-- Qualifying Results
1 Jorge LORENZO SPA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha 1'37.161
2 Marco SIMONCELLI ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda 1'37.294
3 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 1'37.324
4 Casey STONER AUS Repsol Honda Team Honda 1'37.384
5 Ben SPIES USA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha 1'37.866
6 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Repsol Honda Team Honda 1'38.073
7 Colin EDWARDS USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 1'38.080
8 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 1'38.189
9 Valentino ROSSI ITA Ducati Team Ducati 1'38.271
10 Hector BARBERA SPA Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP Ducati 1'38.363
11 Hiroshi AOYAMA JPN San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda 1'38.497
12 Karel ABRAHAM CZE Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati 1'38.786
13 Nicky HAYDEN USA Ducati Team Ducati 1'38.922
14 Loris CAPIROSSI ITA Pramac Racing Team Ducati 1'38.934
15 Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP Suzuki 1'39.172
16 Randy DE PUNIET FRA Pramac Racing Team Ducati 1'39.378
17 Toni ELIAS SPA LCR Honda MotoGP Honda 1'39.894
With dark clouds looming over the Estoril circuit on Saturday it was race winner from Jerez, Jorge Lorenzo, who claimed the 17th premier class pole of his career and his first of the 2011 season at the circuit at which he has won from pole for the past three seasons.
The pole position lap time of 1’37.161 was just over one-tenth of a second faster than his nearest challenger Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini) to secure top spot in QP for the bwin Grande Prémio de Portugal. After dominating both Friday practices, the Italian rider had continued to lead the timing screens throughout the qualifying hour until he was pipped by the reigning World Champion in the final five minutes. Simoncelli then was on a lap which was a third of a second up on the Yamaha when he crashed into Turn 7, ruling out the possibility of the 24 year-old fighting to regain first position.
The top four riders were separated by 0.223s, with the Repsol Honda duo of Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner in third and fourth respectively. Lorenzo’s Yamaha Factory Racing team-mate Ben Spies was fifth fastest, ahead of the third Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso on the second row. The Italian won here in 2006 in the 250cc category and was on the rostrum here last season in the premier class.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 duo of Colin Edwards and Cal Crutchlow were seventh and eighth respectively on the third row. Crutchlow was only a tenth off his team mate on his first appearance at the Estoril circuit in his debut MotoGP season.
The highest placed Ducati was the rider with the best record at the circuit. Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team), who has had ten podium finishes here, was ninth quickest and just edged out the second Ducati of Héctor Barberá (Mapfre Aspar Team). The top ten riders were within 1.202s of each other. Rossi’s team-mate Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) was in 13th, rookie Karel Abraham (Cardion ab Motoracing) continued his form from the weekend to qualify in 12th.
Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) made improvements after his return to the bike this weekend following a broken femur. The Spaniard finished in 15th, just over two seconds off Lorenzo’s pole lap.
In Moto2 Stefan Bradl took his third consecutive pole of the season with a best time of 1’41.591 as the rain held off for the qualifying sessions in all three categories. The German rider of the Viessmann Kiefer Racing team was followed onto the front row by Thomas Lüthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2) and Julián Simón (Mapfre Aspar).
Marc Márquez (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol) will challenge for his first race finish of the season from the second row having qualified fourth, with Dominique Aegerter (Technomag CIP) and Michele Pirro (Gresini Racing) fifth and sixth respectively.
Pirro’s team-mate Yuki Takahashi, Kenan Sofuoglu (Technomag CIP), Jules Cluzel (Forward Racing) and Pol Espargaró completed the top ten in the session. Championship leader Andrea Iannone will start from 14th.
In the 125 class Nico Terol remains the man to beat after the Bankia Aspar rider, who has won both races so far, qualified with a best lap time of 1’46.556. That placed the Spaniard over seven-tenths of a second clear of Sandro Cortese (Intact Racing Team Germany) with Miguel Oliveira (Andalucia Banca Civica) the only other rider to get within a second of the pole time and complete the front row for his home GP.
