Press releases from the MotoGP teams after qualifying on Saturday for the race at Sepang:
Edwards storms to season best qualifying at sizzling Sepang
Colin Edwards flew the flag for Yamaha in tremendous style at the Sepang International Circuit today, the American showcasing his skill and vast experience to claim a fantastic fourth place on the grid for the 20-lap Malaysian Grand Prix.
A fastest lap of 2.02.010 was over 0.4s faster than his best practice pace on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 machine and secured the popular 37-year-old his best grid position since he qualified in fourth position at the Valencia round in 2008.
Fine-tuning the set-up he worked on during two winter test sessions at the long and technical Sepang circuit, Edwards was able to find crucial tenths with improved turning performance and better rear grip in searing hot conditions this afternoon.
Temperatures once again peaked at over 30 degrees but it was the punishing humidity that tested his physical stamina and concentration to the limit. It was a challenge Edwards rose to in brilliant fashion and he was only 0.344s from claiming a sensational front row, as he comfortably outpaced a host of riders on factory-supported machinery.
Today's qualifying session also had a positive outcome for hard-charging British rider Cal Crutchlow, who will start from his best grid position since the Laguna Seca round in late July.
The 25-year-old's hard work to improve rear grip on the slippery Sepang surface paid off handsomely and he was able to knock 1.2s off his best time from yesterday in this morning's third and final session.
A brilliant attack on Bridgestone's soft compound rear tyre then saw him lower his pace to a 2.02.756, which secured him a superb 10th place.
Colin Edwards 4th 2.02.010 – 20 laps:
"I'm ecstatic with that result because to get a fourth place in any session against this level of competition is a pretty big achievement. I said yesterday that we rolled the bike out of the crate hot and today I felt even more confident. Usually I have a really good couple of tests in February and then come back for the race and I have an awful time. But with this year's chassis I'm really enjoying this track. We've barely moved away from the setting we left the second test with in February and the bike feels awesome. I'm pushing hard but I don't feel like I'm right on the limit like I have in some races and it relatively easy. I can ride smooth and the bike is turning really well. We'd like more traction, but in this heat and humidity the grip is always going to be the thing that's missing. I'm not far off the front row but I didn't leave anything out there. The lap I did my best time on, I took a couple of risks, so I couldn't have done any better. Fourth is my best qualifying result since Valencia in 2008. That seems like a long, long time ago, so it would be great to follow today up with a top five result tomorrow and send my awesome Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew home happy."
Cal Crutchlow 10th 2.02.756 – 20 laps:
"I'm much happier today and I want to say a big thanks to my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew because they've worked really hard to improve my feeling on the bike. We definitely made some progress today and the bike was turning better and the rear grip was improved as well. It is going to be a long and tough race in the heat but also the track isn't in fantastic conditi on, so we'll be sliding around a lot at the end. The surface feels really greasy and it will be a case of who can keep the best grip for the longest but I'm confident we've got a good set-up. We'll try a couple of small changes to try and improve the bike in the warm-up and if we can gain a bit extra then I'm sure I can be fighting for the top 10 tomorrow. Colin did an amazing job today to take fourth. He's doing Yamaha proud without Jorge being here and Ben obviously riding in a lot of pain, so if anything he's getting faster as he gets older!"
Third row for Bautista at a sweltering Sepang
Publish Date: Saturday, October 22, 2011
Rizla Suzuki's Álvaro Bautista will start tomorrow's Malaysian Grand Prix from the middle of the third row after qualifying in eighth today.
Bautista (2'02.332, 22 laps) has been consistently in the top-six all weekend and occupied a front-row grid spot with less than a quarter of the qualifying session remaining. He put in a fresh softer rear compound tyre to make an attack and consolidate, or better, his provisional position, but got held up in traffic and couldn't find a clean lap - while other riders capitalised and produced better times. Despite being on the third row, Bautista's race pace is very promising and a good start in tomorrow's race could easily see the Spaniard running with the front group.
Today's qualifying was held in very warm and humid conditions with track temperatures reaching over 50°C. Dani Pedrosa continued his good form this weekend by taking pole-position.
Tomorrow's 20-lap race will see Bautista as the lone Rizla Suzuki representative after wild-card entry John Hopkins had to withdraw from the event due to complications from a broken finger that he suffered earlier in the season. The main event tomorrow will get underway at 16.00hrs local time (08.00hrs GMT), when Bautista will be going all out to try and secure his best finish of the season.
