1 Casey Stoner Honda AUS 1’38.757
2 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 1’38.915
3 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 1’38.918
4 Ben Spies Yamaha USA 1’39.390
5 Marco Simoncelli Honda ITA 1’39.486
6 Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 1’39.709
7 Randy De Puniet Ducati FRA 1’39.892
8 Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 1’39.895
9 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 1’40.019
10 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda JPN 1’40.168
11 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 1’40.175
12 Valentino Rossi Ducati ITA 1’40.185
13 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 1’40.217
14 John Hopkins Suzuki USA 1’40.310
15 Loris Capirossi Ducati ITA 1’40.523
Repsol Honda duo lead the way again, Rossi crashes again
Repsol Honda rider Casey Stoner took his second pole of the 2011 MotoGP season in as many rounds, topping an eventful qualifying session for the Gran Premio bwin de España on Saturday afternoon. He will be joined on the front row by his team-mate Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) and Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing).
The Australian set the fastest time of the weekend with a 1’38.757 which was just 0.158s ahead of his team-mate, who had set the early pace in the morning practice. Stoner had a moment towards the very end of the session where he ran on at Turn 1, but he held top spot on the timesheet regardless of the minor mishap.
The session was run in slightly cooler conditions compared to Friday with the wind that had played a large role on day one picking up slightly towards the end of the hour. Lorenzo was leading the session for the most part, but was unable to match the pace of the Repsol Hondas in front of him, with a deficit of 0.161s behind Stoner’s pole lap and just three-thousandths off his fellow Spaniard’s time. Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing) will head the second row of the grid in fourth place, despite crashing at turn one in the last five minutes of the session. Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini Team) will start in fifth place and continued to set times to place him as third fastest Honda, with Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) completing the second row in sixth.
Randy de Puniet (Pramac Racing) crashed at Turn 5 in the final ten minutes of qualifying but finished as the top Ducati rider in seventh position, 1.135s behind the pole position lap. Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), who scored a rostrum finish here in 2007, will start in eighth position after a fall in the dying moments of qualifying which he accepted with a bow to the crowd. His team-mate at Monster Yamaha Tech 3, Cal Crutchlow, was one place behind in ninth in his first qualifying session at the Andalucian circuit.
There was a high speed crash for Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini) when he went off in the Àlex Crivillé corner early on, but the Japanese rider was able to remount his RC212V and took the final spot in the top ten.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) did not have the best of starts to his one-hour qualifying session after a nasty tumble into Turn 8 when he lost the front and finished up in the gravel. The Italian was able to make it back to the pits to jump on his spare bike and finished outside the top ten in 12th place.
Stefan Bradl followed up his first career pole – taken in Round 1 at Qatar – with a second in the Moto2 category as he topped the intermediate category session. The German, who won the opening round a fortnight ago, posted a best lap of 1’42.706 to finish 0.282s ahead of Yuki Takahashi (Gresini Racing), the only other rider under 1’43” in the session.
Thomas Lüthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2) will complete the front row, with Marc Márquez heading up row two on his Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol machine which he crashed towards the end of the session. Bradley Smith (Tech 3 Racing) and Alex de Angelis (JiR Moto2) took impressive second-row positions.
Completing the top ten in the QP session were Michele Pirro (Gresini Racing), Aleix Espargaró (Pons HP 40), Claudio Corti (Italtrans STR) and Julián Simón (Mapfre Aspar).
Sandro Cortese secured pole for the 125 category with a fine late lap of 1’47.399 to beat Championship favourite and early standings leader Nico Terol (Bankia Aspar) to top spot in qualifying by 0.209s. The Intact Racing Team Germany rider and his Spanish rival will be joined by Héctor Faubel (Bankia Aspar) on the front row.
Avant-AirAsia-Ajo pair Efrén Vázquez and Johann Zarco, along with Luis Salom (RW Racing) took second-row positions, with Jonas Folger (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport), Miguel Oliveira (Andalucia Banca Civica) and Danny Kent (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) all on the third row. Alberto Moncayo (Andalucia Banca Civica) timed in tenth fastest, with Sergio Gadea (PEV-Blusens-SMX-Paris Hilton) 11th.
