Press releases from the MotoGP teams after free practice and qualifying at Laguna Seca:
Unfortunate End to Free Practice for Lorenzo
This morning's final free practice of the 2011 Grand Prix of U.S.A ended abruptly for Yamaha Factory Racing rider Jorge Lorenzo. The reigning world Champion had pulled up for a practice start midway round the track, having accelerated away into a left hand corner he suffered a huge high side. A subsequent check from the medical centre has cleared him as fit and approved to race.
Ben Spies made another step forward in practice this morning, The Texan improved on yesterday, taking a step forward in set up but still looking for improvements in corner entry for his Yamaha YZR-M1.
"That isn't how I planned to finish the free practice. I am not sure yet why I crashed, I need to take the video from Dorna and study it as I was not going that fast. Anyway I am very sore especially in my hip but happy to be uninjured and will still be there to give 100% in qualifying this afternoon. Apart from the crash the morning session was good, the bike still needs more going into the corners but we are getting there."
"We've definitely got more in the bike and we made a step in the right direction. I'm pretty happy; we set our fastest lap with a lot of laps on the tyres which is good. We definitely need to improve the front setting still. I can feel it in the bike; I definitely know the potential is there. The bike is definitely going to be better over race distance than it is over one lap but we have to improve that one lap speed. We found something right at the end of the session but we just weren't able to try it."
Lorenzo secures pole for United States Grand Prix, under lap record
Round 10: United States GP – Qualifying
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Saturday 23 July 2011
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Medium, Hard. Rear (asymmetric): Soft, Medium
In a nail-biting end to the hour-long qualifying session, Jorge Lorenzo claimed pole position for tomorrow's United States Grand Prix at Laguna Seca just 0.072seconds ahead of Casey Stoner. Both riders used a harder front and softer rear slick to post their best efforts on their last lap, and were the only two riders to beat the existing lap record.
Dani Pedrosa completes the front row, setting his time also using the softer option rear slick, and the second row comprises Ben Spies who held provisional pole for a while, ahead of Marco Simoncelli and Andrea Dovizioso.
This morning the track was much cooler than at the same time yesterday because of a thicker marine layer that took longer to burn off and for the sun to break through but still the laptimes were already faster than from FP2 as the track condition improved after the first day of running.
By the afternoon the track had reached 45 degrees Celsius and, whilst many riders started on the harder option rear slicks, most of the fastest times at the end of the session came on the softer variant which worked well even with the high temperature. Whilst the hard compound front tyre is most likely to be favoured for the race, the softer rear remains a viable option for some bike and rider packages.
Of course, with the softer rear tyre compound choices at Laguna this year, warm-up performance especially in the morning sessions has been improved but tyre management will be a very important aspect for the riders over race distance tomorrow.
Hirohide Hamashima – Assistant to Director, Motorsport Tyre Development Division
"Jorge was very impressive today, especially to come back so strongly after his crash this morning. I am pleased with the performance of our softer rears – even with such a high track temperature they worked very well over qualifying attack laps at the end of the session and Jorge was 0.17seconds faster than the lap record set by Casey last year. Jorge was also lapping consistently in the mid-to-high 1m 21s bracket over his longer runs, indicating he has very good race pace for tomorrow. A key element of tomorrow's race will be using our tyres most efficiently as although Laguna is only a short lap, the track temperature will be high like this afternoon and the tyres spend a lot of time leant over so don't get much respite and time to cool. Especially as we have softer options here, as part of our ongoing bid to listen to rider comments and improve warm-up performance, those bike, rider and tyre packages that use our tyres best will be rewarded with better race-distance durability and consistency."
HÉCTOR BARBERÁ STEPS UP PACE AND LAP TIME IN FINAL PRACTICE
MAPFRE Aspar high on confidence after qualifying eighth with consistent pace in 1.22s
A cool and cloudy morning once again gave way to classic Californian sunshine at Laguna Seca this afternoon, where hard compound tyres were the general order of the day when it came to race set-up. The action on track was just as hot, with the top six riders finishing in the 1.21s but Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa establishing themselves as the men to beat in tomorrow's race. The Spaniards are both past winners at Laguna Seca as is Casey Stoner, who made a late charge to separate them on the front row.
