Although the reigning MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo suffered a huge crash in Free Practice 3, the Spaniard dominated qualifying, taking the pole position.
This was the second pole for Lorenzo in 2011, the first arriving at round 3 in Estoril. Although the fear of crashing was looming, Lorenzo posted under the 1:22 mark on his first lap, and remained on top for the entire, hour-long qualifying session.
Joining Lorenzo on the front row will be the Repsol Honda duo of Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa, respectively.
Valentino Rossi again struggled, qualifying seventh on the Ducati GP11.1. As for Wildcard entry Ben Bostrom, the American qualified last aboard the LCR Honda RC212V.
Following is what the riders were saying after Laguna Seca MotoGP qualifying:
Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing M1 MotoGP) says: "This pole position was unexpected for us after this morning, but thankfully I feel more pain walking than I do riding the bike. Of course I’m not in perfect condition on the bike and for sure I have to put more pressure on my arms and will get more tired. I think I was very lucky this morning that I had no big injuries. I think this pole position is for us an impressive result."
Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing M1 MotoGP) says: "It wasn’t a bad qualifying session, we tried a couple of things and the race set up is not so bad. We got in qualifying mode and got some pretty good laps in. I made a mistake and locked the front up on the brakes going in to turn three trying super hard to get on the front row.
"The Yamaha boss said to me last night that he wanted me on the front row so I was doing everything I could. Joking aside I was trying everything and just made a small mistake. I banged my hand up quite a bit but it will be fine and ready for the race tomorrow. I think we’ll find a couple of things with the bike in the morning and hopefully it’ll be a good day."
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: "We couldn’t improve as much as I’d like to in the final part of the practice, we tried some different settings and unfortunately we didn’t find a good one, but to start from the front row is always important and here we are again.
"I felt more comfortable with the hard tires, which it’s positive because they will be the ones used for the race, but we still need to make another step forward tomorrow and hopefully find a little more grip in the rear. Lorenzo seems very stable and fast, so I hope to find something else with my mechanics tonight and to be able to fight for a great result tomorrow.
The race will be very fast, there are many laps here, so it will be important to be focus on every lap and stay strong until the end. I know the race distance will be hard for me physically, you have to work a lot in this track, there are a lot of bumps and you need to be very focused not to make any mistakes. But I will try my best and I hope to stay strong and consistent until the end."
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: "My target was to start from the first two rows, so finishing sixth is not too bad, but I hoped to start at least from the 4th position because it’s external and gives more advantages from the start. Anyway, we are quite close and we need to work more to gain another two tenths in race pace.
"This afternoon we improved a lot thanks to some changes we made in the set up, moving the weight more to the back. This setting helps us to brake stronger and this suits more my riding style. We will continue working in the warm up tomorrow because the pace of Lorenzo and Dani [Pedrosa] is really high.
"I hope to make a good start and maintain contact with the front group. I will do my best to have a good race and fight for the podium."
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: "For the whole session we were trying to find the right set up. All weekend we’ve been struggling a little and we’ve not found anything I’m comfortable with, I’ve closed the front many times and we’re still looking to find some balance on the bike to get it working on this track, where we expected it to work well.
"On my first soft tyre I encountered some traffic and was held up, also there was a crash and a yellow flag so I lost my chance on that tyre. Then on the next soft tyre we had one lap to find some pace and we managed front row which is important for tomorrow.
"I don’t feel we’re running with the pace of Dani [Pedrosa] and Jorge [Lorenzo], they seem to be constantly one to two tenths quicker but we have warm up tomorrow morning to find something in time for the race so we’ll see what we can do."
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team GP11.1 MotoGP) says: "This morning we made a change to the balance that helped me to find more grip with the soft tire, as well as a feeling that was generally better. In the afternoon though, with the warmer temperature and the hard tyre, I didn’t have the same performance and feeling.
"During the session we were able to change the settings again and make a small step, and when we put on the soft, we did a time that was good enough for the third row. Seventh place actually equals my best qualifying spot of the season.
"That was our goal, to be able to start further forward than we have lately, but for the race we must improve our pace again with the hard tyres because it’s a little too difficult now and the rear is sliding a lot. We’re focused and we’re working very hard so we’ll see tomorrow if we can take another step forward."
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team GP11 MotoGP) says: "We went back to the standard bike today. I was a little faster on the new one yesterday, but even though it has more potential and I like the gearbox, I don’t yet have a great feel for where its limit is. For now, we prefer to go with what we know.
"This morning I was pretty strong and this afternoon I was consistently in the low-’22 range. I did two longer runs and came in to put in a new soft tyre and was ready to go for it. I felt good and was looking forward to going into qualifying mode. I wasn’t pushing really hard on the out-lap, but you have to push this bike to load the front, and in Rainey Curve I skipped across the bumps and went down.
"It’s a shame, because we had a chance to do our best qualifying of the year. I went out on the other bike, but the front tire was 30 laps old. The team have worked like dogs switching back and forth between bikes. Now they’ll have another long night, but I’ll try to make up for it tomorrow."
