Jorge Lorenzo qualified third today in the final MotoGP qualifying session of the season in Valencia. It was the 16th time the Spaniard has been on the front row this season, more than any other rider. His Fiat Yamaha team-mate and the 2009 World Champion Valentino Rossi qualified in fourth at the Spanish track, ahead of tomorrow’s season finale.
Lorenzo continued from where he had left off yesterday afternoon, making some more improvements to his M1-Bridgestone package throughout the session and going into provisional pole with just over ten minutes remaining. He immediately surrendered his lead to eventual pole-man Stoner however and was eventually moved one place further down when Dani Pedrosa also bettered his time by just 0.018. The 22-year-old is happy to be on the front row however and with a strong race pace he is confident of a good race tomorrow, from which he needs just one point to confirm the runner’s-up spot in the championship.
It was a more difficult day for Rossi, who has a somewhat turbulent history with this tight and twisty Spanish circuit. The Italian and his crew were unable to come up with a set-up today that gave them enough grip to allow him to ride as he would like and they are faced with some hard work overnight to improve the situation. A better flying lap near the end of the session was good enough to secure him fourth on the grid so he will be in touch to challenge tomorrow, as long as he is able to make a step forward in warm-up. Rossi’s fourth position today sealed him the 2009 best qualifier award, for which he will receive the prize of a new car.
Jorge Lorenzo – Position: 3rd Time: 1’32.537 Laps: 30
“I’m happy to have ended the season on the front row, where I have been for all but one race! I am feeling very confident about a good race tomorrow because my bike feels good and I am riding well here. My number one aim tomorrow is to make sure I finish the championship in second and I only need one point to do this, but of course I would also like to finish the season with a good race so I will try to challenge at the front as well. I’m looking forward to riding in front of all the Spanish fans, it’s always an amazing atmosphere here for the last race!”he wants to. We need to analyse all the data we have from the two days and find something that works better for us. Fourth position isn’t too bad however and if we’re able to fix the problem then we’re still in a position to challenge at the top tomorrow.”
Valentino Rossi – Position: 4th Time: 1’32.922 Laps: 25
“Today was not the best day for us. We haven’t found the right setting for the bike yet, we’ve tried hard but we don’t have enough grip yet to allow us to go fast. I have to start on the second row and we have quite a big question mark for tomorrow’s race. At the end of the session I was able to do some better laps with the softer tyre but unfortunately with these conditions we will have to use the harder tyre tomorrow. We will work tonight and again in the morning warm-up and hopefully we can find a way to improve so that we can race as we would like to. I’m happy about the qualifying award, at least we have one positive thing to take from today!”
Daniele Romagnoli – Team Manager
“Two good sessions for us today and we’re happy because our target was the front row, as it has been all season. Our race pace is good too and we are confident that tomorrow we can put up a good challenge for the last race of the season, which looks like it will be very exciting! It was quite windy today so we hope it’s less so tomorrow, we’ll try and refine the setting a little more but we’re ready to race.”
Davide Brivio – Team Manager
“We’ve got quite a lot of work to do at the moment and we haven’t yet been able to find a good solution. The problem is that our bike still isn’t able to put enough grip on the tyres and so it’s a struggle for Valentino to ride like
Colin Edwards qualified on the second row of the grid in Valencia today to give his hopes of securing a brilliant top five finish in the 2009 MotoGP world championship a huge boost.
At a sunny but windswept Ricardo Tormo circuit, Edwards took full advantage of improvements with the front-end handling of his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 machine to set the fifth quickest time.
Forced to take anti-inflammatory tablets to ease the discomfort of a recurring neck injury, a best lap of 1.33.085 clinched fifth on the grid for the sixth time in the last seven races and saw Edwards finish just 0.163s behind reigning world champ ion Valentino Rossi.
Trailing Andrea Dovizioso by just four-points going into tomorrow’s final race, Edwards is confident he can overhaul the Italian to clinch fifth in the final points standings.
Finishing behind dominant the quartet of Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa would be a remarkable achievement for the popular 35-year-old, who is determined to end 2009 on a high to reward the hard work of his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha crew throughout 2009.
