2012 Estoril MotoGP Saturday Post-Qualifying Press Releases

Press releases from the MotoGP teams after qualifying for the Portuguese Grand Prix:


Confident Crutchlow blasts to front row in Estoril

Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Cal Crutchlow stormed to his second front row start in the opening three rounds of the 2012 MotoGP World Championship with another scintillating qualifying performance in Estoril today.

Only reigning World Champion Casey Stoner and 2011 Estoril winner Dani Pedrosa were quicker than the British rider, who maintained his incredible qualifying record this season to finish top non-factory rider and leading Yamaha on the leader board.

Crutchlow hasn't qualified lower than fourth in 2012 and once again this afternoon he challenged for pole position in the thrilling final stages of a session that was red flagged with 11 minutes remaining following a collision between Randy de Puniet and former Tech 3 Yamaha rider Colin Edwards.

The short delay in proceedings didn't knock Crutchlow out of his stride and five minutes were left on the clock when he surged to the top of the timesheets with a lap of 1.37.289. That time kept Crutchlow at the top of the standings until just over two minutes remained and at the end he was only 0.101s behind Stoner and 0.088s adrift of Pedrosa.

Andrea Dovizioso will start tomorrow's race from the front of the third row of the grid having set the seventh quickest time. The Italian was disappointed with his pace on the soft Bridgestone tyres in the decisive final moments of the session. Bur he remains confident he will be challenging for a third successive top five result tomorrow having been one of the fastest and most consistent riders on the hard compound Bridgestone rubber.

Cal Crutchlow 3rd 1.37.289 – 28 laps:

“To be back on the front row again is a really great achievement for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team and this is reward again for all of our hard work. I am really happy as well to be the fastest Yamaha because that proves what a good job all of us are doing. I was on the hard tyre for the first part of the session working on the race set-up and it felt a little different to what I am used to, but we made a lot of progress with the bike during the session. I felt really comfortable and confident on the soft tyre and felt I could be fighting for the front row. I was actually going to scrap my best lap bu t I made up some time in the last sector and it was good enough for the top three. I'm happy with that but we still have to improve the bike a bit more for the race. I want it to turn a little better and brake a little better. I am looking forward to the race but it is going to be a difficult job. We know Jorge is going to be there and a podium will be very hard but as always I'll try my best.”

Andrea Dovizioso 7th 1.37.917 – 29 laps:

“I'm quite angry to have qualified down in seventh today because we could have done much better. It is always tricky when you have to start from the third row of the grid and I hope my starting position is not going to hamper me at the start of the race. Getting a good start will be crucial but I am really satisfied about my pace on the hard tyre. I was third fastest and only 0.2s behi nd Lorenzo on the hard tyre, so I think my rhythm for the race is going to be very competitive. Qualifying didn't go quite according to plan. I had a small problem with one engine so we had to check that and switch to the second bike in the middle of the session. And when I went out on the new tyre there was the red flag. I think without a couple of issues we could have been higher up the grid. I feel we have made a lot of progress this weekend, but unfortunately that hasn't been reflected on the timesheets.”


SIXTH ROW ON THE STARTING GRID FOR PASINI IN THE ESTORIL GP

The third free practice and the qualifying session for the “Grande Premio de Portugal Circuito Estoril” were held today, for the MotoGP category.

The day kicked off well for Pasini. During the free practice, the Italian, together with his technicians, tried out different options for the tyres, checking their durability and performance, with a view to the race.

In the qualifying session, the choices for the set up of the ART machine were finalized, and Mattia set the seventeenth best lap time: therefore, the Speed Master rider will start from the sixth row tomorrow.

Mattia Pasini #54 - 17th with 1'40.387

“Today things went pretty well. Finally I have a good feeling with the bike, we started working in the right direction both for the electronics and the general set up of the chassis. I can ride the bike as I like. It’s a shame how things went in the qualifying practice of this afternoon. We could have done better, but we had a problem with the bike that I prefer, and for that reason we had to use the other bike for most of the session. I went out with my favourite bike only for the last run, but in the whole this compromised the final result. In any case I am happy, I think there’s a chance to have a good race tomorrow.”


