Estoril MotoGP Race Day Guide
— From Official statistics compiled by Dr. Martin Raines
• Casey Stoner starts from pole for the first time since the final race of last year at Valencia. Estoril is the only current circuit at which Stoner has not taken a Grand Prix victory in the MotoGP class.
• The winner last year at Estoril, Dani Pedrosa starts from second place on the grid. If Pedrosa finishes in the top three it will be the 100th occasion that he has stood on a Grand Prix podium, a milestone that has been achieved by only six other riders in the 64-year history of GP racing.
• Cal Crutchlow has qualified on the front row of the grid for the second time in 2012. Crutchlow will be aiming to become the first British rider to finish in the top four at the opening three premier-class GP races of the year since Barry Sheene won the first three races in 1976.
• This is the first occasion that a satellite team Yamaha rider has qualified higher on the grid than both factory bikes since Ben Spies was on pole at Indianapolis in 2010.
• Heading the second row is Jorge Lorenzo – the first time since moving up to the MotoGP class in 2008 that he has failed to qualify on pole at Estoril.
• Ben Spies has qualified in fifth place on the grid. Spies has not had great success previously at Estoril: he crashed out on the sighting lap in 2010 and crashed last year after suffering technical problems.
• Taking the final slot on the second row is Alvaro Bautista – his best qualifying result so far in 2012. Bautista won at Estoril on three occasions in the smaller classes: 125cc race in 2006 and the 250cc race in both 2007 and 2008.
• Heading the third row is Andrea Dovizioso, who has only once failed to finish in the top five in the last seventeen races, starting with a 4th place finish in Portugal last year.
• Eighth-fastest qualifier is Hector Barbera, who is the highest placed Ducati rider on the grid.
• Valentino Rossi, who has won five times at Estoril, has qualified in ninth place on the grid – his best qualifying result so far this year.
• Aleix Espargaro, in twelfth place on the grid, is the highest placed CRT rider.
• Marc Marquez starts from pole for the second successive race. Marquez has finished on the podium in the last eleven races that he has started.
• Thomas Luthi has qualified in second place on the grid, equalling his grid position from last year in Portugal when he crashed on the fourth lap whilst battling for the lead.
• Scott Redding has qualified on the front row for the first time since he was third on the grid at the Aragon Grand Prix last year. Redding will be aiming to finish on the podium for the first time since he was second at the Australian GP in 2010.
• Johann Zarco has qualified in fourth place on the grid in just his third race since moving up to the Moto2 class.
• Pol Espargaro, the winner one week ago in Jerez, will start the race from fifth place on the grid.
• Taking the final place on the second row is Andrea Iannone, who qualified in 14th place on the grid last year in Portugal and made it into the lead on lap 22 before crashing on the following lap.
• Alex de Angelis, starting from ninth place on the grid, is making his 200th Grand Prix start.
• For the second successive Moto3 race, the top six riders on the grid are all of different nationalities.
• Sandro Cortese starts from pole for the fifth time in his career. His third place in the first race of this year in Qatar is the only time he has finished on the podium from his four previous pole position starts. Cortese will be aiming to finish on the podium at three successive GP races for the first time in his career.
• Maverick Viñales has qualified in second place on the grid. This is his 20th Grand Prix start and he has already finished on the podium on ten occasions, including five race victories.
• Miguel Oliveira takes the final place on the front row of the grid for his home Grand Prix. Oliveira’s 7th place finish in the 125cc race last year is the best ever result at the Portuguese Grand Prix by a home rider.
• Heading the second row is Danny Kent – his best ever qualifying result in Grand Prix racing.
• Zulfahmi Khairuddin is in fifth place on the grid, which is the best ever qualifying result in Grand Prix racing by a Malaysian rider.
• In the final slot on the second row is the winner from Jerez, Romano Fenati, who will be aiming to become (at the age of 16 years 112 days) the youngest rider of all-time to win back-to-back Grand Prix races. He would take the record from Maverick Viñales who was 16 years 298 days when he won the final race of 2011 in Valencia after winning the previous race at Sepang.
