Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after qualifying for the Catalunya Grand Prix at Barcelona:
Top six for Crutchlow, successful surgery for Edwards
Cal Crutchlow will start tomorrow's Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya from sixth position on the grid after the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider produced another outstanding qualifying performance this afternoon.
The 2009 World Supersport champion was a serious contender for the top six throughout today's session, run in warmer conditions than expected as temperatures peaked at 25 degrees.
Crutchlow spent the majority of the session working to improve the side grip performance with his Bridgestone rear tyre options, the British rider soaring into fourth place on the timesheets when he posted a lap of 1.43.501 with just over 15 minutes left on the clock.
As the pace hotted up in the final few minutes, Crutchlow slipped down the rankings to sixth position. He kept his cool though and showed how quickly he's mastered the technical Montmelo circuit by producing a stunning final lap of 1.43.202 to claim his second successive start from the second row of the grid. He finished just over 0.4s away from reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo, who qualified his factory Yamaha YZR-M1 machine in third spot on the front row for tomorrow's 25-lap race.
Colin Edwards has already commenced his recovery from the broken right collarbone he suffered in a crash during the second free practice yesterday afternoon. The popular American underwent a successful operation on the damaged collarbone at the USP Institut Universitari Dexeus of Barcelona this morming. The procedure was carried out by specialist surgeons Dr Xavier Mir, Head of the Hand Surgery Unit of the Orthopaedics Department of the USP Institut Un iversitari Dexeus, and Dr Victor Marlet. A plate and seven screws was inserted to stabilise the injury.
Edwards will remain under observation in hospital for the next 24 to 48 hours, but the 37-year-old is already in good spirits and planning a return to his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team at the earliest opportunity. The collarbone injury ends the Texan's proud record of starting 141 consecutive races since his MotoGP debut back in 2003.
Cal Crutchlow 6th – 1.43.202 – 22 laps:
"I'm happy enough to be on the second row of the grid again because this is another track I've come to with zero experience and I've shown my raw speed and proved a few people wrong. Ben (Spies) was fifth here last year and I was trying to get that one place higher up to equal it, but I can't be disappointed with sixth on the grid. All cred it to the Team because they have done a fantastic job again. We've still got some work to do to improve the side grip but I'm confident we can make the set-up better for the race. As soon as I open the throttle I'm struggling for grip, so if we can improve in that area we should be on course for a strong result. As I get faster and faster I have to keep changing my riding style but I think I can have an interesting race if I can get away from the start. It's a long run down to the first corner here so I need a good start to avoid getting bunched up at the beginning. It's a shame Colin is not here because I can learn lot from him on the data that helps me out a lot, particularly with lines. I heard he sent the Team a text saying he wanted to see me 'kick some ass', so hopefully I can do that for him tomorrow."
Herve Poncharal – Team Manager:
"Colin had his operation thi s morning in Barcelona and I am pleased to report that it was a routine procedure and everything went very well. Although he was in quite a lot of pain yesterday, the only positive is that the injury was a clean break without any complications, so we are confident the recovery will be a quick process and we will see Colin back on track very soon. We are still obviously very sorry for what happened to Colin but he is already back to being the Colin we know and love, laughing and joking with staff at the hospital, so we hope to see him back in the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 family very soon. Cal though is certainly doing his best to put the smile back on our faces. His performances on tracks he's never seen before have been remarkable, and today he showed again he is a top level MotoGP rider. He looks more like a seasoned campaigner than a rookie and to qualify in the top six again against this competition is a fantastic achievement. We are looking forward to the race with a lot of confidence now and hopefully he can do Colin and the Team proud."
Simoncelli secures maiden MotoGP pole position in Catalunya
Round 5: Catalunya GP – Qualifying
Catalunya Circuit, Saturday 4 June 2011
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Medium, Hard. Rear (asymmetric): Medium, Hard
Marco Simoncelli has shown great pace this season and after qualifying second for the last two races, today he snatched his first premier class pole position from Casey Stoner with just 40 seconds of the session remaining.
Stoner has been the pacesetter in every free practice session this weekend and was sitting in provisional pole until Simoncelli put in a scorching penultimate lap using the harder front and softer rear Bridgestone slicks to usurp the Australian by 0.016seconds. Jorge Lorenzo completes tomorrow's front row, with Ben Spies, Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow making up row two. The times at the front were very close and just 0.03seconds separated the top five.