"I'm not very happy with the position, because all weekend we have been in the top-six and that's what I expected this afternoon. We have a good rhythm compared to some of the other riders and when I put the first soft rear in the bike to make a fast lap I did it alone and I got up to third position. On the last tyre I tried to follow some riders to try and get some tenths to make sure I got at least on the second row, but I didn't find anybody and also didn't concentrate enough to do a lap by myself. I am happy with my race pace and the feeling from the bike, but I'm not pleased with my position on the grid. Tomorrow will be a hard race because with these conditions it's always difficult here. During practice you can always do one fast lap and come back to the box, but in the race you have to be consistent and go for it for 20 laps. I'll try to make a good start and stay with the group like I did in Phillip Island and see what happens. Today it was possible to be on the second row, but now I need to focus on the race and use all my energy tomorrow to get a good result.
"When you have a small problem, sometimes the problem can become big and I think that is what has happened to John. It has been a big disappointment for everyone, because in the Czech Republic and here we should have been two riders, but he has not been able to race at either event. It is very bad luck for him and I wish him a quick recovery and I feel really sorry for his situation."
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
"We didn't reach our potential in qualifying today and that was disappointing. Álvaro looked to get in behind one of the fastest guys on his last run, but in hindsight that worked against him. It would probably have been better for him to find some clear track and build his rhythm. That said, the middle of the third row is not a disaster and our race pace looks pretty strong. The GSV-R seems to be quick on its first timed lap, so if we can elbow past the traffic straight away tomorrow, it could be an interesting race.
"Words can't really express the disappointment that whole team feels at John's bad luck. It would have been special to have two Rizla Suzukis in the race tomorrow, but we can't change the situation. John requires urgent surgery and lots of rest to get his finger properly repaired and fully operational again. He's had some bad luck, but he should be proud of everything he has achieved in 2011."
Pedrosa pips Stoner for pole at Sepang
Round 17: Malaysian GP – Qualifying
Sepang, Saturday 22 October 2011
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Hard, Ex Hard. Rear: Medium, Hard
The Repsol Honda machines continued to dominate at Sepang today, and it was Spaniard Dani Pedrosa came out on top after a scrap in the closing minutes to secure his second pole position start of the season.
Finishing just 0.029seconds ahead of Casey Stoner, the gaps throughout the field were much closer today. Andrea Dovizioso was third fastest, marking the first Repsol Honda front row of the season, 0.2seconds back, and the top nine were within one second around the 5.5km circuit.
The track started dirtier this morning than it was yesterday because of extremely heavy overnight rain, and this was compounded when oil was dropped onto the circuit at midday. Pedrosa's fastest lap was slightly slower this afternoon than his best yesterday, although overall the rest of the field found more speed and the gap between the top nine was 1.1seconds closer than yesterday.
Pedrosa's pole lap is almost 0.7seconds faster than the existing lap record, set in 2007 by Casey Stoner, and 0.1seconds faster than Jorge Lorenzo's pole time from last year.
As expected, for their fastest laps most riders favoured the harder option front slick for its braking stability, so critical here, and the softer option rear for its added grip. Based on durability data from the last two days of running, the softer rear seems a feasible option for tomorrow's race which starts at 1600hrs local time.
Hirohide Hamashima – Assistant to Director, Motorsport Tyre Development Division
"With such a close gap at the front, and the top three all from Repsol Honda, I think we could see a very interesting race tomorrow! The circuit seems a little bumpier this year, but still Dani's pole time is faster than last year and judging by today's pace it's still looking good for a new lap record tomorrow. The qualifying pace was set on the harder front and softer rear, and although I believe the softer rear will be good for race distance, I expect many to opt for the harder rear if the conditions are the same as it offers more durability - something that will be very important over 20 laps tomorrow. Yesterday a few riders covered more than race distance on a softer rear and wear rate and consistency were acceptable, but tyre choice could all be changed by the weather of course. Every evening we have had heavy rain at the circuit and with the race starting at 1600hrs there is every chance of what could be only the third wet race of the season."