Traffic Denies Yamaha Front Row in Estoril

Today’s qualifying session for the Grand Prix of Portugal proved to be a frustrating one for both Yamaha Factory riders. Jorge Lorenzo led for most of the session until a red flag incident between Colin Edwards and Randy De Puniet forced a restart with nine minutes remaining. A mixture of heavy traffic along with a lack of confidence in certain corners resulted in a gradual drop to a grid position of fourth on the second row, just 0.278 seconds from pole. This will be the first time since 2008 that Lorenzo has not started from the front row of the grid at Estoril.

Having finally got his 2012 season firmly back on track with a highly competitive pace, Ben Spies endured an extremely frustrating qualifying session with at least three hot laps interrupted by slower traffic. Having been denied a front row lap time Spies will start tomorrow’s race from fifth on the grid alongside his team mate on the second row.

Jorge Lorenzo

Position : 4th Time: 1'37.466 Laps: 29

“The main problem for me today was that in turn one and two I couldn’t enter aggressively so I lost a lot of time in this section. In general the bike is not giving me a good feeling so this lap time was the maximum I could get today. We are in fourth but tomorrow is going to be hard as I have to try to pass Cal who is a hard braker! I will keep thinking positive and see what we can do.”

Ben Spies

Position : 5th Time: 1'37.723 Laps: 26

“It was a tough session for everybody, the annoying thing was that three of my best laps were blocked but that’s just the way it goes. Two of them I think could have been avoided but one of them was just a racing incident. We’re on the second row in the middle and we’re a lot better than we were in Jerez. I feel good on the bike and I just need to keep building the confidence now. Being three tenths behind Jorge at this track is pretty good.”

Wilco Zeelenberg

Team Manager

“It was a tough qualifying, we were on pole up until nine minutes to go so I think fourth looks worse than we actually are. 0.2 of a second is not a lot. We are still struggling on rear grip in corner entry; especially the first two splits so we need to improve the bike. If we can do that we have a good chance to battle at the front tomorrow.”

Massimo Meregalli

Team Director

“We missed the first row but we are pretty close. Traffic compromised at least two or three laps for Ben but overall we are satisfied as we are coming from a really bad weekend. The race will be tough, but we are confident as up to five minutes from the end of qualifying we were really close. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.”


BAUTISTA ON THE PACE AND STARTING FROM SECOND ROW AT ESTORIL

After qualifying on the fourth row in Qatar and the third row in Spain last weekend, Team San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Alvaro Bautista took another step forward to place himself on the second row for tomorrow's Grand Prix of Portugal at Estoril. The Spaniard qualified sixth fastest despite being held up by a number of slower riders on the racing line over the closing laps. There was disappointment on the other side of the garage, meanwhile, with Michele Pirro unable to keep his promise of a specific lap time to the team as he tries desperately to repay their tireless hard work in moving the CRT project forward.

Alvaro Bautista (6th 1’ 37.917) “We did a good job today. This morning we completed race distance on the hard tyre and it was a positive session. Everything went according to plan in the afternoon too but on the last soft tyre we ran into a lot of traffic on track and when I tried to push on the very last lap I came up behind Spies in the first turn. It is a dangerous thing to do and I think it is up to all us riders to make sure that when we slow down we move aside and make way for the guys coming behind us. Anyway, a second row start is good for us having qualified on the fourth row in Qatar and the third row at Jerez. Tomorrow we need to make a good start and if we can stay with the guys at the front over the opening laps we can look forward to a good race.”

Michele Pirro (16th 1’ 40.225) “Unfortunately I made a mistake on my good lap which prevented me from keeping my promise to the guys, which was a 1’39. They deserve at least that because they are working so hard to help me improve. We know we are behind with development but as I have said before nobody is losing faith. Hopefully we can get a good start tomorrow and then complete our principal objective right now which is to make it to the end of the race.”

