Press releases from the MotoGP teams after qualifying for tomorrows race at Phillip Island:
Stoner top in qualifying using the new softer rear Bridgestone
Round 16: Australian GP – Qualifying
Phillip Island, Saturday 15 October 2011
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium. Rear (asymmetric): Medium, Hard
Casey Stoner continued his dominant form at Phillip Island today with his fourth consecutive pole position at his home Grand Prix, prompting adoring fans to rename the venue ‘Casey's Island'. His best lap came using the soft front slick and the softer option rear.
This is the first season that Bridgestone have selected the medium compound (softer option) rear slicks for Phillip Island, and with the temperature this afternoon cooler as the wind picked up, the extra soft compound used in the right shoulders paid dividends. Despite the wind, which was the fastest it's been so far this weekend, and the fact that the circuit is much bumpier this year, Stoner's best still dipped under the existing lap record on these softer slicks.
Lining up second on the grid for tomorrow's 27-lap race is Jorge Lorenzo who also under the softer front and rear slicks, finishing 0.151seconds ahead of Marco Simoncelli who completes the front row. Alvaro Bautista and the Rizla Suzuki squad delivered an impressive performance to seal their highest premier class qualifying result together, and were lying in a provisional third until the closing minutes.
Although the conditions for the hour of qualifying were cooler and the wind stronger, the rain that threatened held off for an uncharacteristic two days of dry and relatively warm running at Phillip Island. If it remains dry for tomorrow's race, track temperature will be critical in determining tyre choice as so far this weekend all the available compound options have been used to good effect.
Hirohide Hamashima – Assistant to Director, Motorsport Tyre Development Division
"I am impressed with Casey's pace today, especially given the wind condition this afternoon during qualifying which, on a circuit like this that is very open and exposed, has a significant effect upon the riders. I'd also like to give my congratulations to Alvaro and the Suzuki team for their best premier class qualifying together, in fourth position. Since last year, the pole time is just under 0.2seconds faster despite the wind and bumps, but Alvaro's qualifying time is 2.5seconds faster than in 2010, showing the level of their improvement. Our softer option rear tyre was well used in qualifying today and showed good pace, but if the race is dry the likely tyre choice will be the soft front and the harder rear. This morning Casey and Marco both completed very nearly race distance on one set and durability was good, and this is the biggest challenge for us and our tyres at Phillip Island because of the severity of the last two corners that generates such high rear tyre temperatures, the highest we see all year."
Lorenzo Stays Sharp to Secure Front Row Start at Phillip Island
Reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo kept the pressure on today in qualifying at Phillip Island, taking second on the grid for tomorrow's Grand Prix of Australia. The Yamaha Factory rider came out fighting at the beginning of the qualifying session, immediately the fastest man on track, a position he held for well over half the session. The Mallorcan conceded pole to rival Casey Stoner as the session drew to a close but prepares for tomorrow's race in confident mood with a fast consistent race pace.
Ben Spies crashed out on his third qualifying lap in dramatic fashion, low siding at over 250km/hr and sliding off into the gravel. After a check with the medical centre the Texan was back on his second bike with heavily bruised ribs and body, venturing out on track to score a third row start with seventh on the grid for tomorrow's race.
Position : 2nd Time: 1'30.448 Laps: 24
"We did a very good job today. We tried many things and I believe we have the right set up for tomorrow. I have to thank my team who worked hard to make sure I have the best possible bike to fight with. The race will be very tough, it will be very important to be consistent with a good race pace. I will try to win, I know it will be very difficult here with Casey but I will try!"
Position : 7th Time: 1'30.835 Laps: 20
"I got a little bit off line in qualifying this afternoon and hit a big bump, losing the front. It's unfortunate as we were trying a different bike set up which was looking pretty good. It happened on the third lap, according to the data I came off at 270km/hr so I went through the gravel trap pretty quick! My knees, ribs and elbows are all pretty banged up but that's normal, that's how it is. The bike is working well so we need a good start; we're in a good position on the grid for it so we'll see what happens."
Wilco Zeelenberg - Team Manager
"A good qualifying for us, Jorge was more than half a second quicker than this morning's final practice so we are quite pleased. Again another strange session, some parts of the track lost some grip which seemed to affect everybody. We haven't decided on tyres for tomorrow yet but the bike feels good for him and we are looking forward to the race. It's going to be difficult to stop Casey but we'll do our best."