Héctor Barberá is enjoying his 150th Grand Prix immensely so far, having qualified eighth today with a time that was only a second off Lorenzo's pole position. The MAPFRE Aspar rider has taken to the Laguna Seca circuit like a fish to water, just as he did last year before being denied in the race by a broken chain, and today he dropped his pace into the 1.22s to suggest he has the promise to do well over race distance. The Spaniard qualified eighth on the grid as the second highest Ducati, immediately behind Valentino Rossi, and he is determined to sign off for the summer with a top result.
8th Héctor Barberá 1.22.238 (30 laps): "I am happy because I have improved my lap times a lot and we have worked well all weekend. I really enjoyed myself on the bike again today and we know exactly what we need tomorrow. We have found some really good form over the last couple of races and every day we improve a little more, which is helping me get more out of the Ducati. We are in line with the factory bikes and I think we can have a good battle tomorrow. No doubt Hayden wants a good result here, Valentino too, so my objective is to stick with them as best I can. The main thing is to finish the race because I only managed two laps here last year and I want to bury that memory. It is a case of getting a good start and staying focused to make sure nobody gets away from me over the opening laps."
Stoner and Pedrosa start from front row with Dovizioso on second row in Laguna Seca
Repsol Honda riders Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa, separated by just one tenth of a second, will start the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix tomorrow from second and third place respectively, with team mate Andrea Dovizioso starting in sixth position for the thirty two lap race.
All three riders have struggled to find the perfect set up on their RC212V to tackle the Laguna Seca circuit, which demands a lot from both bike and rider. The early part of the session saw, Stoner, Pedrosa, Spies and Lorenzo trading fastest laps, with Lorenzo finally securing pole a mere seven hundredths faster that Stoner who's first flying lap was affected by Spies' crash and subsequent yellow flags.
Pedrosa will be looking for one of his trademark fast starts and the long race on an uneven track surface will test the young Spaniard's fitness to the maximum. Dovizioso, who shares the second row with Spies and Simoncelli, will fight to stay with the front group and will be aiming for a podium finish.
Tomorrow morning's warm up session will be important for all three riders; as it is the last opportunity they will have to tweak the set up ready for the race which starts at 14h00 local time.
CASEY STONER – 2nd 1'21.274
"For the whole session we were trying to find the right set up. All weekend we've been struggling a little and we've not found anything I'm comfortable with, I've closed the front many times and we're still looking to find some balance on the bike to get it working on this track, where we expected it to work well. On my first soft tyre I encountered some traffic and was held up, also there was a crash and a yellow flag so I lost my chance on that tyre. Then on the next soft tyre we had one lap to find some pace and we managed front row which is important for tomorrow. I don't feel we're running with the pace of Dani and Jorge, they seem to be constantly one to two tenths quicker but we have warm up tomorrow morning to find something in time for the race so we'll see what we can do".
DANI PEDROSA – 3rd 1'21'385
"We couldn't improve as much as I'd like to in the final part of the practice, we tried some different settings and unfortunately we didn't find a good one, but to start from the front row is always important and here we are again. I felt more comfortable with the hard tyres, which it's positive because they will be the ones used for the race, but we still need to make another step forward tomorrow and hopefully find a little more grip in the rear. Lorenzo seems very stable and fast, so I hope to find something else with my mechanics tonight and to be able to fight for a great result tomorrow. The race will be very fast, there are many laps here, so it will be important to be focus on every lap and stay strong until the end. I know the race distance will be hard for me physically, you have to work a lot in this track, there are a lot of bumps and you need to be very focused not to make any mistakes. But I will try my best and I hope to stay strong and consistent until the end".
