MotoGP 2012 – Round Ten – Laguna Seca
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo was on record-breaking form during qualifying for the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Laguna Seca this weekend as he stole pole position in the final seconds for tomorrow’s race ahead of Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa.
Lorenzo left it until his last lap to take his fourth consecutive pole at the track from Repsol Honda Team’s Stoner, who had posted a new track record just a few laps before. Completing the front row in third is his teammate Dani Pedrosa, who had shone in yesterday’s practice sessions, but was unable to match the two at the front, who were on blistering form. Stoner, who bemoaned the heavy traffic out on track after the session, had spent the majority of qualifying dialling his bike into the harder rear tyre along with Pedrosa. Most other teams had tried the softer rear tyre for race-pace, with Lorenzo in particular highlighting the importance of tyre choice before tomorrow’s race depending on the weather conditions.
Row two is headed by Lorenzo’s teammate Ben Spies, who suffered a heavy crash 12 minutes before the end. Despite walking away gingerly with a injured heel and slight concussion, he re-joined for the final few minutes of the session. Next to him in fifth, Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow showed no signs of his crash yesterday, finishing just under two tenths off the American. Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso rounds out the second row in sixth, making it an all-Yamaha affair, though will be looking to once again get the better of his teammate in tomorrow’s race.
Seventh spot on the grid went to San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista, who will be pleased with his slight improvement, after a somewhat subdued weekend so far. Alongside him in eighth, Ducati Team’s home favourite Nicky Hayden wrung the neck of his machine to start tomorrow’s race as highest placed Desmosedici. Completing the third row is LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl, who recovered well from a first lap run off into the gravel at the infamous corkscrew.
Hayden’s teammate Valentino Rossi rounds out the top ten, after another disappointing qualifying session for the Italian saw him struggling with corner entry. He will once again be looking for his race consistency to make his way up the order tomorrow. Highest CRT finisher was Power Electronics Aspar’s Randy de Puniet, who ended the day in 11th. NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards put in one of his better qualifying performances in 13th, after the team carried out a big modification to his seat, allowing for better agility on the bike. Wildcard Steve Rapp, on board the Attack Performance CRT machine, did not qualify for the race, as he set a time outside of the 107% marker off the top time. This means that Rapp must post a time within this limit during tomorrow’s warm-up to be able to contest. Apart from Spies’ crash, Speed Master’s Mattia Pasini also suffered a fall, but fortunately walked away unhurt.
1 Jorge Lorenzo 1’20.554 SPA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing Team
2 Casey Stoner 1’20.628 AUS HONDA Repsol Honda Team
3 Dani Pedrosa 1’20.906 SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
4 Ben Spies 1’21.094 USA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing Team
5 Cal Crutchlow 1’21.268 GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
6 Andrea Dovizioso 1’21.539 ITA YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
7 Alvaro Bautista 1’21.732 SPA HONDA San Carlo Honda Gresini
8 Nicky Hayden 1’21.734 USA DUCATI Ducati Team
9 Stefan Bradl 1’21.753 GER HONDA LCR Honda MotoGP
10 Valentino Rossi 1’22.544 ITA DUCATI Ducati Team
11 Randy De Puniet 1’22.886 FRA ART Aspar Team MotoGP
12 Aleix Espargaro 1’23.075 ESP ART Aspar Team MotoGP
13 Colin Edwards 1’23.699 USA SUTER NGM Mobile Forward Racing
14 Karel Abraham 1’23.704 CZE DUCATI Cardion AB Motoracing
15 Yonny Hernandez 1’23.769 COL BQR-FTR BQR
16 Michelle Pirro 1’23.877 ITA HONDA San Carlo Honda Gresini
17 Toni Elías 1’23.898 SPA DUCATI Pramac Racing
18 Mattia Pasini 1’24.017 ITA ART Speed Master
19 Danilo Petrucci 1’24.227 ITA IODA Ioda Racing Project
20 Ivan Silva 1’24.560 SPA BQR-FTR BQR
21 James Ellison 1’24.715 GBR ART Paul Bird Racing
— Yamaha Report
Lorenzo Claims Fourth Consecutive Laguna Seca Pole
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo delivered a signature scorching performance this afternoon to take his fourth consecutive Laguna Seca pole position start ahead of tomorrow’s Grand Prix of USA. The Championship leader was straight into the top spot at the beginning of the qualifying practice and was only challenged by rival Casey Stoner towards the end of the session. Lorenzo responded in the last seconds with an incredible lap, coming from a slow first split to an unbeatable last taking pole 0.074 seconds clear. The time of 1’20.554 stands as a new lap record for the circuit.
