Valentino Rossi became the first rider since the advent of the one-tyre rule to dip under an existing pole position record in the Czech Republic today, taking his third consecutive pole position despite sliding off into the gravel trap with just a few minutes remaining. His Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo qualified second, continuing his 100% front-row qualifying record for the season.
Lorenzo had ruled the standings in both previous sessions and it looked like being the same story again this afternoon, as the Mallorcan went straight to the top and then continued to improve his time around the undulating Brno circuit. Sitting just four thousandths of a second off Rossi’s 2006 pole position record, Lorenzo looked likely to be the one to smash it but it was the World Champion who did so with a brilliant lap with eight minutes left on the clock, shaving 0.046 seconds off the time he set on the way to second place three years ago, back in the days of 990ccc engines.
The drama wasn’t over however as Rossi, pushing hard with two minutes remaining, lost the front in the second sector and slid into the gravel, luckily emerging unscathed. Lorenzo made a last minute assault on the Italian’s time but was caught in traffic and the 22-year-old had to be content with second position. The pair are joined on the front row by Dani Pedrosa, with Tech 3 Yamaha rider Colin Edwards putting in another strong performance to qualify in sixth.
Today sees the launch of the Fiat Yamaha Team’s official new fan website, www.FiatYamahaTeam.it, where followers of the team can keep up to date with team news, view the latest photos, enter competitions, follow a live blog and learn more about the team and riders.
Valentino Rossi – Position: 1stTime: 1’56.145Laps: 23
“Pole position is great, but the most important thing is that I’m okay after the crash. I have a bit of pain in my right thumb but that’s all, so I think I’ve been quite lucky. I’ll get it checked out at the Clinica Mobile later but I don’t think it’s anything bad. This weekend only one of the front tyres is working well for us, which means we only have four for the weekend, so we’re putting quite a lot of stress on just a few tyres. I arrived to brake very deep and just lost the front, it was unlucky. Anyway, we did a great job in the session and being on pole again is important. We have a good race pace and I think it’s possible to be competitive tomorrow.”
Jorge Lorenzo – Position: 2ndTime: 1’56.195Laps: 26
“This morning we tried the softer Bridgestone tyre but I didn’t feel so good on it. This afternoon we gave it another chance but again it didn’t seem to work so well, so we decided to just concentrate on the harder tyre. I had a very strong pace and like yesterday I felt very comfortable on the bike, but I couldn’t quite get the pole position today. Being on the front row is always important though and we’ve reached this target; we know that we’re very fast. Everyone is excited and motivated as usual and we’re confident that we have the race set-up to allow us to challenge tomorrow.”
Davide Brivio – Team Manager
“We’re in pole but Valentino’s crash was unfortunate, on a lap that might have been even faster! The most important thing is that he is okay, which is a big relief for us all. By the end of the session we’d found a good setting and it looks like tomorrow could be another big battle, let’s hope we’re a part of it! Lorenzo and Pedrosa are very motivated and look very strong so let’s see what happens.”
Daniele Romagnoli – Team Manager
“It’s very good to start from the front row again and we’re happy about this. Unfortunately today we didn’t improve our lap time on the soft tyres and so we decided to do the last minute ‘time-attack’ on race tyres, then Jorge also encountered some traffic on his final lap. Anyway we are positive for the race because our pace today was pretty fast, we’re just looking at one or two small areas which we think we can improve for the race.”
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Colin Edwards produced a gritty qualifying performance this afternoon to equal his best grid position of the season at a hot and sunny Brno.
Despite being less than 100 per cent fit after he needed treatment for a swollen neck gland, the Texan secured his eighth top six grid position of the season in preparation for round 11 of the 2009 MotoGP world championship tomorrow. Edwards clocked a best time of 1.56.964 on his last lap, the 35-year-old finishing less than 0.5s from claiming his first front row start of the season. Working closely with his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew, front-end changes to improve turning on his YZR-M1 machine have bolstered Edwards’ hopes of claiming a maiden top six finish in the Czech Republic MotoGP.
British rider James Toseland is confident he can challenge for a top ten position in tomorrow’s 22-lap race. He will start from the fifth row of the grid having missed out on a top ten grid position by less than 0.4s. Toseland clocked a best time of 1.58.331 and the 28-year-old will focus on improving rear grip on his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine as he looks for a fourth top ten finish in five races.
Colin Edwards 5th 1.56.954 – 23 laps
“I’m pretty happy considering how I felt today. The last couple of days, one of the glands in my neck was pretty badly swollen up, so I was given some medicine to help it. But the doctor told me to make sure I had a full stomach when I took it. But this morning I only had a bowl of cereal and then I took the medicine. And after that I felt awful. After practice this morning I was white as a sheet and not feeling great at all. My stomach and head were feeling pretty rough and I just felt way short of my best for the rest of the day. So considering that I’m happy to have qualified fifth. I’d say Dani Pedrosa’s time was reachable in third but it would have taken a great lap to do that, and I’m not sure I had it in me physically today. I’ve been going great all weekend and my team have done a phenomenal job. We put some more weight on the front that has really helped get the bike to turn and that’s crucial at this track. I’ve never had a top six at this track but hopefully I’ll change that tomorrow and hopefully I’ll be feeling better.”
James Toseland 14th 1.58.331- 22 laps
“Obviously I’m not happy to be down in 14th and being that far back is going to make it a tough race. I’m fru strated because we changed the bike for the last soft tyre and I didn’t have the rear grip I needed to push for a better time. I had a lot of wheelspin with the final soft tyre so I couldn’t really push and I’ve given myself a hard job for the race. We’ll try and make the bike more balanced for the race tomorrow because at the moment I don’t have enough rear grip. I’ve qualified outside of the top ten a couple of times before this season and been able to fight my back into the top ten during the race. So I’m hoping to be able to do the same tomorrow.”