|— Yamaha Report
Another superb qualifying session from Jorge Lorenzo today means that the Fiat Yamaha Team rider will launch his Assen assault from pole position tomorrow, as he bids to take his first premier-class win in Holland. An inch-perfect final lap from the Mallorcan saw him qualify 0.282 seconds ahead of Randy de Puniet, with Casey Stoner filling the final front-row spot and Yamaha Tech 3 rider Ben Spies taking fourth, his best MotoGP qualifying position to date.
Lorenzo was the only rider to dip into the 1’34s this morning and was the first to do so again this afternoon as he set about refining the set-up of his M1 around the elegant twists and turns of the historic track. He surrendered the top spot to de Puniet for a short while but with ten minutes to go he moved back into pole position and remained in command to the end, extending his lead with a brilliant final lap to secure his second pole of the season for the 80th Dutch TT tomorrow.
Jorge Lorenzo – 1st, Time:1’34.515, Laps:31
“I’m very happy to take my second pole of the season but I feel even more comfortable and confident because I’ve been first in all three practice sessions, despite the other riders pushing hard during qualifying. I think tomorrow’s race could be interesting and of course I want to try to win, but as always the main goal is to finish and take points. I will try to escape but if I can’t I will fight for the podium. We can afford to be very calm because of our lead in the standings but the team and I are still working as hard as we can to keep going at this level; we’re not relaxing.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Team Manager Jorge Lorenzo
: “Once again it’s been a very smooth weekend for us so far and we’re happy to get another pole position. Jorge is satisfied with the improvements we’ve made to the bike since yesterday and he was a few tenths faster today, plus he’s been extremely consistent in his pace so we can see everything is working well. The only thing left for us to do is to make our final tyre choice for the race, because both Bridgestone compounds are working well here. We will wait to see the temperature tomorrow, make some checks in warm-up and then decide.”
Ben Spies powered his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine to a career best qualifying result in Assen today after another dazzling display from the Texan. Brimming with confidence after recording his first MotoGP podium at Silverstone last weekend, Spies set himself up perfectly for another rostrum challenge in the historic Dutch TT after qualifying on the second row for the second time in his premier class career. Aided by improved turning performance with his YZR-M1 machine after key front-end changes by his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew, Spies posted a best time of 1.34.926 with just over a minute of qualifying remaining to claim a brilliant fourth place on the grid. The 25-year-old, who has demonstrated a fast and consistent pace on both soft and hard compound Bridgestone tyre options, was just 0.123s away from Casey Stoner in third position and just over 0.4s away from pole position. Spies will now carefully analyse data and consult with Bridgestone and his Tech 3 crew before deciding on whether to race the hard or soft rear tyre in tomorrow’s race, which is the 80th running of the legendary Dutch TT.
Texan team-mate Colin Edwards will start from ninth on the grid after he concentrated on adapting to a new front-end geometry setting. Edwards made further adjustments to the front-end of his YZR-M1 machine today after an encouraging fourth place in practice yesterday. The experienced American declared himself happy with progress and finished with a best time of 1.35.393 in warm but cooler conditions than yesterday. Tomorrow’s 26-lap race is round six of the 2010 MotoGP world championship.
Ben Spies – 4th, Time:1.34.926, Laps:21
“It’s my best qualifying session and I’m really happy. I wanted to get on the second row but I was a little bit worried that I would be at the back of it and for the first corner here I wanted to be in a better position. I wasn’t sure how much I would get out of the soft tyre, but as soon as we bolted it on I was faster. We’ve got good pace so we’ll look at the weather conditions and comments but I think both tyres will work. I’ve got good pace on the hard and soft tyre so we just need to see what Bridgestone’s opinion is. The soft tyre will be quicker in the beginning so we’ll see but it will be a tough call. Judging by where I qualified another podium is a realistic target. Obviously Jorge is a way ahead of me at the front but the fight between third to sixth is pretty close. I’m in that fight and that could land me on the podium. But it could easily be a dogfight and I could end up sixth or seventh. Going into the race though I’m closer than I was with the lap times than Silverstone, so anything is possible.”