Ben Spies continued to show the consistent fast pace in evidence from the first practice yesterday, moving quickly up to the top five early in the session. The Texan was provisionally on the front row for some time before dropping just outside it to fourth. A big high side at turn three threatened to bring an end to his qualifying however he made it back and out again on his second bike to complete the heat. He starts on the second row in fourth, 0.54 seconds from pole.
Jorge Lorenzo – Position : 1st Time: 1’20.554 Laps: 33
“I knew Casey and Dani were going to try and take pole but I really wanted it here in America so I tried my best for Yamaha. I pushed to the limit, especially in the last corner, I was at full lean and opened the throttle really soon. In my first two tries for a perfect lap there was a lot of traffic so I had to wait for the right moment. The important thing is tomorrow, pole position is nice but anyway the race is what counts.”
Ben Spies – Position : 4th Time: 1’1.094 Laps: 27
“Today was ok, we obviously had a crash which was unfortunate as I think we could have got on the front row. I was feeling really good I just maybe didn’t let the right side of the tyre heat up to quite the right temperature and had a pretty big high side. Anyway we got back out and were able to do the same times as before the crash. I need to get some x-rays to check my heel as I took a big hit on it in the crash.”
“A fantastic qualifying and a spectacular last lap by Jorge making a new lap record. We have a good pace and a good package to fight for victory tomorrow. We’ll have to wait and see what the temperature is going to be as it’s very cold in the morning then warms up a lot!”
“A great pole from Jorge, he’s putting a lot of pressure on the Honda guys. Ben had a big crash using the second soft tyre during the qualifying. Anyway, he’s pretty consistent and happy with the bike set up and hopefully tomorrow he will be 100% fine to ride. I’m pretty confident because he’s finished all the practices in the top four and we know which tyre he is going to use.”
— HRC Report
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC213V) nearly earned his fourth pole of the season before being denied the spot after time had expired in MotoGP qualifying for the U.S. Grand Prix at the scenic Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Stoner went to the top of the time charts with less than two minutes to go and was on pace to lower his lap time when he was balked by slower riders on his final laps. That gave an opening to Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo, who edged out the world champion by a mere .074s when he crossed the line 28 seconds after the hour had expired.
Stoner will now try to win the race for the second year in a row, and third time overall, from the middle of the front row, just in front of team-mate Dani Pedrosa. Stoner won from second on the grid last year and from the pole in 2007.
Pedrosa was not happy about not being able to improve his time at the end of the hour, but was happy to be on the front row for the seventh time this season. Pedrosa confirmed that he will race the newest spec Repsol Honda RC213V, with the updated chassis and engine, while Stoner will race with the previous chassis and the new engine.
Both Stoner and Pedrosa sat out Saturday morning’s FP3 because of foggy conditions, while most of the other riders spent some time on the track. The session began with only a few CRT riders making laps, but in the final 14 minutes the rest of the field trickled out. The decision by the Repsol Honda team to skip the session, which both riders endorsed because of the marginal conditions, put added emphasis on qualifying, where they not only had to work on a set-up, but also decide whether to use the soft or hard Bridgestone rear tyre in Sunday’s tenth round of the MotoGP World Championship.
