For the fifth time in the 2011 MotoGP Championship, Casey Stoner placed his Repsol Honda RC212V on the pole.
Stoner not only beat out the remaining 15-rider grid (short Loris Capirossi), he also set a new lap record at Mugello with his 1:48.034.
Joining Stoner on the front row will be last week’s Assen MotoGP winner, Yamaha Factory Racing’s Ben Spies, and San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Simoncelli.
As for Valentino Rossi, the Ducati Team rider struggled once again with the GP.11.1, and will start Sunday’s Mugello MotoGP from 12th on the grid.
Here’s what the riders were saying following Mugello Qualifying:
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: "After the two sessions yesterday and also in FP3 this morning, we weren’t too happy with the set up we had, so we were looking to utilize all of this afternoon’s session. However, we made some changes to my second bike, which I made my fastest lap on and we’ve come out with a fantastic bike.
"I’m really happy to get pole here especially on a used tyre, the start of qualifying didn’t look too good, there was some rain and it was difficult to know how much to push so we went with soft tires on front and rear to try and get a good lap time before the rain arrived.
"Once I was on track I realized the rain hadn’t affected conditions so much, so I came back in and made a change on the second bike and went back out with a hard front which gave us a little more stability and we managed to go a lot faster. The way the surface is working and everything in general is perfect, even with difficult conditions, we made the right choices at the right time."
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: "I was pretty lucky because the session was only 30 minutes old when the rain arrived and this is good for my injury. I made a few nice laps at the beginning of the session and I’m impressed with my lap time, eighth place on the grid is very good given my physical condition. I know that in the race it will be hard but I will try my best.
"I’ll try the maximum during the 23 laps, 100% in my situation and we will see how much I can achieve. This morning I felt better because I had a good rest last night, but for sure lap by lap the shoulder is getting more and more sore and this afternoon it’s been harder. I want to save energy during the warm up tomorrow morning to try to give the rest in the race."
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: "I’m fairly satisfied with fourth position after the rain created strange track conditions, and I’m happy with our overall pace. Starting from the second row is fine on this track as there is a long straight before turn one.
"We made some modifications to improve my feeling with the front of the bike and as far as I could tell, they were positive. I wanted to do some laps with hard tires in preparation for the race as on this track the tire drops quite quickly, but it was not possible.
"The race will be long and physically demanding and it won’t be easy to maintain the rhythm for all twenty three laps, but we are ready for this challenge and look forward to fighting for a good result. I’m confident tomorrow the Italian riders will put on a good show for the public here in Mugello!"
Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: "Everybody only got about ten laps in this afternoon, we only used on set of tires so we have plenty for tomorrow. We’re pretty confident we know which rubber we want to use after the qualifying session.
"I wish we could have had the whole hour in the dry but there you go, it was the same for everyone. We think we can make the bike a bit better for the race so we’ll work on it and I’m looking forward to challenging for the podium."
Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: "I’ve been riding pretty good this morning. The bike has been working well but at the end in qualifying I couldn’t improve. It is very complicated riding in wet conditions and the pole has been for the rider who took more risks.
"It’s a shame because I hoped for more! My aim is to try to be in front. For this it’s important to get a good start. All my team is focused to do another good race; they are working so hard for our home Grand Prix. After Silverstone and Assen we wish to come back to the podium!"
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro Team GP11.1 MotoGP) says: "This morning we made a couple little improvements with the bike and were feeling quite good. We didn’t put in a new soft tyre at the end, so the gap looked worse than it was.
"I felt confident, but this afternoon the conditions were crazy. It was spotting rain in the beginning, but everybody put their heads down and went out full-gas. Then the conditions got worse and it was a shame for the fans that we were all sitting in the garage when we’d normally be doing a time attack.
"It rained yesterday and today around race time, so I went out for a little at the end and had a look at the new surface in the wet, just in case. The tire choice is going to be interesting because we really haven’t had any afternoon track time in the dry. I can’t be happy starting ninth at Ducati’s home race, but we’ll try to make our fans proud."
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro Team GP11.1 MotoGP) says: "We had many things to try and the rain this afternoon ruined our plans, but that’s no excuse for the gap, as the conditions were the same for everyone.
"It’s true that we lost yesterday’s morning session, and that we’re still working on development. We expected to go better at Mugello, and instead we struggled here as well. I don’t feel good with the front, so I lose a lot on corner entry, and I can’t ride the bike well. As for the rear, we’ve made progress, and the GP11.1 has solved some issues.
