The MotoGP qualifying session for the Gran Premi Cinzano de Catalunya concluded with home rider Jorge Lorenzo securing his third pole position of 2009 in sweltering heat close to the Mediterranean coast.
The Fiat Yamaha star pleased the crowd in his special edition Barcelona FC livery securing the top slot on the grid with a 1’41.974 time on the 28th of 29 laps, putting him ahead of team-mate Valentino Rossi by just 0.013s.
Having never been off the podium in the premier class at Montmeló, Rossi will be confident of maintaining that remarkable record on Sunday, though he knows that Lorenzo will pose a tough challenge in his first MotoGP raceday at the track.
Completing the front row is Casey Stoner, as MotoGP’s current trio of form riders showed their strengths once again, the Australian Ducati Marlboro representative lapped just under half a second down on Lorenzo.
Andrea Dovizioso is the ‘nearly man’ in the premier class at present and he missed out on the front row by just 0.168s on his Repsol Honda factory RC212V. Nonetheless the Italian will try to fight for the podium having just fallen short at the last two rounds.
In fifth place on the grid at his home track, not traditionally his strongest circuit, Toni Elías (San Carlo Honda Gresini) will aim to improve his poor Barcelona record from the middle of the front row, whilst Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) ended up sixth and might have done better had he not crashed towards the end of the session.
Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) qualified seventh, just In front of home hero Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) who also suffered a crash in the final moments – landing on his injured right hip, but not appearing to sustain any further damage as he walked away from the incident.
1 J. LORENZO SPA Fiat Yamaha Team 1’41.974
2 V. ROSSI ITA Fiat Yamaha Team + 0.013
3 C. STONER AUS Ducati Marlboro Team + 0.452
4 A. DOVIZIOSO ITA Repsol Honda Team + 0.620
5 T. ELIAS SPA San Carlo Honda Gresini + 1.165
6 C. EDWARDS USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 + 1.194
7 R. DE PUNIET FRA LCR Honda MotoGP + 1.201
8 D. PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team + 1.233
9 J. TOSELAND GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 + 1.259
10 M. KALLIO FIN Pramac Racing + 1.362
11 L. CAPIROSSI ITA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP + 1.391
12 C. VERMEULEN AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP + 1.437
13 N. HAYDEN USA Ducati Marlboro Team + 1.440
14 A. DE ANGELIS RSM San Carlo Honda Gresini + 1.448
15 S. GIBERNAU SPA Grupo Francisco Hernando + 1.740
16 Y. TAKAHASHI JPN Scot Racing Team MotoGP + 1.803
17 M. MELANDRI ITA Hayate Racing Team + 1.818
18 N. CANEPA ITA Pramac Racing + 2.017
19 G. TALMACSI HUN Scot Racing Team MotoGP + 3.859
— Ducati Report
Ducati Marlboro Team rider Casey Stoner will start from the front row of the grid in tomorrow’s Catalunya Grand Prix, with Nicky Hayden starting in thirteenth place despite a late crash that denied him a potential second-row start. The American has made his biggest breakthrough of the season so far on the Desmosedici GP9 in Barcelona, lapping sixth fastest in yesterday’s opening free practice and tenth fastest this morning following an overhaul of his set-up and electronics package.
Stoner also found several positives this afternoon, although he didn’t quite find the ideal set-up within the hour-long session. Nevertheless the Australian is confident his crew can use the data to find an even more competitive combination for tomorrow’s race and he is ideally placed to challenge Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, having qualified just behind the Yamaha pair in third place.
CASEY STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team) 3rd (1’42.426)
“After yesterday we were quite confident that we knew how to close the gap on the guys in front of us and that is what we expected to do this morning but it proved to be a problematic session and everything we did made the set-up worse. The guys worked really hard over lunchtime and during the session this afternoon to change both bikes completely and thankfully we made a big step forward. There is still a bit of a gap to the two riders ahead of us and we know we have work to do, so warm-up will be really important in the morning. Nobody really knows what anybody is capable of in conditions like this because once the tyres start spinning it is going to be difficult for any of us to match the times we’ve been doing today. It is going to be a very interesting race and I think everybody is going to be sliding around a lot but the things we tried with the electronics this afternoon should help us in the later stages of the race. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow but the idea is to dig in and work hard from the warm-up and hopefully we’ll still be fighting at the end.”