Massimo Meregalli - Team Director
"The race is not going to be easy tomorrow. Jorge is starting from the first row which is important, I'm sure he won't give up until the end and he will have to put all his efforts in for the whole 27 laps. Despite a bad crash Ben managed to qualify in seventh. This wasn't so bad considering, as I didn't expect that result. He's very sore all over but he still pushed hard and did all he could. Tomorrow will be tough and painful for him but we know him and we know he will give 100%."
Edwards confident of top 10 at Phillip Island
Colin Edwards is confident he can put his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team machine in contention for a top 10 result in tomorrow's Australian MotoGP race after a promising ride to ninth position in this afternoon's qualifying session.
In cool and windy conditions that made riding the super-fast 4.4km Phillip Island circuit a difficult challenge, Edwards mastered the unpredictable conditions superbly to clock a best time of 1.31.237 that put him on the third row of the grid.
The 37-year-old finished less than 0.7s away from the front row and once again the American was comfortably the fastest of the non-factory riders as he concentrated on finding the best possible set-up with Bridgestone's s oft compound front and rear tyre options.
Edwards finished seventh in last year's Phillip Island race and he is confident he can fight to better that result in tomorrow's 27-lap race, which is round 16 of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship.
British rider Cal Crutchlow had a disappointing qualifying session and the 25-year-old was unable to find a comfortable set-up, despite the hard work of his crew to improve his feeling with the YZR-M1 machine.
The bumpy sections of the spectacular Phillip Island circuit and a lack of front and rear grip have prevented Crutchlow from showing his true potential and he will start the race from 14th on the grid.
He set a best time of 1.32.023 in his 28-lap run to finish just 0.043s behind nine-times world champion Valentino Rossi, and Crutchlow is optimistic that further set-up modifications overnight will strengthen his quest to claim a top 10 finish.
Colin Edwards 9th 1.31.237 – 29 laps:
"I'm pretty happy to be have finished on the third row because conditions were pretty tough out there. The track is really bumpy but the issue today was the wind. It was really blowing hard in some places and it is just so unpredictable. One lap you get a big gust hit you from the right, so you prepare for that next time round and you get slammed on the other side. If you could put the bike where you want every lap you could easily go half-a-second faster, but the wind just doesn't allow you to do that. The bike is working good and the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team is working fantastic as always for me, so I'm ready for a good race tomorrow. We've got to run the soft front and rear tyres for the race and my bike works pretty good with those options. I tried the hard tyres ye sterday and couldn't get them to work at all. I'll have to take care at the start of the race to make sure we don't abuse the tyre too much at the beginning but I'm looking forward to having some fun and getting a good result."
Cal Crutchlow – 14th 1.32.023 – 28 laps:
"There is not much to say other than I am very disappointed because I expected to be competing for a place inside the top 10 here and it has been a struggle to find a good set-up with the bike. We spent a long time analysing the data last night because yesterday I didn't have good front or rear grip and turning was also an issue. We made a lot of changes to the bike today and to be honest we didn't find any improvement and I've got the same issues. The track is really bumpy and I can't get the bike to absorb them smoothly and we just don't have the grip we need to go faster. We've tried a lot of things to make it better but for some reason nothing seems to be working. I went just as fast with a set of tyres that had 30 laps on them as I did with two brand new tyres, so we need to sit down again tonight and work through the data and see if there is something we can improve for the race."
Bautista storms to best-ever MotoGP qualifying
Publish Date: Saturday, October 15, 2011
Rizla Suzuki's Álvaro Bautista will start tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix from the front of the second row after qualifying in fourth place this afternoon.
Bautista (1'30.714, 28 laps) made improvements to his GSV-R during this morning's final practice session and the early parts of this afternoon's qualifying to help him find the grip he was looking for around the 4,448m Phillip Island circuit. The changes certainly paid dividends because as the qualifying session wore on, Bautista was close enough to Andrea Dovizioso to use the Italian as a mobile wind-screen to help him push through the gusting gales and head for a quick time. Bautista's lap was over a second quicker than his best time from yesterday and over two-and-a-half seconds better than his qualifying time in similar conditions at last year's Australian Grand Prix. He is now in a strong position for the race and will be looking to capitalise on today's performance in tomorrow's 27-lap encounter.
Conditions were quite different at Phillip Island today as temperatures dropped and the wind speed increased, bringing with it threatening rain clouds, which fortunately held off for the duration of the session. Home star Casey Stoner took pole position, his 11th of the season, with reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo second. Marco Simoncelli took the final place on the front row, just 0.115 seconds in front of Bautista.