Fausto Gresini “That was a good effort from Alvaro despite the traffic on track. It's his best grid position of the year so far at a circuit he doesn't particularly like, even though he always seems to do well here. A second row position is a good sign because he is a better racer than qualifier and if he gets a good start and reproduces the pace he showed today he can have a good race. We are struggling more with the CRT bike because there are a lot of hard acceleration points here and that is our weak spot, but we're working hard to give Michele a more competitive machine.”


Maiden 2012 pole for Stoner with Pedrosa in second

Casey Stoner took his first pole position of the season with Dani Pedrosa in second just 0.013 off his team mate in a dramatic qualifying practice session at the Estoril circuit.

Both Repsol Honda riders sealed their front row spots for the Grand Prix of Portugal in the dying minutes of the session, which was interrupted by a red flag with eleven minutes remaining due to a crash involving De Puniet and Edwards.

The Repsol Honda Team is prepared for a big battle tomorrow with Casey looking for his first victory at this track in the premier class. Dani will be hoping to repeat the win he achieved here last year and also take his 100th career podium.

CASEY STONER 1st 1'37.188

"In general it's been a good day for us and I'm really happy to get pole. FP3 was positive and we made progress on the bike, we had the bike turning well with good front feeling. Unfortunately in qualifying we tried to improve it further but managed to lose the good points! We did find a little better feeling in the rear but we couldn't get the bike to turn and do what we wanted it to. We didn't really feel we had the pace to be on pole today, but after the red flag came out with 10 minutes remaining we were able to get out there and put together a good enough lap to take pole. We've been pretty fast in every session and our race pace gives us confidence but we'll have to have a think about which set up direction we go for in warm up and hope this is the best for the race. I was sorry to see Colin has broken his collar bone again and I send him by best wishes"

DANI PEDROSA 2nd 1'37.201

"I think we did a good job in qualifying and to be on the front row here after all the issues we had is a great thing. I couldn't put too many good laps together because I had some problems on the bike, first with the brakes, then with the electronics and by the end I was feeling good but we had to stop again due to the red flag. I honestly think that in the last minutes of the session I could have taken the pole but there was a lot of traffic and I missed it by just 0.013. The race will be very tough tomorrow because the track conditions are poor, the grip is low and it makes the tyres spin a lot. We will try to set up our bike a little better for tomorrow to do our best in the race".


Stoner snatches pole position in Portugal

Round 3: Portuguese MotoGP™ - Qualifying Practice
Circuito do Estoril, Saturday 5 May 2012

Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium; Rear: Medium, Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main), Hard (Alternative)
Weather: Dry. Ambient 19-19°C; Track 36-40°C (Bridgestone measurement)

Casey Stoner continued Repsol Honda’s dominance at Estoril this weekend as the reigning MotoGP™ champion snatched pole position from teammate Dani Pedrosa by just 0.013 seconds in a tightly contested qualifying session that saw the top eleven riders split by just one second.

Monster Tech3 Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow continued his excellent form with the British rider setting the quickest time with seven minutes remaining and ultimately qualifying third as he sets his sights on a maiden MotoGP™ podium. Aleix Espargaro was the best of the CRT riders in qualifying, the Spanish rider piloting his Power Electronics Aspar ART machine to 12th place with a time of 1min 39.353 seconds.

Overnight rain meant track conditions for FP3 were still not optimal, though prevailing sunshine and winds ensured a dry track for qualifying. Track temperatures hovered around the high 30°C range during qualifying with riders preferring the harder front and rear slick tyres for the first half of the session before switching to the softer rear slick towards the end of qualifying as the hunt for quick lap-times intensified.

With twelve minutes remaining in qualifying an incident between Power Electronics Aspar rider Randy de Puniet and NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards caused the red flag to be waved. Both riders involved went to Clinica Mobile for medical attention and were later released with Edwards being diagnosed with a fracture to his left collarbone.

Tomorrow’s MotoGP™ race at Estoril gets underway at 1300 local time (GMT +1).

Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Division

“Track conditions were better today, particularly for qualifying and as expected the battle for pole position was very close. With good track temperatures for qualifying all riders preferred the combination of the softer rear and harder front slick tyres to set their quick lap times with many riders selecting the harder compound in the new specification front slick tyre. If tomorrow presents similar weather conditions to today, I expect the majority of riders to use the same combination of the softer rear and harder front slick tyre for the race.

