Lorenzo scores Jerez pole
What had been anticipated as a wet qualifying session after the rainy conditions so far, turned out to be a psychological battle with the elements, as a drying track and hovering dark clouds made conditions far from easy in MotoGP™ qualifying at the Gran Premio bwin de España. It was an absolutely thrilling affair as the Jerez track dried out in the nick of time, resulting in a frantic battle to the end as Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo took pole position in front of his home crowd ahead of compatriot Dani Pedrosa.
After a spate of wet practice sessions, Yamaha Factory Racing´s Lorenzo took full advantage of the dry track, as he left it until the final lap to post a time of 1.39´532. Repsol Honda´s Pedrosa could not quite match the pace of his rival, yet starts tomorrow´s race from second on the grid, making it a Spanish one-two.
Completing the front row is surprise inclusion Nicky Hayden, who wrung the neck of his Ducati to place it third, just over a second behind Lorenzo. Fourth place went to Monster Yamaha Tech3´s Cal Crutchlow despite a crash towards the end. A rain scare half way through the session did however almost see him steal his first ever pole.
Stoner, who almost came off his bike at turn one, could not match the pace of his team mate, and had to settle for fifth on the grid. The second row is rounded out by Lorenzo´s team mate Spies, who was back on form after some subdued practice sessions in the wet, though a full 1.5s off the front.
Row three is headed up by Crutchlow´s team mate Andrea Dovizioso in seventh, while San Carlo Honda Gresini´s Álvaro Bautista, LCR Honda MotoGP´s Stefan Bradl and Power Electronics Aspar´s Randy de Puniet complete the top ten.
Valentino Rossi endured another disappointing qualifying session, finishing as last non-CRT bike again in 13th, after having shown promise in the earlier wet practice.
With a few damp patches still out on track, numerous riders were caught out including Avintia Blusens´ Yonny Hernandez, San Carlo Honda Gresini´s Michele Pirro, NGM Mobile Forward Racing´s Colin Edwards and Pramac Racing Team´s Hector Barberá, all suffering crashes throughout the session.
This is the first time since the 2010 Valencia MotoGP round that three separate manufacturers make up the front row.
1 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 1’39.532
2 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 1’39.667
3 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 1’40.563
4 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 1’40.570
5 Casey Stoner Honda AUS 1’40.577
6 Ben Spies Yamaha USA 1’41.090
7 Andrea Dovizioso Yamaha ITA 1’41.180
8 Alvaro Bautista Honda ESP 1’41.447
9 Stefan Bradl Honda GER 1’41.550
10 Randy De Puniet ART FRA 1’41.700
11 Karel Abraham Ducati CZE 1’41.724
12 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 1’41.871
13 Valentino Rossi Ducati ITA 1’42.961
14 Aleix Espargaro ART ESP 1’43.135
15 Michele Pirro FTR ITA 1’43.363
With conditions vastly improved in the afternoon, the Moto2™ class had its first outing in the dry since the official test back in March, and it was championship leader Marquez aboard his Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol bike, who put on a show for his home crowd putting his bike on pole with a 1.43´005.
In a field where the top ten were separated by less than a second, it was Italtrans Racing Team rider Nakagami, who was just eight hundredths behind the Spaniard, with Pons 40 HP Tuenti rider Pol Espargaro rounding out the front row.
Last race´s pole sitter, Interwetten-Paddock´s Thom Lüthi, ended up fourth on the grid, yet crashed in the final minutes trying to improve his time. Behind him is Marc VDS´ Mika Kallio, who had been fastest in FP2. Finishing off the second row is Nakagami´s team mate Claudio Corti, who is just under four tenths off the front.
Pons rider Esteve Rabat, S/Master Speed Up´s Mike Di Meglio, GP Team Switzerland´s Randy Krummenacher and JiR Moto2´s Johann Zarco complete the top ten. Zarco, who had been the fastest rider in the wet, was unable to replicate that form in the dry.
