Press releases from the MotoGP teams after qualifying at the Motorland Aragon circuit:
Crutchlow aims for top 10 at Motorland Aragon
Cal Crutchlow is confident he has the speed to challenge for a top 10 finish in tomorrow's Motorland Aragon MotoGP round after the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider narrowly missed securing a place on the third row of the grid.
American team-mate Colin Edwards is also determined to battle for a strong result despite a tough qualifying session left him uncharacteristically outside of the top 10 on the grid ahead of his 150th MotoGP start tomorrow.
Crutchlow will make his debut at the technical 3.155 miles track from 12th place on the grid, the British rider unlucky not to see his efforts rewarded with a much higher starting position.
The 2009 World Supersp ort champion has quickly got to grips with the Motorland Aragon track, despite yesterday's disruption when second practice was cancelled because of a major malfunction in the electricity supply to the state-of-the-art venue.
With 75 minutes on track this morning to compensate for the time lost yesterday, Crutchlow was able to lap almost two seconds faster than he managed on Friday, boosting his confidence ahead of this afternoon's qualifying session.
Crutchlow made big progress with improving the set-up of his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 machine and a best lap of 1.49.893 secured him 12th place on the grid. Today's session though provided further evidence of just how competitive the MotoGP class is this year, with Crutchlow's time less than 0.2s away from seventh position.
Edwards will start a further three places back in 15th, the 37-year-old using his vast experience and knowle dge to try and improve rear grip in hot conditions that saw track temperatures soar to 41 degrees.
He managed to set a best time of 1.50.105, which was over 0.3s faster than his 2010 qualifying pace, but frustratingly he was unable to qualify inside the top 10 for only the second time this season.
Cal Crutchlow 12th 1.49.893 – 25 laps:
"I don't think 12th place on the grid really reflects just how well myself and the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team have been performing this weekend. I've come to a new track and pretty much lost a session with all of yesterday's power problems and yet another couple of tenths would have put me in the top six on the grid. I am really happy with the way I'm riding and happy with my crew, who have done a great job again this weekend. The times are so close that 12th could quite easily have been sixth or seventh, but I'm still confident that I can race inside the top 10 tomorrow. It is going to be difficult because we've got a bit of a speed issue on the straight. I'm really strong in three sections of the track but in the last sector I'm a long way down the split times and that makes it quite difficult. It is not going to be easy to pass people but I'll get my head down and push as hard as I can to do the best job possible. The goal as always will be the top 10 and I'm looking forward to a good battle and picking up more valuable points."
Colin Edwards 15th 1.50.105 – 22 laps:
"That was a hard session to say the least and starting my 150th MotoGP race from 15th on the grid certainly wasn't in the plan. We've gone from qualifying seventh in Misano to 15th, so it is clear we've had a few issues this weekend. One is the bike isn't the fastest out there and I've n ot got a lot of rear grip. The moment I touch the throttle the rear tyre spins, and that combined with the engine means we simply aren't fast enough. I guess we've got to back to the drawing board tonight and see if we can come up with something, but it is going to be a tough race. Like I always do, I'll be going out and giving it my maximum effort for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team and see how far we can climb up the order and score a few points."
Another new pole record falls to Stoner in Aragon
Round 14: Aragon GP – Qualifying
Motorland Aragon, Saturday 17 September 2011
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium, Ex Hard. Rear: Soft, Medium
The fifth new pole position record of the season fell today, again at the hands of Repsol Honda's Casey Stoner who in doing so secured his 30th pole position start on Bridgestone tyres for tomorrow's Aragon GP.
The World Championship leader dominated today's proceedings, bettering the existing lap record during this morning's extended 75 minute free practice and going faster still in the hour-long qualifying session to set the pole record. Stoner has claimed all five of the new pole records set this season, and now holds the fastest pole time at nine of the circuits on this season's calendar.
Dani Pedrosa finished second fastest and was the only other rider under the existing pole record. The Motorland Aragon circuit was brand new to MotoGP last year, so the increase in pace demonstrates the machine development and improvement in track condition in the last 12 months.
Sealing his fourth front row start of the season on his penultimate lap was Ben Spies with teammate Jorge Lorenzo in fourth, ahead of two Hondas in the form of Andrea Dovizioso and Marco Simoncelli.