Cal Crutchlow (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha M1 MotoGP) says: "I’m pretty happy to be in the top ten and I managed to pull something out of the bag when I needed it right at the end of the session. My race pace is only a couple of tenths off running in the top eight, so I need to get a good start. I’m still not sure what tire to run.
"Lorenzo can run the hard tire because he is so smooth, but we’re torn at the moment which one to choose. I think I’ll probably go for the hard tyre but we’ll check the setting and make sure we can be consistent. It is a long race here so the soft might not be the best option over race distance. The track today seemed to be in much better condition. Yesterday I was doing 24s but now I’m doing low 22s but that’s also because I’m gaining more experience of the track.
"I still need to change my style a little but on a track you don’t know it is difficult to do that. Hopefully when we get to Brno that I know, I’ll feel more comfortable to be able to work on my technique because some things I do on the bike don’t help in the hot conditions. The goal tomorrow will be to finish in the top ten and get out of here with some experience and some solid points under my belt. It would also be good to have a battle with some guys as well because that helps you learn and pick up experience."
Colin Edwards (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha M1 MotoGP) says: "It just wasn’t happening out there today at all and I’m not really sure why. The last thing I want is to be outside of the top ten on the grid for my home race, but I put in my maximum effort and I was still finding it really hard. I’m not where I am through a lack of trying but I just don’t have the rear grip I need. It is spinning a lot and we made some changes to the bike for this afternoon but it didn’t improve the situation.
"We know the bike is better than what we had last year but I couldn’t even match my qualifying time from last year. And that is what makes it really strange to understand. The rear is still too nervous and twitching around and it isn’t a lot of fun out there at the moment. The bike as it is set-up right now is not working, so we’ll have a sit down tonight and go back to the drawing board and come up with a plan for the race tomorrow.
"I can assure the American fans I’ll be going out there and giving it 100 per cent and pushing as hard as I can to get a good result for them because their support has been amazing so far this weekend."
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V MotoGP) "Overall it has been a positive day. We took our biggest step this morning and then built on that this afternoon, although we still have work to do to close the gap to the top three.
"Lorenzo is maybe in the best shape at the moment ahead of Stoner and Pedrosa but if we can find a couple of tenths in my race pace we can challenge for the podium. I had more confidence in the front today and held my line better through the corners, as well as improving acceleration out of the final turn. We could still find more time there though."
Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini MotoGP RC212V) says: "I have improved my lap times from session to session and also found more confidence with the bike and track. I am quite satisfied with my lap time considering that this is only my second ever day here at Laguna. Tomorrow we will try to take another step and make up positions in the race. Tyre choice will be important, the race will be long but if we can stay consistent we can make up positions."
Randy De Puniet (Pramac Racing Ducati GP11) says: "Not much to say. I made a mistake trying to push when I just left the pits but the tires were probably not yet ready. Really a shame because my feeling in this track was good in all practice sessions and ruin everything so this weekend is really bad. The physical pain is also strong, I move with difficulties, but tomorrow morning I want to try to get on the bike to see if I can participate in the race."
Loris Capirossi (Pramac Racing Ducati GP11) says: "It ‘was really hard. For each change of direction the shoulder gives me a lot of pain, but we came here and we will fight until the end to finish the race in the best possible way. I’m sorry for the whole team that is working so hard as usual to help me to always be faster. Tomorrow I will do my best for them."
Toni Elias (LCR Honda RC212V MotoGP): "We are back to our "standard" situation and obviously we were expecting something better. Anyway I want to a massive thank you to the guys because they worked hard even today because we had to change the bike geometry during the session.
"We are struggling with the same front issue that was the cause of my crash this morning. If you crash here you lose confidence because it’s a very tricky surface. I love lapping here but in this condition it’s not fun for me. We will try to fix the bike in tomorrows warm up trying to improve front and rear grip for the race."
Ben Bostrom (LCR Honda RC212V MotoGP): "The two bikes couldn’t be more opposite: tires, brakes, chassis…it’s unbelievable! There’s a lot to learn and I was trying to improve every time I get on the bike step by step because I do not want crash the bike.
"It’s nice to have Lucio and the guys also watching so they can see the difference. The adjustments we have made this afternoon were better and our lap time improved a little bit. Probably I could have gone faster but I made race distance in the last session and I am racing two different bikes this week end so I am pretty satisfied so far".
Alvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki GSVR MotoGP) says: "It has been a very big disappointment for me and the whole team this afternoon. We had done well in every practice, but in the qualifying – where it is really important to make a good position for the race – I crashed and lost the opportunity to make a good lap.
"I think we need to be positive for tomorrow though, and take some encouragement from the fact that we did our best time on a 27-lap used tire, so this is good for the race. The bad thing is that we are near the back of the grid tomorrow, so I will have to make a good start like I have in the last two races and try to get a good position in the first corner. Tomorrow we will be trying our hardest and I will be giving it full gas!"