Tomorrow's event is round 16 of the 2011 World Championship and the lights will change to signal the start of the race at 16.00hrs local time (05.00hrs GMT).
"I'm very happy with today, because I got my best qualifying result so far in MotoGP and at the toughest track for Suzuki, so that shows what good work we have done since last year. It was a fantastic lap behind Dovizioso and when I saw him in front of me on the track, I thought this is my opportunity – if I can't do a good lap now, I'll never do one! Third row was not difficult to achieve today, but when I followed him everything seemed easier. With this type of track in this wind and with these types of corners, it helps if you can follow another rider, you can certainly improve a lot and it feels much easier to ride. My feeling is good for tomorrow and I'll try to make a strong start and stay with the front guys in the first one or two laps. If we can do that I think we will be competitive, because in the first few laps all riders will push hard and after six or seven laps the tyres will probably drop off and the rhythm will settle down. I will try to do a good race tomorrow and get the best possible result I can."
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
"To achieve Suzuki's best qualifying since Mugello in 2009 - and Álvaro's best so far - here at Phillip Island is almost funny! Álvaro has had a steady pace all weekend and when it mattered today he managed to tuck-in behind Dovizioso, and use him as a wind-break, and do an absolutely awesome lap-time. It's been clear from the potential shown this year just how much the GSV-R has improved and for it to perform around here in cold and windy conditions - how it has done today – is testament to the hard work of Sahara san and his engineers in Hamamatsu and to Tom O'Kane and his crew here.
"As always to live with the factory Hondas and Yamahas will be a tough ask tomorrow, but Álvaro has put himself into a great position and if he can get a good start who knows what can happen."
DAMIAN CUDLIN DOUBTFUL FOR TOMORROW'S RACE
MAPFRE Aspar rider left with severe abrasions to stomach after spectacular free practice crash
A drop in temperature and increase in wind led to a crash-strewn day of MotoGP action at Phillip Island today, with MAPFRE Aspar stand-in rider Damian Cudlin amongst the victims. Casey Stoner took a comfortable pole position with a series of fast laps in the final fifteen minutes, leaving Jorge Lorenzo - the only man who can prevent him from sealing the title tomorrow - trailing in his wake and Dani Pedrosa, Marco Simoncelli, Nicky Hayden and Alvaro Bautista to fight for the remaining front row positions.
Cudlin made a positive start to his first weekend at Phillip Island on a MotoGP bike yesterday and after making gradual improvements he was looking forward to taking another step forward this morning. However, after just three laps of the session he was thrown out of the seat of his Ducati in turn four, landing badly on his left hip and suffering a nasty abrasion all the way around his left side from his buttock to his stomach. After being treated in the medical centre the Australian showed great courage and strength to take part in this afternoon's qualifying session although he was only able to complete twelve laps due to the pain and he will be reassessed in the morning before taking the decision whether to race.
17th Damian Cudlin 1.36.666 (12 laps): "I am in a lot of pain. The crash this morning took me completely by surprise and it was pretty aggressive. It was a real shame to crash so early on and especially to cause so much damage. We had been doing a good job up to that point but afterwards it was difficult to get any useful data. I took a heavy blow to my hip and lost a lot of skin from my left side. They have done a good job in the clinic to get me going again and have advised complete rest to give me the best possible chance tomorrow. I'll try to go out in the warm-up, see how I feel and take it from there."
ELIAS' EFFORTS DO NOT GIVE HIM A BETTER PACE AT THE ISLAND GP QUALIFYING
Phillip Island, 15 October: Despite the weather forecast calling for rain showers, the second day of track action at the ocean track began under clear skies but with cooler temperatures and a stronger wind that did not affect Stoner's performance in the 60-minute qualifying session on his home soil. Aussie racer leaded the pack ahead Lorenzo and Simoncelli.
In yesterday's first run out the LCR racer Toni Elias kept working hard with his squad chasing the best set up for the ocean track ahead today's qualifying. Elias was aiming to improve his Honda machinery traction control and stability trying to make his way into the top-10 but today's different conditions disrupted the Spaniard's pace who qualified 16th on 1'32.503.
Elias – 16th – 1'32.503: "Compared to yesterday the conditions were a bit tricky with cooler temperature and stronger wind and it seems we could not get the feeling we had yesterday in warmer conditions. After that we got some issues in turn one and turn eight just about front feeling and we have been working on that this afternoon trying to fix the problem but we could not really improve. I am still convinced we have got the potential to race in the top-10 so in tomorrow's warm up session we will try to fix the bike and, as always, I have to take a good start from the back of the pack".