– HRC Report
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V) stormed to his second consecutive pole position this afternoon at Jerez, venue for tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix, round two of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship. The Australian – who has never before started from pole at Jerez – ended the hour-long outing 0.158 seconds ahead of team-mate Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V). Reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) was third, completing a front-row line-up identical to that at last month’s season-opening Qatar GP.
This afternoon’s session was run under sullen grey skies, with rain a real possibility for race day. Strong winds have also buffeted the Andalucian venue, most noticeably yesterday afternoon when several riders blamed their crashes on the gusting winds.
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) was once again in the thick of the battle for a good slot on the second row, ending the session in fifth place. Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V) was one place behind his fellow Italian, making it four RCVs in the top six.
It has been another great two days of practice for Honda’s latest MotoGP machine which has topped all four sessions, just as it did at Losail. Stoner led the way yesterday, just 0.028 seconds ahead of Pedrosa, who retaliated with a brilliant lap this morning to top free practice by 0.307 seconds.
The Australian and the Spaniard were the star performers at the end of this afternoon’s showdown, the pair overcoming a strong challenge from Lorenzo who had led the early stages.
Pedrosa went fastest with 12 minutes to go, only for Stoner to go quicker two minutes later, having spent the early stages of the session tweaking set-up. With five minutes remaining Lorenzo fought back, splitting the two Hondas.
At the very end Stoner was pushing to better his time once again when he got into Turn One a bit too hot, lifted the rear wheel off the tarmac and rode into the gravel trap, toppling off his machine as he came to a halt by the air fence. At the same time Pedrosa was making his final attack. With two minutes left and at the second split, the former 125 and 250 World Champion was one tenth inside Stoner’s best, but he ended the lap two tenths down. His final lap was his fastest, moving him back ahead of Lorenzo.
Simoncelli was happy enough with his performance, though he might have done even better if he had stayed out on track after a close call during the closing stages of the session. Instead he pulled into the pits, effectively wasting a fresh soft rear tyre. Nonetheless the former 250 World Champion is feeling more confident for the race than he felt at Qatar.
Dovizioso did well to make the second row after sliding off at Turn 11 during yesterday afternoon’s windswept practice outing. The crash interrupted his progress at a track that’s always been a challenge for the former 125 World Champion.
There were six fallers during MotoGP qualifying: Valentino Rossi (Ducati), Ben Spies (Yamaha), Colin Edwards (Yamaha), Randy de Puniet (Ducati), Karel Abraham (Ducati) and Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V). No one was hurt.
Aoyama’s tumble was a disappointment for the Japanese ace who had run as high as fifth. The 2009 250 World Champion finished the session in tenth place, two places better than his Qatar qualifying performance.
Toni Elias (LCR Honda MotoGP RC212V) had another difficult day, ending qualifying in 17th spot, albeit only 2.3 seconds off pole. The popular Spanish rider, who won last year’s Jerez Moto2 race, has spent both days working on his RCV’s suspension in an effort to improve rear grip.
Following the MotoGP session, Moto2 World Championship leader Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing-Kalex) matched Stoner’s performance of two pole positions from two races. The young German – son of former Honda 250 GP hotshot Helmut Bradl who started the 1991 Jerez 250 GP from pole – dominated the session just as he had ruled both qualifying and racing in Qatar. With five minutes to go he was just two hundredths ahead of Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2-Suter) when he rode a scintillating lap to put himself almost six tenths ahead – a huge advantage in this ultra-close, Honda-powered series.
Yuki Takahashi (Gresini Racing Moto2-Moriwaki) did his best to make inroads into Bradl’s advantage during the final stages and his efforts were very nearly rewarded, the Japanese rider coming within 0.282 seconds of pole to move him into second. It was an impressive performance considering that Takahashi had a big tumble yesterday morning.
A few minutes earlier a brave bid for pole by Moto2 rookie Marc Marquez (Team Catalunya Caixa Repsol-Suter) had also ended in the gravel trap. The reigning 125 World Champion lost the front going into Turn One, his machine sustaining too much damage to complete the session. Nevertheless, Marquez had already done enough to lead the second row, 0.626 seconds off Bradl.
