Press releases from the MotoGP teams after qualifying on Saturday:
Edwards and Crutchlow storm to third row in Estoril
Colin Edwards produced his best qualifying performance of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship in Estoril today, the American surging to a brilliant seventh position on the grid for tomorrow's Portuguese Grand Prix.
And Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team-mate Cal Crutchlow equalled his best qualifying result of his outstanding rookie campaign after the British rider set the eighth quickest time in this afternoon's session.
With small damp patches still littering sections of the 2.599 miles circuit after torrential overnight rain, Edwards and Crutchlow expertly built up their speed to qualify within 0.109s of each other at the end of a typically captivating MotoGP qualifying session.
Edwards ended with a fastest time of 1.38.080 and once again the experienced Texan was the leading non-factory rider in the ultra-competitive MotoGP field. His time was only 0.007s away from the second row as he experimented with different front-end settings throughout the hour-long session to find better turning performance with his YZR-M1 machine.
Crutchlow caught the eye once again with his all-action style thrilling a sizeable Saturday crowd ahead of tomorrow's 28-lap race. He was able to lap consistently inside the top ten throughout as forecast rain held off, despite dark clouds hanging menacingly over the track.
Just over a minute remained when Crutchlow stormed into sixth position with a lap of 1.38.190. But he was bumped back to the third row by a late burst of speed from factory Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso and Edwards. He managed to lap marginally quicker on his final lap to qualify eighth and for the third r ace in succession, the 2009 World Supersport champion will start in front of Italian Valentino Rossi.
Tomorrow's race is the third round of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship following the recent postponement of the Japanese MotoGP race, scheduled to take place on April 24.
Colin Edwards 7th 1.38.080 – 27 laps
"That's my best qualifying result of the season so far, so I'm happy about that when you consider how strong the field is this year. I gave it everything I had out there even though conditions weren't perfect. There were still a couple of damp patches on the track, especially at the last corner, and I couldn't take my normal line. It is the same for everybody but in a couple of places where I had to alter my line, it threw me out of my rhythm a little bit. Even with the track a bit patchy I was able to go fas ter than I managed yesterday, so thanks again to my guys in the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team. They did an awesome job and the bike feels good and in those conditions I don't think we could have gone any faster. We made a couple of changes to the front in that session and we need to sit down and look at the data to see if I'll run that set-up in the race. We might need to make another modification for the race because I'd still like the bike to turn into the corner a little better. To be right behind the factory bikes is all I can do and my team is doing a fantastic job to help get as close to the front as I am."
Cal Crutchlow 8th 1.38.189 – 25 laps
"I don't think I could have gone any faster or put in any extra effort than I did. And if I can keep coming to circuits that I've never seen and qualifying inside the top ten, I'm going to be really happy. At one point it look ed like I might get my first second row, but to be in between Colin and Valentino on the grid for my first race here, I've got to be really happy. I pretty much lost a session too because I only did a couple of laps in the wet this morning. It wasn't worth taking any big risks and I don't think I've ever been so happy to finish last. It is not easy on this track and I'm finding it quite physical. I'm still having some issues with arm pump in my right arm and to compensate I'm using my left arm a lot and that is stressing the shoulder I had an operation on during the winter. There's no real time to relax and when you're braking from 200mph to 30mph, it is really physically demanding on the arms and shoulders. I'm really looking forward to the race now and hopefully I can reward the team with a good result after all their effort again this weekend. My aim for tomorrow will be to finish in the top ten and get some more experience of the bike under my belt."
Four in a Row For Lorenzo with Pole Again in Estoril
Yamaha Factory Racing rider Jorge Lorenzo made it clear today he wasn't ready to give up his record of dominance in Estoril. This afternoon's qualifying for tomorrow's Grand Prix of Portugal saw the reigning World Champion place his YZR-M1 on pole position for an incredible fourth consecutive time.