It was a session to forget for Blusens Avintia´s Julián Simón, Came IodaRacing Project´s Simone Corsi, Tech3 Racing´s Bradley Smith, Pons 40 HP Tuenti´s Axel Pons and Kallio´s team mate Scott Redding, as they all crashed throughout the session.
Last year´s race winner, Speed Master´s Andrea Iannone did not have a good qualifying session for his standards, and ended the day in 13th.
In an incredibly exciting Moto3™ qualifying session, which went down to the final minute, it was current Spanish 125cc Champion Alex Rins who took his maiden pole position in just his second ever world championship start.
The session had started in sunny conditions, yet a wet track meant that most of the practice was spent on wet tyres. However with only five minutes to go a mostly dry line had appeared, after which it was a battle of the tyres as the leaderboard changed almost every few seconds until the end.
In the end it was Estrella Galicia 0,0´s Rins who snatched pole position with a time of 1.57´507, ahead of Red Bull KTM Ajo´s Sandro Cortese under two tenths behind.
Third spot on the grid went to Rins´ team mate Miguel Oliveira a further four tenths off, who leads Caretta Technology´s Alexis Masbou.
Redox-Ongetta-Centro Seta´s Jakub Kornfeil consolidated his form so far with fifth after yet another solid session, starting ahead of Masbou´s Australian team mate Jack Miller, who had held top stop briefly in the closing stages.
In seventh place, Kornfeil´s team mate Isaac Viñales beat Red Bull KTM´s Arthur Sissis, who displaced championship leader Maverick Viñales into ninth. Viñales was one of the few riders that did not head out on slicks at the end.
Rounding out the top ten was yesterday´s pace-setter Romano Fenati, who could not quite get to grips with his slick tyre at the end.
– HRC Report
Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa will start his home grand prix from the second starting position after nearly taking pole in a session marked by constantly changing weather. Fellow Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo will start from pole with Ducati rider Nicky Hayden third.
The session began on a dry track under puffy white clouds. But the clouds darkened on the horizon as they moved east and threatened to turn the session into a wet one. A very light rain fell on parts of the track, but the rain dampened the riders’ enthusiasm for pushing as much as it did the track. And after some time, the clouds left and the battle for the pole began.
Pedrosa was part of the fight for the pole from the second half of the session, even after spots of rain were felt on pit lane. The rain came down strongly enough for race direction to display the wet track flag with about 28 minutes to go.
But before long the sun would re-appear and Pedrosa and Lorenzo would get into a thrilling speed battle. With 19 minutes remaining in the session, Lorenzo went to the top, then it went to Pedrosa. The lead would change six times, right up until the final 25 seconds when Lorenzo narrowly edged his fellow countryman.
Still, Pedrosa was happy to be on the front row for the seventh time, a record that includes a pair of MotoGP poles and one in the 250cc class.
Having ridden on virtually every surface from full wet to almost dry, Pedrosa felt he was well prepared for Sunday’s second round of the MotoGP World Championship.
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC213V) never felt comfortable pushing in the changing conditions and qualified fifth. Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow had crashed ahead of him in turn one, which the reigning world champion took as a cautionary tale. But he would later nearly fall himself, only saving a certain fall with an impressive shift in body position.
Stoner was on top with just over 21 minutes to run, but understood that the Spaniards were willing to ride more aggressively on a track that was never completely dry. It was his least successful qualifying effort since joining Honda and equaled his qualifying mark from Malaysia in 2010. The second row starting position was not ideal, but he does not believe he should be counted out just yet.
Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC213V) recovered from a crash in the wet morning session to qualify eighth. The Spaniard found an unknown vibration in the front end, which caused him to lose the front and crash. Bautista put that behind him in qualifying, while being careful to avoid the damp patches that caught a number of riders out. His strategy was to not take unnecessary risks, and starting from the middle of the third row was his reward.
In his second MotoGP race, reigning Moto2 World Champion Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP RC213V) qualified .103s behind Bautista after nearly becoming the victim of the wet final corner. Bradl said that small mistake was the difference between the second and third rows, though he could not be faulted in his first ride aboard a MotoGP machineon a track of non-uniform grip.
