2012 Catalunya MotoGP Qualifying Practice Report: Pole Decided After Close Battle

Results and summary of qualifying practice for the MotoGP class at Barcelona:

Casey Stoner has taken his second pole position of the season at Barcelona, posting a blistering lap in the final five minutes that no one else was capable of matching. Stoner had led the session early, breaking into the 1'41s on a hard tire at the start, but once the MotoGP field turned their attention from race setup to setting a fast time on soft tires, his original time came under attack. Several riders came past, including Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa, Monster Tech 3 Yamaha's Andrea Dovizioso and factory Yamaha man Jorge Lorenzo, but Stoner cranked up the pace at the end to take pole, getting to within a tenth of a second of his old pole record, set in 2008 on special soft qualifying tires.

Jorge Lorenzo came close to deposing Stoner, but the Spaniard could not match the pace of the Australian in the final sector of the track, leaving Lorenzo to start from 2nd and the middle of the front row. Rounding out the front row, for the third time this year, was Cal Crutchlow, the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha man putting in another strong performance pushed no doubt by the intense rivalry with his teammate Andrea Dovizioso. Ben Spies had a much better session in the afternoon than he had in the morning, heading up the second row in 4th, a quarter of a second behind Stoner and only a tenth slower than his factory Yamaha teammate. Dani Pedrosa had looked favorite to deprive Stoner of pole, having been very quick when the times first started to drop, but a mistake in his final run meant he lost his last shot at improving his time and will start the race from 5th. Andrea Dovizioso rounds out the second row, and will start from 6th, directly behind his teammate.

Nicky Hayden had another solid qualifying session, ending up 7th on the grid and fastest Ducati, while Stefan Bradl also had a strong qualifying, ending up with the 8th time, ahead of Valentino Rossi who will start from 9th. Though the Ducati man is struggling with rear grip, the distance to the front runners is less than it has been. Alvaro Bautista rounds out the top 10.


Pos No. Rider Bike Time Diff Diff Previous
1 1 Casey STONER HONDA 1'41.295    
2 99 Jorge LORENZO YAMAHA 1'41.441 0.146 0.146
3 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW YAMAHA 1'41.548 0.253 0.107
4 11 Ben SPIES YAMAHA 1'41.552 0.257 0.004
5 26 Dani PEDROSA HONDA 1'41.656 0.361 0.104
6 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO YAMAHA 1'41.687 0.392 0.031
7 69 Nicky HAYDEN DUCATI 1'42.029 0.734 0.342
8 6 Stefan BRADL HONDA 1'42.065 0.770 0.036
9 46 Valentino ROSSI DUCATI 1'42.175 0.880 0.110
10 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA HONDA 1'42.356 1.061 0.181
11 8 Hector BARBERA DUCATI 1'42.375 1.080 0.019
12 17 Karel ABRAHAM DUCATI 1'43.266 1.971 0.891
13 14 Randy DE PUNIET ART 1'43.500 2.205 0.234
14 5 Colin EDWARDS SUTER 1'44.024 2.729 0.524
15 41 Aleix ESPARGARO ART 1'44.041 2.746 0.017
16 51 Michele PIRRO FTR 1'44.356 3.061 0.315
17 77 James ELLISON ART 1'44.763 3.468 0.407
18 54 Mattia PASINI ART 1'44.764 3.469 0.001
19 68 Yonny HERNANDEZ BQR 1'44.833 3.538 0.069
20 9 Danilo PETRUCCI IODA 1'45.730 4.435 0.897
21 22 Ivan SILVA BQR 1'45.962 4.667 0.232


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Rossi got a best partial time on T1. I think they are making progress even if it's taking it's (long) time, although T1 is mostly the main straight.

I agree, some progress was made but the 0.5/0.8 separating them from the battle for the podium is the real engineering challenge. The front end is better but far from solid. Apparently, rear end and traction are big problems that cannot be mitigated without messing up the front end again. After the small improvement given by the revised electronics - a let-down if you ask me - this sounds a lot like something that can be addressed only by one or two iterations of the current design. Revised engine and revised frame... If this is true, a substantially and constantly competitive Ducati is at least two years ahead, possibly more. Considering that the project is into its first year, a three-year span to get competitive on multiple GPs would be already exceptional. Sure, the ever changing rules might help a lot Ducati but even acknowledging that Preziosi and his team are very good, they cannot do miracles in two years without enormous investments. Something that both Honda and Yamaha have. It seems to me that this is the crude reality of modern competition engineering.

If that doesn't get them within a few tenths of the Yam/Honda then it's probably time to look into another chassis revision. The problem is that the Japanese bikes are improving as well so they have to make up the 5-6 tenths they are missing as well as whatever the Japanese find through their normal development program.

With the varying tyre wear characteristics of the Yamaha and Hondas it looks like we could have an interesting race tomorrow. The Yamahas are increasingly looking like a very competitive and accomodating package. Both Cal and Dovi have been as impressive this year as Ben has been disappointing. If Stoner wasnt on the top of the pile then Honda would be looking in the same position as they have for the last few years... almost there.
If they get on top of these chatter problems then Yamaha really would be looking more ordinary though.
Heartening that Ducati do seem to be making progress, slowly. We all read the reports and think (hope) that some one has burst out of the shed with "the fix" but the performance on track doesnt improve. If there has been improvement then its been matched by others improvement too. The sport needs Ducati and Rossi up at the front again so lets hope that they get it. Seems that the front end feel is better as Rossi does rely so heavily on that. His braking and transition to full lean has always been his strong suit. Now if they can get this power delivery/ back end better......
But my overiding thought for each race now is that this is the last time we'll see Stoner at this (whatever) place. We'll all miss the excitement that he brings with that edgy style. Danny and Jorge are nearly as fast and sometimes faster.... but they dont look as fast, theyre so neat, both of them.

Is thats Ben Spies in 4th at .004 from Cal?

Hopefully a good battle is brewing between the two contestants for the same seat!

I hope at last Spies has found his normal pace again.

Anyone else noticed that Rossi was fastest at the first sector, surprising though it's only a straight and 2 corners.

The whole championship will miss Stoner not just Honda