Spaniard Alvaro Bautista qualified seventh fastest in his first visit to Laguna Seca as a member of the San Carlo Honda Gresini team. It was his best qualifying effort at the twisty track by five positions. Like the Repsol Honda riders, Bautista lost valuable set-up time by missing most of the morning’s free practice, though he did venture out near the end of the hour.
Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP RC213V) finished with the ninth fastest time in his first official qualifying session at the track in the hills east of Monterey. This was Bradl’s first trip to Laguna Seca on a MotoGP machine, though he had learned the track earlier in the year when he took part in a track day aboard a Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade. That helped orient him on the first day, but he still lacked the experience needed to get the most out of the LCR Honda MotoGP RC213V in such a limited time.
Michele Pirro (San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR Honda) was also making his first visit to Laguna Seca, yet another new track where he had no data for the CRT machine, and the only one this season where he has had no experience. The track is unlike any other in the world, with constant changes of direction and elevations, and a gradually bumpier surface. Riders often struggle to learn the track’s idiosyncrasies in their first forays on the 3.61Km, 11-turn circuit.
Sundays’ U.S. Grand Prix is the final race before the summer break, after which the series returns to the U.S. for the Indianapolis Grand Prix in three weeks’ time.
MotoGP Rider Quotes: Casey Stoner, Repsol Honda: 2nd “I’m disappointed as I think we definitely had the potential for pole position. We spent most of the session with the hard tyre trying to improve our pace. We’ve been struggling with it all season when the temperatures aren’t high enough to get it working and we had made a few steps and weren’t too far off the pace. Then we put on the soft tyre and unfortunately we never got a clean lap. There was always a CRT bike in the way and considering we’re three, four seconds a lap quicker than them, you come up on them pretty quick, no matter how big a gap you give them.
Every lap was spoiled, which is very frustrating as I really feel we could have been on pole, but we’ll have to settle for where we are. Tyre choice for the race will depend on the weather conditions tomorrow. I think we have the pace and longevity in the tyre for the soft, but if it’s hot then we may have to try and make the hard work.”
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 3rd
“I was a little upset at the end of the session as I wasn’t able to improve my lap time, but happy anyway with another front row. We did a big job this afternoon, considering this morning; in my opinion, there was no meaning to go out with such a track and weather conditions. So we had one hour to work with the tyres and set up the new bike that I finally chose for the race. It was an intense and interesting practice; we know what we have to do for tomorrow. The bike is working well and I’m pretty confident for the race. Let’s see if we have better conditions than today for the warm up tomorrow and we can work on the finer details, although I think we have already a good package.”
Alvaro Bautista, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 7th “Today went quite a lot better than yesterday – the only disappointment is that we hardly got any laps in this morning because of the fog and that probably cost us the opportunity to take another step forward. Anyway, we managed to try a couple of different settings out and in the end we found something positive which improved my confidence on the bike. My pace also improved, so that’s good. Obviously, we are still not at 100%, but we have taken an important step. A third row start isn’t bad and if we can get away well off the line we can hope to stay with the second group because the front three are on a different level.
My objective is to rediscover the feeling I had before Mugello and have a good race.”
Stefan Bradl, LCR Honda MotoGP: 9th “Not great and not so bad… in between. It’s more difficult for me compared with the past races, because yesterday I had to find my pace and orient myself on this new track. Then this morning we lost the session due to the bad weather, so we started working on the bike package this afternoon. I am not really happy about the front end feeling, because we are losing too much time in braking and in corners entries, so actually I miss the perfect confidence to go faster. We need to analyse the data and make a change for tomorrow, because the surface is pretty bumpy. Starting from the third row is not so bad but I am aware it will be a long race and I will try to follow the guys in the front.”
Michele Pirro, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 16th “The lap times have improved quite a lot from yesterday, but we need to take another step if we are going to be competitive in the race. The guys will work hard as always to put me in a position to score a good result and I will do my part.
(Randy) De Puniet and (Aleix) Espargarò have a big gap over the rest of the CRTs here, but it will be a long race and anything is possible.”