Through the first three wet sessions he had adapted well to the power of the LCR Honda MotoGP RC213V. The consistency he showed in all conditions gave him confidence of being competitive in the race, no matter the weather.
Michele Pirro (San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR-Honda) qualified 15th in a difficult qualifying session in his second MotoGP race. With three wet sessions prior to qualifying, Pirro did not have any quality dry set-up time. That the track was never completely dry in qualifying did not help. A crash that forced him onto his backup bike, which did not generate the same feedback. The crash came early, so by the time he went back out it was in much better shape and the wet patches had significantly diminished.
Marc Marquez (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol-Suter) was grateful to take his first pole position of the season. Marquez pointed out that his vision problems had only been cured a month earlier, allowing him to take part in the test here at Jerez. From there he went to Qatar, where he won a thrilling race, then here, to one of his home tracks.
The name at the top of the time sheets changed constantly until the 27th minute of the session when Marquez took charge for good. After going to the top, he added two even faster laps to his chart to finish on the pole with a lap of 1m, 43.005s. The pole was his first of the season, to go with seven Moto2 poles last year.
Takaaki Nakagami (Italtrans Racing Team-Kalex) scored his best ever qualifying position in only his second Moto2 race, and nearly on pole. The Japanese rider, who had been out of the World Championships since the end of the 2009 season, had never qualified better than seventh while campaigning a 125 in 2009. The second place was a boost for the team; in Qatar he had qualified ninth and finished 14th. Nakagami’s best lap time was only .080s slower than the best of Marquez.
Pol Espargaro (Pons 40 HP Tuenti-Kalex) had his best Moto2 qualifying effort in third, improving by one spot on his fourth place in the Qatar season-opener.
Like all riders, Espargaro endured three wet sessions before qualifying, which was held on a dry track with damp patches. Those damp patches claimed more than their share of victims, and the Spaniard sensibly didn’t try to be a hero. Rather he focused on the race and the championship instead of one fast lap.
Alex Rins (Estrella Galicia 0.0-Suter-Honda) became the third youngest rider to take a pole position in only his second Moto3 race. The 16-year-old from Barcelona made a quantum leap from having qualified 13th in Qatar to take the pole position for Honda in what he said was “one of those crazy one-lap runs.” That was made necessary because he wasn’t sure whether to use rain tyres or slicks.
His veteran crew suggested slicks, which turned out to be the wise choice. Rins was able to lap the 4.423Km track in 1m, 57.07s, beating the second fastest rider by .012s.
Team-mate Miguel Oliveira was fast in the morning wet, though he found the mixed conditions in the afternoon difficult. Still, he qualified third fastest at the end of the front row and .468s off pole.
Like Rins, the Portuguese rider chose slick tyres to set his fast time and put him on the front row. His concern going forward was less about qualifying than the race. The weather forecast calls for rain, which he knows could create havoc among the very young riders of the introductory class.
Alexis Masbou (Caretta Technology-Honda) was riding injured; he had previously done damage to his right foot and could not properly leverage his Honda NSF250R. But when he saw his partial lap times he decided to put the pain aside and race the clock. Had he not been slowed by another rider in the final segment, he might have finished further up the grid. Instead he ended with the fourth fastest time, a career best in qualifying, and right behind Rins for the run to the first turn.
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 2nd – 1m, 39.667s “It’s been a really good qualifying session. It was very difficult to know how much to push because there were some wet spots and it was easy to make mistakes. Also, after so many laps with wet tyres in the free practices, when you put on the slicks it’s like another bike, but you have no time to waste to find a good lap time. So I’m quite impressed with the chrono and very happy to be on the front row. We’ve been riding well here in Jerez at the test and also during all the practice sessions this weekend, both in the dry and wet, but tomorrow we have to be ready for a tough race in any conditions and I want to have a good race here in front of my fans.”
