Press releases from the MotoGP teams after qualifying at Motegi:
Crutchlow close to third row in Japan
Cal Crutchlow fought off a heavy cold to finish just over 0.1s away from claiming a starting position on the third row of the grid for tomorrow's Japanese MotoGP race at the end of a closely contested qualifying session at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit.
The British rider will start the 15th round of the 2011 World Championship from 12th on the grid after yet another encouraging performance on board the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 machine.
Crutchlow's best time of 1.46.818 was almost 0.3s quicker than the 2010 pole position time and his pace was less than 0.4s away from Valentino Rossi in seventh position. Today's result was reward for Crutchlow's determination after he was struck by a nasty he ad cold overnight, which left the 25-year-old with a severe sore throat.
Crutchlow is hoping a good night's rest will help him return to 100 per cent as he looks to continue his fine recent run of form in tomorrow's 24-lap race. He is seeking a third successive top 10 finish to strengthen his bid for the coveted Rookie of the Year title.
Today's qualifying session, which took place in much cooler conditions compared to practice yesterday, didn't go according to plan for experienced team-mate Colin Edwards.
The 37-year-old had high hopes of a strong performance after claiming a season best fifth place at the Twin Ring Motegi last year. Edwards qualified fifth in 2010 but despite lapping 0.3s faster this afternoon, his best time of 1.47.165 could only secure him 14th on the grid for Yamaha's all-important home race.
Edwards suffered an early setback w hen he crashed with only a quarter of the 60-minute session completed. Edwards ran off the track at Turn 3 while pushing hard to improve his pace on his eighth lap. He ran into the gravel at high speed and despite his best efforts he was unable to keep his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team machine upright.
He quickly adjusted to a different front-end geometry setting on his spare YZR-M1 machine to finish just over 0.3s behind Crutchlow.
Cal Crutchlow 12th 1.46.818 – 25 laps:
"I'm a bit disappointed to be back in 12th when you look how close I am to the third row. But I can't be too upset because I feel well below my physical best today. All last night I was coughing and sneezing and I've been drinking about eight litres of water today and I still feel dehydrated. My throat feels like I've swallowed gravel but I still mana ged to go out there and lap faster than last year's pole time. I can't really ask for much more than that on a circuit I've never even seen before in my life. I might have been a bit further up the grid but on my last soft tyre I nearly high-sided coming out of the first corner. It was a big moment because I struggled to get heat into the tyre out of the pits. I still got in one more lap on that final tyre and managed to set my best time, so now I'm looking forward to the race and hoping I can have another good battle like I did at the Motorland Aragon. That was a lot of fun but also helped me learn a lot, so I'll be looking to be in a fight for the top 10."
Colin Edwards 14th 1.47.165 – 22 laps:
"I had high hopes coming to Japan because last year I got my best grid position and my best result of the Championship at the Twin Ring Motegi. But it just hasn't worked out at all so far this weekend and I'm just not quick enough. I'm faster than I qualified last year but still nine places further back down the grid, so that shows how much the competition has stepped up this season. The early crash didn't help the session run smoothly and I haven't made a mistake as bad as that in a long time. I just completely missed my braking marker and that was all because I was pushing too hard to get more out of the bike. Looking at the lap times it is obvious that our bike doesn't turn or accelerate as good as the rest and that means you have to ride on the ragged edge a lot. The strange part is that the bike feels fine. It is not doing anything crazy but I can't get it to go round the track any faster. The target will be to fight for the top 10 tomorrow, but a repeat of fifth like last year unfortunately doesn't look like it's a realistic aim."
Motegi pole for Stoner with new outright lap record
Round 15: Japanese GP – Qualifying
Twin Ring Motegi, Saturday 1 October 2011
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium, Hard. Rear (asymmetric): Soft, Medium
Repsol Honda's Casey Stoner secured his fourth consecutive pole position at Motegi today with a stunning penultimate lap to set a new outright circuit record, beating the previous best of 1m 45.543s by almost 0.3seconds.