Héctor Faubel (Bankia Aspar), Alberto Moncayo (Andalucia Banca Civica) and Johann Zarco (Avant AirAsia Ajo) will all start from the second row, whilst Luis Salom (RW Racing), Jonas Folger (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport), Efrén Vázquez (Avant AirAsia Ajo) and Adrián Martín (Bankia Aspar) all set top-ten times.
- HRC Report
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) was Honda’s star performer in qualifying for tomorrow’s Portuguese Grand Prix, the Italian ending this afternoon’s session second quickest, just 0.133s slower than pole-sitter Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha). Honda RC212V riders packed the first two rows of the grid with Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) third fastest, Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V) fourth and Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V) sixth.
The weather at Estoril – close to Portugal’s Atlantic coast – has been typically changeable since the action got underway yesterday morning. Following heavy rain yesterday afternoon, stormy grey clouds threatened at the start of qualifying, encouraging riders to get down to business and immediately chase the fastest-possible lap time in case of a cloudburst. In fact the rain didn’t come, though the track was still damp in places from overnight rainfall, with Lorenzo’s best lap 1.4s off the pole position record. More rain is forecast for tomorrow.
Simoncelli has been in top form since arriving here, the tall Italian proving once again that he improves with every race. Four weeks after he led the race at rain-soaked Jerez, Simoncelli dominated free practice and led most of qualifying here. During different stages of this afternoon’s session he came under pressure from Lorenzo, Pedrosa and Ben Spies (Yamaha), but he always responded with a faster lap time. In the final few minutes, however, he slid off and was unable to prevent Lorenzo from taking pole position, his fourth in a row at Estoril. This is Simoncelli’s second front-row start in MotoGP and his best-ever grid position in the premier class, following his third place in qualifying for last year’s season-ending Valencia GP.
Pedrosa was happy with third place, considering that this is his first weekend on the bike since he underwent further surgery on the left shoulder he injured at Motegi last October. After Jerez, surgeons operated to relieve pressure on a pinched artery that had been interrupting blood flow in the shoulder. So far, the surgery seems to be a success, but Pedrosa says he won’t know for sure until he has ridden full-race distance. This afternoon he was just 0.030s slower than Simoncelli and is confident that he can race with Lorenzo if he makes some minor set-up tweaks to his RCV.
Stoner had a difficult Friday, struggling to find a good set-up for this tricky racetrack, and with this morning’s session spoiled by a mostly damp track, the Australian had little chance to improve things for qualifying. Winner of the season-opening Qatar GP, Stoner’s main focus here has been improving machine performance during braking and in the middle of the corner. During qualifying the bike did start to work better, but when he knuckled down to his final runs, he couldn’t get the grip he wanted from the soft rear tyre. Nevertheless, he is running fast – a mere 0.060s off the front row and only 0.223s off pole.
Dovizioso got to grips with Estoril today, pushing harder than he had yesterday thanks to improvements to his RCV’s front end. The Italian – who ended qualifying 0.912s behind Lorenzo – still has work to do in morning warm-up, so he will be hoping for a dry session to allow him to run a faster pace during the race.
Simoncelli’s team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) ended the afternoon in 11th position, 1.336s off pole. The former 250 World Champion – who finished a brilliant fourth at Jerez – is convinced he could have been closer to the front of the grid if he hadn’t made a mistake on his final qualifying run.
Toni Elias (LCR Honda MotoGP RC212V) had another challenging two days of practice and qualifying, the Spaniard still unable to find a set-up that works for his radical riding style. Indeed he struggled particularly today because the relatively low track temperatures prevented him from generating enough heat in the rear tyre.
Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing-Kalex) kept his 100 per cent pole-position record in the Honda-powered Moto2 series with another perfectly timed charge to the front. The young German, who took pole and the win in Qatar and pole at Jerez, went fastest on his final lap to out-pace Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2-Suter) who had bounced back from a minor tumble earlier in the session. Final man on the front row is Julian Simon (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2-Suter), who had been on top with six minutes to go. The Spaniard ended the session 0.151s down on Luthi.
