayden and Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider Ben Spies. Hayden’s fifth-place position is his fourth-consecutive start within the two front rows.
Nicky Hayden says: “The middle of the second row isn’t a disaster. The track seemed to really come in this afternoon and immediately on hard tires we were a lot faster than we’ve been all weekend. Tomorrow ain’t going to be cake, I know that, but I want to finish the year with a strong result and I’m looking forward to it.”
Completing the top ten were Spies teammate Colin Edwards, Repsol Honda riders Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso, and the other San Carlo Gresini Honda rider, Marco Melandri.
Sunday’s season-ending Gran Premio Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana begins at 2 p.m. local time. SPEED will broadcast the race at 8 a.m. (EST) Sunday morning, and then again at 6 p.m.
2010 Valencia MotoGP Qualifying Results:
|1.||27||Casey STONER||AUS||Ducati Team||Ducati||310.3||1’31.799|
|2.||99||Jorge LORENZO||SPA||Fiat Yamaha Team||Yamaha||305.5||1’32.130||0.331 / 0.331|
|3.||58||Marco SIMONCELLI||ITA||San Carlo Honda Gresini||Honda||303.7||1’32.244||0.445 / 0.114|
|4.||46||Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Fiat Yamaha Team||Yamaha||305.4||1’32.330||0.531 / 0.086|
|5.||69||Nicky HAYDEN||USA||Ducati Team||Ducati||305.7||1’32.422||0.623 / 0.092|
|6.||11||Ben SPIES||USA||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||305.1||1’32.566||0.767 / 0.144|
|7.||5||Colin EDWARDS||USA||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||305.3||1’32.579||0.780 / 0.013|
|8.||26||Dani PEDROSA||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||312.4||1’32.603||0.804 / 0.024|
|9.||4||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||ITA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||311.3||1’32.886||1.087 / 0.283|
|10.||33||Marco MELANDRI||ITA||San Carlo Honda Gresini||Honda||308.7||1’32.917||1.118 / 0.031|
|11.||14||Randy DE PUNIET||FRA||LCR Honda MotoGP||Honda||307.1||1’32.925||1.126 / 0.008|
|12.||41||Aleix ESPARGARO||SPA||Pramac Racing Team||Ducati||303.1||1’33.085||1.286 / 0.160|
|13.||40||Hector BARBERA||SPA||Paginas Amarillas Aspar||Ducati||311.0||1’33.170||1.371 / 0.085|
|14.||65||Loris CAPIROSSI||ITA||Rizla Suzuki MotoGP||Suzuki||306.5||1’33.339||1.540 / 0.169|
|15.||7||Hiroshi AOYAMA||JPN||Interwetten Honda MotoGP||Honda||308.3||1’33.343||1.544 / 0.004|
|16.||71||Carlos CHECA||SPA||Pramac Racing Team||Ducati||305.3||1’33.499||1.700 / 0.156|
|17.||19||Alvaro BAUTISTA||SPA||Rizla Suzuki MotoGP||Suzuki||305.9||1’33.515||1.716 / 0.016|