Press releases from the MotoGP teams after qualifying on Saturday:
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 Y ZR-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 1.39.895 – 25 laps
"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 wen t. 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 1.40.019 – 24 laps
"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."
Hopkins close to a third row start in Jerez
Publish Date: Saturday, April 02, 2011
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."
Stoner sets maiden Jerez pole on harder front and softer rear slicks
Round 2: Spanish GP – Qualifying
Jerez Circuit, Saturday 2 April 2011
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."
SMALL IMPROVEMENTS DO NOT GIVE ELIAS THE RIGHT PACE AT JEREZ GP QUALIFYING
Jerez, 2 April: LCR Honda MotoGP rider Toni Elias qualified 17th in a tough and cooler qualifying 60-minute session at the 4.423km South Spain circuit in readiness for the tomorrow's 27-lap race that gets underway at 14:00 local time. The Spaniard spent the majority of a closely contested qualifying session concentrating on improving rear grip with his RC212V machine.
After yesterdays opening day Elias made several set-up changes to the front and rear suspension of his bike getting some small improvement in this morning third free session but could not translate his pace in a good performance on soft tyres.
Elias – 17th – 1'41.114
Elias: "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 can not 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..."
Lorenzo delivers front row at Jerez, Spies just behind him in fourth
This afternoon's qualifying session for tomorrow's 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 morning's free practice with a 1'39.682, 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 1'38s. He will start tomorrow's 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.
Position : 3rd Time: 1'38.918 Laps: 25
"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 1'38.9 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."
Position : 4th Time: 1'39.390 Laps: 23
"That's definitely the best session we've had so far. I've got to take my hat off to my crew because it has been a hard weekend. Every practice session we've had two different bikes while we've been searching for the right set up. They've been doing an excellent job getting me more comfortable, I wouldn't say I'm 100% there yet but from Friday it's 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. It's 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 I'd made a mistake and was trying to slow it down but lost the front."
"I'm 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. We'll go for points tomorrow and are happy we've made a step forward today."
"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 it's going to be wet then so be it."
Great Qualifying for Repsol Honda Team in Jerez
Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa will start from the first two positions on the grid tomorrow with Andrea Dovizioso in sixth at the Grand Prix of Spain, the second round of the MotoGP World Championship.
For Casey it's the first pole position of his career at the Jerez circuit and for Dani the seventh time that he starts from the front row in a track where he has never failed to reach the podium in MotoGP class. Sixth position is also the best ever qualifying result for Andrea Dovizioso in Jerez since he began riding in the premier class (8th in 2009 was his previous best position).
Qualifying was not decided until the very last lap and there were many crashes due to the lack of grip on track. The weather conditions may change tomorrow after two sunny days - the forecast is rain, but the Repsol Honda Team is ready for the challenge.
CASEY STONER – 1st - 1'38.757
"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 – 2nd - 1'38.915
"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".
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO – 6th - 1'39.709
"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 bike slides 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 to Casey and Dani".
SECOND ROW FOR SIMONCELLI, FOURTH ROW FOR AOYAMA
A small mistake from Team San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli on a potential front row lap meant that the Italian was forced to settle for a second row start in tomorrow's race at Jerez. Fifth place is a promising position for "Super Sic" to start from after demonstrating a competitive race pace during practice and establishing a positive feeling for his. His team-mate Hiro Aoyama suffered a blow to his knee in a crash early in the session but the fast lap he set on a hard tyre before that was enough to secure a fourth row start in the end. The Japanese rider now hopes to solve the chatter problem that led to the crash before tomorrow's race.
Marco Simoncelli (5th 1' 39.486 ) "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 1' 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."
Hiroshi Aoyama (10th 1''40.168 ) "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."
Fausto Gresini "Overall it has been a positive day apart from the crash for Aoyama. Simoncelli starts from the second row in fifth place and that is a good thing considering his race pace. Obviously, without the small error caused by an unforeseen change in the mapping, he could perhaps have got on the front row. It's not a problem for him though because he's still convinced he can have a top race. The crash for Hiroshi was a shame because it made things difficult for him. He was riding well despite a chatter problem on the front but the crash was a setback. I am sure he would have been further up the grid otherwise but he can still have a good race.