Reigning 125 World Champion and fast Moto2 rookie Marc Marquez (Team Catalunya Caixa Repsol-Suter) was also in the running for pole, but he couldn’t quite find the speed on his final run and ended up fourth, 0.168s down on Simon. Marquez – the star of preseason testing – will tomorrow go for his first Moto2 points score, after DNFs at the first two rounds.
Marquez will be joined on the second row by Dominique Aegerter (Technomag-CIP-Suter) and Michele Pirro (Gresini Racing Moto2-Moriwaki), who both fell during the session. Yuki Takahashi (Gresini Racing Moto2-Moriwaki) leads row three.
Jerez winner and World Championship leader Andrea Iannone (Speed Master-Suter) had another difficult qualifying session, ending up 14th fastest. That will make tomorrow’s race a tall order, but remember that the hard-riding Italian qualified 16th in Qatar and finished the race in second place, and won at Jerez from 11th on the grid.
As is usual in Moto2 the lap times in qualifying were very close, with the top 16 riders covered by just 1.155s. And there were plenty of fallers during the session, many of them at the tricky slow-speed first turn.
Marco Simoncelli, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 2nd – 1m, 37.294s “There’s a bit of disappointment and there’s no use hiding it because after dominating the two sessions yesterday and then this afternoon the pole position was in my hands. Unfortunately I made a little mistake which prevented me from improving my fastest lap. Anyway, turning our attention to the race I have to be happy because my race pace is quick and I am confident with the bike even though we have a little problem with the front. The front tyre available to us is a little soft for us and moves around a lot so maybe a harder option would have been better. We have improved the grip on the rear so I think tomorrow we can be fighting for the win if not the podium. To be annoyed at not being on pole position is not a bad thing. Tomorrow will be a tough race but I’m ready to fight and give my all. ”
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 3rd – 1m, 37.324s “I’m very satisfied with this front row today. It was a very close session as it always is in this circuit and our main target this afternoon was to be on the front row, so I’m happy about this. For tomorrow, we will try to set up our bike a bit better for the race distance. I know that physically it will be tough for me because after the recent surgery my shoulder has improved a little but it is still very stiff and the muscles hurt. Anyway, I hope to be able to stay with Lorenzo because for sure he will be consistent and that will be one of the key points in the race. The weather is nothing that we can change, so we will need to also be ready to do our best in any condition.”
Casey Stoner, Repsol Honda: 4th – 1m, 37.384s “Today hasn’t really been that great for us either, this morning’s session was pretty much a waste of time we were just working on our wet setting that we weren’t really happy with in Jerez. We improved that situation a little and we can hopefully expect a better feeling next time in wet conditions. This afternoon we continued on from yesterday, trying to find a better balance under braking and mid-turn corner speed but it wasn’t until towards the middle, end of session that we started to make some improvements with the bike. Every time I went out the balance didn’t feel correct so we tried to go in another direction, finally we found the right route and we improved a little bit more each run after that, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to use the qualifying tyre like I wanted to. When I went out there with the only new tyre that we had for the session, I made a few mistakes in the early laps so didn’t really use the best of the tyre. I think the race potential is there now and hopefully we can have a good race tomorrow.”
Andrea Dovizioso, Repsol Honda: 6th – 1m, 38.073s “It is important to start from a good position so I’m happy to start from the second row tomorrow. We worked on the setting and stability in the front improved so I could push more this afternoon, compared with yesterday. I rode quite consistently but I wasn’t able to gain some more tenths and lap under 1m, 38s. We have two points we would like to work on tomorrow so I hope that the track conditions are fine during the warm up. Today’s result gives us more confidence for the race after a difficult session yesterday".
Hiroshi Aoyama, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 11th – 1m, 38.497s “The track conditions were really difficult with a lot of humidity out there and it was hard to stay on line. Anyway, I found a good set-up and I was quite confident with the tyres – definitely better than yesterday. We still have a few small problems but we will analyse the data and try to solve them. I could have ended up with a better position but unfortunately I made a little mistake that cost me a good lap time and a higher placing on the grid.”