Stoner storms to Estoril pole
Amid mostly sunny conditions near the Atlantic coast, it was Repsol Honda Team´s Casey Stoner who got his first pole position of the season in the MotoGP™ qualifying session for the Grande Prémio de Portugal Circuito Estoril ahead of teammate Dani Pedrosa.
In a frantic final four minutes, Stoner´s time of 1.37´188 was enough to oust Pedrosa into second place on the grid, who will be looking to repeat his win here last year. Finishing off the front row of the grid is Monster Yamaha Tech 3´s revelation of the season Cal Crutchlow, who secured his second front-row start in three races.
Heading the second row is Yamaha Factory Racing´s Jorge Lorenzo, who was very unhappy with his performance in the session, as it is the first time in his MotoGP career that he has not started on the front row at Estoril.
Behind him in fifth, his teammate Ben Spies left it late to put in his fast lap, after struggling with traffic throughout the session, which saw him almost collide with Speed Master´s Mattia Pasini. Rounding out the second row is San Carlo Honda Gresini´s Álvaro Bautista, who has been the quiet performer this weekend, getting ever more comfortable on his Honda. Seventh place went to Crutchlow´s teammate Andrea Dovizioso, who has been out-qualified by the Brit for the third time in a row.
Behind him, Pramac Racing´s Héctor Barberá took the honours for top Ducati in eighth place, in front of Ducati Team rider Valentino Rossi in ninth. While this position will be hardly satisfying for Rossi, he will take heart from being less than a second off the front. Rounding out the top ten is Rossi´s teammate Nicky Hayden, who could not repeat his front-row heroics from Jerez. Top CRT finisher was Power Electronics Aspar´s Aleix Espargaró in 12th.
The session was red flagged 11 minutes before the end as Power Electronics Aspar´s Randy de Puniet lost the front end of his bike, taking out Colin Edwards on his NGM Mobile Forward Racing bike. Edwards suffered a broken collarbone, while de Puniet has abrasion to one of his fingers and contusions to his left shoulder. The session was resumed shortly after. Avintia Blusens’ Iván Silva fortunately saved his near crash, by pulling off a tremendous save on his CRT bike late on in the session, as it tried to buck him off.
1 Casey Stoner 1’37.188 AUS HONDA Repsol Honda Team
2 Dani Pedrosa 1’37.201 SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
3 Cal Crutchlow 1’37.289 GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
4 Jorge Lorenzo 1’37.466 SPA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing Team
5 Ben Spies 1’37.723 USA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing Team
6 Alvaro Bautista 1’37.917 SPA HONDA San Carlo Honda Gresini
7 Andrea Dovizioso 1’37.943 ITA YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
8 Hector Barbera 1’38.006 SPA DUCATI Pramac Racing
9 Valentino Rossi 1’38.059 ITA DUCATI Ducati Team
10 Nicky Hayden 1’38.253 USA DUCATI Ducati Team
11 Stefan Bradl 1’38.265 GER HONDA LCR Honda MotoGP
12 Aleix Espargaro 1’39.353 ESP ART Aspar Team MotoGP
13 Karel Abraham 1’39.398 CZE DUCATI Cardion AB Motoracing
14 Randy De Puniet 1’39.586 FRA ART Aspar Team MotoGP
15 Yonny Hernandez 1’40.029 COL BQR-FTR BQR
16 Michelle Pirro 1’40.225 ITA HONDA San Carlo Honda Gresini
17 Mattia Pasini 1’40.387 ITA ART Speed Master
18 Colin Edwards 1’40.964 USA SUTER NGM Mobile Forward Racing
19 James Ellison 1’41.394 GBR ART Paul Bird Racing
20 Danilo Petrucci 1’41.486 ITA IODA Ioda Racing Project
21 Ivan Silva 1’41.490 SPA BQR-FTR BQR
Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol´s Marc Márquez securely cemented his favourite tag with a dominant qualifying performance to take pole position at the Grande Prémio de Portugal Circuito Estoril.