With the postponement of yesterday's second free practice, the qualifying session was the first running for the MotoGP class in the afternoon at this Grand Prix, and owing to the venue's elevation, the conditions and temperature vary significantly between morning and afternoon. In the warmer afternoon temperatures, the harder option front and softer option rear slicks were favoured for shorter qualifying runs, but the harder rear will likely be the prime choice for tomorrow's 23-lap race.
Masao Azuma – Chief Field Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport
"Casey's pole time is very impressive indeed so I must congratulate him and the Repsol Honda Team. Also for Dani's laptime, as to have one bike under the previous pole position time is good, but for these two to be under it is a very strong showing. Clearly we can see the benefit of last year's experience at this circuit now and the development of the bikes over the last year. Our tyre options are the same although we have improved the soft compound rear for 2011, and although the track temperature is 15 degrees Celsius hotter than during qualifying last year Casey is almost half a second faster this time.
"The harder front and softer rear compound options were favoured by almost every rider today for their attack laps, but if conditions remain the same the harder compound fronts and rears will most likely be the preferable race tyre choice for their added durability. During tomorrow's race, tyre management will be critical in determining durability and ultimately the result. With current circuit conditions and track temperature, tyre wear is an important consideration especially for the rear, so those who are able to use their tyres best will have a marked advantage."
Spies Secures Front Row in Aragon
Yamaha Factory Racing rider Ben Spies put in a strong performance in qualifying today for the Grand Prix of Aragon to deliver third on the grid and a front row start for tomorrow's race. Spies has improved consistently over the weekend, coinciding with an increase in grip level on the Spanish circuit. A small crash in the extended final practice this morning resulted in no injuries, the Texan finishing in sixth place 1.104 seconds from first. A set up change mid-qualifying brought another step, enabling him to deliver third place and close the gap to pole to 0.704 seconds.
Reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo left his fastest times to later in the session, battling a lack of rear grip to deliver fourth place for tomorrow's race, 0.819 seconds from Championship rival Casey Stoner on pole. The Mallorcan rider was less then happy with the final result and will continue to work overnight with his crew to make another step for morning warm up.
Position : 3rd Time: 1'49.155 Laps: 24
"The whole weekend has been pretty good for me, I'm pretty happy with it. We struggled a little bit this morning but the bike's working really well. We looked over a bit of data and tried to find the best compromise. We found it with 30 minutes to go in qualifying and with the race tyres we were about third or fourth quickest. When we put the softer tyres on we were able to go quicker and get on the front row. The crew has done an amazing job to get the bike where it is, we're just lacking a bit of speed from the front two guys. We're going to try and challenge for the podium tomorrow."
Position : 4th Time: 1'49.270 Laps: 21
"We struggled here last year and we are here struggling again this year, maybe even more. We have many problems with rear grip; we are not getting enough traction to be really fast. Tomorrow I think the maximum we can get is third place on the podium unless something very strange happens so that is the goal we have. The long straight is not the best for us but in the corners we are also a bit slower than the others so we must find something."
"We're still struggling for grip so fourth place is not so bad, it's far from good though! With the soft tyre we can do a decent lap time, with the hard race tyre we struggle even more though so for sure we need to try and find something for tomorrow morning. We will go over the data from today and see what we can come up with to try in warm up."
"I think that Ben and the track are working in the same direction, they both improved grip over the day. We were struggling this morning but as the track has improved it has allowed Ben to improve as well. To start from the first row is a good advantage, especially in a circuit like this with its layout. We have to work a bit again to try and get closer but from yesterday to now we've made good steps. We are quite positive about the race tomorrow. The temperature will be less which may have an effect, we'll have to wait and see. Jorge also made some improvements but is still looking for some more grip with his set up. His crew are working hard and we are confident they will make another step before the race."
Stoner shatters lap record taking ninth pole of season with Pedrosa second and Dovizioso fifth
This afternoon in Aragon, Repsol Honda's Casey Stoner claimed his ninth season pole position and with it smashed his own lap record by almost half a second.
After a difficult day yesterday at the Alcaniz track, when FP2 was cancelled due to an electrical short circuit, all three Repsol Honda riders made the most of today's longer morning session. In the afternoon when track temperatures were 12 degrees higher than the morning, Stoner, Pedrosa and Dovizioso fine tuned their machines for an intense final twenty minutes of qualifying.