— Ducati Report
Difficult qualifying session for Ducati Team at Laguna Seca
Laguna Seca’s thick, wet fog typically burns off relatively early in the morning, but it persisted for today’s final free-practice session for the United States Grand Prix, reducing the useful track time and prompting most riders to wait until the final ten minutes or so before leaving the garages.
The afternoon qualifying session took place in normal conditions, but Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi didn’t manage to find the best setup to ride the California circuit effectively. Tomorrow will see them starting from the third and fourth rows, respectively.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 8th (1:21.734)
“After the performance we had in the race at Mugello and then again in the test, we expected to be a lot closer to the front than this. It’s a bit frustrating to be over a second back, especially at a little track like this where even three or four tenths is a lot. Tonight we’ll decide if we want to make big changes for tomorrow or try to refine what we have, and the main priority will be to settle on a tyre. The morning warm-up might not be very useful if it’s foggy again, but we’ll see what tomorrow brings and give it our best shot.”
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 10th (1:22.544)
“As long as we ride at our race pace, we’re close to the two or three other riders in the second group. Unfortunately though, just like at the last race, when we try to do a fast time, we’re not able to improve enough. When I put on the soft tyre, it creates more problems, which are always the same, really: to avoid having the tyres start sliding too much after a few laps, we must load the rear a lot, and that causes us to lose feeling with the front. As long as I ride at a 1:22 pace, I’m able to be pretty consistent, but when I have to push harder, the front starts to close. The bike moves a lot and I go wide. Anyway, we’ll see. I’m tenth, but my rhythm is a bit better. Obviously, I’m expecting a difficult race tomorrow.”
— Bridgestone Report
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium, Hard. Rear: Soft, Medium (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Hard (Main), Soft (Alternative)
Weather: FP3 – Dry. Ambient 14-14°C; Track 19-25°C (Bridgestone measurement)
QP – Dry. Ambient 17-18°C; Track 40-43°C (Bridgestone measurement)
Current MotoGP™ championship leader Jorge Lorenzo will start on pole position at the United States Grand Prix after the Spaniard set a new lap record of 1’20.554 on the Yamaha Factory Racing M1 in qualifying at Laguna Seca.
Lorenzo broke the existing pole position record – set by Casey Stoner in 2008 – earlier in the session before Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner moved to P1 when he also went under his old mark with a few minutes remaining in the session. However, Lorenzo took pole position on his very last lap to relegate Stoner to P2 ahead of his teammate Dani Pedrosa who rounded out the front row. Randy de Puniet qualified in eleventh position, with the Frenchman continuing the dominance of the Power Electronics Aspar team among the CRT entries during qualifying.
This morning’s FP3 session was subjected to heavy fog which kept track temperatures low and reduced grip levels due to the high moisture levels. Only a few riders took to the track until the end of the session when the cloud started to lift and more riders ventured out. Just like yesterday, track conditions in the afternoon were much better with sunshine and track temperatures in the low-40°C range for the one hour qualifying session. For qualifying, most riders used the combination of the softer rear and harder front slick for better drive out of corners and improved front-end stability when setting their best lap times.
The next session for the United States Grand Prix will be Morning Warm Up at 0940 local time (GMT -7) tomorrow and the thirty-two lap race is scheduled to start at 1400.
Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“Track conditions today were similar to yesterday, with cloud cover in the morning and clear skies in the afternoon. However, the cloud this morning was much heavier so many riders chose not to go out on circuit until right at the end of FP3 so track time was somewhat limited today. It was clear from yesterday’s and today’s sessions that most riders prefer the harder front slick option so I expect this to be the popular choice for tomorrow’s race, though rear tyre choice at this stage is not as clear cut with both the softer and harder rear slicks viable options for tomorrow’s race. I anticipate that many teams will wait until tomorrow afternoon and make a decision on rear tyre choice depending on what the track temperature is just before the race.”