Casey Stoner, Repsol Honda: 5th – 1m, 40.577s “Qualifying didn’t go so well. Conditions have been terrible all weekend, from half dry tracks to fully wet, so we haven’t really been able to get any form of setup on the bike. It’s a little bit disappointing. We had hoped to be on the front row, but with conditions like this I wasn’t really willing to push. There were a lot of people falling off and the wet patches that were there were incredibly slippery. With this said, there is still half a second that I am accountable for and can’t blame the track; we’re just a little bit off with our settings so we have some work to do tonight. We’re not really sure what to expect until we see the weather tomorrow and this makes things pretty difficult.”
Alvaro Bautista, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 8th – 1m, 41.447s “Today was another difficult day. This morning we worked on solving our issues from yesterday but only made slight improvements. Then when we were trying a new setting the bike was vibrating a lot into the first turn and I lost the front and crashed. We were able to use the slick tyre this afternoon even though there were still some damp patches out there with the threat of more rain. After my crash this morning I didn’t want to risk more than necessary so a third row start isn’t bad and if we get a good start we can be fighting for a good result. ”
Stefan Bradl, LCR Honda MotoGP: 9th – 1m, 41.550s “Well, I am a little bit unhappy because we had a very good session but I made a small mistake in the last corner in my last lap. That cost us half a second, which means one row, second row, I guess. In general it was a tricky qualifying because in the beginning we had a lot of wet patches, but every time we went out we improved our lap time as the track conditions was drying up. Actually we are doing well in the dry and in the wet too and I think we could have gone for the second row but it’s okay anyway.”
Michel Pirro, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 15th – 1m, 43.363s “It was a shame about the crash because I had to use the second bike, which I didn’t have a great feeling with. Luckily the track conditions had improved but my feeling still wasn’t as good and I almost crashed again. I saved it but hurt my arm and that slowed me down too. It is frustrating because we have had three wet sessions this weekend and not been able to do the work on the bike that we had planned. The guys are working very hard though and that has allowed us to at least take a small step forward.”
– Yamaha Report
Yamaha Factory Racing rider Jorge Lorenzo is yet again the man to beat after a thrilling qualifying session for the Grand Prix of Spain at Jerez this afternoon. Race fans witnessed an incredible 29 changes of provisional pole position as the riders fought it out on ever changing track conditions. Lorenzo was initially off the pace, running outside the top ten as dark clouds and a damp track threatened to ruin any chance of an improved time. Some small set up changes and fresh rubber combined with the Mallorcan’s trademark determination saw him climb quickly up to the top spot, a position that was then hotly contested until the last moments of the session. Lorenzo finally beat fellow countryman Dani Pedrosa to pole by 0.135 seconds.
Ben Spies took his YZR-M1 to sixth in qualifying, working hard to deliver the best possible position whilst avoiding falling victim to the constantly changing track conditions. With some corners remaining damp throughout, finding a perfect line proved to be extremely difficult. Having started outside the top ten along with his team mate, Spies climbed as high as third but was unable to keep the front row having used his fastest set of tyres slightly too early in the session.
Jorge Lorenzo / Position 1st – Time 1.39.532 – Laps 24
“We are very happy with this pole position because it was a strange session. There were a lot of water patches and it was very dangerous. You had to pay a lot of attention, it would have been easy to crash and get injured. Anyway we start in first position so let’s see what happens in the race. Thank you to the team for working hard to keep giving the right set up in changing conditions.”