FOURTH ROW FOR PRAMAC RACING RIDERS AT SEPANG
Hot day at the Sepang International Circuit where the Pramac Racing riders have completed the qualifying session in eleventh and twelfth position. The Frenchman, De Puniet, finished in front of the Italian, Capirossi, by only one-tenth of a second. The two practice sessions have been really hard today for all the riders for the high temperature which exceeded 30 degrees with 60% of humidity. The track has reached during the qualifying session almost 50 degrees. Tomorrow the weather should be similar, but the rain around here is always around the corner. Start of the race at 4pm local time.
Marco Rigamonti – Randy De Puniet Track Engineer
"We hoped to increase the lap times with the soft tyres, but as it has happened during winter testing, we can not do the same step forward that the others do when switching tyres compound. However, the eleventh is not too bad and with the race pace we are not so bad. We will have to start good and remain with the group even though Randy is suffering at this moment in the hard braking points on this track and he will have to grit his teeth when all the riders will be together in the firsts laps."
Randy De Puniet – Pramac Racing Team – 11th in 2'02.939
"I am a little disappointed because I was faster yesterday and today, despite several changes, we could not keep the same level. Compared to winter testing we are not too far away from the other riders and this is a good sign, but tomorrow will still be a complicated race. With the back of the bike I am quite comfortable, though now we will investigate further tomorrow something to help me during tomorrow's race. It will be tough, it's hot, but we need another good result and we will give it all."
Loris Capirossi – Pramac Racing Team - 12th in 2'03.077
"I am not happy today because we could be at least in the top ten. We tried a new solution because the track had deteriorated, but it did not go as hoped. So during the last attempt at the end we returned to this morning set-up and we were able to improve. Tomorrow we can have a good race because the race pace is good. Then everything will of course depend on the weather!"
Tough Qualifying for Spies in Malaysia
Qualifying for the Grand Prix of Malaysia proved to be a tough challenge for Yamaha Factory Racing rider Ben Spies today at the Sepang International Circuit. The Texan's injuries sustained in Australia continue to hamper his abilities to ride to the limit. As a result Spies crashed in both the morning practice and afternoon qualifying session, finally taking 16th place on the grid for tomorrow's race.
Katsuyuki Nakasuga made a step forward today, Jorge's replacement rider getting more familiar with his bike and team as the weekend progresses. Nakasuga-san wrapped up qualifying 2.6 seconds from pole, over two seconds closer to the fastest rider than yesterday. He will start tomorrow's race from 17th on the grid, behind his temporary team mate Spies.
Position : 16th Time: 2'03.678 Laps:
"It's been a pretty eventful weekend. The bike is working really well but I'm just not feeling 100% and ready to get it over and done with. Qualifying was tough, we went out there and experienced a crash, I'm not sure why yet but we'll check the data later. We don't have a great position on the grid but we'll do the best we can for points to try and hold on to fifth place for the Championship."
Position : 17th Time: 2'04.072 Laps:
"This morning's session was quite positive for me. I had a good feeling and found a rhythm on the track which was very motivating. Tomorrow I will try my best for a good position. The bike set up is working well so I am feeling confident for my first ever MotoGP race."
"This is a completely different experience to last year where we won the Championship here. Now we are second last and last on the grid. I think Nakasuga-san did a good job today, his lap time was a lot better than yesterday and he didn't crash so he did well. He has to learn a lot but we are now approaching it the right way. He's improving so let's see how he gets on tomorrow. It's going to be a long hot race, he looks good in a group so hopefully he can stay up there with some of the pack and fight with them until the end."
"It is a very tough and strange weekend for us. Ben is trying very hard; he's putting in all he can. We have to consider what is best for him tomorrow so we will have a meeting tonight and make a decision for the race. Nakasuga made good improvements today with consistency, he has definitely made a step from yesterday and we know he will do his best during the race tomorrow."
SECOND AND THIRD ROW FOR SIMONCELLI AND AOYAMA AT SEPANG
Fifth and seventh place for Marco Simoncelli and Hiroshi Aoyama in qualifying this afternoon means that they will start from the second and third row of the grid respectively in tomorrow's Malaysian Grand Prix. The session was a tale of two halves for "Super Sic" who looked strong in race trim for the opening half hour but struggled somewhat on his two outings in search of a fast time. A small technical problem meant that Marco had to qualify on his second bike, possibly costing him a place on the front row, but he is happy and confident for the race. Aoyama was also a little disappointed after showing good pace this morning and missing out on the second row by just 0.082 seconds.