In dry and sunny conditions the Spanish championship leader stormed to top spot with a time of 1.40´934, beating close rival, Interwetten-Paddock´s Tom Lüthi, into second by just over two tenths. Marc VDS Racing Team´s Briton Scott Redding continued his good form of the weekend by taking the final spot on the front row.
JiR Moto2´s rookie Johann Zarco, who has impressed all season, heads up the second row of the grid, a mere three hundredths off Redding, while Jerez race-winner, Pons 40 HP Tuenti´s Pol Espargaró sits outside of him in fifth. Resurgent Italian Andrea Iannone overcame yesterday´s bike issues, to round out the second row in sixth on his Speed Master machine.
Blusens Avintia´s Julián Simón is starting to gel with his Suter chassis, finishing just over five-tenths off the front, in front of 2010 Moto2 World Champion Toni Elías aboard his Mapfre Aspar Team machine. NGM Mobile Forward Racing´s Alex de Angelis low-sided his bike with 18 minutes to go in the session, but had already set the ninth fastest time. He walked away unscathed. Rounding out the top ten is Technomag-CIP´s Dominique Aegerter.
S/Master Speed Up´s Mike Di Meglio suffered his second crash of the day as he was pushing for a fast lap late in the final minute, yet suffered no ill effects.
Moto3™ qualifying at Grande Prémio de Portugal Circuito Estoril got underway in sunny conditions with Red Bull KTM Ajo´s Sandro Cortese taking his second pole position of the season ahead of Maverick Viñales.
With a lap of 1.47´145, Cortese confirmed himself as one of the favourites for tomorrow´s race, starting in front of Blusens Avintia´s championship favourite Maverick Viñales, who was just over three tenths behind. Rounding out the front row of grid is Estrella Galicia 0,0´s local hero Miguel Oliveira, who gave the home crowd something to celebrate.
Fourth on the grid is Red Bull KMT Ajo rider Danny Kent, who has found his confidence again after his Jerez crash. He starts ahead of AirAsia-Sic-Ajo´s Zulfahmi Khairuddin, who is starting to make headway after a subdued start to the season. The second row is completed by championship leader, Team Italia FMI´s Romano Fenati, who continues to impress in his maiden year.
RW Racing GP´s Luis Salom starts tomorrow´s race in seventh, having set a time just over a second off the front, ousting JHK T-Shirt Laglisse´s Efrén Vázquez into eighth. Vázquez crashed out in turn nine on his final hot-lap, yet walked away unscathed. Finishing off the third row is Bankia Aspar Team´s Héctor Faubel, while Caretta Technology´s Alexis Masbou rounds out the top ten.
Bankia Aspar Team´s Alberto Moncayo had a difficult session with his bike stopping at the end of pit lane with a mechanical problem towards the end of the session. He starts from 17th.
The Moto3™ class has some notable absentees, as IodaRacing Project´s Jonas Folger is still suffering from glandular fever and has been replaced this weekend by Italian rider Armando Pontone, while TT Motion Events Racing´s Niklas Ajo is replaced by Spain´s Joan Olive, after the Finn was banned following an altercation with a race official at the last round. Italian Manuel Tatasciore replaces Caretta Technology´s Jack Miller this weekend, after the Australian fractured his collarbone in Jerez.
– HRC Report
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC213V) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) scored a brilliant Honda one-two in this afternoon’s qualifying session for tomorrow’s Portuguese Grand Prix at Estoril. Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC213V) will start the race from the second row of the grid after recording the sixth fastest time in the hour-long session.
Conditions here have been typically changeable with strong winds gusting off the Atlantic and all sessions have been affected by a track that has refused to completely dry following yesterday’s early morning rain. Even during the first few minutes of qualifying a few spots of rain began to fall, adding some extra tension to proceedings.