NICKY HAYDEN – (Ducati Marlboro Team) 13th (1’43.414)
“Today we weren’t quite able to pick up where we left off yesterday but I went half a second quicker this morning – unfortunately it wasn’t enough to close the gap on the guys in front because they improved too. I shaved another couple of tenths off again this afternoon but on my last run I crashed in turn two and that was pretty much that. The position isn’t great but on the other hand with just a couple more tenths I’d have been a lot further up. I know I’m talking a lot of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ here and at the end of the day the position is what counts and we’re not high enough up. It’s just a shame that on the lap when I’m sure I would have found those extra couple of tenths the rear stepped out in turn one and when I flicked it over into turn two it put me down pretty good. I smacked my left wrist quite hard but I don’t think it’s a big issue and other than that I seem to be okay so we’re looking forward to trying for more tomorrow. ”
— HRC Report
Andrea Dovizioso keeps his fourth place from yesterday and Dani Pedrosa improves, but has a slight fall
The Italian rider with the Repsol Honda Team will start on the second row and the Spaniard, eighth fastest time, from the third
In searing heat, the thermometers marking around 40º and the asphalt at over 50º, the final day of practice once again brought good and bad tidings for the two riders in the Repsol Honda Team. The morning session was very fruitful and positive for both of them, with Andrea Dovizioso 2nd at the end, and Dani Pedrosa 4th n spite of his painful right leg. The Spanish rider had another pain-killing injection this morning before getting on his bike, and his progress throughout the session was notable.
After the result achieved in free practice the Repsol Honda Team pits expected a lot from this afternoon`s qualification session, and things went well at the beginning, with Dovizioso 2nd on the leaderboard and Pedrosa 5th after the first 10 minutes. At the halfway stage both sides of the Repsol Honda Team pits were continuing to test tyres and getting the set up right for tomorrow. When there were 20 minutes left Dovizioso & Pedrosa went out on a rear tyre with a softer compound, with the clear intention of fighting to get on the front row.
And whilst the Italian moved into third place on his first fast lap, the Spaniard did not improve on 8th. At the second attempt Dovizioso stayed in 3rd position, and Pedrosa once again could not improve on 8th. Right at the end Andrea fell back one position, and 4th place means he will be on the second row tomorrow.
On the other side of the pits luck was nowhere to be seen, on Pedrosa`s final attempt at a fastest lap he ended up on the floor after making a mistake when braking. He was well aware that he was losing time to his biggest rivals on the second section of the circuit, and so he tried to cut a few tenths off his time on corner four, but he braked too late. As he went into the gravel he saw that he was going too fast to avoid hitting the wall and so in the end he dropped the bike, unluckily he fell on his right side, the zone that was injured and given the pain-killing injection. In spite of this mishap the Repsol Honda Team rider will race tomorrow, he will be on the third row after setting the eighth best time.
Dani PEDROSA >> 1’43.207 secs, 50 laps, 236 km.
“I’m reasonably satisfied with my pace today, especially considering how things felt yesterday. We’ve qualified for the race and, although I’d have preferred to be on the front two rows, this position is OK. In fact, I think I could have been a row further forward had I not had the crash in the last few minutes of qualifying – that’s the period when the best times are usually set. I went into the corner a little bit too fast and wide and had to run straight on.
Then I saw the air fence and decided it was best to get off the bike. This morning I had an injection for the pain which worked quite well so I didn’t have another one for the afternoon, though it was becoming more uncomfortable by then. Tomorrow I’ll have another injection and we’ll try to take the best result possible in the race. It’s going to be extra hard work because of the heat, but there are a lot of my fans out there so I’ll be riding my hardest for them.”
Andrea DOVIZIOSO >> 1’42.594 secs, 53 laps, 250 km.
“I’m very happy with this 4th position, even though of course my target was to be on the first row. I like this racetrack – you do a lot of sliding the bike and I really enjoy this kind of riding. We made progress with the machine this morning, then we made a modification to the setting this afternoon that didn’t have the results we expected, so tomorrow we will go back to this morning’s set up. Today it was very hot and conditions were very demanding for the tyres – all the riders seemed to have less grip at the rear. Still, I’m quite satisfied. We have improved our race pace and tomorrow I will fight hard for the podium. We were fast today and I think we can get closer to the frontrunners’ race pace in the low 1m 43s, although consistency is still their advantage.”
