News 2 May 2010

MotoGP: Pedrosa scores surprising pole for home round

Local hero Dani Pedrosa went fastest in a thrilling qualifying session at the Jerez Circuit in Spain on Saturday afternoon to take pole position.

Pedrosa scored pole position in Spain on Saturday.

Pedrosa scored pole position in Spain on Saturday.

Local hero Dani Pedrosa went fastest in a thrilling qualifying session at the Jerez Circuit in Spain on Saturday afternoon to take pole position for the Gran Premio bwin de España this weekend.

The 24-year-old’s time of 1:39.202 led a competitive MotoGP field in which the top ten riders were separated by less than 0.9 of a second.

It was the Repsol Honda rider’s 23rd of 25 laps on board his factory RC212V that placed him at the head of the grid and sent the Spanish crowd into enthusiastic raptures, with the front row completed by fellow Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo (Fiat Yamaha) and Ducati Marlboro rider Casey Stoner.

Lorenzo had actually set a quicker time during the morning’s free practice but was unable to replicate with his best qualifying time eventually 0.285 off the pace of Pedrosa, with Stoner a further two-hundredths down the timesheet as he secured third spot.

Reigning world champion Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha) rode through the pain in his injured right shoulder to lead the second row, while Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro) bravely bounced back from a big crash in free practice to qualify in fifth position, just two-thousandths behind Rossi.

LCR Honda rider Randy de Puniet completed the second row, as the top six all finished within 0.4 of one another.

Monster Yamaha Tech3 duo Colin Edwards and Ben Spies set the seventh and eighth quickest times respectively, with Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) and Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini Team) also inside the tightly packed top ten.

The MotoGP race takes place at 2:00pm local time on Sunday.

Shoya Tomizawa will continue his early season charge from pole position in tomorrow’s Moto2 race, after his lap of 1:44.372 secured him the top time in qualifying by just two-thousandths of a second from Julián Simón.

The Japanese rider could count himself fortunate to have set his time shortly before he crashed with 20 minutes of the session remaining, but his hot lap remained intact.

Hot on his trail was Mapfre Aspar rider Simón, with Toni Elías (Gresini Racing Moto2) and Yuki Takahashi (Tech3 Racing) completing a front row for Sunday’s race separated by less than a tenth of a second.

Thomas Lüthi (Interwetten Moriwaki Racing) secured fifth place at the head of the second row, which was also very tightly grouped, as Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing), Gabor Talmacsi (Fimmco Speed Up) and Sergio Gadea (Tenerife 40 Pons) all set times inside the top eight.

The third row, all of whom recorded lap times well within half a second of Tomizawa’s pole, will be comprised of Kenny Noyes (Jack&Jones by Antonio Banderas), Simone Corsi (JiR Moto2), Anthony West (MZ Racing) and Yonny Hernández (Blusens-STX).

Marc Márquez (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) will start the 125cc race from pole position on Sunday, after breaking a five-year-old 125cc pole position record at the track.

The young Spaniard’s hot lap of 1:46.829 took over a tenth off Mattia Pasini’s 2006 record, and secured him his second consecutive pole of the new season.

Joining him on the front row of an all-Spanish grid will be Pol Espargaró, who dominated both practice sessions but was unable to better Márquez’s stunning time in QP. His Tuenti Racing team-mate Efrén Vázquez and Esteve Rabat (Blusens-STX), who was just over half a second off Márquez’s time, occupied the remaining top-four spots.

The second row of the grid will be made up of early Championship leader Nico Terol (Bancaja Aspar) and Sandro Cortese (Avant Mitsubishi Ajo), with British duo Bradley Smith (Bancaja Aspar) and Danny Webb (Andalucia Cajasol) securing top-eight times too.

Webb’s team-mate Alberto Moncayo and Swiss rider Randy Krummenacher (Stipa-Molenaar Racing) complete the top ten.

Click here for detailed results

Dani Pedrosa: “It’s always nice to get pole position and especially here because it is my home race and the support from the fans is amazing, so I’m very happy for them. I really didn’t expect this pole to be honest, but I was pushing very hard so I’m very happy about it.
Actually though, it’s not so significant for me because the important thing is the performance in the race and we still need to work very hard on this area. The new frame is delivering some improvements but we’re still not all the way there and we must continue to work on the stability because this is very important in order to be competitive over race distance. Our rivals are also showing a lot of potential so we can’t relax in any way because this will be a long, tough race. Obviously I will start the race thinking about the win, and I know there will be a lot of fans out there cheering for me so I hope we can give them something special.”