"Acceleration is better, but we still have to work with the front. Obviously, we’ll try our best in the race, although it will be hard, but in any case we’ll gather experience that will be useful in the future."
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V MotoGP) says: "I am on the front row and I am happy with that. Maybe I could have made a challenge for pole position but it had started to rain and I preferred to back off.
"I was actually improving my lap time about halfway through the session when I saw a few drops on my visor and with a lap time already in the bank I decided not to risk it. It was a tough session because you had to trust the grip even though there was water on your visor. Everything is pretty much sorted with the bike, my pace is good and tomorrow I will try to do the best I can.
"I hope we have a dry race and not conditions like today. I want to stay calm because everything is in place for us to do well so I just need to pay attention at critical points. They say it’s hard to sleep here at Mugello but I like the atmosphere and to be honest it actually helps me sleep, even though I would really like to be out there with the fans."
Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V MotoGP) says: "It was a tricky session because of the conditions and unfortunately I wasn’t able to find the right feeling with the bike, so hopefully we can do that in the morning and gain the confidence to push in the dry conditions. My physical condition is also a bit of a problem because I am still not fully recovered from the crash at Assen."
Alvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki GSVR MotoGP) says: "Terrible is the only word I can use to explain what this afternoon was! This morning I had a good session and felt like the bike was working well. We tried a different setting to give me less movement in the corners and we made a good step forward with this.
"This afternoon though the conditions were horrible because it rained a bit before the start of the session and then it stopped, so I started with a used tire just to check the track, but maybe I spent too long out there with that. When we put in the new tires to get a good lap it started raining, so it was difficult to set a fast time.
"We are near the back of the grid and I will try my best to make a good start tomorrow. I have a nice rhythm from this morning and I have to forget about this afternoon, even though it was important to get a good grid position – that has gone now – and I must try my best in the race and see what happens!"
Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: "That’s my best qualifying result of the season and I’m really happy with that. The start of the session was really tricky because we all went out on slicks but there were parts of the track that were still damp. Your brain is telling you it is raining but you go out and push on slick tires and that can be a bit unnerving. I gradually built up my pace and the track dried really quickly.
"I was on the soft front and soft rear tire but the front was pushing a bit too much. I came in and changed to the hard front, kept the soft tire on and I felt much better and did my fastest time with that combination. I went out on the rain tires right at the end just to check the bike balance with the wet setting.
"It also gave me a chance to check the grip in the wet and it felt awesome, just like in the dry. Once again I want to thank the people at the Mugello track because the new surface is just unbelievable. A lot of the big bumps that seem to upset my rhythm have gone and it feels much easier for me to lap at the pace I know I’m capable of here.
"I want to say hats off to my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew too because we changed the rear set-up of the bike for the dry and it gave me more confidence. I don’t think it gives me a major advantage but I’m just more feeling of what the bike is doing, so I’m looking forward to a strong race tomorrow."
Cal Crutchlow (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: "We made a big step with the feeling from the front-end this morning and I was a second faster this afternoon. The changes we made gave me more feeling but I still feel very much on the limit with corner entry and mid-corner.
"I’m scratching my head a little bit searching for a solution but we need to analyse the data tonight and come up with a plan to improve for the race. Colin just took that second row from me before the rain came but it is great for the Team that both of us are up there and I’m in front of some riders who’ve got a lot of experience at Mugello, so that is satisfying.
"I’m frustrated again though because I’ve lost more valuable track time. This job of learning the track and trying to be competitive is tough enough as it is, but with the sessions being disrupted makes it very difficult. I only went out in the rain to do a practice start and it felt fine. I also checked the grip in t he rain and in places it felt really good and in other parts it felt a little sketchy, so I’m confident I can get a good result in the wet or dry."
Toni Elias (LCR Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: "I am not satisfied and this weather makes me nervous. I know it’s the same situation for everybody but I had some things to adjust on the bike and could not test anything.
"In the first part of the qualifying when the asphalt was still dry I rode the standard bike I lapped this morning. Then I came in to make a couple of changes on the other bike but suddenly it started to rain and I could not complete my set up plan. I hope we can fix the bike in tomorrow’s warm up."
Randy de Puniet (Pramac Racing Ducati GP11 MotoGP) says: "This morning I was satisfied, the feeling with the bike was better than previous releases. I was pretty good considering the qualifications.
"But this afternoon we encountered several problems with the front brake. I was forced to stop, I have not had time to put on my helmet that it started to rain. And the qualifications, more than 20 minutes from the end, had already been compromised. I haven’t had a chance to make a turn as it should, I hoped to be some position of."