Marco Simoncelli (5th 2' 02" 105) "I was satisfied with our pace in the first half of the session when we were working on our race setting but not so much with the 'time attack' because just when we switched tyres I had a problem with a sensor and had to switch to my second bike, which had a different setting that I wasn't as comfortable with. I was struggling a bit and instead of staying out there I decided to come back in and try to make a small change but it didn't work out. Anyway, I am looking forward to tomorrow and feeling confident I can fight with the three guys on the front row. We just need to decide which tyre to use for the race."
Hiroshi Aoyama (7th 2' 02" 254) "I am satisfied with today even though we missed out on the second row by hundredths of a second. I have got a good feeling with the bike and I think we will run the soft tyres tomorrow. I like this track and if we can refine the setting a little in the warm-up tomorrow I am sure we can be fighting near the front in the Malaysian Grand Prix."
Fausto Gresini "It has been a positive day even though Marco didn't get a flying lap in that would have put him on the front row. In race trim he is up there with the best and Marco has improved a lot from yesterday so we are confident. I am happy for Aoyama who has shown once again how strong he is at this track. It is a shame we don't have both riders on the second row but I think they can be up there fighting in the race."
Pedrosa takes pole as Repsol Honda Team dominates front row
The Repsol Honda Team could not have asked for a better qualifying session in the Malaysian Grand Prix after all three riders took front row spots in a very demanding and intense session.
Dani Pedrosa took his second pole of the season (third one in MotoGP at the Sepang circuit) with 2011 World Champion Casey Stoner in second, just 0.029 off the Spaniard and Andrea Dovizioso in third.
Pedrosa, who has been the fastest all weekend, continued his dominance in qualifying even after crashing at the beginning of the session. The time of 2'01.462 achieved on his 18th lap, put Dani out of reach from Casey (2'01.491) and Andrea (2'01.666), who fought until the last seconds for pole position.
The Repsol Honda Team have achieved double front row places nine times this season, 8 with Stoner and Pedrosa and 1 with Stoner and Dovizioso, but it is the first time this season that the team has occupied the entire front row for qualifying, a feat not matched since the final race of 1997 at Phillip Island when Mick Doohan was on pole with Alex Crivillé second and Takuma Aoki third. Also in that race, Tadayuki Okada was fourth on the grid making it an all Repsol Honda front row (in 1997 there were four riders on each row of the grid).
All three riders have lapped under the circuit record and have the pace to fight for the victory tomorrow but tyre choice and weather conditions will be key factors to consider.
DANI PEDROSA – 1st – 2'01.462
"It was a very difficult session, extremely hot, I couldn't breathe inside the helmet. We had a small crash in the front that I didn't expect, but was able to go back and go faster and take my second pole of the season. I thought I would be able to improve a little more at the end and get closer to the time I did yesterday, but I found some traffic on my final run. Anyway, it's good to be on pole and I hope our race pace can be even better. We have to work on the set up and make a good rear tyre choice because our rivals are also very strong. It's going to be very physically demanding for everybody. To have three Repsol Honda riders on the front row is very good, but we cannot forget the other rivals and we must keep focused to finish the weekend in the best way".
CASEY STONER – 2nd – 2'01.491
"I tried to steal pole but it wasn't really our day today. We tried a few different things in set up but we haven't really gone the right direction at all this weekend. In qualifying we tried to find another path to go but we just haven't been able to get grip along with turning, we can find one or the other but at best they are both average so we have some improvement to make for tomorrow. Our race pace isn't too bad, we've looked worse than everyone else because we've been running on the harder tyre all weekend but once we put the soft tyres on the bike worked a little better".
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO – 3rd – 2'01.666
"I'm really happy with this front row and even more satisfied with my race pace. We have improved a lot, reducing the gap to two tenths after being 1.4 seconds behind in FP2 and 0.8 behind in FP3. We were consistent and fast both with soft and hard tyre, meaning that it's possible to race with both of them. This afternoon the conditions were really demanding, it was very hot and there was no grip but we were able to be consistently fast so we go into the race very strong. With such conditions here it's impossible to push 100% for 20 laps so it will be very important to make a strategy for the race and to manage the tyres. I really like this track and tomorrow it would be fantastic to repeat a Repsol Honda 1, 2, 3 on the Podium, but… in the reverse order!".