The threat of rain again this afternoon saw all riders on the pace quickly, looking to score a fast lap before the weather changed. Lorenzo started the session the fastest rider, then spent some time duelling with team mate Spies for second and third before delivering a decisive 1'37.161 to secure pole. The achievement means Lorenzo now has the record for the Spanish rider with most pole position starts in all GP classes in the modern era with 43. This is also his 17th MotoGP pole position start, equalling Dani Pedrosa, a record for Spanish riders in the premier class.
Fellow Yamaha Factory rider Spies was also on full attack this afternoon. After a challenging start to his first dry sessions on the Estoril circuit yesterday, Spies made big steps forward in today's qualifying. The Texan's crew worked hard from the morning's free practice session to deliver a competitive set up that gave Spies the opportunity to challenge the top riders for grid position. Having spent some time in the one hour heat contesting the second place spot with his team mate, Spies eventually settled for fifth at the end and a second row start for tomorrow's race.
Position : 1st Time: 1'37.161 Laps: 29
"Today has been complicated; I've got it just by a tenth in the end, managing five good laps with the softer tyre. The most important thing is the race though, not that I have 43 pole position starts. This track is strange to ride on, quite old with lots of holes so you have to ride with care. I need a good start tomorrow, be focussed, intelligent and have good luck. The bike is improving, it's much better in fast corners but we could be faster on the straight."
Position : 5th Time: 1'37.866 Laps: 29
"It was a good session for us; we definitely made the bike better after we've been struggling a bit this weekend. I knew we were capable of it if we got the bike working with the right set up. We're not 100% but I'm happy to be in the middle of the second row. Hopefully we can get a good start and put together a good race. I'm definitely feeling a lot better after qualifying than I did yesterday."
"The first pole of the season so of course we are very satisfied with it. We know Jorge is good here at Estoril but our mission is to be on the podium and keep our unbroken podium finish run alive. Of course to have pole is nice but tomorrow is the race, it will be a difficult one so it is important to start well."
"A good improvement today, Ben delivered an impressive qualifying session. Now we have a rider on first and second row which is a good starting point for the race. Here it is not easy to overtake people so it is very important that we have these positions. Jorge started yesterday determined and he finished qualifying today the same way with a really impressive result."
Superhuman effort from Bautista in qualifying
Publish Date: Saturday, April 30, 2011
Rizla Suzuki's Álvaro Bautista produced another heroic performance at Estoril today to qualify his Suzuki GSV-R only two-seconds away from pole position.
Bautista (P15, 1'39.172, 27 laps) improved on yesterday's lap-time by a second during this afternoon's qualifying session, a feat made even more impressive by the fact that Spaniard chose to miss this morning's final free practice session due to the difficult conditions. Bautista improved steadily throughout qualifying and produced his best time on his penultimate lap of the afternoon. He ended the session very tired, but again reported no pain from the femur he broke last month.
Today's qualifying was held in dry and overcast conditions, with track temperatures reaching 26ºC. The Estoril circuit still had some damp patches around its 4,182m length this afternoon, due to a heavy overnight rainstorm that soaked the circuit making it very difficult for all riders this morning and too dangerous for Bautista to risk taking to the track in his condition. Pole position was set by reigning World Champion and current championship leader Jorge Lorenzo on a factory Yamaha.
Tomorrow's 28-lap Portuguese Grand Prix is the third round of the season, but will mark Bautista's 2011 race debut when he takes to the track for the scheduled 13.00hr local time (12.00hr GMT) start.
"Yet again I am very happy with what has happened today. This morning was a bit disappointing because the conditions were not very good, as the track was not wet, but it was not dry either. We decided not to go out in the third practice because it was too risky and we don't need to risk anything here this weekend. This afternoon was really my third practice and I was able to start with the same lap-time as yesterday, but my rhythm was a lot more consistent. The track was still a bit damp in parts this afternoon, especially the first and last corners and the track grip was not as good as yesterday, so even though the lap-time was the same it meant that I had improved because the conditions were worse. At the end of the session my feeling had improved so I was able to push a bit more and I was able to go a second quicker than yesterday, so I am very happy about that. I feel a lot more tired today than I did yesterday, I really noticed the extra 15 minutes in the session. I need to recover for the race so I will go to the Clinica Mobile for some treatment and then get some rest. For tomorrow I hope for good weather and my target is to finish the race, I do not care about the position I just want to finish. I know I will suffer because 28-laps is a long way, but it is my target and I want to do it!"