— Suzuki Report
Rizla Suzuki racers Loris Capirossi and Chris Vermeulen will start tomorrow’s Catalunya Grand Prix side-by-side on the fourth row of the grid following a sweltering qualifying session at Montmelo today.
The two Suzuki riders posted almost identical lap-times during this afternoon’s qualifying session – Capirossi getting the better of Vermeulen by only 0.046 seconds – to give them 11th and 12th places respectively on the grid. Both riders know that a good start is critical in tomorrow’s race if they want to battle at the front and are confident that there is more to come from both them and their machines.
Capirossi (1’43.365, 23 laps) looked good on the harder compound tyres – which will almost certainly be the choice for tomorrow’s race – at the start of the session and recorded race-pace times in the top-six He will certainly be aiming to make up for lost ground in this afternoon’s qualifying during the early part of tomorrow’s 25-lap race.
Vermeulen (1’43.411, 27 laps) was one of the busiest men on the track today with only one other rider completing more laps of the 4,727m Montmelo circuit, and he was frustrated at not being able to push harder on his final run as front grip became a restriction.
Today’s qualifying was held in very warm conditions as the track temperatures soared to a season high of 56ºC – a welcome and amazing comparison to some of the cold and wet conditions that MotoGP has endured this season. Local hero Jorge Lorenzo on his Factory Yamaha will start from pole position.
Tomorrow’s race is round six on the MotoGP calendar and the action gets underway at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT).
“It has been pretty hard today. We tried a different setting this morning and although we improved a little bit it wasn’t enough to put us in a good position for tomorrow. My impression is that our race pace is better than our qualifying and it was difficult for us to go much quicker on the softer tyres than we did on the harder compound. We will have to see what happens tomorrow, but the bike is working quite well and we have a good rhythm. The race tyre is working well so we are optimistic, but we are starting a little bit back so this will make it hard. We know we can do well off the line and have a good race.”
“It has been really difficult today with the hot track temperatures and the limited amount of hard front tyres that we have. We did all of qualifying on the same front tyre and I did 27-laps so it was not ideal to try to do a faster lap on it at the end. We struggled a bit with grip and that’s what we are going to have to concentrate on tomorrow to get a good life out of the tyres. The guys did a good job on the bike, we made a big step forward with the chassis and I feel a lot more comfortable on it than I did yesterday.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“The fourth row is not where we want to be and the qualifying result is disappointing. We’ve been working hard to get a better balance into the bike and give both guys more confidence – particularly in the fast corners in the final sector – and whilst the situation improved that is still our biggest restriction, and is something we will focus on in the warm-up tomorrow. I think our race-pace is better than the qualifying positions indicate and Loris made the same lap-times on the hard tyres at the start of the qualifying session as he did on the softer ones at the end. Both the guys will need to be super aggressive from the start to enable them to fight for top-six place – which is our target tomorrow.”
— Yamaha Report
Fiat Yamaha Team rider Jorge Lorenzo kept up his 100% front-row qualifying record for the season with another pole position at his home track this afternoon, his third of 2009. Valentino Rossi made a welcome return to the front row after a three-race absence, qualifying just 0.013 seconds adrift of his team-mate in second place.
After Rossi had ruled the roost in practice yesterday, it was Lorenzo’s turn at the top during this morning’s session while the Italian slipped to third behind Andrea Dovizioso. Temperatures climbed even higher than yesterday throughout the early afternoon and when the Qualifying session began it had reached 38 degrees at Montmeló.
Lorenzo held the top spot for most of the first forty minutes before Rossi sprang into the lead with 20 minutes to go, sparking another entertaining battle which saw the Yamaha pair trading places with Casey Stoner and Dovizioso. For the second race running however it came down to the last couple of laps to decide the final line-up and with four minutes to go Rossi re-took pole. Inside the final sixty seconds however his Mallorcan team-mate edged him off with a stunning lap, cheered on by his home fans. The World Champion’s answering challenge fell just over one hundredth of a second short, leaving Stoner to secure third place a further 0.439 seconds off.
Jorge Lorenzo Position: 1 Time: 1’41.974
“The heat was incredible today and it’s going to be very tough doing so many laps tomorrow without getting too tired! I’m so happy to be here on pole in front of my home fans at this track, which I really love. Tomorrow is going to be a very difficult race for everyone and I am expecting a very good fight with Valentino, who has a very strong pace. It looks like Stoner and Dovizioso will be there too so I hope it’s an exciting race for the fans! I have a good rhythm here and I feel very comfortable on the bike so I am just going to stay focused and think about having a great race.”