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO – 6th 1'21.731
"My target was to start from the first two rows, so finishing sixth is not too bad, but I hoped to start at least from the 4th position because it's external and gives more advantages from the start. Anyway, we are quite close and we need to work more to gain another two tenths in race pace. This afternoon we improved a lot thanks to some changes we made in the set up, moving the weight more to the back. This setting helps us to brake stronger and this suits more my riding style. We will continue working in the warm up tomorrow because the pace of Lorenzo and Dani is really high. I hope to make a good start and maintain contact with the front group. I will do my best to have a good race and get a good result".
Crash frustrates Bautista in Laguna qualifying
Publish Date: Sunday, July 24, 2011
Rizla Suzuki's Álvaro Bautista was left disappointed at the end of today's qualifying session after a high-speed crash ended his hopes of capitalising on three very strong practice sessions.
Bautista (P12, 1'22.669, 30 laps) lost the front of his Rizla Suzuki GSV-R on turn three and crashed at just past the half-way point of this afternoon's session. He was in ninth place in the standings at the time, but had yet to use a new rear tyre to get a better qualifying position. He managed to return to the pit and use his other bike to try and improve on his lap-time, but was unable to find his rhythm and will now have work to do from the fourth row of the grid tomorrow. A very positive point for the whole team is the consistency on race tyres of the Suzuki GSV-R around the 3,610m American circuit, a fact which was emphasised by Bautista making his fastest time on a tyre which had already done 27 laps of the Laguna Seca track.
Clear blue skies and bright sunshine were again the order of the day at the Californian circuit and World Champion Jorge Lorenzo on a Yamaha made full use of the conditions to record his second pole position of the season, with current championship leader Casey Stoner in second.
Bautista will be looking to repeat his good starts from the two races leading up to Laguna in tomorrow's main event, as he tries to make in-roads into the riders in front of him when the lights go out to signal the start of the 32-lap race at 14.00hrs local time (21.00hrs GMT).
"It has been a very big disappointment for me and the whole team this afternoon. We had done well in every practice, but in the qualifying - where it is really important to make a good position for the race - I crashed and lost the opportunity to make a good lap. I think we need to be positive for tomorrow though, and take some encouragement from the fact that we did our best time on a 27-lap used tyre, so this is good for the race. The bad thing is that we are near the back of the grid tomorrow, so I will have to make a good start like I have in the last two races and try to get a good position in the first corner. Tomorrow we will be trying our hardest and I will be giving it full gas!"
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
"There's not much to add to what Álvaro has already said! It was a disappointing qualifying result after building speed so well over the rest of the weekend. Given that the tyre that we did our fastest time on had done 27-laps, it's clear that we could have gone quite a bit faster than we did. The crash made things tough though, and it is what it is. The boys have a fair bit of work ahead of them to rebuild the bike, but we're over it now and all looking forward to the race tomorrow."
Lorenzo Untouchable with Perfect Pole in Laguna
World Champion Jorge Lorenzo made a sensational comeback from a high speed crash this morning to utterly dominate qualifying and take pole position for tomorrow's Grand Prix of U.S.A, his first of the 2011 season. The high side crash at the end of the morning's practice left some wondering if the Yamaha Factory rider would make it through the whole qualifying session. Fears proved to be unfounded as the Mallorcan took to the track like a man possessed, breaking under the 1.22 mark on his first flying lap. A string of consistent laps saw him keep the top spot for the entire session barring a brief challenge by his team mate Ben Spies. Lorenzo reclaimed pole quickly and kept it to the end of the session, breaking the lap record in the process.
Spies spent the early part of the session refining his set up, then having settled into a consistent pace put in a blistering lap to take provisional pole position from his team mate with a 1'21.578. Lorenzo was quick to take first position back but Spies was still threatening to secure a front row start until a mistake on the brakes in turn three ended his qualifying session. As a result he will start from the second row of the grid tomorrow in fourth position, just 0.376 seconds from pole.
Position : 1st Time: 1'21.202 Laps: 35
"This pole position was unexpected for us after this morning, but thankfully I feel more pain walking than I do riding the bike. Of course I'm not in perfect condition on the bike and for sure I have to put more pressure on my arms and will get more tired. I think I was very lucky this morning that I had no big injuries. I think this pole position is for us an impressive result."