Toni Elias, LCR Honda MotoGP: 17th – 1m, 39.894s “Unfortunately we are back to our initial set-up problems. The track temperature in the afternoon was too low compared with yesterday and we struggled to warm up the rear tyre. Then we started to have some front grip issues through the session and I was losing the front in many corners. Yesterday I was more positive about my feeling on the bike but in these conditions I could not warm up the rear tyre and I am a bit frustrated now. We’ll see if we can fix this problem because I know I can be faster than this.”
- Ducati Report
With conditions more variable than they had been on Friday, the two Ducati Marlboro Team riders struggled more than expected to find the best setup during qualifying for the Portuguese Grand Prix.
The third free-practice session, which took place on a mostly wet track, was positive for both riders, with Hayden third and Rossi fourth, while the afternoon session, which was dry but with a slightly dirty track, saw the Italian finish ninth and the American thirteenth.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro Team) 9th, 1:38.271
“I’m a little disappointed with my performance today because I expected to get the fifth- or sixth-best time and be on the second row; that was the target. Unfortunately, though, it was a little more difficult than expected, and I wasn’t able to ride like I could yesterday since I didn’t have as much feeling. I couldn’t fight for a position that we would have been happier with. I struggled a little with the track conditions, as I didn’t have enough grip, especially on the front, and we’re trying to understand why. For tomorrow, we have to try to improve something with the front setup in order to still have a good race. I think the best pace will be around 1:37.5, and I’d be very happy to get in the high 1:37s, but we’ll have to find something in order to do that. I’m not hoping for a wet race, because although it’s true that we might be able to have more fun, racing in the dry makes it possible to understand more. Really, both options are fine.”
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro Team) 13th, 1:38.922
“I really thought we had made some good progress yesterday, and I’m certainly not thrilled about qualifying thirteenth, especially when we were third this morning—I liked the sound of that a lot better. This morning we went out on the slicks and had a pretty decent feeling for a patchy track. In the afternoon, the track was pretty dry apart from a few patches, but it was definitely cooler and dirty, which didn’t help with the tyres. I just wasn’t able to get enough grip, especially in the front and over the bumps. I had one front tyre that we couldn’t get to come in for some reason, and between losing those laps and coming back in to change it, we lost some time there. We also made a change with the rear to try to get it to turn better, and maybe we went too far and got it a bit wrong. Anyway, that clearly wasn’t good enough, but we’ll give it our best tomorrow.”
- Yamaha Report
Yamaha Factory Racing rider Jorge Lorenzo made it clear today he wasn’t ready to give up his record of dominance in Estoril. This afternoon’s qualifying for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Portugal saw the reigning World Champion place his YZR-M1 on pole position for an incredible fourth consecutive time.
The threat of rain again this afternoon saw all riders on the pace quickly, looking to score a fast lap before the weather changed. Lorenzo started the session the fastest rider, then spent some time duelling with team mate Spies for second and third before delivering a decisive 1’37.161 to secure pole. The achievement means Lorenzo now has the record for the Spanish rider with most pole position starts in all GP classes in the modern era with 43. This is also his 17th MotoGP pole position start, equalling Dani Pedrosa, a record for Spanish riders in the premier class.
Fellow Yamaha Factory rider Spies was also on full attack this afternoon. After a challenging start to his first dry sessions on the Estoril circuit yesterday, Spies made big steps forward in today’s qualifying. The Texan’s crew worked hard from the morning’s free practice session to deliver a competitive set up that gave Spies the opportunity to challenge the top riders for grid position. Having spent some time in the one hour heat contesting the second place spot with his team mate, Spies eventually settled for fifth at the end and a second row start for tomorrow’s race.
Jorge Lorenzo / Position 1st - Time 1.37.161 - Laps 29
“Today has been complicated; I’ve got it just by a tenth in the end, managing five good laps with the softer tyre. The most important thing is the race though, not that I have 43 pole position starts. This track is strange to ride on, quite old with lots of holes so you have to ride with care. I need a good start tomorrow, be focussed, intelligent and have good luck. The bike is improving, it’s much better in fast corners but we could be faster on the straight.”