The new tarmac around part of the circuit continues to get faster this weekend and the soft compound rear slicks, brought to Japan for the first time this year, also contributed to the pole time being 1.8seconds faster than last year.
Jorge Lorenzo will start tomorrow's race from second on the grid after he took the provisional pole for a time, also beating his own pole record set back in 2008 when sticky qualifying tyres that provided huge amounts of grip for just a handful of laps were used. Completing the front row is last year's pole-sitter Andrea Dovizioso ahead of Dani Pedrosa, Ben Spies and Marco Simoncelli on the second row.
Of the 18 races on the MotoGP calendar this season, new outright qualifying records have now been set on the control Bridgestone race tyres at nine of them since the cessation of qualifying tyres at the start of 2009.
The preferred tyre choice this afternoon was the harder option front tyre, the same as was used here at Motegi last year, and the soft compound rear which is a new option for the Japanese GP this year. The soft compound slick uses Bridgestone's extra soft compound in the lesser-used left shoulder and was chosen this weekend primarily to provide better warm-up performance and safety in the opening laps, but is clearly demonstrating a high level of grip too. Conditions today were markedly cooler than yesterday and are forecast to be cooler still tomorrow, meaning that this soft compound is also a viable option for race-distance.
Hirohide Hamashima – Assistant to Director, Motorsport Tyre Development Division
"I am very satisfied with the laptimes at the front today – we expected the pace to be faster this year but I didn't think we would see the pole time 1.8seconds faster than last year. This is very impressive, and I think is due mostly to the new surface here at Motegi, but also in part to machine development over the last 12 months and the fact we have our soft compound rear slicks here this year, as they provide better warm-up performance, initial grip and rider confidence than the medium compound rears everyone qualified on in 2010. Today was cooler than yesterday which helped performance of the soft slicks, and as the conditions forecast for tomorrow are cooler again I think we will see many riders using this tyre for the race. This soft compound rear is a new tyre that we developed towards the end of last season and I think the performance today, both in terms of outright grip and warm-up performance, shows we are headed in a good direction with our MotoGP tyre development."
Strong qualifying for Bautista and Rizla Suzuki
Publish Date: Saturday, October 01, 2011
Álvaro Bautista will start Suzuki's home Grand Prix at Motegi from the middle of the third row after a consistent and strong qualifying session saw him equal his best MotoGP grid position.
Bautista (P8, 1'46.586, 28 laps) showed great determination to push his Rizla Suzuki GSV-R further up the grid and with just minutes left in the session occupied a second row spot, but he just couldn't hold on to that position as time ran out and he wasn't able to better his previous best lap. Bautista worked tirelessly with his crew on a thorough test programme in both the final practice session and this afternoon's qualifying. He is now convinced he has a good package for tomorrow's race and believes he will be able to compete with the group of riders that qualified just in front of him today.
Today's sessions were held under overcast skies with temperatures lower than yesterday. Casey Stoner again led the field to become the first rider in the four-stroke MotoGP era to record 10 pole positions in a season, current champion Jorge Lorenzo was second.
Tomorrow's Japanese Grand Prix is the 15th round of the season and the 24–lap race will get underway at 15.00hrs local time (06.00hrs GMT) in front of what promises to be a colourful and excited crowd determined to show its support for their countrymen who suffered in the tragedy that hit Japan early in the year and caused the postponement of the original Grand Prix date.
"With the time I did in qualifying – one-and-a-half-seconds quicker than last year – I would have been in pole position in 2010! This year the level is amazing and the lap-times are very fast, but our performance is also due to the hard work the guys in the Factory have put in, it has made a big difference. This morning we tested different settings in the two bikes, one of which was set a little bit lower to help me in the hard braking parts of this track, but I tried it too late in the free practice so I didn't have a clear idea which setting was better. This afternoon we started with the lower bike and harder compound tyres, but the feeling was not what I wanted, so I changed to the other bike and it was better. I improved my lap-time at the end, but I got into some traffic on my last laps so couldn't improve it anymore. Eighth is not too bad and I want to produce a good race for all the Suzuki company and factory guys that are here this weekend supporting us. I will try to get a good start and fight from the beginning, I think the first three or four will be difficult to catch, but after that I think we can be in the battle for the next few positions. We will see what the weather brings and the condition of the track, but I am looking forward to a good race."