Colin Edwards – 9th, Time:1.35.393, Laps:32
“We had both bikes set-up quite a bit differently with the front-end geometry and one I didn’t like that much. But the other bike felt better and I was able to push harder. It’s even closer to the front-end geometry that Jorge uses than I tried yesterday and it makes it feel like I’m not chasing the front and I can put the front tyre right where I want it. The set-up is still not perfect and I think the front fork spring is a little bit too hard but we’ll play with that tonight. To be back down in ninth shows how tough it is in MotoGP this year because I was really riding hard and the bike felt good. I certainly feel like we’re in better shape than we have been at some other races so I need to get a good start. I’ve pretty much decided to go with the softer tyre. I did a mid-35 on the 20th lap of the soft tyre so I’m going to go with that. The harder tyre doesn’t have the side grip that I want to make the lap time”
— Ducati Report
Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden qualified on the first and second rows of the grid respectively for tomorrow’s Dutch TT, setting the third and fifth fastest times of a busy and incident-packed day for both riders.
Stoner, who was second fastest in a positive final free practice this morning, encountered a small issue in the final minutes of qualifying. The Australian had already banked one fast qualifying lap when he heard a loud noise from his GP10 and decided to return to the garage, where his engineers were able to later confirm that it was merely an inconsequential misfire from the engine.
Nicky Hayden had a tough morning session, a technical problem with his second bike being followed immediately by a crash on a flying lap. However, in qualifying he was just half a second shy of the pace set by polesetter Jorge Lorenzo and one of only five riders able to lap under the 1’35 mark.
CASEY STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team) 3rd (1’34.803)
“The last set-up we threw in the bike seemed to make quite an improvement. This morning we were pretty happy with it but this afternoon we never really reached where we wanted to. We had a small problem with the clutch – we had some air in the hydraulics and it wasn’t working properly so I had to use the full pump of the clutch just to shift back through the gears. A thing I think we can fix anyway. I got one qualifying lap in and went to start my second but the bike sounded like it backfired and so I decided to call it quits – it was better to be safe than sorry and to start the race tomorrow fresh. We’ll have to wait and see what happens in the race but if we will be able to make some more little steps in the tomorrow’s warm-up we may be not too far off.”
NICKY HAYDEN (Ducati Marlboro Team) 5th (1’34.999)
“We can’t be too disappointed with fifth place and a second row start after the session we had today. This morning I had an engine problem in one bike and when I switched to the other one I crashed it. I wasn’t hurt at all but the bike needed to be rebuilt. The whole team did an incredible job in just a couple of hours – even Casey’s guys gave us a hand. They didn’t even have time for lunch but when I came into the garage for qualifying there were two bikes there waiting for me. I couldn’t get my feeling immediately and the start of the session was tough, but when we got the final tyre in I got my head down under that screen and gave it everything I had. I went from the 1’36s to a 1’34.9 in just one lap but we have more work to do before the race tomorrow.”
Honda privateer Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda RC212V) continued his impressive qualifying form by taking the second spot on the front row for the second race in succession.
Today’s success came during the one hour qualifying session for Saturday’s 80th Dutch TT, held under warm, sunny skies at the circuit known for its inclement weather. De Puniet held the fastest time well into the hour before eventually being displaced by championship leader Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha). Lorenzo would have to be at his best to beat De Puniet’s time of 1m, 34.797s, and he was. But, other than Lorenzo, whose fastest lap was his last, no one could match de Puniet’s pace. And de Puniet proved his race pace was strong by starting his final run with two laps in the 1m, 34’s.
Because the track had been slightly shortened, Lorenzo’s final lap of 1m, 34.515s would stand as a new circuit fastest lap. The lap was over a full second faster than the previous circuit best lap of 1m, 35.520s set by Casey Stoner in 2008. The new length of 4.542k was achieved by taking 13 meters out at the Ruskenhoek left hander near the end of the track’s longest (560m) straightaway. Though it’s a minor modification, the adjustment transformed the track and brought back some of the speed it had lost in recent modifications.