Jorge Lorenzo: “I was very fast this morning and I hoped I would be again this afternoon, but we struggled a bit in the increased heat and couldn’t keep up quite such a good pace. This morning I could ride exactly how I wanted, which was a great feeling, but in qualifying it wasn’t exactly the same. Anyway, my lap time is not so bad and we are on the front row, which is very important. I am very excited about tomorrow and I feel confident that I can make a good race in front of the Spanish fans. This is a very special track to race at and I can’t wait to hear the crowd!”

Valentino Rossi: “Of course it would be better to be on the front row but fourth is okay and I’m very happy about how much we’ve improved since this morning. After Pedrosa, the next five of us are all very close and this afternoon I was able to do some laps in the 39s with the harder Bridgestone tyre. We are fast now but we’re still not consistent enough so we have to work on this for tomorrow. My shoulder feels a lot better today and I have to say thank you to all of the Clinica Mobile and everyone who has worked on it. I am still lacking a bit of strength but the pain is okay. I am hoping for a great race tomorrow for all the fans.”

Casey Stoner: “We made a really strong start as soon as we rolled out onto the track yesterday but to be honest we haven’t made much progress with the set-up since then and nothing we have tried seems to have worked. As a result we went back to our original setting this afternoon and even though it was good enough for a front row position we still have plenty of room for improvement with it. It is going to be a busy warm-up session for us tomorrow morning and hopefully we can find something that helps us ahead of the race. In general the bike is still working better than it ever has around here though so I feel more confident for the race than I ever have at Jerez and I’m looking forward to the race tomorrow.”

Nicky Hayden: “The crash this morning wasn’t pretty but other than a couple of scrapes and bruises I’m fine. Considering I had a 130mph tumble I feel pretty good actually! Unfortunately it complicated things for the team because they had to work like dogs to fix the bike. I started the afternoon session on my other bike but we had a few issues with the gear shifter that we couldn’t resolve during the session so I had to jump on the bike I’d crashed. The guys were pretty sure it was okay but I wasn’t riding it because they wanted more time to check some things. I did a couple of 1’39.5s and it’s not crazy to suggest we had a couple more tenths in us that could have put us on the front row. Fifth place isn’t so bad – it’s going to be a long, hard race but I can’t wait to get started. I want to say thanks to the team for all their hard work today – hopefully I can pay them back with a good result tomorrow.”

Colin Edwards: “It has been hard work so far this weekend and a bit of a struggle if I’m being honest, so to finish seventh is a pretty good outcome for me. I seem to have been struggling with the electronics all weekend and we just haven’t been able to get to a point where it feels all that predictable, and that has been a big strength of the Yamaha. We’ve been experimenting with that a lot but I feel we made some decent progress. I changed the geometry on the front of the bike to make it more like the set-up that Valentino likes with a bit more weight on the front. That helped me a lot with the bike feeling a lot more balanced and now I’ve got more feel from the front. Tomorrow is going to be a typical Jerez race. You’ve got to hope you can come out Turn One unscathed, see where you’re at and then just go for it. It’s going to be a tough race but I’ll be giving it my all for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team.

Ben Spies: “I’m happy and it’s good to be in the middle of the third row because I can try and get a good start and see what’s going on in the first couple of laps and try and get up there. I was happier with my race set-up than what I had for the quick lap on the soft tyres. I didn’t mess anything up real big but I just couldn’t get into that qualifying mode and put that fast lap in. From not knowing where I was going yesterday, I’m happy to be in the top ten and hopefully I can get closer to the front and see what is going on up there. I’d like to think I can get in the battle for the top six but it’s going to be hard. Towards the end of the race is where I’ll be more comfortable because I’ll get in that rhythm and when the tyres go off I’ll feel a little better with the bike. I’ve got a pretty good feeling where I’m going on the track and I just need to change a few things for tomorrow and hopefully ride a littl e better. But I’m looking forward to my first race in Jerez.”

