News 31 May 2009

MotoGP: Lorenzo thrilled, Rossi off front row for home GP

Yamaha Racing PR:

Jorge Lorenzo took his second pole and fifth front row of the season after a scintillating qualifying session in Italy this afternoon, which left the top four riders separated by less than two tenths of a second. His Fiat Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi qualified fourth and finds himself off the front row at Mugello for the first time since 1999, when he was still in 250s.

After topping the time sheets yesterday Lorenzo played second fiddle to his team-mate for most of this afternoon’s session and it was Rossi who sat at the top of the leader board for most of the hour. The Spaniard was consistently fast around the first three quarters of the track but was losing time in the final section, leaving him a few tenths behind the Italian. With five minutes to go and with all riders on fresh Bridgestone tyres the qualifying session looked to be a four-way battle between the Fiat Yamaha duo, Loris Capirossi and Casey Stoner but it was championship leader Lorenzo who came out on top, with an inch-perfect lap which edged him into pole by two hundredths of a second from Stoner.

Rossi has had no less than eleven front row starts at this track and today he looked a sure bet for another as he effortlessly improved his time lap by lap, looking as comfortable as ever in the Italian sunshine. He came out worst in the last-lap showdown however as he lost out to compatriot Capirossi by 0.027 seconds, meaning the world champion will have to start from fourth as he seeks his seventh consecutive win here tomorrow when the lights go out at 1400.

Jorge Lorenzo
Position: 1 Time: 1’48.987 Laps: 30

“I’m really happy about this because it’s a great pole position and I’m really excited to be starting from the front at Mugello. During the session we had some problems in T4 and we still need to try to improve a bit in that section, but I am fast with both types of tyre and in the end I was able to do one very fast lap. My race pace is good and I think that I have the possibility to fight with Valentino tomorrow; in my mind he is still the favourite here. My target is to get a good start and then try to stay with Valentino and Casey, and then I am sure I can be a part of the race. I am very excited and I hope for a great battle.”

Valentino Rossi
Position: 4 Time: 1’49.148 Laps: 28

“Sincerely I am quite disappointed to miss out on the first row! Usually I don’t mind so much but here, in Mugello, it’s special so I am sorry for this. It was a great fight today and we had good potential for the pole position but in the end we lost the front row to Loris, who did a great lap. Our setting is good, we have some small details to check but our race pace with the harder tyre is very good so I am not too worried. Of course starting from the second row makes life a little more difficult but we don’t think about this. The weather situation is very important because if it’s like this then we know we are fast but if it changes, which seems possible from the forecast, then it will be a bit more difficult.”

Daniele Romagnoli
Team Manager

“We couldn’t ask for a better qualifying session than this! Our race setting is pretty good but we still need to improve our time a little in the final sector, which is where we were losing out today. Jorge did brilliantly with the softer tyre on the final run and this is a very important pole position for us. We hope this good weather continues because if it’s like this then it’s going to be a very exciting race.”

Davide Brivio
Team Manager

“As far as race preparation goes that was a good session, because we were always fast. In the hot laps with the soft tyres at the end we just missed out on the front row but this is not the end of the world. Our race set-up is very good and, although starting from fourth makes our job a little harder, we know that Valentino will be in the fight tomorrow. We’re looking forward to a great race.”

Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Colin Edwards was in sparkling form during qualifying for the Italian MotoGP to secure a place on the second row of the grid for tomorrow’s eagerly anticipated Mugello race.

The Texan made a blistering start to the session, immediately fighting his way into the top three as Yamaha dominated the early stages with Jorge Lorenzo and home hero Valentino Rossi also in early contention for pole position.

Working on front-end geometry settings to improve the agility of his YZR-M1 machine for the fast changes of direction at the spectacular Mugello circuit, Edwards clocked his best time of 1.49.547 with 13 minutes remaining. That put him third quickest, but in an enthralling final ten minutes of a session run in sunny conditions, the 35-year-old slipped down to the second row for tomorrow’s 23-lap race, ending just 0.4s off the front row.

British rider James Toseland had to settle for 14th place on the grid with a best time of 1.50.537, though he is confident he has the pace on race tyres to mount an assault on the top eight tomorrow.

Toseland found it difficult to find a comfortable rear shock setting to help the 28-year-old take full advantage of the extra grip from the soft rear Bridgestone tyre. He set his best time on his last flying lap and he was only 0.5s away from a place on the third row and 0.2s outside of the top ten.

Colin Edwards 6th 1.49.547 – 23 laps
“I never plan on going out and following anybody but right at the start of the session Valentino (Rossi) was right in front of me and he had no problem with me following. So taking into account he’s the Mugello expert I got in behind him to see if I could learn something and I picked up a couple of tricks. In a couple of places like the chicanes he hits the apex later at the first part to get a better drive out of the second part. I was more sweeping through them without getting a really good drive, so that helped me a bit. I was out on an old front tyre and a new rear and my race times were pretty consistent and I’m sure I can run 1.49s in the race. For me the harder rear tyre, which we’ll have to use because of the high track temperature, has just as much grip as the softer one, which shows what a great job Bridgestone has done. I had a couple of small issues with front-end movement, which we improved and that’s a big bonus. We changed the geometry to help with the front stability and it helped make the bike much more agile. And that’s crucial here with the fast changes of direction. You really need to flow round here without having to muscle the bike around because that gets pretty tough for 23 laps. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow and putting on a good show for my guys at Tech 3 who have been awesome again.”

James Toseland 14th 1.50.537- 24 laps
“I’m pretty frustrated because I feel I should be much higher up the grid. As I know from other races earlier this season, while I can run the lap times from around sixth to tenth place, the times in this class are so close that it can be hard to fight your way through in the race. So being on the fifth row makes it incredibly difficult. We were playing around with the suspension settings all weekend and been going in the right direction, but when I upped my pace on the softer compound tyre the rear shock setting wasn’t quite right. When the rear tyre was loaded as I opened the throttle it just had a harsh feeling with little movement, so we weren’t finding as much grip from the tyre as we could do. We made some changes in the session without making any big progress and right at the end on my last soft tyre we found something a bit better. But it was too late unfortunately and if we had found that direction a bit earlier it would have given me more time to build up my pace on the softer tyre. I’m frustrated because I feel I can be strong at this track, but I’ll work hard with my guys tonight to try and find a better setting. I’m still confident that I can do good times in the race and gain a few places for a good result and as always I’ll never give up.”