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V) finished the session at the end of the second row. The Italian spent much of the hour in the top three by setting his fastest time on the 11th of his 30 total laps. But he wasn’t able to improve on his lap of 1m, 35.105s and found himself slowly slipping down the order. Still, starting from the second row puts him in perfect position to protect his second place in the MotoGP World Championship.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) sits third in the championship, only five points behind his team-mate, and certain to further secure the position. Pedrosa finished the session just behind Dovizioso with the seventh fastest time at a gap of .147s. Pedrosa said he needed to improve his braking performance and also had to choose between the two Bridgestone rear tire options.
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) had a career best MotoGP qualifying effort. The MotoGP rookie finished the session with the eighth fastest time, right behind the veteran Pedrosa. The qualifying performance left Simoncelli confident that he could also achieve a career best MotoGP race finish.
Simoncelli will likely be the lone flag-bearer for the Gresini Honda team after team-mate Marco Melandri dislocated his left shoulder in a Friday morning high-side. Melandri, who didn’t take part in qualifying, said he would test the shoulder in Saturday morning warm-up, but wasn’t hopeful of racing. He expects to be ready for next week’s race in Barcelona.
Kousuke Akiyoshi (Interwetten Honda MotoGP RC212V) qualified 15th in place of the injured Hiroshi Aoyama, the winner of the 250cc race here last year. The 35-year-old Japanese test rider will replace Aoyama at Assen and next week in Catalunya. Aoyama broke his back at the previous week’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone and is expected to be out for a few months. A more permanent replacement is expected during the one week break between Catalunya and the German round at the Sachsenring.
Moto2 had yet another tight qualifying session, with the top 15 covered by one second and the top 33 of 41 covered by two seconds. For the second time this season, Andrea Iannone (Fimmco Speed Up, Speed Up) took the pole position. The Italian’s first pole came at his home race in Mugello, which he converted to his first Moto2 win.
Ratthapark Wilairot (Thai Honda PTT Singha SAG, Bimota) had an eventful session that ended with him qualifying a career best second fastest. Early in the session, however, Wilairot was involved in a racing incident with Alex Debon (Aeroport de Castello-Ajo, FTR), on the lap after Debon had set his fast lap. Debon ended up with a fractured shoulder and has been ruled out of Saturday’s race. Wilairot was fined 3000 euros for riding in “an irresponsible manner.” No appeal was lodged and the decision of the race direction was final.
The Thai rider Wilairot finished second with a lap that was only .215s off the pace set by Iannone. He believed that starting from the front of the grid, rather than towards the back-his best Moto2 qualifying effort prior to today was 12th in Le Mans-will translate into a solid finish.
Debon crashed on his fourth lap as he was attempting to go around the outside of the slower running Wilairot. The session was immediately red flagged, but only briefly. When it continued, minutes later, Debon was on his way to the Clinica Mobile. The initial diagnosis was a fractured left shoulder, though more information is expected in the near future.
Shoya Tomizawa (Technomag-CIP, Suter) qualified only .080s behind Debon as he tries to defend second in the championship. This was Tomizawa’s first front row start since qualifying on the pole in Jerez and that one translated into a second place finish.
Toni Elias (Gresini Racing Moto2, Moriwaki), the rider Tomizawa trails in the championship, qualified sixth fastest and only .047s off the front row. Elias has had a pair of disappointing finishes, including tenth in the previous race at Silverstone, and believes he can change his momentum in Saturday’s seventh race of the championship.
Rookie Marcel Schrötter (Interwetten Honda 125 Team) was disappointed to qualify 18th for the 125 Grand Prix. The young German found a lot of traffic on the track and he wasn’t able to improve the feeling from his motorcycle.
The races in Assen are traditionally held on Saturday, a custom that is unique to the Dutch TT.