Conditions today remained dry for both MotoGP sessions but after rain yesterday and overnight, track conditions have not been ideal. Simoncelli's lap was less than 0.1seconds from the existing lap record, but the temperature is lower than in previous years and circuit grip is quite low.
Consequently, almost all riders favoured the harder front tyre for its better stability under braking and the softer rear tyre, which this year in Catalunya is the medium compound asymmetric slick, for its added rear grip. Race tyre choice tomorrow is likely to be more varied however as all options have been used to good effect this weekend.
The circuit generally seems to be more slippery this year, with a few possible contributing factors. The intermittent rain yesterday and overnight has not helped in cleaning the track, each time making it dirtier. The track temperature is 18 degrees Celsius lower than last year, and also the tarmac itself is not in the best condition.
Hirohide Hamashima – Assistant to Director, Motorsport Tyre Development Division
"Firstly I must congratulate Marco and the San Carlo Honda Gresini team for their performance today, and after proving his speed this season it is good to see him achieve his first pole. It was quite a tricky session for the riders as I can say now after two sessions of running without interruption from rain that the grip level this weekend seems quite low. Still the times at the front are fast and close to the lap record, but the track is not in perfect condition.
"I am pleased that both front tyre compounds are working well as shown by the fact that after yesterday's practices almost all riders chose one of each option in their final front tyre allocation, whereas normally we see that most riders have a clear favourite from Friday. The softer rear tyre was the preferred option in these conditions today, and I am very satisfied that we revised our tyre compound selection before this race to bring this medium compound rear as last year we didn't have this tyre here in Catalunya."
Third row start for Bautista at his home Grand Prix
Álvaro Bautista will start tomorrow's Catalonian Grand Prix from the third row of the grid after qualifying in ninth place this afternoon.
Bautista (1'43.447, 29 laps) again made solid progress today as he prepared his Rizla Suzuki GSV-R for Sunday's main event. His lap-times improved throughout the qualifying session as he worked with his team to get the best grid position for tomorrow's race. Bautista's ninth place equals his starting position from last year; when he went on to record his equal best season finish of fifth in the race.
Today's qualifying was held in very overcast conditions, but the threatening rain clouds stayed away enabling the session to go ahead completely dry. Marco Simoncelli on a Honda took a career-first MotoGP pole position, with fellow Honda rider Casey Stoner second and reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo filling the remaining front row berth.
Tomorrow's 25-lap race is the fifth round of this season and the lights will go out to signal the start at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT), with Bautista aiming to give a competitive performance in front of his fellow countrymen.
"It's was a good day's practice because we improved on yesterday's rhythm and lap-times. I tried a different setting in the shock with the harder tyres this morning, but I didn't like it too much, so for this afternoon we continued with the same setting as yesterday. I tested the hard front and soft rear tyres, but I didn't really have a good feeling from the front, especially under hard braking when entering a corner, so I changed to a soft front and was able to get a good feeling and keep my place in the top 10. At the end of the qualifying session we put on a new set of tyres to make a good lap for the best grid position and I did my best lap alone – without following other riders. On this track if you follow someone you can get a good time, but I am happy with my time because in each practice I improved by one second. My feeling with the bike is still not 100%, but it is getting much better. I have a lot more confidence now than the first practice and I am getting more aggressive, so I hope to get the same feeling in the race! The third row is a good position and it is the same as last year and tomorrow – depending on the weather – we will have a good race. I want to say thank-you to my crew because they are working very hard to give me a bike that gives me the confidence I need after my injury. I will try to enjoy tomorrow's race and hope that they enjoy it too!"
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
"Álvaro has done a good job to pick up the pace today. His self-confidence is starting to come back, and to qualify the bike only a second from pole - with the intensity at the front of the pack as it is - is definitely a reasonable result. The plan was for the season to really start here after his accident and it's been difficult to know where we are after the injury in Qatar, so it will be a proper test tomorrow to try and translate the third row start in to a decent result."
The Repsol Honda Team, ready for an intense battle in Catalunya
With the second fastest time in today's qualifying practice, Casey Stoner will start the Grand Prix of Catalunya on the front row for the fourth consecutive year. Team mate Andrea Dovizioso, fifth today in qualifying will start from the second row as he did in 2010 and 2009.
The Repsol Honda Team again fought hard for pole position in a very intense qualifying practice held under the best weather conditions so far this weekend.
Stoner dominated the session until the last minute, when Marco Simoncelli, replaced the Australian rider on top of the sheets by just 0.016 seconds. Nevertheless, Casey is confident with his race pace and ability to fight for another good result tomorrow.