Swiss rider Luthi, as usual, went about his business in a quiet and determined fashion, focusing very much on race pace, while still doing enough to squeeze in a very quick qualifying lap. The former 125 World Champion ended up third fastest, 0.582 seconds down on pole.
Row two was completed by impressive British rookie Bradley Smith (Tech 3 Racing-Tech 3) and 250 and Moto2 race winner Alex De Angelis (JIR Moto2-Motobi).
Casey Stoner, Repsol Honda: pole position – 1m 38.757s “The Qualifying result was good but as for using the rest of the session and setting the bike up, we weren’t totally happy with what we achieved and lost some time. We’re struggling a little to get the balance of the bike where I want it, we make some improvements in the front and then some in the rear but never at the same time which is a little frustrating. On my last run of the session I was pushing a little too hard and was a bit late with the brakes, the rear came up and I released the brakes but I had way too much speed going in there, it was nice just to avoid the air fence. Anyway we’re happy, we’re on pole position again but we still need to finish the race tomorrow and I will fight for a podium position and hopefully the race victory, but I never underestimate the Spanish riders, they find something extra for this race and they are very hard to beat.”
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 2nd – 1m 38.915s “To be on the front row is always very important and second is a good place to start the race. I would like to improve the bike a little bit, especially on the third section of the track, the only place where I lose some tenths, and it would help to have better braking and exit of the corners there. It’s been tough with the shoulder
– in fact this morning I decided to only do a few laps to not stress the arm so much – and it will be difficult also tomorrow, but there’s nothing else I can do, I’ll just try to finish the race in the best way possible and hopefully, bring home a good result. We need to see how the weather is tomorrow – perhaps it rains, but maybe it could be better for my shoulder.”
Marco Simoncelli, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 5th – 1m 39.486s “I made a little mistake on my way into the corner at turn nine and ran wide. I knew that lap was wasted so I came back to the pit but maybe that was the wrong decision because the tyre was still fresh so I should have stayed out there and tried to push for another lap. Anyway, it hasn’t been a bad day at all even if this afternoon we struggled a little more than this morning, when I was able to set a steady 1m 39.5 pace on a race tyre. Everybody seemed to struggle this afternoon though and as far as the race is concerned I think we are in better shape than Qatar. If we can repeat our lap times from this morning we should have fun.”
Andrea Dovizioso, Repsol Honda: 6th – 1m 39.709s “I’m happy to start from the second row as we have had a difficult weekend. We have worked a lot with the team and I could improve the feeling with the front, yesterday I struggled because of the crash and the wind in the afternoon. Tomorrow the race will be tough as always here in Jerez because there is little grip and the bikes slide a lot. For the championship, it will be very important to get a good result on this track as we have often struggled in the past, and racing here will be good to understand our level. I’m happy with the improvement but we have to keep on working to reduce the gap from Casey and Dani.”
Hiroshi Aoyama, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 10th – 1m 40.168s “I could have done without that crash. The afternoon started really well and we were in good shape to get a decent grid position. Unfortunately I had a bit of a chatter problem and maybe that was the reason for the crash. The pain in my knee made it difficult for the rest of the session but I hope it subsides tomorrow so that we can get our feeling back and have a good race.”
Toni Elias, LCR Honda MotoGP: 17th – 1m 41.114s “This morning it seemed that we have found a good direction but as soon as we have tried to go a little bit faster I struggled again with rear grip problems and the bike was spinning a lot. We had different directions to try but every time we tried different adjustments the bike was worse. I cannot do what I am supposed to do especially on this racetrack which I like so much. Anyway we have got some more things to try in tomorrow’s warm up…”
– Ducati Report
After a very positive trio of practice sessions, a minor low-side fall in Turn 8 influenced Valentino Rossi’s qualifying result at Jerez. Third on Friday and sixth in Saturday morning’s free-practice, the Italian will have to start from the twelfth spot on the grid, from where he will nonetheless try to take advantage of the good work carried out on the GP11’s setup this weekend.