Randy de Puniet: “I am very happy because it has been a very good qualifying session. I am just eight hundredths off the front row and the adjustments we have made to the bike work well especially in race trim. This afternoon we concentrated to obtain the second row and we are delighted with this result as we are the first independent team on the grid for the second time after Qatar GP. My target is to keep this placement in tomorrow’s race to repeat the positive result we gained in Qatar, but I know it won’t be so easy.”

Andrea Dovizioso: “I actually think we could have made it onto the second row today so I’m a little disappointed with the result this afternoon because it can be very important to start from the first two rows. We showed our full potential in the morning session where we were four tenths behind the fastest rider, so it’s a shame we couldn’t repeat that in qualifying. For the afternoon we made some adjustments to the electronics and machine set-up and this actually took us back a step, so tomorrow we will return to this morning’s set-up and I’m confident that will give us an improvement. Starting from the third row it will be important to make a good getaway and stay glued to the front riders because this is key to having a good race – as we saw in Qatar.”

Loris Capirossi: “I am very disappointed with today because everybody has tried so hard. We tried to find the best setting for the bike and in this afternoon’s session it just didn’t work like it had done this morning. I just didn’t have the right feel from the front and I struggled a lot. We tried to modify things but we didn’t find a solution. For tomorrow we will need to do something because we are not so far from the front guys – even with this problem – and I am sure we can be competitive. It is not the position I want on the grid, but tomorrow is another day and I will be trying really hard in the race to make things better.”

Álvaro Bautista: “I have improved on my best time here and we have done quite a good job today. This morning I tried some different settings between the two bikes and in the afternoon we chose one of the set-ups and I am sure it is the right one. With the hard tyre I did a long ride and was quite happy with my time in the mid 1’40s – this is quite positive for me. I still have a few issues after a few laps because I am feeling that the tyre is moving too much, but we will work on that in the warm-up and see what we can do. On the softer rear tyre I tried to push to the maximum, but this is not like 250s, in 250 you can brake much later and with the MotoGP bike it is more difficult to do one fast lap, but I am learning! I am quite happy and want to have a good home race and get into a fight with a group further up the grid. I t is very important to do my best and give a good race for Suzuki, the sponsors and all my family and fans.”

Marco Melandri: “We had a great session today, setting an excellent race pace and I’m really confident about the race. We’re struggling a bit for rear grip but we’re working to improve and I think with a small step forward we can make a big improvement. It is a shame about the qualifying lap because I made a small mistake on my last effort and it cost me a lot of time in the final sector. Anyway, I think that with a good start we can have a fun race tomorrow. I’m happy because we’ve done a good job together, everybody in the team is highly motivated and I think we have created the right atmosphere to improve.”

Hiroshi Aoyama: “My lap times in the qualifying session were not bad today, but the starting position for the race could have been better and therefore I am not 100 per cent satisfied. I am not happy that we are not closer to the front. In general we worked a lot on the setup and it worked out. Tomorrow we want to improve the setup in the warm-up and then I hope we will have a good race.”

Marco Simoncelli: “After this morning’s session I was hoping for better this afternoon but we’re still struggling a little and I can’t ride how I want. The reality is that we’re not that far off the top guys – 1.3 seconds isn’t a big gap but I am still in sixteenth. All we can do is try to improve a little more before tomorrow and then do our best to make up positions in the race.”

Aleix Espargaro: “After the good feeling of the second free practice in the morning, where I got a time that made me hope for the qualifications of the early afternoon. Unfortunately while I was pushing to improve my lap time, I stumbled upon a crash that made me lose precious time. In any case I have greatly improved the feeling with the motorbike and the track, reducing my best lap time more than a second. Tomorrow I will do my best for the many Spanish fans who come here to follow me. ”

Mika Kallio: “Starting in last place on the grid is not the best, I will fight very hard to overtake my competitors. The first corner is near the starting line and if I start well I can take many positions already at the end of the turb. Today I had some problems handling my motorbike, I could not control it perfectly. The positive think that remains is that I have reduced my lap time compared to yesterday morning’s free practice time. I hope to get a good result tomorrow in the race and to give a turn to my season. The whole team deserves a good result for all the work they are doing for me. ”