Following a promising FP3 this morning Stoner and his crew tried some further adjustments to his RC213V, but the changes made the bike slightly worse, delivering more rear grip, but at the expense of turning performance. Stoner has also been struck by a nasty cold and is on antibiotics.
Nonetheless the reigning World Champion rallied himself for the final ten minutes when the track was reopened following a brief stoppage due to a crash involving Colin Edwards (Suter BMW) and Randy de Puniet (Aprilia). Edwards suffered a fractured collarbone in the accident.
On his first flying lap out of the pits the Australian moved ahead of Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) who had dominated the early stages of the session. But that wasn’t enough to give him his first pole position of the year. Moments later Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) bettered Stoner and he had to dig deeper to produce another faster lap that put him back on top.
At the same time last year’s Estoril winner Pedrosa was giving it all on his final run, the Spaniard crossing the line just 0.013s behind his team-mate. Pedrosa admitted that he had been concerned earlier in the session when he was saw the rain arrived while sat in the pits having some machine issues fixed. Luckily for him conditions stayed fine and he was able to secure his second consecutive start from second on the grid. Pedrosa believes he might even have made pole if he had encountered less traffic during his final attack.
Bautista – preparing for his third race with Honda – scored his best grid position so far in sixth place, 0.729s behind Stoner. The Spaniard’s impressive pace proved once again that he is feeling more and more at home on his RC213V. His previous best qualifying performance on the bike was eighth at last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.
The complex, bumpy and narrow Estoril circuit is always a special challenge, especially for MotoGP rookies like Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP RC213V). In fact the reigning Moto2 World Champion was making a typically professional job of his first weekend here on a MotoGP bike, ending free practice in tenth and hoping to improve further in qualifying. Unluckily, he was on his fastest lap when the red flags were shown following the Edwards/de Puniet crash. Bradl believes he would have been seventh fastest if he had been able to complete that lap.
Michele Pirro (San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR-Honda) was in the thick of the CRT action, putting his Fireblade-powered machine 16th on the grid. Pirro did not go quite as quick as he had hoped but he is still the fourth fastest CRT bike on the grid.
In the frantic Moto2 class Marc Marquez (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol-Suter) scored his second pole position in a row, just 0.120s ahead of Thomas Luthi (Interwetten-Paddock-Suter). World Championship leader Marquez dominated the session, but was never more than a fraction ahead of the rest of the pack.
Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team-Kalex) also spent much of the 45 minutes in the frame for a front-row start until he got demoted to the second row during the final few minutes. But the Briton came back strong on his final lap to clock the third fastest lap, just 0.224s behind Luthi.
The lap times were typically close in the Honda CBR600-powered class with the top 15 riders separated by a mere 0.907s. The man in 15th spot is none other than reigning 125 World Champion Nicolas Terol (Mapfre Aspar Team – Suter) who is gradually getting to grips with the very different demands of the Moto2 category.
Johann Zarco (JIR Moto2 – Motobi) was in the running for the front row until he had problems in the final few minutes. He ended up fourth to lead row two, just ahead of Jerez winner Pol Espargaro (Pons 40 HP Tuenti-Kalex) and another former Moto2 winner Andrea Iannone (Speed Master – Speed Up).
Two Honda riders will start tomorrow’s Moto3 race from the front row of the grid. Maverick Vinales (Blusens Avintia – FTR Honda) ended this afternoon’s qualifying session second fastest, three tenths behind pole-man Sandro Cortese (KTM) and four tenths in front of Miguel Oliveira (Estrella Galicia 0.0 – Suter Honda).
Vinales, currently second in the points chase, was happy with his progress in practice and qualifying and is confident that he will be in the hunt for victory tomorrow.
Local hero Oliveira joined the battle for pole position, spending some time at the front of the pack, but slipped back to third in the closing stages of the session.