The bike Rossi crashed with was in fact his choice between two setups that were different, and the second bike wasn’t able to repeat his performance from this morning. His teammate Nicky Hayden had a good morning session, but in qualifying, he wasn’t able to improve his time with a soft tyre as much as he’d hoped.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro Team) 11th, 1:40.175
“Eleventh isn’t exactly the ideal starting spot, by any means. This morning we made a pretty good step forward to start with and improved the lap time pretty well there in mid-session, but this afternoon, with the wind, I didn’t go much faster than I went this morning—under two tenths, which is certainly not good enough if you want to qualify well. I’m not happy about the performance. I don’t want to make a lot of excuses; the bike-rider combination wasn’t really good today, but anything can happen in the race tomorrow. The weather seems pretty unpredictable at the moment, so we’ve just got to get prepared for anything and see what happens.”
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro Team) 12th, 1:40.185
“We really didn’t need that fall because I was going quite well with the right bike, the one I like better and that I would have used to do a time with the soft tyre later. I had to lap with the other bike, which was very different, an experiment that unfortunately didn’t work very well. I didn’t feel good on the bike, and I was slower than I had been this morning. It’s a shame. If I had to make a mistake, that was really the wrong moment, because otherwise the second row was within our reach. We could have been with Simoncelli, Spies and Dovizioso, who were on our pace. The top three are going faster, but the difference isn’t as big as it was in Qatar. I like the track, and our pace isn’t bad; we’ll see what happens if we’re able to get a good start.”
– Yamaha Report
This afternoons qualifying session for tomorrows Grand Prix of Spain at Jerez witnessed improved performances from both Yamaha Factory Racing riders following a challenging start to the weekend. Jorge Lorenzo had put his best time of the weekend in during the mornings free practice with a 139.682, then worked hard with his crew to find even more grip and feel in his M1 for the afternoon qualifying. The Mallorcan led the qualifying heat from the start, only dropping to third in the last few minutes and ending the session less than two tenths of a second from pole; one of only three riders to break into the 138s. He will start tomorrows race on the front row of the grid in third.
Ben Spies made dramatic improvements after a slow start to the weekend. The Texan had been struggling to be comfortable on his Factory Yamaha which had held him back from contesting for faster times and a good grid position in the practice sessions. Qualifying saw the crew deliver a new set up offering much greater front end feel which was evident as Spies moved quickly up the time sheets. An unfortunate moment where he lost the front end going too hot into a corner meant a premature end to qualifying. The crash left him just behind his team mate in fourth for a second row grid start.
Jorge Lorenzo / 3rd
I pushed the maximum from the first lap and improved my lap time from this morning. We were one of the few to improve with the tougher conditions when the track was worse. When we put the soft tyres in we managed to make a 138.9 lap which is a good time and we were only some milliseconds from Dani and less than two tenths from Casey. We are confident for tomorrow and we are pushing for a podium, if the opportunity arises then we will go for a victory.
Ben Spies / 4th
Thats definitely the best session weve had so far. Ive got to take my hat off to my crew because it has been a hard weekend. Every practice session weve had two different bikes while weve been searching for the right set up. Theyve been doing an excellent job getting me more comfortable, I wouldnt say Im 100% there yet but from Friday its a big improvement. In qualifying I had to do my part and step up to get closer to the front on the grid and it all worked out. Its definitely a team effort, I asked a lot from the guys and they came through. I had a small crash, one of those crashes where I knew going into the corner that Id made a mistake and was trying to slow it down but lost the front.
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
Im very pleased with the qualifying; the bike improved a lot from yesterday and has a lot more feeling. Corner entry and turnability have also improved and within a safety margin so Jorge can be faster and more consistent now. Third on the grid is good, he missed a T4 split by 0.3 seconds so he might even have been on pole. Well go for points tomorrow and are happy weve made a step forward today.
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
A good qualifying today, both riders had more confidence with better set ups which showed in their performances. The front row is a great way to start the race for Jorge, and for Ben, starting in fourth is a comfortable position. We managed to find a setting that increased the feeling in the front for him which helped a lot. Unfortunately he fell towards the end when he out-braked himself but we are optimistic for the race. The weather forecast for tomorrow is quite critical, I would prefer a dry race but if its going to be wet then so be it.
Edwards and Crutchlow happy after dramatic qualifying
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team riders Colin Edwards and Cal Crutchlow will start tomorrow’s Spanish MotoGP race from eighth and ninth position on the grid respectively after an incident-packed qualifying session at the Jerez circuit.
