News 4 Jul 2010

MotoGP: Lorenzo claims home pole at Catalunya round

Jorge Lorenzo put in a strong run at the end of qualifying to take pole position for Sunday’s Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya at Montmeló, coming out on top in an hour-long battle for supremacy in the session.

The Fiat Yamaha rider’s best time of 1:42.046 ended up placing him 0.364s clear, but only after top spot had changed hands a number of times.

“I’m really happy with this third pole position, it seems we’re doing a very good job and it’s very special to get it at my home round,” Lorenzo said. “It was a hard session but finally I was able to do some quick laps at the end with the soft tyre. It is so hot here and I think it’s easy to say that tomorrow will be the hardest race so far this season.”

Second position was Casey Stoner’s after the Ducati rider overcame what was a clear dissatisfaction with his bike to move up several places on his 19th of 21 laps. The Australian did snatch first spot with his time of 1:42.410, but only momentarily as Lorenzo hit back with his penultimate lap.

“This afternoon’s qualifying practice was the only session we have really struggled in this weekend because everything went well in free practice,” Stoner admitted. “We struggled to improve the rear grip and so far we haven’t found enough of it.

“We are fast in the corners and especially on entry but we can’t get the tyre to work properly on exit – we don’t have grip and it is sliding around. We tried something with the set-up on one of the bikes but I didn’t like it so we went back a step. We’ll try a couple of new things in the warm-up but other than that I’m satisfied with what we have for the race.”

Completing the front row after another superb qualifying practice will be Randy de Puniet, and the LCR Honda rider’s consistency throughout the session was impressive. The Frenchman led until ten minutes before the end when the battle heated up, eventually lapping a tiny 0.102s behind Stoner to make it three front-row starts in succession.

“I really wanted to get this pole position but Casey and Jorge have been very fast today,” de Puniet said. “I am very satisfied about this third consecutive front row and want to thank my guys for their excellent work.

“Tomorrow for the race it’s a different story and we will have to see how the tyres will drop but we have been working on this since Friday so I am pretty confident. I think this could be the best race of the season for me.”

Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa also made a late surge and he sat on the provisional front row for a few minutes before eventually finishing fourth, just eight hundredths of a second off De Puniet in a breathless final few laps.

“The second row is not perfect but anyway, the position is not a big deal and to be fourth is okay with the lap times so close here,” the local said. “Obviously I want to have a good race in front of all the people who will come to support me and we’ll certainly be going for it.”

Ben Spies also made a charge at the end of the session and improved his standing considerably, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider following up impressive work on his first viewing of the Catalunya circuit in free practice with fifth place on the starting grid.

“I’m pretty happy with how it ended,” Spies said after testing for much of qualifying. “It will be a tough race but I’ll be giving it my all to continue the momentum I gained with good results at Silverstone and Assen.”

Andrea Dovizioso completed the second row as he took his Repsol Honda round in the sixth best time.

Loris Capirossi will have been pleased with the marked improvement on the GSV-R of the Rizla Suzuki team as he placed seventh, with rookies Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini) and Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) also taking third row places.Bautista had been as high as fourth midway through the session but still took his best qualification so far this season.

Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech3) and Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) were 10th and 11th respectively as they were bumped down the order in the latter stages. Their positions reflected a penalty applied to Aleix Espargaró (Pramac Ducati), who originally was classified eighth but had his fastest lap cancelled after having cut the corner between turns one and two.

The Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya MotoGP race gets underway at 2:00pm local time on Sunday.

Having won twice this season from his two previous Moto2 pole position starts, Andrea Iannone will go for a third victory of 2010 from top spot on the grid on Sunday. The Italian’s time of 1:47.493 on his penultimate lap of the qualifying session meant he ended the hour 0.267s clear on the timesheet.

The closest rider to him was Tech 3 Moto2’s Yuki Takahashi as the Japanese took his best qualification of the season so far in second, with Thomas Lüthi (Interwetten Moriwaki Moto2) the third and final rider under the 1:48 mark as he remained strong in spite of his injured collarbone. Championship leader Toni Elías (Gresini Racing Moto2) will complete the front row after setting the fourth best time of the session.

Second row positions were secured by Jules Cluzel (Forward Racing) and Carmelo Morales, who is riding as substitute for the injured Axel Pons on the Tenerife 40 Pons team this weekend. Technomag-CIP rider Shoya Tomizawa – currently second in the Championship – will also be on row two despite a crash late in the session, with Ratthapark Wilairot (Thai Honda PTT Singha-SAG) completing the top eight.

Kenny Noyes (Jack&Jones by Antonio Banderas) and Roberto Rolfo (Italtrans STR) took top ten times, and British rider Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team) was 14th.

Marc Márquez took pole position for the 125cc race in Barcelona – his third in a row – thanks to a qualifying lap of 1:50.543 on Saturday afternoon, as he turned his dominance in the two free practice sessions into a qualifying result. The young Spaniard was 0.266s faster than rival Pol Espargaró (Tuenti Racing), who secured second place on the grid for Sunday’s race.

British rider Bradley Smith was third as he showed no signs of any problems from a crash at the end of the morning practice session, and was a further 0.21s down on Espargaró. His Bancaja Aspar team-mate and current championship leader Nico Terol completed the front row.

Sandro Cortese (Avant Mitsubishi Ajo), Tomoyoshi Koyama (Racing Team Germany), Esteve Rabat (Blusens-STX) and Efrén Vázquez (Tuenti Racing) completed the top eight and took places on the second row.

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