Paul Denning –Team Manager:
"We needed a strong qualifying performance today and Álvaro delivered that. We just didn't get the timing right on the last run, in terms of track position and traffic, but only half-of-a-second off fourth place on Honda's home track is a decent result. The first couple of laps will be critical tomorrow and I believe if Álvaro is in the tow with the fastest riders there is a possibility of a very strong result."
BAD LUCK FOR DE PUNIET DURING QUALIFYING SESSION, THIRTEENTH. CUDLIN CONTINUES TO IMPROVE AND WILL START FROM THE SIXTH ROW
Unfortunate qualifying session for Randy De Puniet in Japan. The Pramac Racing rider has reported some very interesting lap times from the beginning, almost always in the top ten, but the last exit from the pits with new tires he has not lowered his best lap as expected. Randy is thus forced to start from the fifth row. On the other side of the garage his teammate for this weekend, Damian Cudlin, has further improved his lap times approaching the group and getting the eighteenth position in front of the Japanese rider Ito. Tomorrow at 3pm local time his debut in a MotoGP race.
Marco Rigamonti – Randy De Puniet Track Engineer
"We cannot find those 3, 4 tenth of a second in the last few laps pushing hard that would put us in much better position. The same thing happened in Aragon and we surely need to improve this aspect. Really a shame because Randy has a very good race pace and starting tomorrow from the thirteenth place he will have to be very careful in the first few corners to avoid complications. Anyway we hope to be luckier than Aragon race."
Randy De Puniet – Pramac Racing Team – 13th in 1'46.917
"I tried to improve at the beginning of the second practice with used tyres but nothing was working too well. So we decided to go back to this morning set up and we managed to improve straight away. The positive thing is that I can ride in 1'47" low all alone and this gives me good hops for the race. I will surely use soft tyres as with the hard one I don't have the right feeling to push more. A pity as I can't manage to improve those 3 or 4 tenth of a second that would put me in third row."
Damian Cudlin – Pramac Racing Team - 18th in 1'48.962
"I have to be happy with the progress we are making. It seems every time I sit on the bike we manage to lower our lap times. This was my target for the weekend. Now we are getting to the point where the improvement will be smaller and more difficult to find, but we are starting to look in some technical changes to help me. I still believe that most of the gap is still coming from me as I am still learning the bike and the track. For tomorrow my plan is just to continue to improve and get closer to the others. It would be nice to have some fights during tomorrow's race, this is what I am aiming for."
Lorenzo Flies to a Front Row Start for Motegi GP
Reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo delivered a stunning performance this afternoon in qualifying to take second on the grid for tomorrow's Grand Prix of Japan at Motegi. After struggling in the previous sessions for braking stability and maximum lean grip, Lorenzo's crew made key set up changes which transformed the Mallorcan's YZR-M1 for the final session. The final minutes of the session saw him smash the pole record of the Motegi circuit with a 1'45.523, only to have first snatched back in the last seconds by rival Casey Stoner.
Fellow Yamaha Factory Racing rider Ben Spies experienced another exhausting day of riding as he battles to recover from a serious bout of food poisoning caught before travelling to Japan. Despite his reduced fitness and stamina level the American put in a huge effort in both morning practice and qualifying to take fifth on the grid and a second row start for the race.
Position : 2nd Time: 1'45.523 Laps: 25
"We tried something different this afternoon and our lap times were unbelievable, we almost got pole! The most important thing is the first row because there are riders like Casey who find it easy to escape so I want to be right there. We have improved today but Motegi is still a tough track for Yamaha riders. If the other riders do a perfect race it is almost impossible to win, but anything can happen. Now I can say I am ready for the battle and we will put on a good show for all the Japanese fans who have come to see us race!"