BRAVE BARBERA QUALIFIES FOURTEENTH AT SEPANG
MAPFRE Aspar fights pain in arms and ribs to qualifying for a race he is determined to finish
Intense heat proved to be the main obstacle for the MotoGP riders at Sepang today as they made their final preparations for one of the toughest races of the season. Even newly crowned MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner struggled to maintain his pace, giving his team-mate Dani Pedrosa the opportunity to snatch pole by just 0.029 seconds. With Andrea Dovizioso also on the front row it is hard to envisage a podium that doesn't feature all three Honda riders tomorrow.
There is plenty of optimism in the MAPFRE Aspar garage, however, with a determined Héctor Barberá defying the odds today to set some competitive lap times despite intense pain. The Spaniard suffered discomfort in his arms today, adding to the pain he was already suffering in his ribs and shoulder, but after fighting his way through seventeen tough laps he will line up fourteenth for a race he simply hopes to finish.
14th Héctor Barberá 2.03.619 (17 laps): "Today was another tough one physically because I am still only around 60% fit. I hardly have any strength at all in my left arm so it is like riding one-handed. I had an injection but we couldn't quite pin down the pain so it was hard to get a single good lap together. The actual collarbone is not a problem thanks to the perfect surgery and rehab I benefitted from. Hopefully I can be a bit stronger tomorrow and if we can pinpoint the cause of the pain it will be easier to anaesthetise it. We have come to Malaysia to fight and we will not give up easily. The objective is to go out and race tomorrow and finish as high up the order as we can."
PROGRESS FOR DUCATI TEAM IN SEPANG QUALIFYING
Riding in sweltering conditions, Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi both made solid progress on Day 2 at the Malaysian Grand Prix, qualifying on the second and third rows, respectively. For the American, sixth-best equals his best qualifying position of the season, last week at Phillip Island.
Valentino Rossi suffered a fall near the end of the session, when he was in the process of lowering his time, but after returning to the garage and switching bikes, he put in a strong final effort to make the third row of the grid.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 6th (2:02.172)
"The mechanics all worked hard last night changing geometry and the transmission, and I'm thankful because the bike was immediately better. Qualifying didn't start out great. The track felt a lot slipperier than this morning, but I put the soft tyres in and was able to get down into the 2:02s. On my last soft tyre, I was pushing the front, and I had a couple moments where I was basically down but managed to stay on the bike. We matched our best qualifying time of the year, but truthfully, I think the bike was capable of a bit better. The front row was about a half-second away, but fourth wasn't out of the question. We know race distance around here is a long, hard day, but that's why you put in the time doing the training. Hopefully we can have a good race tomorrow and have some fun."
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 9th (2:02.395)
"Today went better. I was able to ride more effectively, although the fall was really a shame because it was the usual type, which means that we still have to solve that problem. In addition, that wasted some precious minutes, and I had to use the second bike, which I didn't like quite as much. We're pretty good on most of the track, but we lose a lot—six of the nine tenths in our gap to the front—in T4, especially on the exits of the last two hairpins. Anyway, our pace has improved, especially with the hard tyre, although to tell the truth, the choice for the race won't be easy. We'll make the decision at the last minute after evaluating tomorrow's conditions, and it will really be crucial. I'm expecting a hard race as is always the case here at Sepang, where the conditions are extreme, but anyway, I'm happier than yesterday, as I'm able to ride better."
Karel Abraham will start from the fifth row on the grid
Following a technical problem at the beginning of the qualifying session, Cardion AB Motoracing rider Karel Abraham claimed thirteenth position, just 0,361 seconds away from claiming a starting position of the fourth row on the grid for the penultimate race of his premiere season in the MotoGP class.
"We have changed the set-up that we used in the first and second practice session, but the lap times weren't as good as we expected. We decided to return to the original set-up, but then we started to have problems with the clutch."
This mechanical problem caused that Karel Abraham had to swap Ducati Desmosedici GP11 for the second bike. "Although the engine in this bike was more worn, I managed to set a decent lap time and eventually finished in thirteenth position."
His best time of 2.03,438 was 1,976 seconds away from the fastest rider Dani Pedrosa, who took pole position by just 0,029 seconds from newly crowned world champion Casey Stoner.
"I'm satisfied with this result despite the fact that I would like to start from the fourth row on the grid," added Karel Abraham, referring to the last moments of the qualifying session when Loris Capirossi beat his best lap time by 0,361 seconds and eventually finished right in front of the twenty one years old rider.