After a cautious first lap on the softer option tyres, Stoner narrowly escaped impact with the safety barrier. He was able to return to the pits in time and on his second bike he recorded a new lap record of 1'48.451 almost five tenths faster than his record set here in 2010 of 1'48.942. It is Stoner's ninth pole of the season and second year in succession at the Aragon circuit.
Alongside him on the front row is team mate Dani Pedrosa who set a time of 1'48.747. Pedrosa, fresh from his second place finish in Misano two weeks ago will be looking to continue his strong end to the season. Dovizioso, starting from the second row, wasn't able to put together a perfect flying lap, but he is confident with his race pace he will be able to fight for the podium
Tomorrow in Aragon, the Repsol Honda bikes and riders will have a special 'look' created by Spanish designer David Delfin. The new design has been inspired by superheroes and supermen and incorporates David Delfin's trademark typography to give the team a unique personality for the Aragon GP which will start at 14h00 local time.
CASEY STONER – 1st 1'48.451
"It was a very eventful qualifying session for us! Everything has been going very well this weekend, we have a good feeling with the bike and I'm feeling great. At the end of the session we put on the soft tyre and on the first lap I was a little too cautious in T1 as I wasn't sure if the tyres were warm enough, then I pushed on the second lap and I had a lot more grip than I expected so I went through the corner much faster and I wasn't able to slow down, I pulled the bike up but it was difficult to reduce the speed and I ended up needing to lay the bike down to avoid the wall. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to restart the bike which is a shame as I was happier on that one, but even on the second bike we were able to improve our time. Now we need to see what the weather brings for tomorrow but we're feeling good and I hope for a good race".
DANI PEDROSA – 2nd 1'48.747
"I'm happy with the first row on the grid. I've pushed to the limit to get a good position and we achieved it, but to be honest we still need to tune the set up of the bike a little, especially in front because I don't feel as comfortable as I'd like to and I'm struggling a little under braking. For the race pace, Casey is quicker than us, he is riding very fast and smooth, so I guess he will set the pace tomorrow and we will need to stay close from the beginning of the race. I'm still not 100% sure about the tyre choice, the tyres are suffering a lot especially on the left side. In principal, the medium compound should be the right one for the distance, but we need to wait and see how the weather is. Let's hope we can find something else on the setting tonight and have a good race in front of the Spanish fans".
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO – 5th 1'49.372
"I'm quite satisfied with this qualifying session as we have a good race pace but Casey is so strong and seems unbeatable. We will do our best to strengthen our position in the Championship and we want to fight Dani's comeback and gain some points on Lorenzo. During today's qualifying I didn't do a perfect fast lap, but starting from the second row is not so bad. We will continue working on the set up because the main issue remains the tyre wear on the rear. The key point of the race will be managing the tyres because with these hot temperatures and this kind of asphalt, the tyres suffer a lot, I expect that we will all race with the hard option tyre. Concerning the race I aim to make a good start and maintain the contact with the front group."
SECOND AND THIRD ROW STARTS FOR SIMONCELLI AND AOYAMA AT ARAGON
Team San Carlo Honda Gresini riders Marco Simoncelli and Hiroshi Aoyama will start from the second and third rows of the grid after qualifying sixth and ninth fastest respectively at Aragon. It was a positive session overall for "Super Sic" even though there is still work to do if he is to stand any chance of chasing Stoner and Pedrosa at the front. Whilst that may be a lot to ask, the Italian is well placed to fight for the final podium position at least. There is no shortage of confidence in the team, with Hiro Aoyama qualifying in an encouraging ninth place.
Marco Simoncelli (6th 1' 49" 528) "I am sure I could have gone faster but on my best lap I was held up by Pedrosa, who had just come onto the track. It's a shame, and then I wasn't quite able to improve on the second soft tyre because of a couple of mistakes. The front two are a little way off at the moment but with a couple of small changes to the bike we can be fighting for third place. We have slightly improved the grip issues we encountered yesterday but I think this is a common problem from everybody. The thing that is setting us back the most at the moment is fuel consumption because of my size and we need to find something to reduce this problem for the race. I have faith in the guys and I am sure they will do a good job tomorrow."