“Estoril is a circuit that often produces amazing races and qualifying has shown us that the level of competition is very close at the moment so I look forward to seeing what unfolds tomorrow. Finally, I would like to extend my best regards to Colin Edwards and I wish him a speedy recovery.”


Progress for Ducati Team during qualifying in Portugal

Today’s event-filled qualifying session for the Portuguese Grand Prix in Estoril saw Ducati Team riders Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden working hard to find a setup for tomorrow’s race. The Italian finished the day ninth-quickest, with his American teammate one position back, and while neither rider is enthusiastic with his grid spot, the session marked a step forward for the team in terms of gap to the front.

Rain threatened qualifying, which was briefly interrupted by an unrelated red flag, but in the end both sessions took place on a dry track, giving the Ducati Team valuable time to experiment with settings before focusing on posting a fast time. During tomorrow’s morning warm-up session, Rossi will try to improve acceleration, while Hayden will hunt for better tyre grip.

Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 9th (1:38.059)

“The day wasn’t bad in the end. We’re on the third row, 0.8 seconds behind pole position, and we’re matching the pace of the intermediate group, after the top four. We’ve worked better this weekend, steadily making small improvements, and now I’m able to ride closer to the limit and push harder on the bike. We have a lot of work to do, especially on acceleration, where we’re losing time, but for sure it’s our best session so far. We managed to improve in T4, the sector where we had problems yesterday. We loaded the rear of the bike to improve grip, which worked. I’m also doing better on the brakes, so I should be able to fight better during battles. We’ll see. Tyres will be important, because the soft is difficult to manage to the end, whereas with the hard, it’s very difficult to push in the beginning. We're leaning toward the soft, but we'll wait for tomorrow to decide.”

Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 10th (1:38.253)

“Obviously, this isn’t where we wanted to be. I’m one second from the top, which sometimes isn’t that far off, but here I’m in tenth place. All weekend, we just haven’t been able to find that last little bit, as I’ve had a lot of little problems. For whatever reason, we’re not getting the bike to work the tyre properly, and it’s not really gripping the track. I used the same hard tyre the entire morning session, so I thought I'd take more of a step in qualifying. Some of my used tyres still look like new, but they’re just spinning. We’ve got to sort that out and improve change of direction. We’ve only got 20 minutes in the morning, but we’ll see what we can come up with. It’s going to be difficult. On a positive note, I went much faster than I did here last year in qualifying.”


RED FLAG DISRUPTS BRADL’S QUICKEST LAP AT ESTORIL QUALIFYING

Estoril, 5 May: In cool but dry conditions this afternoon, LCR rider Stefan Bradl delivered another positive performance at Estoril GP 60-minute qualifying session but, for the first time this season, the German rookie had to deal with the misfortune as the session was red flagged during his quickest lap.

Eleven minutes before the end De Puniet lost the front end of his bike taking out Edwards and Bradl, who was producing his fastest lap on soft rubber, had to slow down waiting for the session to be resumed shortly after. This morning practice saw Bradl hunting a set up to provide more rear grip for his Honda RC213V ahead tomorrow’s race but now he must deal with a tough 11th place start (1’38.265).

Stefan – 11th: “We have been unlucky today: without the red flag we could take the 7th spot on the grid. I am a bit disappointed because we were doing a good job improving a lot the bike compared with yesterday when we were far away from the top. Today we are just one second to the top but during my quickest lap I saw the red flag in the last corner. Starting from the 11th spot will be more complicate in the beginning of the race but I think we made a good job today and I was capable to adapt my riding style to this track”.


GREAT DAY IN ESTORIL FOR THE PRAMAC RACING TEAM

The second European round of the 2012 season continued today with the 60 minutes which decided the starting grid of the last Portuguese race, finally under a full sunny sky.

The Pramac Ducati rider, Hèctor Barbera, put his Ducati GP12 on to the 8th spot on the grid in Estoril this afternoon, in a close qualifying session which saw the first ten riders all within a second of one another.