Position : 4th Time: 1'21.578 Laps: 25
"It wasn't a bad qualifying session, we tried a couple of things and the race set up is not so bad. We got in qualifying mode and got some pretty good laps in. I made a mistake and locked the front up on the brakes going in to turn three trying super hard to get on the front row. The Yamaha boss said to me last night that he wanted me on the front row so I was doing everything I could. Joking aside I was trying everything and just made a small mistake. I banged my hand up quite a bit but it will be fine and ready for the race tomorrow. I think we'll find a couple of things with the bike in the morning and hopefully it'll be a good day."
"I'm a very happy team manager today! We had an unbelievable qualifying session. It's the first one this year! After the crash nobody really thought about having pole but just seeing how we are for tomorrow's race. His second lap was a 21.9, I thank that was a thank you to his mechanics because he used the bike that he crashed with this morning. It was pretty smashed up after the crash so they worked hard to make it ready. I think the consistent lap times show he is ready to rock and roll tomorrow."
"Jorge has an impressive pace, he got a really good pole position; he really has all he needs to be the front guy tomorrow. Unfortunately Ben crashed during his last lap. We improved the bike a lot from yesterday in set up and I think we could have got the first row. Second row is ok, just a three tenth gap which is not so bad, I think tomorrow he can be there too. We are going to check the data according to Ben's comments and decide which rear tyre to use tomorrow."
SECOND ROW START FOR FIFTH FASTEST SIMONCELLI AT LAGUNA SECA
Marco Simoncelli achieved his objective of improving his lap times and closing the gap to the fastest rider today as he qualified fifth for the USGP. The Team San Carlo Honda Gresini rider is still hoping to make further improvements in tomorrow's warm-up before taking the podium challenge to the front row trio of Jorge Lorenzo, Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa. Hiroshi Aoyama also made improvements as his confidence with the Honda RC121V showed signs of returning.
Marco Simoncelli (5th 1' 21" 696) "Overall it has been a positive day. We took our biggest step this morning and then built on that this afternoon, although we still have work to do to close the gap to the top three. Lorenzo is maybe in the best shape at the moment ahead of Stoner and Pedrosa but if we can find a couple of tenths in my race pace we can challenge for the podium. I had more confidence in the front today and held my line better through the corners, as well as improving acceleration out of the final turn. We could still find more time there though."
Hiroshi Aoyama (14th 1'22.937 ) "I have improved my lap times from session to session and also found more confidence with the bike and track. I am quite satisfied with my lap time considering that this is only my second ever day here at Laguna. Tomorrow we will try to take another step and make up positions in the race. Tyre choice will be important, the race will be long but if we can stay consistent we can make up positions."
Fausto Gresini "We have made some progress from yesterday with a lot of hard work and some small technical changes. Marco has made steady progress but the problem is that the others have too, even so he has closed the gap. He has a good race pace so we will try and improve it further in the warm-up to give him the chance to fight with the front guys in the race, because right now they are slightly faster. I am satisfied and I think Marco has everything in his favour to have a good race. Hiroshi has got some confidence back and enjoyed a decent session this afternoon. I am sure he can improve further tomorrow and make up some positions."
Karel Abraham is confident after a successful qualifying practice
Successful qualifying practice at the Laguna Seca has completed Karel Abraham, who set a best time of 1:22,893 and finished thirteenth, just 1,691 second behind the reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo.
"Although I am a bit disappointed that I did not finish in twelfth place, I am satisfied with the result of the qualifying practice, especially with the time which I set," said Karel Abraham. His best time of 1:22,893, which was 0,651 second faster than his best time in the free practice, earned him the front position on the fifth row on the grid of the U.S. Grand Prix.
"I know places where I lost time and where I should be able to go even faster," admitted Karel Abraham, who had problems with the adhesiveness of the soft tyres which caused the crash during the final free practice. "I enter the corner faster than usual and the front tire slipped."
Referring to the race, Karel Abraham added: "We have some plan for the race so we will see if it is going to work."