American Edwards will start in the middle of the third row having taken full advantage of a revised front-end set-up to post a best time of 1.39.895. Edwards opted to run a harder front fork spring this afternoon having made several modifications to improve braking and cornering feedback with his YZR-M1 machine. He was less than 0.2s away from claiming a deserved second row position when he became one of numerous crashers in a dramatic session that took place in front of a large Saturday crowd at the Jerez track.
Pushing hard to try and secure a top six grid position ahead of tomorrow’s 27-lap race, Edwards lost the front-end of his YZR-M1 at the slow speed second corner, but was able to remount his machine and ride back to the pits.
Crutchlow produced another outstanding performance to secure his second successive top ten qualifying result in his rookie MotoGP campaign. Crutchlow was in stunning form in this morning’s third and final practice session, the British rider finishing seventh fastest after setting a quicker time than team-mate Edwards and factory Yamaha rider Ben Spies.
And he carried that speed into this afternoon’s qualifying session, the 2009 World Supersport champion clocking a best lap of 1.40.019 to finish just 0.124s behind Edwards in ninth. Set-up alterations made significant improvements to the front-end feeling of Crutchlow’s YZR-M1 machine. Despite having less than four hours of track time at Jerez, Crutchlow demonstrated what a fast learner he is by beating a host of established MotoGP stars with vast experience of the challenging Andalucía venue.
Colin Edwards / 8th
I’m never happy with eighth position but I honestly couldn’t have put in any extra effort than what I did. It is hard to be disappointed when I know I rode as hard as I could do. It was obvious how hard I was pushing when I crashed late in the session. But to even get close to the second row now with this level of competition, you’ve got to take a few risks. I’d just done my fastest lap of the session when I got into the second corner and lost the front. I wanted to push a bit more to try and get onto the second row but obviously bit off more than I could chew and down I went. I felt good in the session because we modified the front forks by running a hard spring and it gave me the extra feedback I was looking for. On the hard rear tyre that we’ll race on, I’m pretty happy because I was able to lap consistently in the low 40s. We didn’t make a big step with the softer tyre so that shows we’ve got a decent race set-up and although it will be a tough race, I’m really looking forward to it.
Cal Crutchlow / 9th
I’m really happy considering I don’t know this track at all and there are a lot of talented riders behind me on the grid again. This morning I was seventh and I’ve qualified ninth, so I’m obviously making big progress. That is pleasing for me and for my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team crew, who have been working really hard to help me to adjust quickly to riding a MotoGP bike. My ideal time was sixth, so I can’t complain about that given my lack of experience on this track. I actually felt more comfortable with the harder tyre than I did with the soft, so that bodes well for the race tomorrow. We definitely made a big improvement with the front-end of the bike and I felt much more comfortable today. But we sacrificed a bit of rear grip, so we’ve got to try and find a balance that gives me the grip I’ve got now with the front, but improves the rear feeling too. My target for the race will be to finish in the top ten. Looking at the lap times I’m similar to Hayden and Aoyama again like I was in Qatar. I was a little bit behind them at the end of the race in Qatar, so hopefully I can make that step and give them a closer battle here. My confidence is growing and I’m optimistic I can get a good result tomorrow.
– Bridgestone Report
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Medium, Hard. Rear: Soft, Medium
Casey Stoner continued his strong form this weekend to set his first pole position in the premier class at the Jerez circuit today, just ahead of Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa. Jorge Lorenzo will start tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix from third for the Yamaha Factory team, finishing just 0.003seconds adrift of Pedrosa.
Conditions for the hour-long qualifying session were good; much better than yesterday afternoon as the temperature was slightly cooler and the wind was much less strong. All riders favoured the harder option front Bridgestone slicks for the duration of the session, and towards the end the softer rear slicks were used for the extra grip they provide. Every rider set their best laps using the softer rear.
In the last ten minutes the times tumbled and the top three riders all set laptimes faster than last year’s pole position time. The top six riders also all lapped under the existing lap record, set by Pedrosa last year, and Stoner’s pole time was a full one second faster. Row two for tomorrow’s race consists of Yamaha’s Ben Spies, and the Hondas of Marco Simoncelli and Andrea Dovizioso.