Sixteen-year-old rookie sensation Romano Fenati (Team Italian FMI – FTR- Honda) , who won his first Grand Prix at Jerez last weekend and now leads the World Championship, was sixth fastest today, almost exactly a second off pole.
Efren Vazquez (JHK T-Shirt Laglisse – FTR Honda) will start the race from the third row of the grid after recording ninth fastest time.
Casey Stoner, Repsol Honda: pole position – 1m 37.188s “In general it’s been a good day for us and I’m really happy to get pole. FP3 was positive and we made progress on the bike, we had the bike turning well with good front feeling. Unfortunately in qualifying we tried to improve it further, but managed to lose the good points! We did find a little better feeling in the rear, but we couldn’t get the bike to turn and do what we wanted it to. We didn’t really feel we had the pace to be on pole today, but after the red flag came out with 10 minutes remaining we were able to get out there and put together a good enough lap to take pole. We’ve been pretty fast in every session and our race pace gives us confidence but we’ll have to have a think about which set-up direction we go for in warm-up and hope this is the best for the race. I was sorry to see Colin has broken his collar bone again and I send him by best wishes.”
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 2nd – 1m 37.201s “I think we did a good job in qualifying and to be on the front row here after all the issues we had is a great thing. I couldn’t put too many good laps together because I had some problems on the bike, first with the brakes, then with the electronics and by the end I was feeling good, but we had to stop again due to the red flag. I honestly think that in the last minutes of the session I could have taken the pole, but there was a lot of traffic and I missed it by just 0.013. The race will be very tough tomorrow because the track conditions are poor, the grip is low and it makes the tyres spin a lot. We will try to set up our bike a little better for tomorrow to do our best in the race.”
Alvaro Bautista, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 6th – 1m 37.917s “We did a good job today. This morning we completed race distance on the hard tyre and it was a positive session. Everything went according to plan in the afternoon too, but on the last soft tyre we ran into a lot of traffic on track and when I tried to push on the very last lap I came up behind Spies in the first turn. It is a dangerous thing to do and I think it is up to all us riders to make sure that when we slow down we move aside and make way for the guys coming behind us. Anyway, a second row start is good for us having qualified on the fourth row in Qatar and the third row at Jerez. Tomorrow we need to make a good start and if we can stay with the guys at the front over the opening laps we can look forward to a good race.”
Stefan Bradl, LCR Honda MotoGP: 11th – 1m 38.265s “We were unlucky today – without the red flag we could have been seventh on the grid. I am a bit disappointed because we were doing a good job improving the bike compared to yesterday when we were far from the top. Today we were just one second from the top but during my quickest lap I saw the red flag in the last corner. Starting from 11th spot will be more complicated in the beginning of the race, but I think we made a good job today and I was capable adapting my riding style to this track.”
Michel Pirro, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 16th – 1m 40.225s “Unfortunately I made a mistake on my best lap which prevented me from keeping my promise to the guys, which was a 1’39. They deserve at least that because they are working so hard to help me improve. We know we are behind with development, but as I have said before nobody is losing faith.
Hopefully we can get a good start tomorrow and then complete our principal objective, which is to make it to the end of the race.”
Moto2 rider quotes
Marc Marquez, Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol-Suter: pole position – 1m 41.041s “There was a lot of traffic out there at the end of the session – it’s normal – everyone trying to find a slipstream from a faster rider to make a good lap time. In the end I found some space so I could ride a good lap. We’ve made a few small mistakes here, but step by step we have improved, so I have to thank my team who have helped me a lot. Now I just have to keep calm, keep concentrated and do my best. We will try a few more little things in warm-up because the bike still isn’t 100 per cent.”
Thomas Luthi, Interwetten-Paddock-Suter: 2nd – 1m 41.054s “We are looking forward to the race and I think that all we really need now is a little luck. The bike is going okay – the base is there and that is important. It has been hard work here, trying to get the bike even better than it was at Jerez.
Anyway, I think we are ready for the race and ready to try and fight for a victory.”
