Sachsenring MotoGP: Qualifying Rider Talk

2011 MotoGP

For the sixth time in the 2011 MotoGP Championship, Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner placed his RC212V on the pole.

The Australian dominated the qualifying session in Sachsenring, finishing 0.252 of a second ahead of MotoGP teammate Dani Pedrosa, who won at last year’s Germany round. Taking the final spot on the front was the reigning MotoGP Champion, Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo.

Valentino Rossi had some major issues throughout the free practice sessions after crashing in FP1. He then struggled with front-end setup on the Ducati GP11.1, and took his worse qualifying position of the season, 16th.

Here’s what the riders were saying following qualifying for Sunday’s Sachsenring MotoGP:

Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: "After the crash on Friday my confidence was dented a little and we struggled to get enough data, so we’ve been playing catch up all day today.

"This morning we made a few small steps forward but not really enough, the guys in front of us were just consistently that little bit faster and we were finding it hard to match their pace. We completed a lot of laps on one tyre this morning, in fact over race distance on a tyre I did one of my fastest laps on so this was certainly positive.

"Then this afternoon we kept trying different directions on both bikes and every step we made on each bike, we took big steps forward so we’re pretty happy with the set up we have now. The lap times are very close here so it will be a tough race and hard to take any real advantage.
However, I’m very happy and positive we can still slightly improve tomorrow morning so thanks to all my team for a great job."

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: "It’s great to be on the front row again, to be honest I didn’t expect it. But we’ve done a good job and it’s important to start in front here because the first corner is very tight and it’s better to avoid being immersed in the group at the start.

"For the race, we still need to improve the bike a little, so we will work on that with the mechanics this evening. It would be nice to have a little more traction. I think we will need to pay attention to Yamaha at the end of the race because the riding is smoother and they can save the tires better.

"As for my condition, right now the races are physically hard for me, but it’s also true that with more left hand corners in this circuit I don’t suffer as in Mugello and I can concentrate on my riding. More than pain, I feel weak from lack of training, but we will give our maximum hoping to get a good result."

Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: "I’m confident for tomorrow as we have good pace but it will be a hard race as there are five or six of us very close to each other. Starting from the second row it will be important to have a good start and keep a constant rhythm without stressing the tires too much as they get very hot here.

"In the first laps the right side of the tire is difficult to get temperature into whilst the left side is stressed a lot so managing the tires will be a crucial point for the race. We will work on the set up to fine tune the settings and I’m positive to fight for a good result tomorrow."

Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: "It’s been a strong weekend so far. I’ve never felt great on this track but this weekend I’m riding fast and feeling comfortable. It was a pity at the end of qualifying that the soft tire didn’t improve anything so much.

"In the end I couldn’t make pole position but I think third position on the front row is a good place to start tomorrow for the race; I got it by just 0.010! Casey is very strong but I hope to be ready to fight for the victory with him. I think the fans will see a great race as there are a lot of riders who can fight for the win."

Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: "Today was definitely better. I’m still not 100% but I’m feeling a lot more clear headed on the bike. We were able to make the bike a bit better and I was able to ride better today to get into the top five.

"I made a mistake on my last lap, totally my fault, two corners to go I lost the rear, then saved it but then lost the front as well which cost me a tenth. It might have made us a little closer to the front but we’re still in the middle of the second row so we can put a good race together tomorrow."

Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V MotoGP) says: "I am little bit disappointed today because we managed to solve our problems this morning but then took a step backwards in the afternoon. In any case I am confident because our race pace is up there with the top three and I think I can have a good race. The main problem today was that I lost my confidence with the front so I was struggling under braking and in the corners."

Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V MotoGP) says: "We tried to improve the set-up of the bike but we didn’t make any major progress, especially in the final stages of qualifying. Tomorrow we will try and find some solutions that will give us more pace in the race and allow us to make up some positions. Obviously I am still struggling from the Assen injuries so with this being a long race here at Sachsenring I hope it’s not too painful."

Colin Edwards (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: "Honestly, I have no idea where I pulled that last lap from. I didn’t feel like I had a low 1.22 lap in me at all today but I just tried to push as hard as I could and stay as smooth as I could on that final lap and to get seventh is a great result for me and my guys at Monster Yamaha Tech 3.