DE PUNIET FALLS DURING QUALIFYING PRACTICE. CAPIROSSI GRIT HIS TEETH UNTIL THE END
Randy De Puniet, Pramac Racing rider, has fallen after only a few laps from the beginning of the qualifying session valid for the Grand Prix of the United States of America. After the medical check up the doctors found the fracture of the transverse process at L3 and L4 on the right side. There also is a suspected fracture of the pelvis on the right side. Notwithstanding these Randy will try to ride tomorrow morning during warm up to understand if he will be able to ride during the Grand Prix. His teammate, Loris Capirossi, has concluded the qualifying session despite a lot of pain at his right shoulder. The Italian rider has concluded in 16th position.
Randy De Puniet – Pramac Racing rider – 15th in 1'22.961
"Not much to say. I made a mistake trying to push when I just left the pits but the tires were probably not yet ready. Really a shame because my feeling in this track was good in all practice sessions and ruin everything so this weekend is really bad. The physical pain is also strong, I move with difficulties, but tomorrow morning I want to try to get on the bike to see if I can participate in the race."
Loris Capirossi – Pramac Racing rider - 16th in 1'23.876
"It 'was really hard. For each change of direction the shoulder gives me a lot of pain, but we came here and we will fight until the end to finish the race in the best possible way. I'm sorry for the whole team that is working so hard as usual to help me to always be faster. Tomorrow I will do my best for them."
MIXED FEELINGS FOR LCR PAIR AT LAGUNA SECA GP QUALIFYING
Monterey, 23 July: LCR Honda MotoGP rider Toni Elias will start tomorrow's U.S. Grand Prix from 17th spot on the grid ahead his American team mate Ben Bostrom who qualified 18th in today's qualifying session at Laguna Seca Raceway. Second day of practices started with typical coastal Northern California weather (21 degrees on the ground) and the Spaniard was not able to better his times from the previous day after a crash at turn 11. He escaped unhurt from the accident and returned to the track in the afternoon for the 60-minute qualifying session which was held in warmer conditions.
Despite some geometry adjustments to his Honda machinery Elias could not increase his pace on Q-tyres whilst wildcard Bostrom has proceeded with his learning course at his home surface.
Elias – 17th (1'24.156): "We are back to our "standard" situation and obviously we were expecting something better. Anyway I want to a massive thank you to the guys because they worked hard even today because we had to change the bike geometry during the session. We are struggling with the same front issue that was the cause of my crash this morning. If you crash here you lose confidence because it's a very tricky surface. I love lapping here but in this condition it's not fun for me. We will try to fix the bike in tomorrows warm up trying to improve front and rear grip for the race".
Bostrom – 18th (1'25.291): "The two bikes couldn't be more opposite: tyres, brakes, chassis...it's unbelievable! There's a lot to learn and I was trying to improve every time I get on the bike step by step because I do not want crash the bike. It's nice to have Lucio and the guys also watching so they can see the difference. The adjustments we have made this afternoon were better and our lap time improved a little bit. Probably I could have gone faster but I made race distance in the last session and I am racing two different bikes this week end so I am pretty satisfied so far".
THIRD ROW FOR BOTH DUCATI TEAM RIDERS IN LAGUNA QUALIFYING
Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi will start from the third row of the starting grid for the Grand Prix at Laguna Seca. Today the Italian posted the seventh-best time aboard the Desmosedici GP11.1, equaling his best qualifying position of the season from Catalunya, while Hayden took the ninth spot with the GP11.
Despite being slightly quicker aboard the new Desmosedici version yesterday, the American decided to use the standard iteration today, as he is more familiar with it. He will also campaign his home race with that bike tomorrow.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 7th (1:22.235)
"This morning we made a change to the balance that helped me to find more grip with the soft tyre, as well as a feeling that was generally better. In the afternoon though, with the warmer temperature and the hard tyre, I didn't have the same performance and feeling. During the session we were able to change the settings again and make a small step, and when we put on the soft, we did a time that was good enough for the third row. Seventh place actually equals my best qualifying spot of the season. That was our goal, to be able to start further forward than we have lately, but for the race we must improve our pace again with the hard tyres because it's a little too difficult now and the rear is sliding a lot. We're focused and we're working very hard so we'll see tomorrow if we can take another step forward."