Ben Spies / Position 6th – Time 1.41.090 – Laps 26
“It was actually a pretty scary session for everybody, the track started out damp and then got better but there were some damp patches right where you wanted to be. It was the first dry session of the weekend for us so we had to ride hard. We had a setting on the bike we hadn’t tested here but thought on paper it would be better, some things were good and some bad. We mistimed the tyres a little bit just because we saw a black cloud coming in so I think we could have been on the front row. I didn’t want to make a mistake though and throw another bike down the track and make the guys rebuild it! We’re pretty much up there, for how bad the conditions were I’m happy to come out unscathed and on the second row.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
That was a great qualifying session for everybody, especially for us, grabbing pole after gambling a bit and starting and stopping a lot to make changes. The circumstances were changing constantly as were the positions. At the beginning we were a little bit afraid because we thought rain was coming but we were lucky and it stayed dry or we could have been tenth or twelfth. The riders all took some risks so it’s great to be on pole for the second time in a row.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“It was impressive how much Jorge wanted the pole, I think it’s a good signal for tomorrow. Ben had a good feeling for the bike by the end of the practice and put a lot of effort in. We’re quite confident for tomorrow; a lot will depend on the weather forecast. The team has also been working really hard to keep up with the different conditions and keep delivering a competitive bike.”
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Cal Crutchlow produced another inspired qualifying performance at the Circuito de Jerez this afternoon to finish just 0.007s away from claiming a stunning second successive MotoGP front row start in 2012.
Crutchlow stormed to his maiden front row in Qatar and he looked on course to repeat that fantastic achievement today in a qualifying session that took place on a dry track, as constantly changing conditions continue to dominate the Spanish Grand Prix weekend.
After a rain-lashed third and final practice this morning, damp patches rema ined scattered around the track but Crutchlow started qualifying on slick tyres and the 26-year-old expertly assessed grip levels to settle into a fast pace.
He topped the timesheets for the opening 20 minutes but Crutchlow slipped outside of the top three as the pace intensified with riders anxious to post a competitive time on slick Bridgestone tyres, with rain threatening to further disrupt preparations for tomorrow’s 27-lap race.
Conditions remained dry and lap times continued to fall and a brilliant lap of 1.41.646 put Crutchlow back on top of the timesheets before he crashed at Turn One with only 18 minutes remaining. The spill didn’t knock Crutchlow out of his fast and consistent rhythm and he moved back into third spot with a brilliant lap of 1.40.570, only to be denied a thoroughly deserved front row by 0.007s.
Italian will start the first European round of the new 1000cc MotoGP World Championship heading the third row of the grid.
Dovizioso successfully negotiated the damp patches in the early stages to challenge inside the top three but he will start from seventh position having not been able to find a set-up that permitted him to show his true potential. He ended with a best time of 1.41.180 to finish just 0.090s outside the top six.
Cal Crutchlow / Position 4th – Time 1.40.570 – Laps 23
“That was quite an eventful session to say the least and I’ve got to be happy with fourth position considering I had the crash. I made a silly little mistake because I hit one of the damp patches and crashed out. It was a high-side but I wasn’t even on the throttle. I think I was on the fi rst lap with a new rear tyre and maybe it wasn’t completely up to temperature when I hit the damp patch. I have to say a massive thanks to my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew because they did an awesome job to get the second bike ready. It was set-up for the wet in case it rained and they did a brilliant job to get me back out so quickly. It was disappointing from the point of view that I lost some time on track and without that I’m sure I could have challenged for the front row again. But fourth on the grid is not a bad result at all and I am looking forward to the race tomorrow. I’m confident I can be fighting to be inside the top five again but I hope it is a full wet or dry race and not the mixed conditions we had yesterday.”
Andrea Dovizioso / Position 7th – Time 1.41.180 – Laps 29
“The changing weather conditions have not helped at all this weekend because I need time on the Yamaha to improve my feeling. Although I am very close to the top six I still don’t feel completely comfortable on the bike and that means I am not riding with my normal confidence. I need time and this weekend we haven’t been able to do that many laps in the dry. It is a pity because the conditions we had today is where I am normally very strong but I struggled. Cal has proven again today that the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 package is very competitive, so it is down to me to improve. Hopefully the race tomorrow is dry and we get a completely dry weekend in Estoril to help me make progress and get the best out of the YZR-M1.”