Position : 5th Time: 1'46.042 Laps: 25
"I've had a lot of support from the guys at Clinica to get me back towards 100% fitness. I'm just glad now to be on the bike, a couple of days ago I didn't think I was going to be able to ride. I'm really happy to have got into the middle of the second row today and I hope things get even better for tomorrow, we'll see how it goes. Yesterday I was pretty weak on the bike, this morning I felt a bit stronger and this afternoon I felt ok with energy levels, I was just fighting a lot of stomach cramps. I'm doing the best I can for my crew and the paddock and all the fans who are here to watch us."
"We made big steps from the first three practices, Jorge is able to stop the bike properly now so that's a big improvement. Maximum lean angle grip has also improved so he can now stop the bike and turn and accelerate. We are quite happy; I think we have something to fight with tomorrow which is important. I have to thank the team who worked really hard to make the step forward with the bike."
"This afternoon we saw some excellent qualifying laps from Jorge, his race pace is also quite fast and consistent. For sure it is going to be a tough race but we are up there. Ben fortunately is feeling better and better, he was able to complete both sessions today. Starting from fifth on the grid is good under the circumstances; we know he did his best. Hopefully tomorrow he'll feel even better and will put up a good fight. 24 laps will be quite intensive so he needs to be as fit as possible for it."
Stoner shatters Motegi pole record with Dovizioso 3rd and Pedrosa 4th
Casey Stoner qualified on pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix with a blistering 1'45.267 lap at the Motegi circuit, breaking the record set by Lorenzo in 2008 (1'45.543). It's his first pole position at this track and tenth of the season, a new record in MotoGP.
All three Repsol Honda riders have been riding very strong at Honda's home track and Casey Stoner, Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa spent the early part of qualifying still making set up changes to their RC212V machines and working with the race tyres.
In the end, it was Casey who came out on top, with Andrea Dovizioso in third position and Dani Pedrosa, fourth. Andrea made some positive steps forward and took an important front row spot for tomorrow's Japanese Grand Prix. He was fast and consistent with both compounds, but set his best lap time with his last soft tyre. Whereas Dani, who was fastest with the hard tyre was unable to get the soft compound working in the last minutes of the session after having been consistently in the top three all weekend to this point.
CASEY STONER – 1st 1'45.267
"Everything has gone very well so far this weekend, we've been fastest in all but one session so it's been fantastic. We tried a few different settings this afternoon and didn't really improve so we'll probably go back to this morning's setting for tomorrow. We'll have to watch the weather as this will affect the set up, there's also a chance of rain so it could get complicated. Jorge has been riding fantastic, as has Dovi and Dani, but there is no doubt that the Honda suits this track, I've been looking forward to riding it here for a while now and I'm not disappointed! Tomorrow will be a tough race, but the team is working hard and we'll do our best".
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO – 3rd 1'45.791
"I'm very happy to be on the front row here in Motegi! This afternoon we improved again from this morning and I feel very confident, especially under braking. We still haven't decided on the tyre for tomorrow as we are good on both compounds but I feel positive for the race and for the fight for the podium tomorrow. I'm really happy with the work of the team and the Honda is working really well at this track, I think tomorrow we will have a great race!".
DANI PEDROSA – 4th 1'45.966
"The qualifying practice started quite well for us, we were doing lap times with a consistent pace preparing for the race and everything seemed to be going well. But at the end, when I switched to soft tyres, I couldn't get them working, I had much less grip. I thought it could be a problem with the first tyre and so I came back to the garage to change it but again I had the same issue. I am disappointed not to be on the front row, but the good feeling with the race tyres is good news. We will need to see how the weather is tomorrow, if the temperature drops a lot maybe some riders will use the soft, but considering my feeling, I will probably choose the hard one. The race will be very tough with Stoner, Dovizioso and maybe Lorenzo, but we want to fight until the end".
Shinichi Ito ready for an emotional race at Motegi
Tomorrow, Shinichi Ito will experience one of the most emotional races of his career in the Japanese Grand Prix.
The HRC test rider, riding for Team HRC this weekend after four years of retirement, will start the race from the last row on the grid. Unfortunately, he lost valuable time to work on the set up of his RC212V machine this morning when he crashed after just four laps, and in the afternoon he was unable to improve his lap time from yesterday.