The weather forecast tomorrow is still for rain, which would mean the first wet running of the 2011 season and not much time for the teams to decide upon their wet setups, although Jerez is a circuit at which every manufacturer has a lot of data from past tests and GPs. The 27-lap race gets underway at 1400hrs local time.
Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport
“I am impressed with the laptimes at the front during the qualifying session today. For the top six riders to be faster than the pole position time of last year shows our tyres are performing well here and also the improvements made by the teams since 2010. I am happy with tyre performance, especially from the harder option front and rear slicks as they are working well even in the cooler morning conditions.
“Conditions remained good today although it was more overcast than yesterday, and the latest forecasts for tomorrow still suggest rain is a distinct possibility for the race which will mean the teams and riders will have to quickly establish good wet settings with their new bikes. I hope the race will be dry though as I think with good conditions we can see a very exciting race as the pace is close, especially amongst the top group.”
– Suzuki Report
Rizla Suzuki’s John Hopkins produced a great performance at Jerez today that saw him qualify for tomorrow’s race within touching distance of the third row.
Hopkins (P14’ 1’40.310, 26 laps) took big steps today as he tried to find a smooth and comfortable rhythm on the Suzuki GSV-R after over two years out of the saddle of a MotoGP machine. His best time during this afternoon’s qualifying was over two seconds quicker than his fastest lap yesterday and he was only three-tenths-of-a-second away from recording an amazing third row start on his return to MotoGP. Hopkins is still coming to terms with riding the machine, but believes he improves every time he goes out and is in a confident mood for tomorrow’s race
Today’s qualifying was held in overcast conditions, but the strong winds from yesterday did ease a bit making things better for all riders, as Casey Stoner took his second pole position of the season on his factory Honda. Tomorrow’s 27-lap race gets underway at 14.00hrs and with rain threatened at the Spanish circuit it could turn out to be a very interesting affair.
Hopkins is representing Rizla Suzuki at Jerez as a replacement rider for Álvaro Bautista after the Spaniard broke his femur in Qatar just two weeks ago, but Bautista was at the circuit today to give his support to Hopkins and the rest of the team, as he recovers from the injury and makes plans for his return to the racing arena.
“I don’t really know where to start! It’s been a good day and we’ve taken everything step-by-step to get where we are. It was good to sleep on the track last night – not literally – but to sleep with it in my mind! This morning we went quite a bit quicker, which we expected to do and again we haven’t made any geometry changes whatsoever to the bike. All we’ve changed has been the electronics and the riding position a little bit, but that has just been some fine tuning. It’s amazing the technology that MotoGP bikes have these days – it is just insane! There are so many changes that can be made for each and every rider, you can easily get lost – that’s why I’m lucky to have such a good base setting to start with. We were able to put in some good times and consistent laps and I’m getting more comfortable with myself and my riding lines. For qualifying I was way too excited at the start and I was making too many mistakes, rushing into the corners and running wide all over the place – I was just a little bit too happy with myself out there! I had to come in and calm it down and breathe a bit before I went back out again. I managed to get a tow from a couple of riders because I need to get as much help as I can this weekend. At the end quite a few people crashed all around me and I was looking for someone to follow to help me learn the lines again. I got behind Dovizioso and Stoner on my last softer tyre and although I made quite a few mistakes on my fastest lap, I still ended up going over two seconds quicker than I did yesterday. I am very pleased and it feels so awesome to be back out there, especially in front of the Jerez crowd. I’m having so much fun on the motorcycle and really excited about riding, I can’t wait to get out there tomorrow and try and get the best result possible. Obviously the goal is to try and get into the top 10 and if we can that would be great. Most importantly though I want to go out and enjoy myself and put on a good show for the fans and the sponsors and especially for the team for all the faith that they’ve put in to me – I hope I can reward them with a good result.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“These two days have demonstrated two things. One that John Hopkins still deserves to be riding at the top level of the sport, and secondly, that Suzuki has done a great job to develop the GSV-R into a package that – without any adjustments at all – has allowed John to qualify the bike so competitively. Over two years away from riding a MotoGP machine – and the amount of braking force and mechanical grip that they have compared to production bikes – means that John’s timing is inevitably a bit off and also that whilst he’s very fit, there is a difference between normal fitness and MotoGP racing fitness. The 27-laps tomorrow will be tough, but irrespective of what happens in the race itself, John has done a fantastic job so far and we couldn’t have wished for a better stand-in for Álvaro.”