Hiroshi Aoyama (9th 1' 49" 813) "I am happy with ninth place in qualifying because it represents our best grid position of the season. We improved the bike from this morning and had a good balance and feeling this afternoon. Obviously the race will be different to qualifying but I am confident it can be a good one for us. Now I just want to focus on the race and make the right choices together with the team, especially regarding the predicted lower track temperatures."
Fausto Gresini "Overall it has been a positive day and maybe could have ended with Marco further up the grid if he could have got a clean lap in. It wasn't to be and it's a real shame but aside from the two guys at the front Marco's ace pace is good and with a couple of small changes in the warm-up I am sure he can get involved in the fight for the podium. Hiroshi also did a good job with his best grid of the season and he is definitely improving. If he believes in his ability he can have an excellent finish to the season."
CLOSE MOTOGP QUALIFYING SESSION AT ARAGON
MAPFRE Aspar rider Héctor Barberá to start fourteenth on the grid after qualifying 1.5 seconds from pole
Yesterday's power shortage at Aragon saw an extended final free practice this morning but things were back to normal in time for qualifying this afternoon. Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa dominated both sessions, which were tight throughout the pack in terms of lap times despite Motorland being one of the longest circuits on the calendar. Just 2.6 seconds separate the entire grid on a day that saw Stoner smash the pole record by a full second.
MAPFRE Aspar rider Hector Barberá made an improvement of six tenths from one session to the next despite struggling with rear grip issues in some sections of the circuit. The Spaniard lines up fourteenth on the grid despite lapping just 1.525 seconds off Stoner's pole record time. With ideas for further improvements to make to his Ducati before tomorrow's warm-up and minimal differences between the riders' best laps today, Héctor knows he is more than capable of a strong showing at his third home race of the 2011 campaign.
14th Héctor Barberá 1.49.976 (25 laps): "Qualifying did not go as well as we'd hoped. Motorland was a good circuit for me last year and we have improved our lap times in comparison but a lot of other riders made massive strides. I was struggling a little bit in the changes of direction and the bike was sliding around quite a lot under acceleration. It is a shame because I am only a couple of tenths off seventh place but I'll be lining up in fourteenth. The lap times are close and we'll keep working tonight to try and improve the set-up for the race. It is a bittersweet taste and I don't like to be so far back but on the other hand I am satisfied that I gave it my all. The race pace looks good, I was just missing a quicker lap to get me further up the grid."
ELIAS STILL CONFIDENT DESPITE A TOUGH ARAGON GP QUALIFYING
Aragon, 17th September: after yesterday's power blackout that suspended premier class riders work in the afternoon, MotoGP teams and riders had a longer free session (75 minutes) this morning at Aragon Motorland which hosts the second-last European round of the calendar. Despite several changes to his RCV the LCR Honda racer Toni Elias was not capable to find the correct pace at the track he likes very much ahead his national fans.
The Spaniard qualified 17th (1'51.073) in the afternoon 60-minute qualifying session chasing the correct overall package ahead tomorrow's 23-lap race but front end issues affected the Moto2 World Champion performance.
Elias – 17th: "It was a very long day for everybody after yesterday's session cancellation and we have tried many things to adjust the bike. We have started with front suspension options this morning and some front geometry changes but in this afternoon qualification I was missing drive out of the corners. Then the soft tyre did not last long and after two laps it was dropping too quick so I could not use the potential of Q tyres. Despite some small improvements we could not close the gap to the top ten riders but I am still confident ahead tomorrow. With some more changes in the warm up session and a good start I could get a top ten result".
Bautista with work to do at home Grand Prix
Publish Date: Saturday, September 17, 2011
Rizla Suzuki's Spanish racer Álvaro Bautista has a lot of work to do at the start of tomorrow's Aragon Grand Prix in Spain after qualifying 11th this afternoon.
Bautista (1'49.883, 26 laps) will start from the middle of the fourth row after he was unable to capitalise on the promise that he showed in the early stages of this afternoon's qualifying session. He had been as high as fourth in the classification with about a quarter of the session left, but was unable to maintain that position and will now have to make a good start tomorrow to get up amongst the front pack in the early part of the race.