Ito will aim to improve the feeling in tomorrow's warm up and finish the race to honour the Japanese victims of the earthquake and tsunami on March 11th.
SHINICHI ITO – 19th 1'49.971
"After this morning's crash, I lost some confidence and was unable to find the pace I needed for qualifying. I worked hard to find a good setting but I wasn't able to get the best possible. Tonight, I will speak together with my technician and we will try to find a solution tomorrow morning in warm up. Apart from this, the atmosphere here in the paddock is very nice, I like it very much and I'm so happy to be here as a GP rider. We will do our best tomorrow to have a good race"
HÉCTOR BARBERÁ SECURES THIRD ROW START
MAPFRE Aspar rider repeats practice result from yesterday to qualify ninth
It was an exciting qualifying session for the MotoGP race at Motegi today, dominated initially by Dani Pedrosa before a dramatic final fifteen minutes that saw Casey Stoner dislodge his team-mate, only to be usurped by Jorge Lorenzo and then retake control with a stunning new pole record. The Australian was the fastest of just four riders to break into the 1'45s although he looks to be the one with the quickest race pace.
Ninth place seems to suit MAPFRE Aspar rider Héctor Barberá, who finished in that position after a strong start to free practice yesterday and qualified there today. Despite struggling to get his pace together this morning he was back on track this afternoon and spent virtually the whole session inside the top ten. Héctor looked set to qualify as the top Ducati but after being overcome by just one colleague from the Italian factory he is desperate to back up this result with another good performance to match the one from Motorland two weeks ago.
9th Héctor Barberá 1.46.694 (23 laps): "With the set-up we have and our position on the grid all that remains to be done is to push hard from the start of the race. We have been fast everywhere this year, the category has moved up a level and all the records are being smashed which is great. In my case I am lapping two seconds per lap quicker and that is the best thing for me - I am finding it easier to improve every time we go out on track. Our objective remains a top six finish and I think we can be close to it tomorrow. We have a pace in the low 1'47s and if the conditions are similar to today we are ready to go to battle."
SIMONCELLI QUALIFIES SIXTH DESPITE A CRASH
Marco Simoncelli's second crash of the weekend cost him valuable time and confidence in qualifying practice for the Grand Prix of Japan at Motegi this afternoon, as well as the opportunity to make two outings on soft tyres. However, the sixth fastest time overall is enough for a second row start tomorrow and after showing good race pace 'Super Sic' remains optimistic about tomorrow. Hiroshi Aoyama was hoping for better than eleventh place but once again the Japanese rider struggled for a one-off flying lap and is relying on his race pace to help him make up positions tomorrow.
Marco Simoncelli (6th 1'46.211) "I was going quite well up to the crash but unfortunately I made a little mistake in turn five, hit a bump and crashed, which compromised the second half of the session. I struggled a little for confidence when I went back out and only got to use one soft tyre. Without that I could have maybe been fighting for the front row but in any case I am happy because I have good race pace and hopefully tomorrow I can be fighting for the podium."
Hiroshi Aoyama (11th 1'46.811) "The final position is not particularly pleasing but my feeling with the bike is good and so is my race pace so I am confident for tomorrow. I will try to start as well as possible and make up as many positions as I can. The weather could change tomorrow and the track temperature will definitely be lower so we might have to change the set-up but we have a clear idea which direction to take. I want to have a good race in my home Grand Prix and give my fans a positive result."
Fausto Gresini "It wasn't easy today because a second crash for the weekend cost us time and made life a little difficult. Anyway, Marco is happy with the bike it is just that whenever you crash you always lose confidence. He did well to stay on the second row and his race pace suggests he can have a good day tomorrow, especially if we can help him out a little in warm-up. Aoyama didn't do badly and his position probably doesn't represent his potential so with his race pace and this being his home Grand Prix I think he can do well. "
ELIAS AND AKIYOSHI RESPECTIVELY 16th AND 17th AT MOTEGI QUALIFYING
Motegi, 1st October: Cooler conditions welcomed the MotoGP teams and riders today at Twin Ring Motegi circuit and in this afternoon qualifying session (air temperature of 22 degrees and 32 degrees on the ground) Honda racer Casey Stoner rode his RC212V to the first spot on the grid ahead tomorrow's 24-lap race which gets underway at 3 pm local time.