The young rider from Valencia, made a great step forward from yesterday, finding over 9 tenth of a second from day one.

Tomorrow's race will get underway at 13:00 local time, one hour less compared to Central European Time.

Hèctor Barberà - Rider Pramac Racing Team - 8th best time in 1’38.006

"I struggled a little yesterday, in particular because of the tricky track condition, but today I’m much happier and confident with my GP12. ".

I’m so happy to be the much consistent and fastest Ducati on the field, even if toward the end I could have dropped more than 3 tenths of a second.

The today’s result highlights the excellent work done by my crew and I have to say thanks to everybody”.

Marco Rigamonti –Crew Chief Pramac Racing Team –

"We are happy about today’s result, even though we could have achieved also the second row on the grid.

Nonetheless we were able to work constructively for whole day and this made a great base for tomorrow’s race”.


Karel Abraham finished on the 13th place in qualifying practice in Estoril

Czech MotoGP Rider Karel Abraham finished in the afternoon qualifying practice on 13th place with his best time 1:38,398. He lost 2,210 sec on the winner Casey Stoner and will start from the 5th row tomorrow.

Karel Abraham

“We were trying a lot new things during the practices today as the chassis set up and also new electronics. It is not an ideal situation so far, but we have to deal with it in some way. It is clear I have problems with breaking and I´m losing there a lot. We will do some changes until tomorrow and we will hopefully finish on points.”

Marco Grana, chief mechanic Cardion AB Motoracing

“Weather conditions were much better today and we were concentrated mainly on breaking.

We tried both bikes with different settings, but the main problem is still there. Karel is too soon on breaks than we want to and it´s visible especially on the long fast straights. Now we are going to try making other changes on the motorbike´s set up and we´ll see what tomorrow brings for us.”


IT WAS A DIFFICULT DAY FOR CAME IODARACING TEAM

It was a difficult day for Danilo Petrucci and his TR003 that have gotten the twentieth place with 1’41.486 at 4.298 from Casey Stoner’s pole position. The Came Iodaracing Team rider has got many difficulties from the vibrations of his bike that presents here at Estoril Circuit.

Simone Corsi, in Moto2, finished at the eighteenth place with the time of 1’42.130 at 1.196 from the Marquez’s best lap. The Roman rider has not yet solved the problems from the rear part of his FTR bike.

The two TR002 tomorrow will start from the last row with Luigi Morciano, thirtysecond place at 5.485, and Armando Pontone that close the grid at 6.263 from the Cortese’s pole position.

"They were two difficult days – Petrucci has declared – we have some problems to the rear part of the bike that it moves a lot during the corners’ exit and we were not able to solve them. Probably this track is not good for my TR003, we suffer in acceleration in the slow corners where we haven’t a good traction, problems the we never had before. We will work a lot Tomorrow during the warm up trying to be ok for the race”.

"My bike still moves a lot – Corsi has said – when I go into the corner and I can’t ride it as I want. Unfortunately my position on the gridi s not good and Tomorrow I have to push hard from the first lap”.

"The bike is going better and better – Morciano has declared – but we still have less power than our competitors. Tomorrow I’ll give my best for doing a good race”.

"A little problem to the clutch made me loose some time – Pontone has said – and that wasn’t good for me beacause this is my first time on this bike and on this track. I want say thanks to my team and to Giampiero Sacchi for this great opportunity”.


POWER ELECTRONICS PAIR TARGET CRT DOUBLE AT ESTORIL

Espargaró top CRT on the grid after De Puniet crash

POWER ELECTRONICS riders Aleix Espargaró and Randy De Puniet are hoping to be the first two CRT riders across the line in tomorrow's Grand Prix of Portugal after qualifying twelfth and fourteenth respectively this afternoon. De Puniet will race with a minor injury having crashed at the end of qualifying practice, inadvertently taking Colin Edwards to the ground with him and unfortunately leaving the Texan with a broken collarbone. De Puniet escaped relatively unharmed, taking a blow to his shoulder, finger and ribs. Randy later offered his apologies to Colin, who accepted them with typical good grace and the whole team would like to wish him a swift and successful recovery.