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
"As we said yesterday the effort to be ready to even ride this weekend was brave, but to qualify within two seconds of pole and in front of a couple of other guys is an amazing result. Apart from his injury, Álvaro has also had a lack of time on the bike compared to the guys that have competed in Qatar and Spain, and missing this morning's session because of the impossible conditions didn't really help him either. The target for tomorrow is to complete the race, move his fitness on to a higher level and get properly ready for the busy races in June. If we can achieve in the race what we did in qualifying today it was be as good – if not better – than we could possibly have expected."
Lorenzo clinches Estoril pole on harder front and softer rear slicks
Round 3: Portuguese GP – Qualifying
Estoril Circuit, Saturday 30 April 2011
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium. Rear (asymmetric): Medium, Hard
For the second day running in Portugal the rain stayed away from the Estoril circuit despite very ominous weather, and although the morning practice session was damp, the qualifying session was dry.
Jorge Lorenzo used Bridgestone's harder front and softer rear slicks to secure himself pole position for tomorrow's race just ahead of Marco Simoncelli. It was Simoncelli who for a long time was dominating the hour-long session and looked to be on course for his first premier class pole, until a crash in the crucial last minutes allowed Lorenzo to get the better of him by just over 0.1seconds.
Despite yesterday evening's thunderstorms and more overnight rain which left the track damp and dirty this morning, the laptimes were good and Lorenzo's pole time was just 0.2seconds from the lap record as the times tumbled in the closing stages.
Completing the front row is Dani Pedrosa, who finished just 0.03seconds behind Simoncelli, with Repsol Honda teammate Casey Stoner in fourth. Almost all riders set their best laps on the harder front and all favoured the softer rear slicks. Just two tenths of a second cover the top four which is a good indication that it will be a close-fought race.
Whilst the weather for tomorrow remains uncertain, riders have at least now had the chance to use Bridgestone's wet tyres this weekend.
Tohru Ubukata – General Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
"This morning's practice session started with the track 60-70 per cent wet, but conditions were tricky because some parts of the lap were wet and others quite dry which made it very difficult to use the wet tyres correctly. Nevertheless performance was reasonable, what we expected, and Loris and Jorge completed 10 and 11 laps respectively and consistency and wear appearance was good. For the qualifying session, it was dry but the track conditions were not perfect because of the overnight rain and the temperature was cold. Most riders favoured the combination of harder option front and softer rear slicks and I am happy with tyre performance as Jorge's pole lap was only 0.2seconds from the lap record in less than ideal conditions. We could also confirm race-distance durability of the softer option rear, so if the conditions tomorrow are similar to today the softer rear slick is a viable option for the race."
Karel Abraham will start from the 4th row on the grid
The Czech motorcycle rider Karel Abraham finished 12th in the qualifying practice and produced his best qualifying performance of the season.
With dark clouds over the Estoril circuit, Karel Abraham made significant progress during qualifying practice and set a best time of 1:38,786, which placed him in the 12th place on the grid of the Grand Prix of Portugal.
"Although we were not able to improve our time at the end of the qualifying, we are very satisfied with the result," said Karel Abraham after his return to the garage.
Mechanics of the Cardion AB Motoracing team worked on the set-up of the Ducati Desmosedici GP11 again, but this time they had problems caused by adversed weather.
"Unfortunately, we had problem with the set-up of the motorcycle. Tomorrow we will try to solve this problem and then we will see what the weather will be before the race ," added the Czech motorcycle rider, reffering to the weather forecast for tomorrow.