Also confident after his performance is team mate Andrea Dovizioso, the Italian rider has improved his lap time by another second from yesterday and narrowly missed the front row by just 0.021 seconds, fighting for the pole position on his very last lap but unfortunately made a mistake on the second sector of the circuit.
Casey has visited the podium in Catalunya for the past 4 years, with one win in 2007 and three consecutive third positions from 2008 to 2010. After his podium in France three weeks ago, Andrea will also be looking for a top three finish.
CASEY STONER – 2nd 1'42.429
"I'm disappointed with qualifying, we had good pace and should have been able to go a lot faster on new tyres. In my first run of the session the bike wasn't working so well, the tyres weren't warming up as expected with that set up and I had a lot less grip on the soft tyre, which we couldn't understand why. We tried changing inner pressure but it made it worse and we weren't able to do anything with the last tyre which I'm very frustrated with because I almost did the same laptime with the soft and the hard tyre. Front row is obviously where we want to be but I'm annoyed as we spent the whole session working on the tyres and not improving the bike set up. For tomorrow we're confident with our race pace on hard tyres if the weather stays dry, it's just upsetting to have a qualifying session like this".
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO – 5th 1'42.749
"Montmelo is a special track, you slide a lot and it's good fun to ride with a MotoGP bike. This morning we worked on the set up and weight balance to improve the grip and this afternoon I had a better feeling. I'm happy with the race pace, we lapped consistently and together with Stoner, who made an impressive lap time, I think myself, Sic and Lorenzo will all be in the fight. The first row was possible but in my last lap I went wide at Turn 5, so I lost the opportunity. But to start from the second row is also fine as I feel strong and I have the pace to fight in the race. Tomorrow we will have a good race, hard fought and I look forward to it".
Lorenzo Claims Front Row Start for His Home Race at Catalunya
Yamaha Factory Racing riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies managed to escape the threat of rain today and enjoy a third free practice and subsequent qualifying session under dry and sunny conditions. Lorenzo will start the Grand Prix of Catalunya tomorrow from the front row in third position on the grid, his team mate Spies taking fourth for a second row start.
Both riders made big steps forward from yesterday with the improved weather; the reigning World Champion Lorenzo finding over a second from day one to wrap up qualifying 0.315 seconds from pole. The improvement from Spies was even more impressive, the Texan finding nearly two seconds today and running as high as second place during qualifying. A front row start was looking possible until a concerted effort by his Mallorcan team mate relegated him to the second row at the end of the heat, just 0.014 seconds behind Lorenzo.
Position : 3rd Time: 1'42.728 Laps: 25
"It has been a tough session today. In the morning it was good but in the afternoon we struggled a little bit. I pushed as hard as I could for pole but it was not possible. The race will also be tough because we are still quite far from the front but not as far as yesterday. If we can take one or two tenths we can fight for something, but I think a win would be a miracle."
Position : 4th Time: 1'42.742 Laps: 27
"It was a good session although we were missing a little bit of time out there. Looking at the ideal split times it would have put us on the front row. We're in a good position in fourth all the way to the left of the grid so hopefully we can have a good start and have a good first couple of corners. The bike is working really well and we've been top five for most of the weekend. The weather's looking like it might be ok for tomorrow now so I'm looking forward to the race. It's been a while since we've been consistently quick so hopefully we can make the bike better, we're going to try some set up changes in the morning and I'm feeling a lot happier on the bike."
"Not the best qualifying we've had so far. This morning it went well and we made some adjustments after that. This afternoon they didn't really work out, Jorge was missing some front end feeling so was pushing hard, we need to solve that for tomorrow. Anyway we are happy to be on the front row because that's important but it's more important now to solve our front end problem."
"I'm satisfied with the results, Ben is feeling a lot more comfortable and has a better feeling on the bike, he rode very well in all the sessions and is clearly enjoying riding the bike. It's very important to start the race from a good position which he has in fourth on the grid. The crew is working really well and Ben is happy with the behaviour of the bike; he is being smooth, fast and consistent which is a good signal for tomorrow. We completed a long run with good pace so now we have to decide which tyre to use tomorrow, other than that we are pretty much set. Jorge is starting from the front row which is very important for his race here at his home track. He will for sure fight for the best result possible."
ELIAS DISAPPOINTED WITH HIS HOME GP QUALIYING
Montmeló, 4 June: LCR Honda MotoGP rider Toni Elias qualified 14th (1'44.510) in a tough qualifying 60-minute session at Montmeló circuit in readiness for tomorrow's 25-lap Catalunya GP that gets underway at 14:00 local time. The Spaniard spent the majority of a closely contested qualifying session at his home race track concentrating on improving LCR RCV traction control.