HONDA MotoGP RIDER QUOTES
Randy de Puniet, LCR Honda RC212V: 2nd – 1m 34.797s “Everything is going in the right direction for us and we completely deserved this second consecutive front row. I am still the Honda fastest rider and the top privateer rider in the classification, so this is not just luck! The guys made an excellent job on the bike and I felt more comfortable in this morning second session. Then in the afternoon we took another step forward working on suspension set-up and the bike was close to perfection. We have got the pace to run in top five on race tyres, but we need to confirm our mapping for the end of the race when the tyres will drop. Want to thank everybody in the team for their great job.”
Andrea Dovizioso, Repsol Honda RC212V: 6th – 1m 35.015s “Tomorrow we will start from the second row which is OK, and with a good start I hope to get away with the leaders. The gap to the front of five-tenths of a second is not too much and we also have a good race pace, although actually I set this lap when I was following (Jorge) Lorenzo. We have some front end issues that we need to solve and this is what we want to sort out by tomorrow afternoon – otherwise it will be a difficult race. In fact, I’m losing time in T3 and T4, which are the fastest parts of the track, so front end feel is really important here. However, I’m feeling confident and I think that me and the team can come up with some ideas to improve things for tomorrow.”
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda RC212V: 7th – 1m 35.162s “This morning we started with some adjustments to the suspension and we went a little harder at the front end. My fastest lap time was OK this morning, but, to be honest, we didn’t find the solutions we were looking for and we still have some work to do to find the right set-up. In T1, where we were losing a lot of time yesterday, things have improved a little bit, but clearly not enough – and we also have to improve the feeling when I brake, because at the moment I can’t push to the maximum. It’s a similar situation on the soft or the hard option Bridgestones, so that choice isn’t made yet for us. We’ll keep on working this evening and try to make some significant improvements for the race tomorrow.”
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V: 8th – 1m 35.283s “That’s not bad. I’m happy because we had a few doubts about the bike today, but it worked well. We have found the right solution to establish a better feeling and I can ride with more ease. My times were good when I was lapping on my own and I managed to put a good rhythm together. Overall I am happy and confident I can have another good race tomorrow. If I can get a good start then there’s no reason I can’t be fighting for a top five finish.”
Kousuke Akioshi (Interwetten Honda MotoGP RC212V: 15th – 1m 38.198s “I try to help the team as much as possible. For me it is difficult to set up all the different settings of the bike. But I have fun and this experience is very interesting. I improved by two seconds since yesterday, one second since this morning’s practice. I will try to keep improving also during tomorrow’s race and I look forward to this challenge.”
Marco Melandri, San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V: DNQ “Today was a day to forget. It started well, because the feeling with the bike was really good and I was able to put a fast time in on a tyre with a lot of laps on it, so I was happy. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be and now I have to look ahead to hopefully having a good race at Barcelona. I went wide coming into the turn at the back of the pits and tried to get onto the tarmac path back onto the track, but I couldn’t get on it and as I headed back towards the track I was worried I might hit another rider, so I tried to change my line. Unfortunately, I lost the rear on the grass and when I got back onto the tarmac it gripped and threw me into the air.
I knew straight away that my shoulder was out.”
— Suzuki Report
Rizla Suzuki racers Loris Capirossi and Álvaro Bautista will start side-by-side on the fourth row of the grid for tomorrow’s Dutch TT at Assen in the Netherlands.
Bautista (1’36.344, 28 laps) produced his best qualifying performance of the season to put his bike next to Capirossi on the fourth row in 12th place. Despite still struggling with his shoulder injury – that has manifested itself to a greater extent than at Silverstone – he continued to make improvements to his lap-times before setting his best time on his penultimate lap of the day. Bautista is in a confident mood for tomorrow’s 26-lap race as he goes in search of his best finish in a MotoGP race to match today’s qualifying.
Capirossi (P11, 1’35.664, 29 laps) made progressive steps with his Suzuki GSV-R today, but the Italian is still looking for the optimum setting for his machine that will enable him to get the best out of himself and the bike here at Assen. He is still sure that he can run in a higher position and will be out to prove that when tomorrow’s race gets underway.