Repsol Honda Team on 1st and 2nd rows in Estoril
Tomorrow, the three Repsol Honda riders will start the Grand Prix of Portugal from the first and second rows of the grid. Dani Pedrosa made an impressive lap time, achieving a front row start for the third consecutive time this season. This morning in wet conditions he focused on the set up of his RC212V and completed just 11 laps in order to save some energy for his shoulder so that he could push more in Qualifying.
Casey Stoner, 4th at just 0.060 from his team mate and Andrea Dovizioso, 6th, will both start from the second row. Neither rider was able to use their soft tyre at their best, but both remain confident for the race. Casey continued working on the set up to find a better balance under braking and mid corner speed, improving in the second part of the session. Andrea improved stability in the front and was able to push more in the afternoon.
Track conditions were tricky today: after last night's rain, the track was semi dry this morning with some wet spots. It was completely dry during Qualifying but slightly dirty and with lack of grip. Weather forecast for tomorrow is still uncertain and there is some possibility of rain.
With 8 riders within 1 second, tomorrow will be tough but the Repsol Honda riders are ready for the 28 lap race, that will start at 13:00 local time.
DANI PEDROSA – 3rd 1'37.324
"I'm very satisfied with this front row today. It was a very close session as it always is in this circuit and our main target this afternoon was to be on the front row, so I'm happy about this. For tomorrow, we will try to set up our bike a bit better for the race distance. I know that physically it will be tough for me because after the recent surgery my shoulder has improved a little but it is still very stiff and the muscles hurt. Anyway, I hope to be able to stay with Lorenzo because for sure he will be consistant and that will be one of the key points in the race. The weather is nothing that we can change, so we will need to also be ready to do our best in any condition".
CASEY STONER – 4th 1'37.384
"Today hasn't really been that great for us either, this morning's session was pretty much a waste of time we were just working on our wet setting that we weren't really happy with in Jerez. We improved that situation a little and we can hopefully expect a better feeling next time in wet conditions. This afternoon we continued on from yesterday, trying to find a better balance under braking and mid-turn corner speed but it wasn't until towards the middle, end of session that we started to make some improvements with the bike. Every time I went out the balance didn't feel correct so we tried to go in another direction, finally we found the right route and we improved a little bit more each run after that, but unfortunately I wasn't able to use the qualifying tyre like I wanted to. When I went out there with the only new tyre that we had for the session, I made a few mistakes in the early laps so didn't really use the best of the tyre. I think the race potential is there now and hopefully we can have a good race tomorrow".
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO – 6th 1'38.073
"It was important to start from a good position so I'm happy to start from the second row tomorrow. We worked on the setting and stability in the front improved so I could push more this afternoon, compared with yesterday. I rode quite consistently but I wasn't able to gain some more tenths and lap under 1'38". We have two points we would like to work on tomorrow so I hope that the track conditions are fine during the warm up. Today's result gives us more confidence for the race after a difficult session yesterday".
FIFTH AND SIXTH ROWS FOR CAPIROSSI AND DE PUNIET
Ducati Pramac Racing Team's day started quite well: Loris Capirossi concluded the third free-practice session in first place, with the best time of 1:44.515. In the afternoon qualifying session, the white-and-green-dressed rider lowered his time further (also compared to yesterday's session), but nonetheless finished in 14th place with a lap time of 1:38.934. He'll therefore start from the fifth row. Meanwhile, Randy De Puniet continues to have trouble with the front end. The Frenchman, still struggling with pain in his knee after having a screw removed in early April, will start from the last row, having stopped the clock at 1:39.373.
Fabiano Sterlacchini - Pramac Racing Team Technical Director
"It's a little like in football: you construct a nice attack on the goal, but you can't really enjoy it if you don't score. Loris' ideal time would have been 1:38.3, but it was all compromised by a braking error. We were a little unfortunate, and the weather conditions made it difficult to work. The third row was within our grasp. That said, we remain confident. We worked well, especially this morning. I expect a good performance tomorrow."