With his team-mate out of action for the closing stages of qualifying Espargaró took advantage to park his ART machine in parc fermé as the fastest CRT qualifier, clocking the twelfth fastest time. The pair are separated by just two tenths of a second and De Puniet's physical condition permitting it promises to be an entertaining battle between them on track tomorrow.

12th Aleix Espargaró (1.39.353, 26 laps): "It has always been our objective to be the fastest CRT bike but I didn't think it would happen today. Randy had a second over me this morning but I knew that wasn't indicative because he had a new tyre on and I didn't. I put the new tyre on this afternoon and could have gone even quicker. So far this is the closest we have been to the MotoGP bikes and we're improving every session. The only thing is that we only have two units of the new front tyre, which solves our chatter problem, so we have to work on the older stuff for the rest of practice. It focuses all your work into just a few laps and today I managed to find six tenths of a second with it."

14th Randy de Puniet (1.39.586, 19 laps): "It was a really heavy crash with Colin. I was on a flying lap and came up behind him by surprise. He wasn't on the line but I braked hard and lost the front. I was hoping against hope that neither of us got hurt. I was lucky not to break anything but it hurts my chest when I breath so I don't think I'll be 100% but I'll do what I can. I am disappointed because it happened when I was on a new tyre. Everything went perfectly this morning but the things we tried this afternoon didn't work and when we went back to the standard setting I crashed. My objective for tomorrow is the same as ever: to be the first CRT."


The NGM Mobile Forward Racing Team will not be racing at Estoril

Colin Edwards was involved in a crash this afternoon during the qualifying session with Randy De Puniet. Luckily for the French man he was able to walk away from the incident and has been declared “fit to race”.

After the crash Colin Edwards was taken to the Circuits clinic and was taken care of by Dr. Sarmiento and his team. He was under observation after the accident and has finally been release to leave the clinic.

Unfortunately the American rider was not so lucky and will have to fly tomorrow to Barcelona in order to have surgery on his left collarbone. The surgery will most likely be performed by Dr. Javier Mir on Monday.

Kornelis Veldeman – Crew Chief

“We solved a few problems that we had this morning. We did a few laps on old tires and when we changed to the news tires. With the old tires he already improved the lap time from the fasted one he made this morning. The bike seemed to feel good for him and its just a shame to finish the weekend like this with such an unfortunate crash.”

Marco Curioni – Managing Director

“Our main concern is Colin´s wellbeing. We are hoping he will have surgery performed on Monday by Dr. Javier Mir in Barcelona and this is our main concern. The only positive outcome of today would be that the difficulties encountered during this morning’s free practice were solved and during qualifying unfortunately he wasn’t able to get in his fast lap.”


2012

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Comments

The Ducati's seem to be making progress and proving the machine is better than results achieved to date, although I remain a little confused by Hayden's comments this time. I know we're talking fairly subtle degrees of separation here, but in the season to date we've heard Nicky state a couple of times how good this new Ducati is in getting heat into the tyres - previously a Ducati bugbear. Yet today he's back to the old complaints?

Set-up, set-up, set-up. With each passing season this aspect of a rider / crew chief / teams interaction in improving the performance of their increasingly complex steeds becomes more and more critical. Instinctive, natural riding ability alone will not cut the mustard in todays age.

Great to see Espargaro end up top CRT. He's been making steady progress and chipping away at RdeP.

As for RdeP I can understand how clocking the CE11 in the corner of his eye reflectively saw him squeeze the stop lever a little harder. Unfortunate. We need Edwards back ASAP. He still has plenty to prove with this nascent machine.

I think that the good words, when they appear, are more a combination of the raiders need for hope and the PR thing. 1 second of the lead is more or less the only constant at Ducati since last year, not much has change there but sometimes is a good thing and sometimes is a bad thing. I've read at GPONE that the only engine update for Monday is an electronics package so I'm not expecting much to change (the aggressive nature of the engine is the only thing that remains to be changed).