Today's qualifying was held in mixed weather conditions, from bright sunshine to overcast and humid, with track temperatures reaching 41ºC. Current World Championship leader Casey Stoner recorded his ninth pole position of the season, a feat that equals the record of the most poles in a season by an individual rider in the current MotoGP four-stroke era – currently held by Stoner in 2008 and Valentino Rossi in 2003.
Tomorrow's race is the 14th round on the 2011 calendar and the 23-laps of action will get underway at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT).
"I am not happy with the position because we are too far back, but all the lap-times are very close and I am only just over three tenths from the second row, so that shows how close it is. I did a lot of laps on the harder tyre and after I had done a race distance it started to slide a little bit, but I think this was the same for most of the riders. At the end with the softer tyre I improved my lap-time, but I made a mistake on the last two laps and couldn't improve enough to get a better position on the grid. Tomorrow I will try to make a good start and get past as many riders as possible in the first laps. I think if I can get a good start and stay with the second group – Stoner and Pedrosa are very strong and will probably pull away – then I think I can battle with that group. I will push to the limit to get a good position and fight all the way tomorrow!"
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
"Eleventh is below our expectation and also below the potential of the bike and rider package, and we still need to find a little bit of an extra spark in qualifying to get up towards the second row. That all said, we've had some of our best races from the fourth row of the grid and tomorrow is going to be a big challenge for all the riders to maintain a consistent rhythm over race distance. I think we are in good shape to put in a strong performance and improve dramatically over the qualifying result in tomorrow's race."
Karel Abraham produces a fantastic performance and finishes eighth in the qualifying session
The qualifying session for the Gran Premio de Aragón saw the Cardion AB Motoracing rider Karel Abraham finishing in a fantastic eighth position.
Setting a best time of 1:49,777 in the final moments of the qualifying session, Karel Abraham finished only 1,326 seconds behind the fastest rider Casey Stoner.
"I am very satisfied with the result of the qualifying session," the twenty one years old Czech rider said. "My best time could be even better, but I made one or two small mistakes which cost me some time."
With seventy five minutes on the race track this morning to compensate for the cancelled second free practice which was postponed due to power shortage, Karel Abraham was able to lap 2,132 seconds faster than he managed in the first free practice. "All riders were faster because the conditions were slightly different."
Weather forecast predicts rain that should hit the Motorland Aragón during this evening. "We will see how the rain will change the conditions on the race track," added.
HAYDEN SEVENTH IN ARAGON QUALIFYING, FALL AFFECTS ROSSI
The qualifying session for the Aragon Grand Prix saw Nicky Hayden post the seventh-best time, equaling his own best qualifying performance of the season. The result will have him starting from the third row in tomorrow's race, for which the weather forecast is uncertain.
Valentino Rossi was a little less fortunate, as his qualifying effort was affected by a fall early in the session. The Italian returned to the track with the same bike about fifteen minutes later, and although he improved his time, he made a small mistake in the second sector while using his second soft tyre, causing him to run wide in a corner and lose any chance of improving his position in the results.
In order to prepare Rossi's second bike with the new front chassis part, the Ducati Team will use his seventh engine tomorrow, and he will have to start from pit lane.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 7th (1:49.752)
"It's good that seventh equals my best qualifying result this year, but truthfully, I thought I had a chance at the second row today, and I think the bike was capable of that too. I didn't get it done, but I'm still lucky to be where I am, because just a few tenths slower would have been a long way back. I'm having trouble with edge grip, and although it will be a quick race here—only 23 laps—tyre wear could still be an issue for me. I'm also having a little problem over the bumps, but the team will look at some things tonight and see what we can come up with for tomorrow.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 13th (1:49.960)
"I must say that we were a little unfortunate today, because I think we had good potential and that we deserved something better. Although the fall was quite ordinary, it hurt us, and then at the end, I made a little mistake with the second soft tyre and ran wide. Otherwise, I could have cut a bit more time, and it wouldn't have taken much to start closer to the front. However, I'm thirteenth, and at this point we'll use our seventh engine and start from pit lane, as the new front chassis part only works with the engine we used at Misano. Unfortunately, although we have two engines that are nearly new and probably would have let us make it to the end of the season, we aren't able to use them. Anyway, we made this decision looking forward, and we've started working in what we think is a good direction, though of course we're on our first step, with a lot more left to do."