– Red Bull Rookies
Philipp Oettl won the first Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup race of the season with a brilliant outbraking move on Brad Binder with one and a half laps remaining on Saturday at Jerez in Southern Spain. The 14 year old German was super smooth throughout the 16 laps and chased down early leader Binder even though the 15 year old South African also put in an almost perfect performance.
Oettl did not make a great start from 2nd place on the grid and while pole position man Binder shot away into the lead ahead of 14 year old Italian Lorenzo Baldassarri and 16 year old Frenchman Alan Techer Oettl completed the first lap in 5th place behind 15 year old Australian Arthur Sissis.
Binder paced himself well and had soon opened up a lead of almost a second over his rivals. Sissis so nearly crashed on lap 2 as he charged into second and chased Binder through the fast right hander coming back to the start and finish. His skill on the dirt saved the day and he fought for control in a long run through the gravel trap that dropped him to 10th. A couple of shaky laps followed and he dropped to 11th before beginning a climb back.
Oettl was up to 3rd by the end of lap 2 and then passed Techer to take second. The Frenchman tucked in behind and also pulled Baldassarri clear of the rest of the pack. “It wasn’t a great start.” recalled Oettl. “I had to work hard in the opening laps to get back up into 2nd but then I was happy and I could find a good rhythm. It just kept going as fast as I could without making any mistakes and the bike was working very well so I felt good about catching Brad. As I caught him I was thinking that I would have to pass him on the brakes into the last corner but then I had the chance at the end of the back straight and I took it.”
The German’s pace had been 1.5 seconds quicker than the lap that put him second on the grid and even though Binder also bettered his pole time by over 1.2 seconds it wasn’t enough. “It was a quick pace, I was trying so hard and the bike started moving around a lot,” explained Binder. “It was really sliding and getting worse as the race went on, I just couldn’t go any quicker. I know Philipp was coming and when he got alongside me at the end of the straight I though I could still get around on the brakes but he just moved me over and I had to go straight on. That was it. We’ll try some changes for tomorrows race and I’ll have a go at winning it.”
The pace run by Oettl and Binder was too much for the followers but Techer and Baldassarri both kept good rhythm in what became lonely rides for both of them. “I enjoyed the race,” said Techer. “It was really a lot of fun and I was so happy to get on the podium. I couldn’t go any faster because the bike was moving around a lot and I just had to be a little careful, we should change it a little for tomorrow.”
The Frenchman’s experience was very similar to Baldassarri’s. “It was a great race, I made a fast start and really enjoyed the battle at the front,” said the Italian. “It was a fast pace though and when the others came past and we went quicker I found that the bike set up was not good enough. The back I think was too soft because we were going so much faster than in practice but I have talked with the technicians and they have some suggestions that should make it better for tomorrow. Still for my first Rookies race I am very very happy.”
A lonely 5th was Florian Alt. “It wasn’t a perfect start and by the time I got ahead of Xavi Pinsach and into 5th the others were lapping very fast and I could not go with them. I have to work on my speed through the fast corners because that is where I seem to be loosing out to them.” The 14 year old German still crossed the line 2 seconds clear of Sissis who had made up a lot of places after his off track excursion. “I was going after Brad and I came through those fast right handers tucked in instead of hanging off and the bike just slid. I thought it was all over but I managed to stay on it. I was lapping a lot faster than in practice so the bike wasn’t right. We’ll change it for tomorrow and I want to be on the podium.”
Race 1 Classification
1. Philipp Oettl (GER) 30 minutes 23.400 seconds
2. Brad Binder (RSA) +0.567
3. Alan Techer (FRA) +14.692
4. Lorenzo Baldassarri (ITA) +22.052
5. Florian Alt (GER) +27.579
6. Arthur Sissis (AUS) +29.964
7. Xavier Pinsach (ESP) +30.054
8. Aaron España (ESP) +30.214
9. Javier Orellana (GBR) +40.625
10. Lukas Trautmann (AUT) +40.703