Loris Capirossi - Pramac Racing Team – 14th, 1:38.934
"The fact that we're starting to understand the bike better is positive. I was doing my best lap when I made a stupid mistake: I braked too late, and the bike started to hop. It's really a shame, because we all could have been more satisfied. The fact remains that we've seen progress. We can do well tomorrow."
Randy De Puniet - Pramac Racing Team – 16th, 1'39.378
"I'm not happy. I don't have a good feeling with the bike, especially the front. We tried different solutions compared to yesterday, but the result is always the same. The back end is better, but it's not perfect. We have to continue working and try to solve these problems, because we're not satisfied."
REAR GRIP ISSUES DISRUPTES ELIAS' PERFORMANCE AT ESTORIL GP QUALIFYING
Estoril, 30 April: as predicted heavy rains and strong wind hit the Portuguese race track last night so the premier class riders and teams have found difficult track conditions in today's second day of practices. Most of the riders preferred to sit out this morning free session for safety reasons but the sky looked threatening in the afternoon qualifying session as well with air temperature of 18 degrees (26 on the asphalt).
Low track temperatures and rear grip issues affected LCR Honda MotoGP rider Toni Elias' performance in the 60-minute qualifying session with the Spaniard posting the 17th lap time (1'39.894). After yesterday's positive improvements Elias was hoping for a better spot on the grid but he could not make the most of his RCV in these conditions struggling with rear grip.
Elias – 17th - 1'39.894: "Unfortunately we are back to our initial set up problems. The track temperature in the afternoon was too low compared with yesterday and we struggled to warm up the rear tyre. Then we have started to have some front grip issues through the session and I was losing the front in many corners. Yesterday I was more positive about my feeling on the bike but in these conditions I could not warm up the rear tyre and I am a bit frustrating now. We'll see if we can fix this problem because I know I can be faster than this".
HÉCTOR BARBERÁ HANGS ON TO YESTERDAY'S TENTH PLACE
MAPFRE Aspar rider ready to give it everything as he looks to follow up positive result at Jerez
There was a subdued start to the second day of practice at the Grand Prix of Portugal this morning as the majority of riders opted to stay in their pit boxes as damp conditions restricted any useful track time during the first half of the morning session. Things were back to normal in the afternoon when a dry track played host to qualifying practice, with Marco Simoncelli continuing his dominance from free practice before a crash late in the session. That left Jorge Lorenzo free to take pole position although he was made to sweat by Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner, who made strong late challenges that eventually faded in the final sector and left them positioned behind the Spaniard and the Italian on tomorrow's grid.
MAPFRE Aspar rider Héctor Barberá was one of several riders who took their time before taking to the track this morning, heading out for the final twenty minutes of the session on slick tyres despite damp areas on the track. Whilst it was drier in the afternoon it was still slippery and the young Spaniard struggled to establish a good feeling with his tyres. However, he made a crucial step forward in the final couple of laps to move into the top ten, finishing up tenth fastest for the second consecutive day and just over a second off pole - the second highest Ducati on the grid.
10th Héctor Barberá 1.38.363 (27 laps): "We hardly touched the bike set-up today because our feeling yesterday was so good. The only thing we're not sure about is rear tyre choice. The bike is moving around quite a lot on the soft option but I can feel even the tiniest bump on the track with the hard option. We lost a lot of time trying to sort this but even so it was a positive day. I qualified tenth, a little over a second off pole, so on one hand I am quite happy but on the other I'm annoyed because another three tenths would have put me on the second row. The important thing is that I felt comfortable at the end of the session and more or less we have worked out our tyre choice for tomorrow. Now we just need to wait on the weather. The track conditions were quite unstable today and there was a damp patch in turn one that was costing me three tenths."