Today’s qualifying was held in warm and sunny conditions with track temperatures reaching 42ºC. Jorge Lorenzo on his factory Yamaha took his second successive pole position of the season.
Tomorrow’s race is the only event on the Grand Prix calendar to be held on a Saturday and proceedings will commence at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT) for the 80th running of the historic Dutch TT.
Álvaro Bautista: “This morning I had some problems with my left arm and I felt quite a lot of pain. I think it is because this track is very physical and requires a lot more work with my arm. For this afternoon I took some pain-killers, but it was still very uncomfortable so I tried to take things a bit easier, so I could save myself for the race tomorrow. We resolved some of the problems we had from yesterday and made some improvements, but we are still not quite there. I still have some problems changing direction as I feel that the bike is very heavy because I don’t have the strength in my arm. We still have some small things to try in warm-up to make some small steps to make things better. I want to start well and stay with a good group and be able to push more as the race goes on. I hope the pain doesn’t get any worse during the race and I can enjoy it. I am confident that I can make a good result, but the main thing is to enjoy riding the bike.”
Loris Capirossi: “I don’t really know what to say today! We did change the bike a bit to alter the way the weight transfers and this gave us a bit of traction back, but still we are not competitive enough. It seems if we improve the rear we are losing out on the front. We just cannot find the best solution and all the guys are working so hard to make things better. We improved the electronics this afternoon and I am happy that we have made a step there. We hope that we can make a small step in the morning because we don’t want to start making big changes to the bike now. We’re still confident we can run higher than the qualifying position and we’ll just have to see what tomorrow brings.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager: “There is no great satisfaction to be taken from the result today, but after the Silverstone weekend at least we can say that we have made a start to rebuilding the season. Loris is only 0.9 seconds off the front row and while that gap is too big, it’s a lot smaller than it was a week ago. Unfortunately Álvaro is struggling more with his injury than he was last week and despite showing good potential in some parts of the track, he is struggling in the important fast changes of direction – both with the bike setting and his injury – so the team will be working hard tonight to make it easier for the race tomorrow. Our target for tomorrow is not too far-fetched – we’d like to see both riders finish the Grand Prix, score some points and take a better platform on to Catalunya next weekend.”
— Bridgestone Report
2010 Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium. Rear: Medium, Hard (asymmetric)
On his last lap of the hour-long qualifying session Jorge Lorenzo secured his second pole position of the season, and his second in succession, using Bridgestone’s harder front and softer rear slicks. As MotoGP has become accustomed to, almost all the riders set their best times using the softer rear tyre because it generates more grip than the harder option over shorter qualifying runs. Many riders, including Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso, set competitive times on the harder rear though, meaning rear tyre choices for the race will be mixed. All riders preferred the harder front slick, which is very likely to be the favoured option for tomorrow’s 26 lap race.
At the end of the session the top six were all within 0.5seconds, and Randy de Puniet and Casey Stoner were separated by just 0.006seconds to complete the front row. The second row of Ben Spies, Nicky Hayden and Dovizioso was also covered by less than one tenth of a second, setting the scene for what could be some intense battles tomorrow.
Tohru Ubukata – Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department
“The laptimes were quicker again today as the track condition is better than it was yesterday. Almost all the riders set their best times in qualifying using the softer option rear slick, but Andrea recorded his best on our hard rear tyre. Jorge’s second best time was also set on a harder rear and this would still have been good enough for pole so it shows that there is a good performance overlap between the two rear tyre specs we have here in Assen.
“The hard front slick was the favoured choice for all riders for the extra braking stability it affords in these hot conditions, so we can expect this to be the preferred race tyre tomorrow. Rear tyre choice is likely to be more difficult to predict however as we can see that both specs are working well and have sufficient race distance durability. Some bike and rider packages favour the extra traction provided by the harder option rear slick, whereas some are able to use the extra edge grip of the softer slick to their advantage so this factor will play a large part in each rider’s rear tyre compound selection for the 80th Dutch TT.”