Scott Redding, Marc VDS Racing Team-Kalex: 3rd – 1m 41.278s “It was definitely close out there. I’m really happy to be on the front row here because that first corner is so tight that you quite often get carnage after the start. Being up front makes it much easier than being 13th or 15th. I think there will be some good racing out there tomorrow – hopefully everyone will keep it clean and have a good race.”
Honda Moto3 Rider Quotes
Maverick Vinales, Blusens Avintia – FTR Honda: 2nd, 1m 47.460s “Today we had a good feeling, above all because we were working with the race in mind. We were riding with a very good pace and we are strong. I think that tomorrow will be a race in which we ride in a group, and tyres will be decisive. We have a good setting and, even though we will make a few more tests with tyres in the warm-up, we are clear about things ahead of the race. We are very confident to have the pace to fight with Cortese and Oliveira.”
Miguel Oliveira, Estrella Galicia 0.0 – Suter-Honda: 3rd – 1m 47.916 “I’m happy. In the morning we were fast and again in the afternoon too. We have a steady pace, although we lack a little on an out-and-out lap. To start from the first row at my home Grand Prix is pretty good! I hope that everything goes well in the race and that we can have a good pace and be consistent. However, the other riders are very strong, so the aim is to a good start and be up front from the start.”
Romano Fenati, Team Italian FMI – FTR Honda: 6th – 1m 48.191s “Today we had a little difficulty getting a good position on the grid because of the changing weather conditions, but the team did well to quickly resolve any problems. We ended up on the second row, which is good, all things considered. We preferred to work for the race, looking for a steady pace and we feel quite confident for tomorrow.”
– Yamaha Report
Today’s qualifying session for the Grand Prix of Portugal proved to be a frustrating one for both Yamaha Factory riders. Jorge Lorenzo led for most of the session until a red flag incident between Colin Edwards and Randy De Puniet forced a restart with nine minutes remaining. A mixture of heavy traffic along with a lack of confidence in certain corners resulted in a gradual drop to a grid position of fourth on the second row, just 0.278 seconds from pole. This will be the first time since 2008 that Lorenzo has not started from the front row of the grid at Estoril.
Having finally got his 2012 season firmly back on track with a highly competitive pace, Ben Spies endured an extremely frustrating qualifying session with at least three hot laps interrupted by slower traffic. Having been denied a front row lap time Spies will start tomorrow’s race from fifth on the grid alongside his team mate on the second row.
Jorge Lorenzo – Position 4th – Time 1.37.466 – Laps 29
“The main problem for me today was that in turn one and two I couldn’t enter aggressively so I lost a lot of time in this section. In general the bike is not giving me a good feeling so this lap time was the maximum I could get today. We are in fourth but tomorrow is going to be hard as I have to try to pass Cal who is a hard braker! I will keep thinking positive and see what we can do.”
Ben Spies – Position 5th – Time 1.37.723 – Laps 26
“It was a tough session for everybody, the annoying thing was that three of my best laps were blocked but that’s just the way it goes. Two of them I think could have been avoided but one of them was just a racing incident. We’re on the second row in the middle and we’re a lot better than we were in Jerez. I feel good on the bike and I just need to keep building the confidence now. Being three tenths behind Jorge at this track is pretty good.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“It was a tough qualifying, we were on pole up until nine minutes to go so I think fourth looks worse than we actually are. 0.2 of a second is not a lot. We are still struggling on rear grip in corner entry; especially the first two splits so we need to improve the bike. If we can do that we have a good chance to battle at the front tomorrow.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“We missed the first row but we are pretty close. Traffic compromised at least two or three laps for Ben but overall we are satisfied as we are coming from a really bad weekend. The race will be tough, but we are confident as up to five minutes from the end of qualifying we were really close. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.”
Confident Crutchlow blasts to front row in Estoril
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Cal Crutchlow stormed to his second front row start in the opening three rounds of the 2012 MotoGP World Championship with another scintillating qualifying performance in Estoril today.