FRONT ROW FOR SECOND FASTEST "SUPER SIC" AT ESTORIL
Team San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli was the star of the show again today at Estoril, dominating qualifying practice until an unfortunate crash on his final flying lap deprived him of his first ever pole position in MotoGP. 'Super Sic' was on top of the time sheets throughout the session with an impressive performance, showing his superiority particularly in the final two sectors of the track. However there is every possibility that he can make up for his disappointment in the race, especially if he can resolve a small problem with the front end. It was also a positive qualifying performance from Hiroshi Aoyama, who showed impressive race pace despite not finishing exactly where he would like on the grid.
Marco Simoncelli (2nd 1'37.294) "There's a bit of disappointment and there's no use hiding it because after dominating the two sessions yesterday and then this afternoon the pole position was in my hands. Unfortunately I made a little mistake which prevented me from improving my fastest lap. Anyway, turning our attention to the race I have to be happy because my race pace is quick and I am confident with the bike even though we have a little problem with the front. The front tyre available to us is a little soft for us and moves around a lot so maybe a harder option would have been better. We have improved the grip on the rear so I think tomorrow we can be fighting for the win if not the podium. To be annoyed at not being on pole position is not a bad thing. Tomorrow will be a tough race but I'm ready to fight and give my all. "
Hiroshi Aoyama (11th 1'38.497) "The track conditions were really difficult with a lot of humidity out there and it was hard to stay on line. Anyway, I found a good set-up and I was quite confident with the tyres – definitely better than yesterday. We still have a few small problems but we will analyse the data and try to solve them. I could have ended up with a better position but but unfortunately I made a little mistake that cost me a good lap time and a higher placing on the grid."
Fausto Gresini "We have had two fantastic days here so far and now we just have the race to go. Marco has been strong throughout and showed his progress once again. Everybody is really enthusiastic and the only downside today was the crash that prevented him from improving his time and I'm sure from setting pole position. Anyway, it's all part of the game and the important thing is that we know he can have a good race tomorrow and be fighting for the win. Our moment to believe has come. Everything is in place for us to take a major role in the championship."
ROSSI ON THIRD ROW IN ESTORIL, HAYDEN THIRTEENTH
With conditions more variable than they had been on Friday, the two Ducati Marlboro Team riders struggled more than expected to find the best setup during qualifying for the Portuguese Grand Prix.
The third free-practice session, which took place on a mostly wet track, was positive for both riders, with Hayden third and Rossi fourth, while the afternoon session, which was dry but with a slightly dirty track, saw the Italian finish ninth and the American thirteenth.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro Team) 9th, 1:38.271
"I'm a little disappointed with my performance today because I expected to get the fifth- or sixth-best time and be on the second row; that was the target. Unfortunately, though, it was a little more difficult than expected, and I wasn't able to ride like I could yesterday since I didn't have as much feeling. I couldn't fight for a position that we would have been happier with. I struggled a little with the track conditions, as I didn't have enough grip, especially on the front, and we're trying to understand why. For tomorrow, we have to try to improve something with the front setup in order to still have a good race. I think the best pace will be around 1:37.5, and I'd be very happy to get in the high 1:37s, but we'll have to find something in order to do that. I'm not hoping for a wet race, because although it's true that we might be able to have more fun, racing in the dry makes it possible to understand more. Really, both options are fine."
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro Team) 13th, 1:38.922
"I really thought we had made some good progress yesterday, and I'm certainly not thrilled about qualifying thirteenth, especially when we were third this morning—I liked the sound of that a lot better. This morning we went out on the slicks and had a pretty decent feeling for a patchy track. In the afternoon, the track was pretty dry apart from a few patches, but it was definitely cooler and dirty, which didn't help with the tyres. I just wasn't able to get enough grip, especially in the front and over the bumps. I had one front tyre that we couldn't get to come in for some reason, and between losing those laps and coming back in to change it, we lost some time there. We also made a change with the rear to try to get it to turn better, and maybe we went too far and got it a bit wrong. Anyway, that clearly wasn't good enough, but we'll give it our best tomorrow."