Valentino Rossi Position: 2 Time: 1’41.987
“It’s good to be back on the front row after three races off it, so we’re happy about that. Of course I am sorry to miss the pole by such a tiny amount, but anyway we have an excellent pace and I am confident for tomorrow. We’ve been waiting for good weather for five races and now the temperature is maybe a little bit too much, but for sure it’s better than rain for everyone! I think that it will be a hard race tomorrow in this heat and after just a few laps I think the bikes will start to slide a bit, which means that we can expect a great battle and a hard fight! I am happy with the work we’ve done here, I am enjoying riding my bike and the weekend is going well so far. There are one or two small things we can hopefully improve tomorrow, but I am ready to be competitive.”
Daniele Romagnoli Team Manager
“This is a perfect day for our side of the garage. For us to start on pole here, at Jorge’s home track, is brilliant and we couldn’t ask for anything more. Jorge clearly has extra motivation in front of the Spanish fans but he did a great job today throughout both sessions and he has an excellent race pace. His last run was very good and he was able to challenge Valentino and take the pole position.”
Davide Brivio Team Manager
“It’s good to be back on the front row – this was one of our primary targets for this weekend. It was such a close qualifying battle with Jorge and we’ve only missed out by a fraction so we’re not too disappointed. We have a strong race pace and everything looks good for tomorrow. Let’s race!”
Edwards sixth, Toseland ninth in baking hot Barcelona
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team was left pondering what might have been after a dramatic qualifying session for tomorrow’s Catalunya MotoGP race.
American Colin Edwards looked on course to equal his best grid position of the year when he held fifth place until a late crash, while James Toseland ended the session in a season best ninth, but less than one tenth off a brilliant top five.
Edwards will start from sixth place on the grid for the fourth time in 2009, despite a crash in the final five minutes when he lost the front-end of his YZR-M1 machine at Turn Four. The American occupied fifth position when he crashed out unhurt, but fortunately he only slipped one place down the rankings. The 35-year-old made big progress today in solving a front-end feel issue that dogged him during practice, but the Texan is still not 100 per cent comfortable with the front setting of his YZR-M1 machine and will work closely with his crew tonight to find further improvements ahead of tomorrow’s 25-lap race.
Toseland easily enjoyed his best qualifying session of the 2009 campaign. The British rider showed the form that carried him to a top six finish in last year’s Montmelo race in a closely contested session, with just 1.8s splitting the top 17 riders at the chequered flag. The 28-year-old clocked a best time of 1.43.233 on his last lap to claim a place on the third row, but he was just 0.094s away from fifth place Toni Elias on a scorching hot afternoon that saw air temperatures nudge an energy-sapping 40 degrees.
Colin Edwards 6th 1.43.168 – 20 laps
“I guess I’m pretty fortunate to have finished on the second row considering I crashed out at the crucial stage of the session. We made some changes overnight to help me get more comfortable with the front-end and while it was better, I’m still not close to the comfort level I need to go as fast as I know I can. I’m still not comfortable in the middle of the corner and I can’t get it to turn or hold a line. Even when I was on the soft tyres towards the end I still didn’t feel like I could push too hard. I’m normally really smooth but I can’t ride like that right now. Luckily I’d done a pretty decent time on my first two softer tyres because on the last one I crashed out. The crash was a bit weird because I lost the front really early while I was still hard braking and leaning over. Normally when I lose the front it’s at the apex when I’m starting to force the front. If I’m being honest, on race tyres I’m not that confident because of the set-up issue with the front. I k now Valentino, Jorge and Casey are all running a good pace and it’s crucial to get a good start and try and tag onto the back of them. I’d love to say I’m going to be on the podium tomorrow, which is what I had aspirations of, but it’s looking difficult. As always though I’ll be giving it my all for Monster Yamaha Tech 3.”