Ben Spies / Position 5th - Time 1.37.866 - Laps 29
“It was a good session for us; we definitely made the bike better after we’ve been struggling a bit this weekend. I knew we were capable of it if we got the bike working with the right set up. We’re not 100% but I’m happy to be in the middle of the second row. Hopefully we can get a good start and put together a good race. I’m definitely feeling a lot better after qualifying than I did yesterday.”
Wilco Zeelenberg - Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“The first pole of the season so of course we are very satisfied with it. We know Jorge is good here at Estoril but our mission is to be on the podium and keep our unbroken podium finish run alive. Of course to have pole is nice but tomorrow is the race, it will be a difficult one so it is important to start well.”
Massimo Meregalli - Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“A good improvement today, Ben delivered an impressive qualifying session. Now we have a rider on first and second row which is a good starting point for the race. Here it is not easy to overtake people so it is very important that we have these positions. Jorge started yesterday determined and he finished qualifying today the same way with a really impressive result.”
Edwards and Crutchlow storm to third row in Estoril
Colin Edwards produced his best qualifying performance of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship in Estoril today, the American surging to a brilliant seventh position on the grid for tomorrow's Portuguese Grand Prix.
And Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team-mate Cal Crutchlow equalled his best qualifying result of his outstanding rookie campaign after the British rider set the eighth quickest time in this afternoon's session. With small damp patches still littering sections of the 2.599 miles circuit after torrential overnight rain, Edwards and Crutchlow expertly built up their speed to qualify within 0.109s of each other at the end of a typically captivating MotoGP qualifying session.
Edwards ended with a fastest time of 1.38.080 and once again the experienced Texan was the leading non-factory rider in the ultra-competitive MotoGP field. His time was only 0.007s away from the second row as he experimented with different front-end settings throughout the hour-long session to find better turning performance with his YZR-M1 machine.
Crutchlow caught the eye once again with his all-action style thrilling a sizeable Saturday crowd ahead of tomorrow's 28-lap race. He was able to lap consistently inside the top ten throughout as forecast rain held off, despite dark clouds hanging menacingly over the track.
Just over a minute remained when Crutchlow stormed into sixth position with a lap of 1.38.190. But he was bumped back to the third row by a late burst of speed from factory Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso and Edwards. He managed to lap marginally quicker on his final lap to qualify eighth and for the third r ace in succession, the 2009 World Supersport champion will start in front of Italian Valentino Rossi.
Tomorrow's race is the third round of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship following the recent postponement of the Japanese MotoGP race, scheduled to take place on April 24.
Colin Edwards / Position 7th - Time 1.38.080 - Laps 27
“That's my best qualifying result of the season so far, so I'm happy about that when you consider how strong the field is this year. I gave it everything I had out there even though conditions weren't perfect. There were still a couple of damp patches on the track, especially at the last corner, and I couldn't take my normal line. It is the same for everybody but in a couple of places where I had to alter my line, it threw me out of my rhythm a little bit. Even with the track a bit patchy I was able to go faster than I managed yesterday, so thanks again to my guys in the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team. They did an awesome job and the bike feels good and in those conditions I don't think we could have gone any faster. We made a couple of changes to the front in that session and we need to sit down and look at the data to see if I'll run that set-up in the race. We might need to make another modification for the race because I'd still like the bike to turn into the corner a little better. To be right behind the factory bikes is all I can do and my team is doing a fantastic job to help get as close to the front as I am.”
Cal Crutchlow / Position 8th - Time 1.38.189 - Laps 25
“I don't think I could have gone any faster or put in any extra effort than I did. And if I can keep coming to circuits that I've never seen and qualifying inside the top ten, I'm going to be really happy. At one point it look ed like I might get my first second row, but to be in between Colin and Valentino on the grid for my first race here, I've got to be really happy. I pretty much lost a session too because I only did a couple of laps in the wet this morning. It wasn't worth taking any big risks and I don't think I've ever been so happy to finish last. It is not easy on this track and I'm finding it quite physical. I'm still having some issues with arm pump in my right arm and to compensate I'm using my left arm a lot and that is stressing the shoulder I had an operation on during the winter. There's no real time to relax and when you're braking from 200mph to 30mph, it is really physically demanding on the arms and shoulders. I'm really looking forward to the race now and hopefully I can reward the team with a good result after all their effort again this weekend. My aim for tomorrow will be to finish in the top ten and get some more experience of the bike under my belt.”