Only reigning World Champion Casey Stoner and 2011 Estoril winner Dani Pedrosa were quicker than the British rider, who maintained his incredible qualifying record this season to finish top non-factory rider and leading Yamaha on the leader board.
Crutchlow hasn’t qualified lower than fourth in 2012 and once again this afternoon he challenged for pole position in the thrilling final stages of a session that was red flagged with 11 minutes remaining following a collision between Randy de Puniet and former Tech 3 Yamaha rider Colin Edwards.
The short delay in proceedings didn’t knock Crutchlow out of his stride and five minutes were left on the clock when he surged to the top of the timesheets with a lap of 1.37.289. That time kept Crutchlow at the top of the standings until just over two minutes remained and at the end he was only 0.101s behind Stoner and 0.088s adrift of Pedrosa.
Andrea Dovizioso will start tomorrow’s race from the front of the third row of the grid having set the seventh quickest time. The Italian was disappointed with his pace on the soft Bridgestone tyres in the decisive final moments of the session. Bur he remains confident he will be challenging for a third successive top five result tomorrow having been one of the fastest and most consistent riders on the hard compound Bridgestone rubber.
Cal Crutchlow – Position 3rd – Time 1.37.289 – Laps 28
“To be back on the front row again is a really great achievement for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team and this is reward again for all of our hard work. I am really happy as well to be the fastest Yamaha because that proves what a good job all of us are doing. I was on the hard tyre for the first part of the session working on the race set-up and it felt a little different to what I am used to, but we made a lot of progress with the bike during the session. I felt really comfortable and confident on the soft tyre and felt I could be fighting for the front row. I was actually going to scrap my best lap bu t I made up some time in the last sector and it was good enough for the top three. I’m happy with that but we still have to improve the bike a bit more for the race. I want it to turn a little better and brake a little better. I am looking forward to the race but it is going to be a difficult job. We know Jorge is going to be there and a podium will be very hard but as always I’ll try my best.”
Andrea Dovizioso – Position 7th – Time 1.37.917 – Laps 29
“I’m quite angry to have qualified down in seventh today because we could have done much better. It is always tricky when you have to start from the third row of the grid and I hope my starting position is not going to hamper me at the start of the race. Getting a good start will be crucial but I am really satisfied about my pace on the hard tyre. I was third fastest and only 0.2s behi nd Lorenzo on the hard tyre, so I think my rhythm for the race is going to be very competitive. Qualifying didn’t go quite according to plan. I had a small problem with one engine so we had to check that and switch to the second bike in the middle of the session. And when I went out on the new tyre there was the red flag. I think without a couple of issues we could have been higher up the grid. I feel we have made a lot of progress this weekend, but unfortunately that hasn’t been reflected on the timesheets.”
– Ducati Report
Today’s event-filled qualifying session for the Portuguese Grand Prix in Estoril saw Ducati Team riders Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden working hard to find a setup for tomorrow’s race. The Italian finished the day ninth-quickest, with his American teammate one position back, and while neither rider is enthusiastic with his grid spot, the session marked a step forward for the team in terms of gap to the front.
Rain threatened qualifying, which was briefly interrupted by an unrelated red flag, but in the end both sessions took place on a dry track, giving the Ducati Team valuable time to experiment with settings before focusing on posting a fast time. During tomorrow’s morning warm-up session, Rossi will try to improve acceleration, while Hayden will hunt for better tyre grip.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 9th (1:38.059)
“The day wasn’t bad in the end. We’re on the third row, 0.8 seconds behind pole position, and we’re matching the pace of the intermediate group, after the top four. We’ve worked better this weekend, steadily making small improvements, and now I’m able to ride closer to the limit and push harder on the bike. We have a lot of work to do, especially on acceleration, where we’re losing time, but for sure it’s our best session so far. We managed to improve in T4, the sector where we had problems yesterday. We loaded the rear of the bike to improve grip, which worked. I’m also doing better on the brakes, so I should be able to fight better during battles. We’ll see. Tyres will be important, because the soft is difficult to manage to the end, whereas with the hard, it’s very difficult to push in the beginning. We’re leaning toward the soft, but we’ll wait for tomorrow to decide.”