Stoner tears up Phillip Island taking pole at his home Grand Prix
Casey Stoner today secured his eleventh pole position of the season and the fourth consecutive at the Phillip Island circuit after leading all three practice sessions.
The young Australian, who celebrates his birthday tomorrow on race day set a fantastic lap time of 1'29.975, with substantial gap of 0.473 to second place Lorenzo. Tomorrow he will be looking to fight for his fifth consecutive win on this circuit, in front of his home fans.
Andrea Dovizioso managed to improve his feeling with his RC212V and it was reflected in his pace and position on the grid. The Italian rider was 0.8 tenths faster today than yesterday and will start fifth on the grid. Dani Pedrosa took some steps forward compared to yesterday, but his lack of rear grip is still causing him problems. He will be aiming to fight for another podium starting from eighth position on the grid.
Tomorrow, Casey Stoner could potentially clinch his second World Championship. If he is able to score 10 points or more than title contender Jorge Lorenzo, he will seal the Championship with two races remaining. Honda will also be hoping to see at least one of their machines take a top three spot, this would be enough for them to be awarded the Constructor's Championship, their 60th in Grand Prix racing.
CASEY STONER – 1st 1'29.975
"So far so good, we have a good race pace and the bike's feeling pretty good at the moment. We still need to improve the rear grip, but I think this is the same for everyone, we'd also like to get the harder rear tyre working better for the race. We began Qualifying with older tyres to understand where we are for the race and I'm quite happy as the lap times we were achieving were similar to Jorge and Dani who were on the new soft tyre. Then we put on the soft tyre for the first time since yesterday morning, everything felt good and we were able to improve our lap time consistently, but it's still difficult on the left side of the tyre and we're getting a lot of spinning and tyre degradation. We'll see what the weather does tomorrow, it's not looking too good right now but we'll adapt to whatever it throws at us. Jorge is strong everywhere we go and I think my chances of taking the Championship here tomorrow is pretty slim to be honest, we're just going to go out there and concentrate on winning the race".
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO – 5th 1'30.780
"I'm very happy with qualifying because we made a big improvement which we needed to do for the race. We know there are many riders capable to fight for the podium, but now we are ready. Here it is always a very difficult race with the weather conditions, but I'm satisfied now because I can do low 1'31 laps with the hard rear tyre and hopefully we can return back on the podium. I had a much better feeling in the front and I was riding more aggressively, something you really need at this track".
DANI PEDROSA – 8th 1'30.871
"I had some problems with the hard tyre and I wasn't able to be fast. Then when I put the soft on I improved my lap time a lot and was on top with fifteen minutes to go. Then we changed the set up of the bike a little and unfortunately it didn't work, so when everybody improved the lap time I couldn't and I was back to eighth place. The main issue I had today was changing direction in high speed areas. Let's see what the weather brings tomorrow and if we can take profit from the warm up to improve the set up slightly. I'm feeling much more comfortable with the soft tyre, so we will see tomorrow if we can use it for the race or not depending on the temperature and weather conditions".
"SUPER SIC" ON FRONT ROW AT PHILLIP ISLAND
Team San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli will start from the front row for the first time in seven races tomorrow after setting the third fastest time on a cool and windy day at Phillip Island. 'Super Sic' will challenge Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo for victory tomorrow at his favourite circuit, despite suffering his third crash in as many sessions at turn ten this morning. Hiroshi Aoyama's session was cut short by a crash this afternoon, limiting him to twelfth place on the grid.
Marco Simoncelli (3rd 1' 30" 599) "I am really happy because it has been a while since we started on the front row. We have been fast over the past two days although we have had a few crashes too. The day didn't start well because of the conditions, which were cold and windy, and that made it difficult. This afternoon we managed to do a better job and enjoyed an excellent qualifying session so my goal tomorrow is to push to the maximum from the start. Stoner looks untouchable at the moment but in racing you can never say never!"
Hiroshi Aoyama (12th 1' 31"" 889) "Unfortunately when I went out to improve my position on the starting grid I crashed at turn six and that compromised the whole session. It was a violent impact and I decided not to go back out because I didn't feel in the best shape. The cold and wind did not help us to work as we wanted today but even though I had more confidence yesterday the set-up is not bad. I hope the weather improves tomorrow so that I can have a good Grand Prix."