- Bridgestone Report
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium. Rear (asymmetric): Medium, Hard
For the second day running in Portugal the rain stayed away from the Estoril circuit despite very ominous weather, and although the morning practice session was damp, the qualifying session was dry.
Jorge Lorenzo used Bridgestone’s harder front and softer rear slicks to secure himself pole position for tomorrow’s race just ahead of Marco Simoncelli. It was Simoncelli who for a long time was dominating the hour-long session and looked to be on course for his first premier class pole, until a crash in the crucial last minutes allowed Lorenzo to get the better of him by just over 0.1seconds.
Despite yesterday evening’s thunderstorms and more overnight rain which left the track damp and dirty this morning, the laptimes were good and Lorenzo’s pole time was just 0.2seconds from the lap record as the times tumbled in the closing stages.
Completing the front row is Dani Pedrosa, who finished just 0.03seconds behind Simoncelli, with Repsol Honda teammate Casey Stoner in fourth. Almost all riders set their best laps on the harder front and all favoured the softer rear slicks. Just two tenths of a second cover the top four which is a good indication that it will be a close-fought race.
Whilst the weather for tomorrow remains uncertain, riders have at least now had the chance to use Bridgestone’s wet tyres this weekend.
Tohru Ubukata – General Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“This morning’s practice session started with the track 60-70 per cent wet, but conditions were tricky because some parts of the lap were wet and others quite dry which made it very difficult to use the wet tyres correctly. Nevertheless performance was reasonable, what we expected, and Loris and Jorge completed 10 and 11 laps respectively and consistency and wear appearance was good. For the qualifying session, it was dry but the track conditions were not perfect because of the overnight rain and the temperature was cold. Most riders favoured the combination of harder option front and softer rear slicks and I am happy with tyre performance as Jorge’s pole lap was only 0.2seconds from the lap record in less than ideal conditions. We could also confirm race-distance durability of the softer option rear, so if the conditions tomorrow are similar to today the softer rear slick is a viable option for the race.”
- Suzuki Report
Rizla Suzuki’s Álvaro Bautista produced another heroic performance at Estoril today to qualify his Suzuki GSV-R only two-seconds away from pole position.
Bautista (P15, 1’39.172, 27 laps) improved on yesterday’s lap-time by a second during this afternoon’s qualifying session, a feat made even more impressive by the fact that Spaniard chose to miss this morning’s final free practice session due to the difficult conditions. Bautista improved steadily throughout qualifying and produced his best time on his penultimate lap of the afternoon. He ended the session very tired, but again reported no pain from the femur he broke last month.
Today’s qualifying was held in dry and overcast conditions, with track temperatures reaching 26ºC. The Estoril circuit still had some damp patches around its 4,182m length this afternoon, due to a heavy overnight rainstorm that soaked the circuit making it very difficult for all riders this morning and too dangerous for Bautista to risk taking to the track in his condition. Pole position was set by reigning World Champion and current championship leader Jorge Lorenzo on a factory Yamaha.
Tomorrow’s 28-lap Portuguese Grand Prix is the third round of the season, but will mark Bautista’s 2011 race debut when he takes to the track for the scheduled 13.00hr local time (12.00hr GMT) start.
Álvaro Bautista: “Yet again I am very happy with what has happened today. This morning was a bit disappointing because the conditions were not very good, as the track was not wet, but it was not dry either. We decided not to go out in the third practice because it was too risky and we don’t need to risk anything here this weekend. This afternoon was really my third practice and I was able to start with the same lap-time as yesterday, but my rhythm was a lot more consistent. The track was still a bit damp in parts this afternoon, especially the first and last corners and the track grip was not as good as yesterday, so even though the lap-time was the same it meant that I had improved because the conditions were worse. At the end of the session my feeling had improved so I was able to push a bit more and I was able to go a second quicker than yesterday, so I am very happy about that. I feel a lot more tired today than I did yesterday, I really noticed the extra 15 minutes in the session. I need to recover for the race so I will go to the Clinica Mobile for some treatment and then get some rest. For tomorrow I hope for good weather and my target is to finish the race, I do not care about the position I just want to finish. I know I will suffer because 28-laps is a long way, but it is my target and I want to do it!”