"Today hasn’t been easy because I woke up this morning with a really bad sore throat. It feels like I’m chewing gravel but I’ve lost my voice and can hardly talk, so communication with the crew wasn’t that easy. But we’ve got such a great understanding that even though they could barely hear what I was saying, my team gave me a good bike for the end of the session. I’ve never got on with this track and today we’ve made so many changes to the bike that we’re a million miles away from our normal setting.

"I’d say we haven’t done big changes like this to the bike in about a year. I haven’t been able to get the bike turned but we kept plugging away and found something this afternoon that was better. This track is so tight and twisty you need a good turning bike, so I’m confident we can have a strong race."

Cal Crutchlow (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: "I am not too happy with today because we had a big crash at the end of the session. I thought we made a good improvement in the qualifying session and we made it into the 22s with an old race tire and I was happy. I came in to put a new soft tire on and with the extra grip we just pushed the front too much. We don’t really know why at the moment, but we will have a look at the data to see if we can make some improvement for the race.

"It is the same issue that I have been complaining about at the last two or three races, so we have to start considering making some drastic changes. We will keep working and the aim will be to get in the top 10 for tomorrow and I am determined to bring the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team a good result."

Alvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki GSVR MotoGP) says: "I am not happy with the position because I think we should be higher up than that. I started with a hard rear tire in qualifying and right from the beginning I followed some other riders but couldn’t quite get in a rhythm. After a few laps some riders went to the box, but I stayed out on my own and I started to make a good race pace.

"With a tire that had done 20-laps I did a 22.7 so that is a good sign for the race and I feel very positive. When I used my first soft tire I made a mistake and ran off the track and lost some of the grip from the rubber, so couldn’t really get the lap-time I wanted. With my second soft tyre I had a lot of riders in front of me and I just couldn’t make a good, clean lap – so I am not happy about that.

"My rhythm is certainly better than the position and I will need to make a good start tomorrow – like Mugello – because at this track it is very important to have a good first lap as it is difficult to overtake."

Toni Elias (LCR Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: "I feel quite satisfied because this is our best qualification this year so far. Of course we are not totally happy because we have got the potential to improve and to qualify in the top ten but this is a good step forward.

"It seems we have a clear idea about the race tires and probably we could develop this base set up in the future to increase my pace. I am hoping to lap in the 1.22 range and my crew is doing a very good job to fine tune the bike. I always take good starts and will try hard to do the same tomorrow even if the distance between the straight and the first corner is very short. I aim to be in the top ten after the first turn."

Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team GP11.1 MotoGP) says: "I had hoped to be on the second row here, because I’ve been in the top six all weekend until this afternoon, and we know qualifying is so important at this track.

"Yesterday I had better grip when the track was cooler in the morning, and it was the same thing again today. When the track temperature comes up in the afternoon, I begin pushing the front. I’m not really happy with my lap time or my position. This morning I did 1:22.5 on a used soft tire from yesterday, and I only managed a little better in qualifying.

"The team has done a good job because they found me some extra rear grip, which is so important around here, but then we just can’t find that front grip that we really need. There’s no doubt that it will be tough, but we’ll try to do something tomorrow when it counts."

Valentino Rossi (Ducati GP11.1 MotoGP) says: "Today we obviously had some big problems, or rather we haven’t managed to find a good compromise between the improved traction and acceleration that we’ve achieved with this bike, and front-end confidence, which is still missing. I’m not able to load the front and make it work like I can with the GP12 engine in the same chassis, which is why we’ve been so slow and are so far back.

"Naturally, we’re very disappointed, but we really can’t say that we haven’t tested because here we had four sessions with normal weather, and we tried many things. We’re thinking about a solution for the coming races in order to resume the positive improving trend that we were on until Barcelona."

Randy De Puniet (Pramac Racing Ducati GP11 MotoGP) says: "I’m pretty pleased with the work carried out over these two days, and as I said yesterday, it’s been a long time since I last left the garage happy. At the moment, everything is going according to our plans. I’m able to go fast with both the hard and soft tires. We’ll try some things tomorrow morning, specifically with the front. I’m pleased with my ninth place, which a good start going into the race."

Sylvain Guintoli (Pramac Racing GP11 MotoGP) says: "We’re a little far from the other riders, but anyway my feeling with the bike has improved compared to this morning. My tires were ruined when I came back to the garage, and that could present a problem for the race. I did my best, and tomorrow I’ll have to try to have a good race."

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