LCR Honda MotoGP Team pair ended the 60-minute qualifying session at the Japanese circuit in sixth row: Toni Elias posted his best lap time of 1'48.169 (16th overall) followed by his Japanese Team mate Akiyoshi who set his best lap time of 1'48.367 (17th overall).
Elias – 16th: "After yesterday's good adjustments I felt more confident ahead today's qualifying but at the end I could not lap into the 1'47 range. This morning on harder tyre it seemed we could improve our lap time but later on Q-tyres I started to lose the front again. I went wide a couple of times but I could not go faster in these conditions. We have already chosen our race tyre and tomorrow we will work through a number of various set-up changes to move into the 1'47 range".
Akiyoshi – 17th: "Today I have started to understand better the tyres features and with a few changes of the suspension setting I made the bike feeling better compared to yesterday. I have improved my pace gradually and with further adjustments on the front fork and rear link I am well prepared for the race. I will do my best as a delegate of the Japanese riders group to bring some courage and fun to my population".
ROSSI IMPROVES IN MOTEGI QUALIFYING, HAYDEN NOT FAR OFF
The refining of the GP11.1's setup for the Motegi circuit continued positively on the second day of practice at the Japanese Grand Prix. During the four sessions run thus far, Valentino Rossi and his team have focused mainly on the Desmosedici's weight distribution. The Italian was seventh at the end of qualifying, and was satisfied with the manner in which they had worked.
As for Nicky Hayden, the American improved his performance session by session, and in qualifying, he barely missed the third row. His time isn't far from that of his teammate.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 7th (1:46.467)
"We're pretty satisfied, although we can't celebrate seventh place. Still, I was able to ride the bike a bit better. We improved the setting again this morning, and I was faster in the afternoon. We've changed the weight distribution for Motegi, and now I can ride more naturally, though still not as I would like. Our goal was to manage to lap at 1:46.5, and as we were able to do that, I'd say we worked well. Also, our pace with the hard tyre isn't bad. We're not far from Spies and Simoncelli. We hope to get a good start, and then we'll see. Let's hope it doesn't rain, as I'd like a dry race."
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 10th (1:46.763)
"We weren't able to continue from the good start we had yesterday, even though our times aren't too far from the second group. With the cooler track, I didn't have the same grip, and I was spinning quite a lot on the edge of the tyre. This afternoon, we also picked up some chatter that I hadn't experienced all weekend, which made it really difficult to go fast. We improved compared to yesterday, but not as much as we should have. We haven't made a lot of changes to the bike, as we tried to keep it pretty simple and just chip away. We can't be happy with tenth, and it's going to be tough tomorrow, but hopefully we can get a good start and have a decent race."
Abraham's start from the fifth row on the grid is uncertain
Although the Cardion AB Motoracing rider Karel Abraham improved in the qualifying session his best lap time from the practice session by 0,621 seconds, he finished fifteenth, 2,655 seconds behind the fastest rider Casey Stoner. His start from the fifth row on the grid is uncertain due to injury which the twenty one years old Czech rider suffered during nasty crash on a opening lap of the previous Gran Premio de Aragón.
"I felt a little better, but I still wasn't able to ride as I wanted to," Karel Abraham, who completed 23 laps on board his Ducati Desmosedici GP11 and set a best time of 1:47,922, said. "I was able to complete only two or three laps during one run, then I had to return to the pits because I was very tired."
Finishing just 0,247 seconds ahead of Toni Elias, the twenty one years old rider continued: "I tried to improve my time at the end of the qualifying session, but I had problems with concentration again."
Problems were caused by nasty crash which the Cardion AB Motoracing rider suffered on the opening lap of the Gran Premio de Aragón. "We don't know yet whether we will participate in the race or not. We will see how I will feel in the warm-up and then we will make a decision," he added.