DE PUNIET ALMOST IN SECOND ROW, CAPIROSSI IN FIFTH
The wind today has given to riders a little break, even if the weather forecast, here at Jerez de la Frontera, doesn't promise anything good for tomorrow's race. Pramac Ducati, in any case, continued to do well. Today, after yesterday free practices, Randy De Puniet has finished qualifying practice as first Ducati rider. The Frenchman concluded the session valid for tomorrow's starting grid in seventh place, with a best lap time of 1'39.892, just 183 thousandths from Dovizioso. He will start the race from the third row on the starting grid. Randy could not improved this time due to a slip at turn 5 in the final ten minutes of qualifying: nothing serious, just as regret for the possible improvement in the last few laps. Loris Capirossi also improved his best lap time registered yesterday, but his 1'40.523 will make him start only from the fifth row. The start of the race is due at 2pm local time.
Marco Rigamonti - Track Engineer Randy De Puniet
"It was quite good today, a pity we didn't use the last soft tires due to the slip. We made some changes in the afternoon and we made some interesting progress. The interesting information is that we basically registered similar lap times with hard and soft tires. As I said before there is a bit of disappointment because we could start in the second row, but seventh position is still a positive. It will very important to start well tomorrow".
Randy De Puniet - Pramac Racing Team - 7th fastest time in 1'39 .892
"I had just improved my best lap time. I continued to push because I wanted to lower my best time even more. I had a really interesting lap time after the first few corners, but I probably took turn 5 too fast and I slipped. I really wanted to get the second row in tomorrow line up, but I am anyway satisfied. I am optimistic and ready for tomorrow".
Loris Capirossi - Pramac Racing Team - 15th fastest time in 1'40 .523
"We've improved since yesterday, but we have still difficulties with the front of the bike. Rossi and Hayden are not so far, just two, three tenths of a second, so I think we can do good things in tomorrow's race. Randy was good, has used the session in the best way apart the last exit. I am very confident for tomorrow. The shoulder still give me some pain, on Wednesday I will have an important medical check up that I hope will solved my problems".
GOOD PACE FOR ROSSI DESPITE QUALIFYING SLIP, HAYDEN ELEVENTH
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."
BARBERÁ WAITING ON WARMUP IMPROVEMENTS FOR HOME ROUND
MAPFRE Aspar rider hindered by lack of grip under acceleration, and hopes to ring the changes on Sunday morning.
The Spanish MotoGP race at Jerez will begin with Casey Stoner on pole position, denying the fans a home poleman this year. The Australian was fastest in qualifying on Saturday, ahead of Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa. There were problems for a host of riders in the afternoon runout, with an unknown cause for most incidents. A great number of participants hit the deck during the hour-long MotoGP outing to decide grid positions. After yesterday's problems with wind on track, there is a prediction of rain at the track for the race itself.
MAPFRE Aspar rider Héctor Barberá avoided crashing in qualifying, but was still left wanting more from his performance in front of the Spanish spectators. The Valencian rider used every minute of the session to look for solutions to issues encountered with his Ducati, but was still some way off feeling truly comfortable come the end of the hour. The most prevalent problem for the MAPFRE Aspar man has been a lack of grip on the exit of the twisty Jerez turns, and he lost time when opening the throttle between corners. His times saw a minor improvement, and he moved up to thirteenth. His final time was 1.460 seconds off the pole time. Barberá knows that there is work still to be done, and will thus work hard in the warm up in order to best prepare his bike for the task ahead.
13th Héctor Barberá 1.40.217 (28 laps): "I wasn't worried yesterday, because it was the first day and we still had a lot of time to work on things, and I wasn't expecting to be up at the front after so many changes and tests with worn tyres. Things were different today, because I didn't finish off as I had wanted. I think that we have the potential to have done better in qualifying. Our problem yesterday was a lack of grip coming out of the corners, just as I hit the throttle. We tried to rectify that today, because the bike was sliding about a lot. Unfortunately we were unable to find an adequate solution today, so I struggled with it in both the free practice and qualifying sessions. I wasn't able to feel totally comfortable. Myself and the team are working at 200%, and in the warmup we will keep on experimenting in order to get the bike as good as possible for the race. It isn't going to be easy, starting from thirteenth, but if I manage to feel good on the bike then I know that I can go quick."