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 10th (1:38.253)
“Obviously, this isn’t where we wanted to be. I’m one second from the top, which sometimes isn’t that far off, but here I’m in tenth place. All weekend, we just haven’t been able to find that last little bit, as I’ve had a lot of little problems. For whatever reason, we’re not getting the bike to work the tyre properly, and it’s not really gripping the track. I used the same hard tyre the entire morning session, so I thought I’d take more of a step in qualifying. Some of my used tyres still look like new, but they’re just spinning. We’ve got to sort that out and improve change of direction. We’ve only got 20 minutes in the morning, but we’ll see what we can come up with. It’s going to be difficult. On a positive note, I went much faster than I did here last year in qualifying.”
– Red Bull Rookies
Scott Deroue, the 16 year old Dutchman snatched victory on the run in to the line from 16 year old German Florian Alt after a 7 bike lead battle for Race 1 of the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup in Estoril. Home GP stardom was denied pole man Ivo Lopes as the 15 year old Portuguese was pushed to 4th by 16 year old Czech Karel Hanika on the final lap.
The opening laps saw Lopes, Hanika and Alt having a private battle for the lead but as soon as the 2nd place group settled down containing Deroue, 14 year old Britons Kyle Ryde and Bradley Ray as well as Spanish 14 year old Marcos Ramirez they started to close on the leading trio.
“I knew we could catch them,” said Deroue who had actually charged into the lead from 6th place on the grid only to make a mistake and slip out of the initial leading bunch. “It just needed them to make a mistake and that is what they did. Once we caught them I knew we could fight to the finish. I had the lead on the last lap but then Florian came past. I had a pretty good line every lap through that last corner and just caught his slipstream perfectly.”
Disappointment for Alt of course. “I did everything that I could. I couldn’t get away at the front, the others kept picking up my slipstream. All I could do on that last lap was get in front and try to make the last corners perfectly. I did and I thought I had it. Only to see Scotty come past at the line,” concluded Alt who lost out by less than a tenth of a second.
Hanika was happy to be on the podium after being fast since the start of the year but suffering 2 accidents at Jerez. “It was a great race, a lot of fun. The bike was good and I had no real problems I just couldn’t get in front on the run to the line, Scotty had the perfect slipstream.”
Lopes also found the positive. “I’m now 2nd in the Cup points just 1 behind Flo’ so that’s great, the bike was good, I’m just a bit big for it and that doesn’t help down the long straight here but never mind I’m going to win tomorrow. This is my track and it should be my race,” he added with a grin.
Ray was 5th across the line and had been part of the pressure that took the 2nd group up to the leaders, setting the fastest lap of the race to that point. “We caught them but then I just couldn’t get through the group, not without doing something a bit crazy,” said the British 125 Championship leader.
Reigning British champ Ryde was 6th and claimed the fastest lap of the race on lap 12 of the 16. “By then my stomach was upsetting my concentration,” he explained referring to the grumbling appendix that had hit during qualifying. “I was thinking more about that than riding and I just lost touch with the group. Up ’till then it had been easy enough to run with them and I was looking for a good result.”
Also dropping off the group in the final laps to finish 7th was Ramirez. “I just couldn’t keep with them in the end, the front was chattering going into the chicane and I just had to let them go.”
Reigning Cup champion and points leader going to Estoril, Lorenzo Baldassarri finished only 14th and slipped to 4th in the points behind Ramirez “I’m sad,” said the 15 year old Italian who had qualified 12th. “I made a good start but then Azmi braked very late into one of the corners, I got off line and in the wrong gear, I lost so much drive coming out that a lot of riders came past. From there it was very difficult and I couldn’t fight my way through the group. I have to get away with the leaders tomorrow.”