James Toseland 9th 1.43.233 – 24 laps
“I can’t believe I’m saying this after the season I’ve had but I’m frustrated with my best qualifying result of the season. To finish under a tenth off fifth and be down in ninth is frustrating though, but at least I’m frustrated to be close to fifth and not fifteenth! At the start of the session I was out on used tyres and with the temperature being so hot it was quite difficult to find grip. But it was good to get information on the extra hard tyre in that heat for the race. On my last run I had a new front and rear, so it was difficult to get a good feeling straightaway with the front. In the last two corners on my last lap I had two big moments on the front and without doubt that cost me fifth place. Going into the last two corners I’d have been fifth, but at least at that pace I feel really comfortable because I can do that time with a couple of issues. MotoGP is now so close that a tenth has cost me four places on the grid. It’s a shame that I’m not on the second row because the way I’m riding and the way the team is working, we deserve to be a bit higher up, but we’ve all done a great job today and I’ve got a good chance in the race tomorrow. It’s my best qualifying of the year, so hopefully I can capitalise on it and give Monster Yamaha Tech 3 a good result.”
— Bridgestone Report
Tyre compounds available: Front: Medium, Hard. Rear: Hard, Extra Hard (asymmetric)
With a track temperature of 56 degrees Celsius, the hard compound front and the hard compound asymmetric rear Bridgestone slick tyres were the fastest combination for the hour-long qualifying session for the Catalunya Grand Prix.
The conditions were even hotter than for yesterday’s free practice session, meaning that most riders started on Bridgestone’s more durable harder compound slicks (the hard front and extra hard rear slicks) to get a feeling for race setup, but the fastest times came at the end of the session when all riders changed the rear to a hard compound slick, the softer option this weekend.
Catalunya is always a tough circuit for tyres, which is why Bridgestone brought such hard compound asymmetric rear tyres, but the track temperature this weekend is making it even more demanding. The long right-handers and hard braking points exert huge loads on the Bridgestone slicks so rider style and preservation of tyres during the 25 lap race could play a significant part in determining tomorrow’s result.
Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo secured his third pole position on Bridgestone tyres on his penultimate lap after a session-long battle with teammate Valentino Rossi. The Italian also used the hard compound front and hard compound asymmetric rear Bridgestone slicks to finish just 0.013 seconds adrift.
Ducati Team’s Casey Stoner lines up in third position to start tomorrow’s race, making it the third race of the season that the championship top three all start from the front row of the grid.
Tohru Ubukata – Bridgestone Motorsport – Manager, Motorcycle Race Tyre Development
“I am happy with the consistency of our tyres today even in these very, very hot conditions. Jorge did a long run at the start of qualifying and we can see that his 18 laps were all very fast and consistent.
“Normally air flow over the tyres cools the rubber, especially on the straights, so with the high ambient temperature here the cooling effect is less. The high temperature of the tarmac also transfers to the tyres, in addition to the temperature generated by cornering forces, so the result is a residually higher tyre temperature over the course of the lap.
“If a team can prepare their bike with a good balance, and the rider can use their tyres gently, then this will give them a good race result tomorrow.”
— Minor Categories
In the 250cc category Pepe World Team rider Héctor Barberá put in a 1’46.899 time on his Aprilia machinery to head the grid – for the first time this season – by 0.150s in front of his fellow countryman and Aprilia rider Álvaro Bautista (Mapfre Aspar Team).
Barberá will try for his second win of the year on Sunday, whilst Bautista will also be trying for win number two of 2009 as he tries to maintain his championship advantage over Marco Simoncelli (Metis Gilera). An early fall failed to put Simoncelli off, and he qualified third.. The front row is completed by Thomas Luthi (Emmi – Caffe Latte).
Hiroshi Aoyama (Scot Racing Team) also crashed but qualified on the second row, behind Alex Debon (Aeropuerto-Castello-Blusens), and in front of Mattia Pasini (Team Toth Aprilia) and Héctor Faubel (Valencia CF – Honda SAG).
The sixth 125cc race of the year will start with Spanish rider Julián Simón in pole position, courtesy of his 1’51.448 best effort in qualifying.
Representing the Derbi factory which lies close to the Barcelona track, local youngster Pol Espargaró missed out on pole by just 0.02s at his home venue.
Causing a surprise in third place Jonas Folger (Ongetta Team I.S.P.A.) shot up onto the front row right at the death, where he will be joined by Randy Krummenacher (Degraaf Grand Prix).
A strong second row will feature Sergio Gadea (Bancaja Aspar), Nico Terol (Jack & Jones Team), Bradley Smith (Bancaja Aspar) and Andrea Iannone (Ongetta Team I.S.P.A.).