After yesterdays opening day, Elias made several set-up changes testing the 2011 updated chassis but he wasn't able to build a useful result in the afternoon session. LCR crew is working on machine adjustments to give the Moto2 reigning World Champion more confidence in the undulating and fast curves of the Catalan circuit ahead tomorrow's fifth round.
Elias: "This morning we fit the new 2011 chassis which was a little improvement for me on front feeling and rear traction out of the corners but it was not the solution of our issues. We are still working all together to increase our pace but I can not feel the bike: I miss braking stability and grip on the maximum angle. This is a difficult situation for everybody in the Team because we have got the potential to finish in the top ten. Want to thank all my fans here because they are so warm and I was very surprised".
EXCELLENT FINAL SESSION SEES HÉCTOR BARBERÁ QUALIFY TENTH
MAPFRE Aspar rider gradually solves set-up issues and ready to give his all in home race
Dani Pedrosa was not the only MotoGP absentee in Catalunya today as Colin Edwards was ruled out of qualifying, also with a broken collarbone, after crashing in free practice yesterday. With just fifteen riders set to line up on the grid they are all guaranteed points if they can finish the race. Casey Stoner maintained his dominance throughout the majority of qualifying this afternoon despite being chased closely by Jorge Lorenzo before Marco Simoncelli stunned the crowd with a pole position lap that leaves him ahead of the Australian and the Italian on the front row.
MAPFRE Aspar rider Héctor Barberá showed his most determined side today after a difficult day of practice yesterday and also this morning. A lack of rear grip has cost him vital tenths all weekend but after relentless hard work he was able to reap the fruit over the final three laps and seal tenth place at the chequered flag. The Spaniard lies 1.2 seconds off pole position pace and heads up the fourth row of tomorrow's grid.
10th Héctor Barberá 1.43.656 (26 laps): "Yesterday I struggled quite a lot for feel and the day went by too fast. We have improved a lot today and got back on the right path but we still have problems with the bike sliding around, which is costing me time. I am able to do one fast lap but it is hard for me to keep a consistent pace. I am only four tenths off the fastest Ducati so we'll try and do a good job on the bike tonight and see if we can improve a bit more tomorrow. Tyre choice is not easy in conditions like this but hopefully we can makes a decision before the race. The team and I want more than this and that is what we are working towards."
FOURTH AND FIFTH ROWS FOR DE PUNIET AND CAPIROSSI
The starting grid for the fifth Grand Prix of the MotoGP world championship, in Barcelona, was finalized in this afternoon's qualifying session. Randy De Puniet will start from the fourth row, having posted the twelfth-best time of 1:43.764, just 3 hundredths from Honda Gresini rider Aoyama. De Puniet's teammate, Loris Capirossi (who was also the victim of a problem in FP3), was right behind the Frenchman on the time sheets, and will start from the fifth and final row. His best time was 1:44.068.
Marco Rigamonti - Randy De Puniet's Track Engineer
"We've had problems with rear grip all weekend, and things didn't change for today's qualifying session. We made some changes from this morning, but the results weren't satisfactory because we also found problems with the front. We decided to return to the same setup from free practice, while also trying to fix the rear. Unfortunately, the result isn't positive."
Randy De Puniet - Pramac Racing Team – 12th, 1'43.764
"It wasn't an easy day, as I had problems with suspension and grip. Yesterday the front worried us a little, but today it was okay—not great, but not bad. It was impossible to ride with hard tyres today though, and the soft tyres were losing grip. I was losing a lot of time in the corners, so it was difficult to do better. Tomorrow is another day, and I'll try my best in the race to get a good result."
Loris Capirossi - Pramac Racing Team – 13th, 1'44.068
"We worked well on the setup; it's just a shame that in qualifying I can never take advantage of the bike as I would like. I'm not able to be fast for just one lap, and this situation is hurting me every time. On the other hand, I think we're pretty competitive in terms of race pace. I hope that the problems with the rear from this morning won't show up in the race. I'm optimistic—we just need patience and luck."
SEVENTH AND EIGHTH FOR VALENTINO ROSSI AND NICKY HAYDEN IN CATALUNYA QUALIFYING
Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden set the seventh- and eighth-best times, respectively, in qualifying for the Catalan Grand Prix, and both riders will start from the third row of the grid tomorrow.