FOURTH ROW FOR BOTH DUCATI PRAMAC RIDER AT PHILLIP ISLAND
It could have been better after the first half of the qualifying session, but the tenth and eleventh position conquered respectively by Loris Capirossi and Randy De Puniet is a good result. Both riders were in the first positions until the last twenty minutes, but couldn't make it to improve enough at the end. The Italian preferred to don't risk as his right shoulder was hurting, while the Frenchman had to switch from bike one to the second due to some technical complications. Nothing to worried about but with the time running fast the best choice was to change bike. Tomorrow the race will begin at 4pm local time and the Ducati Pramac Racing rider will try all possible to conclude in the top ten.
Marco Rigamonti – Randy De Puniet Track Engineer
"A pity as I am sure Randy could have conquered ad least the third row. We had some technical complication while starting bike number one and as there wasn't much time left we decided to go for bike two. Randy didn't have the same feeling and needed more time to adjust to the second bike, but anyway the results registered by him today and yesterday's give us good hopes for tomorrow's race."
Loris Capirossi – Pramac Racing Team - 10th in 1'31.583
"It was hard today as the shoulder gives me pain. Also at the end I had the time to try another fast lap but I choose to stay where I was, which is anyway a good place. The bike reacts well on this track even if in some part we must improve. The Team has also worked really and today I enjoyed again riding. It has been rare this year to have fun while riding, but I hope I will have some other chances before the end of the season."
Randy De Puniet – Pramac Racing Team – 11th in 1'31.635
"The plan was to push at the beginning in case it was going to rain during the practice. We did well and were fast straight away being up front in the first six positions for a while. The weather kept dry and when it was time to use the last two soft tires we found some problems starting bike number one, the one I was using. So we had to switch to bike two and the feeling wasn't the same. We were quite unlucky as I am quite positive the third row was a sure thing. Hopefully we will get back the luck we miss out today during the race!"
SECOND ROW FOR HAYDEN AT PHILLIP ISLAND, ROSSI THIRTEENTH
In windy, cool conditions today at Phillip Island, Nicky Hayden rode to his best qualifying position of the year, and the American will start from the sixth spot on the grid in tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix, which is also his 150th GP in the premier class. Hayden and his team made progress with the GP11.1 today, and they'll try some small changes in the morning warm-up in an effort to further improve the race setup for the Phillip Island circuit.
Valentino Rossi also hopes to take a step forward in the final twenty minutes he has on-track before the race. The Italian's day was more difficult than that of his teammate, and he'll start tomorrow's race from the thirteenth spot on the grid.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 6th (1'30.792)
"This was my first time on the second row this year, and for a while today, I thought I could do even better. It's good, but we're not celebrating sixth place since we expect a lot when we come to Phillip Island. The main thing for tomorrow will be to figure out how to get the tyres to last over race distance, and I'm having to use some strange lines to miss all the bumps. I lost a bit of time when one front tyre didn't come in, but other than that, I've got no excuses. I had good, clear laps, and I went about as fast as I could. Tomorrow will be my 150th Grand Prix in the premier class, and I'm proud to be here that long and still be on a factory team. With this grid position, it would be nice to get our best dry result tomorrow. It will be very tough because a lot of guys are going quick, but we'll try."
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 13th (1'31.980)
"Before we arrived here, we expected to do much better than this, considering that Phillip Island is a track where Ducati and I have always done well. Instead, I again had trouble riding today, and I was very slow. It's really a shame, and I'm very sorry. Evidently we haven't managed to solve the problems we've had since the first session here. We'll try to make some small changes in tomorrow's warm-up, but although we'll certainly try to do better than this, I'm expecting a very challenging race."
Karel Abraham will start from the fifth row on the grid after finishing fifteenth in the qualifying session
The Cardion AB Motoracing rider Karel Abraham set a best time of 1:32,054 in the qualifying session at the Phillip Island and finished fifteenth, just 2,079 seconds behind the fastest rider Casey Stoner.
"I can't be satisfied with the result of the qualifying session," the twenty one years old Czech rider, who crashed on the last lap, said. "Unfortunately, it was one of my fastest laps."
Analyzing the gathered data together with mechanics of the Cardion AB Motoracing team, Karel Abraham continued: "I don't know exactly why I crashed. I went straight when I pressed the brake lever and the front tire slipped."
"It was a heavy crash. I hit the gravel with my helmet but I should be okay," Karel Abraham admitted, recalling injury which he suffered during nasty crash on a opening lap of the Gran Premio de Aragón.
"I quite like racing in the rain, but let's see what the weather will be tomorrow. I'll be happy if it will rain all day and we will have the opportunity to try out the track in these conditions," the twenty one years old rider added, referring to the weather forecast for the race at the Phillip Island which predicts rain.