Paul Denning – Team Manager: “As we said yesterday the effort to be ready to even ride this weekend was brave, but to qualify within two seconds of pole and in front of a couple of other guys is an amazing result. Apart from his injury, Álvaro has also had a lack of time on the bike compared to the guys that have competed in Qatar and Spain, and missing this morning’s session because of the impossible conditions didn’t really help him either. The target for tomorrow is to complete the race, move his fitness on to a higher level and get properly ready for the busy races in June. If we can achieve in the race what we did in qualifying today it would be as good – if not better – than we could possibly have expected.”
- Red Bull Rookies
Brad Binder expunged the frustration of the Jerez weekend by totally dominating the first race in Estoril ahead of Arthur Sissis and Lorenzo Baldassarri. The 15 year old South African set off from pole and led from 1st lap to last and even though 15 year old Arthur Sissis and 14 year old Italian Baldassarri were right with him early on, neither could match his pace.
“I just put my head down and went as hard as I could from the start,” said Binder. “When I saw the gap was 4 seconds I realised that it was going OK but I wanted to keep pushing and I only eased up right at the end. In fact I almost crashed at the chicane on the last lap when the front tucked but I got away with it.”
Sissis accepted that there was nothing he could do. “I got into second and went as hard as I could but there was no chance of matching Brad today, he was gone. My bike was sliding around quite a lot so the set up can be improved for sure. We'll have a look at things and see what we can change for tomorrow. I hope we can find something and that I can race with Brad.” Sissis jumps into the Cup points lead, 10 clear of Binder and Philipp Oettl, who misses this weekend following a testing crash that resulted in a broken collarbone.
Baldassarri also hopes that some suspension work will make the difference to his race tomorrow. “I enjoyed the race a lot, I went as hard as I could but I couldn't race with Brad and Arthur. My bike was moving around a lot, we had so little dry track time and I am new to the Rookies bike so we just didn't have it well set up. Hopefully we can make some improvement, if we can I think I can race with them tomorrow.”
Though the lead trio became well spread out the fight for 4th could not have been more intense. It was 16 year old Frenchman Alan Techer who snatched the place on the line after Xavi Pinsach, the 14 year old Spaniard ran wide coming out of the last corner and dropped from 4th to 7th. Joakim Niemi, the 16 year old Finn stole 5th ahead of 14 year old Portuguese local hero Ivo Lopes with Aaron España, the 13 year old Spaniard 8th.
España had done a superb job to fight through from 15th on lap one pulling 17 year old Czech Tomas Vavrous with him into a battle for 4th that at the time also included Lukas Trautmann and Andrea Migno. The group split up and Vavrous crashed leaving 15 year old Italian Migno a good 9th ahead of Trautmann, the 15 year old German.
“That was so much fun,” said Pinsach. The bike was really working well and I enjoyed battling with the guys. You can't break away from a group like that they just have your slipstream. I knew that I had to push hard coming through the last corner. I was as hard as I dare on the throttle and the bike just ran wide, I couldn't stop it. Never mind, I tried.”
Lopes agreed that it just came down to the last corner. “We had such a fight I could get in front but I couldn't get away, the other guys were just holding my slipstream all the time. I was pushing so hard on that last lap, coming through the last right the back was sliding, sliding, I just held on to it.”
Race 1 Classification
1. Brad Binder (RSA) 29 minutes 52.963 seconds
2. Arthur Sissis (AUS) +15.929
3. Lorenzo Baldassarri (ITA) +24.667
4. Alan Techer (FRA) +38.011
5. Joakim Niemi (FIN) +38.049
6. Ivo Lopes (POR) +38.141
7. Xavier Pinsach (ESP) +38.211
8. Aaron España (ESP) +38.269
9. Andrea Migno (ITA) +47.632
10. Lukas Trautmann (AUT) +47.691
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