The sessions took place in nice weather conditions, which allowed the two Ducati Marlboro Team riders to work well along with their respective crews, and to improve the setup of the GP11. In qualifying, both Rossi and Hayden used new engines with the latest technical updates from the racing department.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro Team) 7th, 1:43.223
"This afternoon went a little better, although I can't be happy with the third row. Crutchlow took the second row from us in the end, but it was my fault because if had ridden better on my final lap, I could have cut a couple of tenths from my time, which would have put me in sixth. Anyway, we improved the bike's settings. The three free-practice sessions were very difficult, and I even had a fall this morning, but fortunately I didn't hurt myself. We found the key to the problem in qualifying though, and we made some setup changes that helped us to get a little closer to the front—not close enough of course, but our pace with hard tyres isn't bad. We also decided to use the updated engine, which I prefer, as the bike is more controllable on acceleration."
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro Team) 8th, 1:43.228
"I know eighth isn't great, but it's my best qualifying session of the year. At least we're starting a little closer to the front, which is a good sign. The second row was right there in front of us—a real possibility today. No excuses, though; I had clear laps but just couldn't quite get down to the time I needed. It's obviously not a perfect situation for the race, but I would say we're a little bit closer than we have been. I'm looking forward to tomorrow. It's going to be tough, but hopefully I can get a good start and get in there and mix it up."
"GOOD GOD, I SET POLE!"
"Good God, I set pole!" The first words that came from the mouth of Marco Simoncelli after removing his helmet following a sensational lap around the Catalunya circuit expressed surprise but the first pole position of his career is no coincidence. Today's result was the perfect response from "Super Sic" following the controversy of Le Mans three weeks ago and it came after a huge effort to solve set-up problems early in this afternoon's qualifying session. Determination and strength allowed the Team San Carlo Honda Gresini rider to come out with the best possible result, proving once again that he is a leading contender in the premier-class. Tomorrow's race won't be easy because Stoner and Lorenzo are looking very strong but the Italian is determined to return home with a good result. Hiroshi Aoyama was unable to find a good feeling with his bike today and will be working with the team overnight and in tomorrow's warm-up for more improvements ahead of the race.
Marco Simoncelli (1° 1' 42" 413) "It went well and I am much happier now than I have been for the past two weeks leading up to the Grand Prix. I was strong even though we had a few problems at the start of the session when I couldn't push as hard as I would have liked. By the end we had solved the problems and I was able to ride really fast, although I never thought I would be able to set pole because Casey had been so fast in every session. I took a bit of a risk on the last lap trying to go faster and managed to save it, so finally my long legs have been good for something! Tomorrow won't be easy because both Casey and Jorge have a fast race pace but I will try to stay with them. My first target is to finish the race, the second is to finish on the podium... you can guess the third!"
Hiroshi Aoyama (11° 1'' 43" 734 ) "It was a difficult session because I didn't have good feeling with the bike due to the lack of grip on the track and also because the bike was 'wheelying' a lot. I managed to close the gap to the front guys but it wasn't enough to make sure of a good grid position. We will try and find something in the warm-up that gives me more confidence with the bike and hopefully have a good race."
Fausto Gresini "It is wonderful to see Marco on pole for tomorrow's race. I have been missing that feeling since 2005. It gives us a lot of satisfaction and it shows Marco's strength of character after all the controversy over the last few days. Finally today we're able to talk about sport, a sport that gives us so much pleasure and will continue to do so in the future. It wasn't easy but it was so important for him to stay focused and he has shown the qualities of a true champion. Tomorrow will be a tough race but he has shown once again today that he is one of the top riders in MotoGP. Hiroshi struggled today but I am sure that with the help of his crew he can do well tomorrow."
Injured Karel Abraham will start the Grand Prix of Catalunya from the fifth row
Although the Czech motorcycle rider Karel Abraham crashed and injured himself in the qualifying practice, he finished fifteenth.
Karel Abraham made good progress during the free practice and wanted to built on this result. Unfortunately, at the beginning of the qualifying practice he made a small mistake and crashed.
"I don't know exactly what happened. I chose a different line in which probably was some inequality," said Karel Abraham, who completed 18 laps and set a best time of 1.45,661, after his return to the garage of the Cardion AB Motoracing team.
During the crash, which occured right behind the reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo, Karel Abraham bruised his left hand and dislocated his thumb.
"It's very painful injury, especially during the braking," said Karel Abraham after medical check in the Medical centre where he received pain-killing injections.
"It's gonna be tough race," concluded Karel Abraham.