James Toseland will start his final MotoGP appearance for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team from 14th place on the grid.
The British rider set his fastest time of 1.34.107 on his 28th and final lap and while disappointed with his grid position, the 28-year-old is optimistic he can bow out in style with a challenge for a top ten finish in tomorrow’s 30-lap race .
Colin Edwards – Position: 5th Time: 1’33.085 Laps: 28
“I seem to be pretty much stuck with that fifth place! I know I run number five but it doesn’t mean I have to qualify in that place every race. But as I’ve said before, I’ve got to be pleased to be finishing next best behind those four guys, or should I say aliens. They are riding out of this world and to be right behind them means I’m doing the best job I can and that’s about as good as I can hope for at the moment. On my first couple of softer tyres I ran into a bit of traffic, which was a bit frustrating because I knew I could get a good time. We’d softened the front forks and I felt much more comfortable. We’ve really got the bike turning well this weekend and I think I’ve got a good race pace. Now the bike turns without running wide and that’s helping tyre life too. I’m not sure if I’ve got the pace of the four in front of me on race tyre s but I wanted to give myself a shot at fifth in the championship and I’ve done that. Dovizioso is a few places behind me but I just need to focus on doing my own job. I’m sure my neck won’t be a problem tomorrow. I first hurt it when I crashed in Germany last year and every few months I do something to aggravate it. This time I was in the shower reaching for the shampoo and the way I turned my head it just seized up. It won’t stop me from trying to end a brilliant season on a high and giving my guys at Monster Yamaha Tech 3 something to cheer about for all their hard work and effort in 2009.”
James Toseland – Position: 14th Time: 1’34.107 Laps: 28
“The conditions were really difficult out there this afternoon. There was a strong wind and it made reading the track conditions really difficult. The lap times were not brilliant this afternoon but that was because there was quite a lot of dust being blown onto the track and it wasn’t easy to find grip. The session certainly didn’t go as planned but I feel I’ve got a good and consistent set-up for the race tomorrow. Starting from 14th on the grid isn’t going to be easy at this track. It is quite tight and twisty and that makes it difficult to overtake. My plan is to make a good start and get into a consistent pace and finish the season on a high note for all my guys at Monster Yamaha Tech 3.”
True to form, Sterilgarda Yamaha rider Ben Spies got straight down to business today making gradual improvements through the free practice and following qualifying session. Having had time overnight to digest his first experience on the M1 in yesterday’s free practice Spies put his new knowledge to productive use and started shaving his times. The first heat in the morning saw him cut nearly a second off his times from yesterday, taking a lap best of 1’34.1 as he started to work more with the Bridgestone tires.
The afternoon’s qualifying session saw more improvement again as he picked up the pace, hitting as high as 8th on the board with a provisional second row start until he was dropped to ninth at the closing seconds of the session. The times tumbled too, picking up where he left off in the morning, he took over six tenths of a second off the morning time to secure his top ten start in tomorrow’s MotoGP race.
Ben Spies, Sterilgarda Yamaha Team – Position: 9th Time: 1’33.539
“it was another good day today, I’m still not where I feel comfortable and I’m definitely not at home yet but I think for such a short time on the bike I’m pretty happy to be in the top ten and not so far off some of the other guys on the Yamahas. In the end I need to try and get a good start, which I definitely haven’t mastered yet, I’ve only had the chance to practice a couple so I think that could be where the downfall of the race will be for me. In the end I think it’s an ok qualifying result for us, we just need to keep doing more laps on the bike. I can feel what the bike wants to do but I’m just not ready to take it there yet. Every time we get on it we go faster and that works for me. I’m still not close to what the tires can do either, I just need laps, laps and more laps!”
Massimo Meregalli, Sterilgarda Yamaha Team Manager
“As we thought, today went even better than our first outing yesterday. Ben is continuing to learn the bike and the tyres, unfortunately the wind here in Valencia today is making it much harder for him. Having said that, to start on the third row having spent just three hours riding this bike is pretty good. I think he achieved a great result today and we’re looking forward to tomorrow.”