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 9th (1:22.271)
"We went back to the standard bike today. I was a little faster on the new one yesterday, but even though it has more potential and I like the gearbox, I don't yet have a great feel for where its limit is. For now, we prefer to go with what we know. This morning I was pretty strong and this afternoon I was consistently in the low-'22 range. I did two longer runs and came in to put in a new soft tyre and was ready to go for it. I felt good and was looking forward to going into qualifying mode. I wasn't pushing really hard on the out-lap, but you have to push this bike to load the front, and in Rainey Curve I skipped across the bumps and went down. It's a shame, because we had a chance to do our best qualifying of the year. I went out on the other bike, but the front tyre was 30 laps old. The team have worked like dogs switching back and forth between bikes. Now they'll have another long night, but I'll try to make up for it tomorrow."
Crutchlow and Edwards aim for strong results in Laguna Seca
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team riders Cal Crutchlow and Colin Edwards will start alongside each other on the fourth row of the grid for tomorrow's US Grand Prix.
Crutchlow will start from 10th position after posting a fastest time of 1.22.385 in a sun-drenched qualifying session, the British rider gaining vital knowledge of the Laguna Seca track while also working on the set-up of his YZR-M1 machine to improve rear grip.
The 25-year-old put in 31-laps to help him get a clear understanding of whether he will race the soft or hard compound Bridgestone rear tyre in tomorrow's 32-lap encounter, and he finished just 1.183s away from pole position.
C rutchlow's performance today lifted his confidence levels and he is determined to challenge for his first top 10 finish since he was a brilliant seventh in the Catalunya round near Barcelona in early June.
Starting from one place further back on the grid will be Edwards, who has been overwhelmed by the support he's received from the American fans this weekend.
The popular Texan worked tirelessly throughout today on his YZR-M1 settings and like Crutchlow, he dedicated the majority of his efforts on improving rear grip. The final result on the timesheets though was not what Edwards was expecting and his time of 1.22.520 left him 11th quickest.
Edwards is still fired up and determined to fight for a top result tomorrow having finished seventh at the California track for the last two years.
Cal Crutchlow 10th 1. 22.385 – 31 laps:
"I'm pretty happy to be in the top ten and I managed to pull something out of the bag when I needed it right at the end of the session. My race pace is only a couple of tenths off running in the top eight, so I need to get a good start. I'm still not sure what tyre to run. Lorenzo can run the hard tyre because he is so smooth, but we're torn at the moment which one to choose. I think I'll probably go for the hard tyre but we'll check the setting and make sure we can be consistent. It is a long race here so the soft might not be the best option over race distance. The track today seemed to be in much better condition. Yesterday I was doing 24s but now I'm doing low 22s but that's also because I'm gaining more experience of the track. I still need to change my style a little but on a track you don't know it is difficult to do that. Hopefully when we get to Brno that I know, I'll feel more comfortable to be able to work on my technique because some things I do on the bike don't help in the hot conditions. The goal tomorrow will be to finish in the top ten and get out of here with some experience and some solid points under my belt. It would also be good to have a battle with some guys as well because that helps you learn and pick up experience."
Colin Edwards 11th 1.22.520 – 31 laps:
"It just wasn't happening out there today at all and I'm not really sure why. The last thing I want is to be outside of the top ten on the grid for my home race, but I put in my maximum effort and I was still finding it really hard. I'm not where I am through a lack of trying but I just don't have the rear grip I need. It is spinning a lot and we made some changes to the bike for this afternoon but it didn't improve the situation. We know the bike is better than what we had last year but I couldn't even match my qualifying time from last year. And that is what makes it really strange to understand. The rear is still too nervous and twitching around and it isn't a lot of fun out there at the moment. The bike as it is set-up right now is not working, so we'll have a sit down tonight and go back to the drawing board and come up with a plan for the race tomorrow. I can assure the American fans I'll be going out there and giving it 100 per cent and pushing as hard as I can to get a good result for them because their support has been amazing so far this weekend."