– Ducati Report
The qualifying session for the MotoGP round in Jerez de la Frontera featured unpredictable weather conditions, as had been the case in all of the free-practice sessions. Nicky Hayden posted the third-best time on a mainly dry track, earning a spot on the front row with Lorenzo and Pedrosa, while Valentino Rossi was unable to replicate Friday’s very strong wet performance and finished with the thirteenth-best time.
The qualifying session featured the driest track conditions of the event so far, although the situation was far from ideal, with cold asphalt and wet patches from the morning rain. Hayden found a setup with which he managed to ride the track quite well, while Rossi had a harder time and wasn’t able to be as effective.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 3rd (1:40.563)
“To be on the front row is really good for us. The track conditions were quite strange, different compared to what we’ve had the whole weekend. It certainly helped that we tested here in the dry not too long ago, as we had a relatively good base setup. We went out hard right from the gun, because we knew some spots of rain were coming. I moved up a couple times and thought, ‘Okay, let it rain now,’ but then I’d drop back down and think, ‘Oh, don’t start raining yet.’ It got better near the end, but it was still tough because there were a lot of wet patches on the track, which made it easy to make mistakes. In the end, we took advantage of the strange situation and made the front row, so I’m really happy for my team. Now we’ll try to make it happen when it counts tomorrow.”
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 13th (1:42.961)
“Qualifying didn’t go well today. The conditions were quite difficult because it was cold and the asphalt was dry, but not completely. Anyway, it was like that for everyone, so that wasn’t the problem. Unfortunately, I’m still having a very hard time riding and entering corners, both on the brakes and off. I’m slow to achieve maximum lean angle and don’t carry the necessary corner speed, so when it’s time to accelerate, I’ve already lost too much ground. We’ve been trying to solve this situation for a while, but we haven’t managed it yet. We have to keep working on the setup because Nicky had a nice session today and really did a good job. Comparing the data, we’ve confirmed that we’re losing all our time on corner entry. Anyway, we went a bit better in the wet, so we’ll see what conditions we have for the race.”
– Bridgestone Report
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium & Hard; Rear: Soft, Medium
Weather: Dry. Ambient 18-20°C; Track 23-30°C (Bridgestone measurement)
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo emerged from a captivating contest with compatriot Dani Pedrosa to qualify on pole position for the Jerez MotoGP™ with a time of 1m 39.532s.
Lorenzo utilised a combination of a soft rear slick tyre and the new specification front slick tyre in the harder compound to set his benchmark time, with the extra stability and confidence provided by the newly-introduced front tyre enabling the Spaniard to expertly deal with the tricky conditions.
On the Repsol Honda, Pedrosa was just 0.135 seconds adrift of Lorenzo and will start the race in second place, while Ducati’s Nicky Hayden continued his good progress by securing a front-row start with a lap time of 1:40.563. Power Electronics Aspar rider Randy de Puniet was the top CRT rider in qualifying, his time of 1:41.700 slotting the Frenchman in tenth on the grid.
Including Lorenzo, ten riders utilised the new specification front slick tyre in qualifying with Yamaha Factory Racing’s Ben Spies and the Monster Tech3 Yamaha pairing of Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso all setting their fastest time with this latest development in Bridgestone MotoGP™ tyre technology.
The morning FP3 session was cold and wet with track temperatures hovering around 14°C meaning teams had no time to find a dry setup before qualifying. The sun appeared in time for qualifying, however the earlier rain meant conditions were far from ideal.
The weather forecast indicates rain is also possible during tomorrow’s 27-lap race, with the action set to start at 1400 local time (GMT+2).
Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport
“Qualifying today was the first dry running we have had this weekend, but conditions were still not ideal due to the rain we had during FP3. Even though track conditions were not very good, overall our slick tyres worked very well with riders reporting good warm-up performance and initial grip. Some riders used the new specification front tyre and I am pleased with the feedback we received about this new development.
“All riders used the soft rear compound during qualifying and our durability data indicates that should conditions be similar for tomorrow’s race, the soft rear tyre is a feasible option so some riders may select this option for the race. Qualifying was very exciting so I hope we have a dry race as we may see a very good contest.”