Press releases from the MotoGP teams and single tire supplier after qualifying for Saturday's Japanese Grand Prix at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit:
Lorenzo Scores 50th Career Pole in Heated Motegi Qualifying
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo left it until the last minute this afternoon to clinch a sensational pole position start for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Japan at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit. The Championship leader was the first rider to break under the 1’47 second mark but was quickly followed by a number of rivals all pushing the lap times down. Provisional pole was repeatedly taken from one rider to another with Lorenzo waiting until the last moment with his last lap to deliver an unbeatable 1’44.969 to take pole position. The lap is a new pole record for the track and makes the 50th pole of his career.
Fellow Yamaha Factory rider Ben Spies was also on top form this afternoon, echoing his teammate’s pace to join the front three riders scrapping for pole position. Just after mid-way through the session the Texan was on provisional pole nearly half a second clear of the pack. As the final minutes passed a front row looked definite and a Factory one-two a real possibility until a small mistake dropped him to fourth on the grid, just 0.367 from pole.
Position : 1st Time: 1'44.969 Laps: 26
“I’ve been really fast all weekend with a very good pace but in qualifying, ten minutes to the end I thought I was making a very good lap but I was in sixth position! I didn’t understand how the other riders were going so fast. I needed to push a bit more, in the second to last lap I made a mistake so in the last lap I had my last chance. I made it so I’m very happy but of course the important thing is the race tomorrow.”
Position : 4th Time: 1'45.336 Laps: 24
“It was a good session for us, we made a small mistake at the end but the pace of the bike is good. By the time we got to the third rear tyre the front was a little bit past the limit but we were still pushing because I thought we could get on the front row. On the second tyre I made a small mistake on the hot lap which is a shame because I think that lap could have been close to pole, definitely the front row anyway and maybe a Factory Yamaha one-two. Fourth is good though as we now have a starting position so I’ll give it my best for a good start and get on the back of the guys and see what we can do.”
“A great qualifying, pole is very important. It was a very intense session. There were a lot of pole position changes at the end and we dropped a few places. For Jorge to come back and do that lap in the last minute was very exciting. The team has worked really hard this weekend to deliver a really competitive bike from the start.”
“There’s no better way to start the race than from pole, especially at a Honda circuit. Jorge made an impressive lap, he had a good rhythm then the last lap was amazing. Unfortunately Ben fell during what was possibly his best lap. Anyway he has a good feeling and is satisfied with the bike set up and tyres so I think it’s going to be a really interesting race.”
Front row start for Pedrosa in Japan, Stoner in 7th
In a very exciting qualifying session for the Grand Prix of Japan, the Repsol Honda Team finished with Dani Pedrosa in second position and Casey Stoner in seventh.
Dani, who in the morning session set the fastest time of the combined free practices, missed the pole position in the dying seconds of qualifying but, with a lap time of 1'45.215, will start from the front row of the grid for the ninth race in a row, maintaining his chase of Jorge Lorenzo -today on pole- in the fight for the MotoGP title.
On the weekend of his return to competition, after missing the past three races due to his ankle injury, Casey Stoner saw progression throughout all the sessions but took a wrong direction in the set up of his RC213V in the latter stage of qualifying. Although still not comfortable on the bike, Casey has been able to lap three tenths under the circuit record (1'45.745) and will try his best starting from seventh on the grid tomorrow.
DANI PEDROSA 2nd 1'45.215
"In the end I didn't know the lap times of the others and I was just pushing as hard as I could to get a place on the front row of the grid because on my last exit I was eighth. I had many problems with chattering in qualifying and we still don't know why. Everything was OK during the free practices but this afternoon, it was hard to do the lap time. Finally the second place is good enough and I hope we can avoid this chattering in the race tomorrow. The key point will be to choose the correct rear tyre and be consistent for the whole race because the pace will be fast".
CASEY STONER 7th 1'45.745
"To be honest I thought we had a shot at the front row today. The first soft tyre we used we achieved a pretty good time and I knew we had something extra in reserve, in both myself and the bike. We thought with the second soft tyre we would improve but unfortunately we went in the wrong direction with the bike and I had no rear grip, so I decided to play it safe and not push too hard. Physically I'm a little sore but not so bad, I'm just struggling to lift the bike out of the right hand corners and it's making setting up the bike more difficult than it should be. My team can see that my lean angles are no where near what they usually are. I can't get my foot out of the way, therefore I can't lean the bike over enough or pick it up quickl y on the exit of the corner. I'm not sure what to expect tomorrow, I'll try to get another good night's rest and do our best tomorrow".
Crutchlow secures front row after fantastic qualifying for Yamaha
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Cal Crutchlow stormed to the front row of the grid for the fourth race in succession after a dramatic conclusion to today's MotoGP qualifying session at the Twin Ring Motegi track in Japan.
After two difficult practice sessions yesterday, Crutchlow brilliantly capitalised on overnight set-up tweaks that transformed the performance of his YZR-M1 machine to battle for pole position throughout a thrilling qualifying session.
The 26-year-old thought he had se cured a stunning maiden MotoGP pole position when he surged to the top of the timesheets with a lap of 1.45.257. That lap time was confirmation of the fantastic set-up work carried out by his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew, with Crutchlow's pace almost 1.2s quicker than his practice benchmark.
Crutchlow eventually secured third position on the grid and when he lines up for tomorrow's 24-lap race, it will be the sixth time in 2012 that he will do so from the front row. And today's result was further proof of Crutchlow's qualifying prowess, with the 2009 World Supersport sharing the front row with dominant Spanish duo Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa for the fourth race in a row.
Andrea Dovizioso remains optimistic that he will be a leading protagonist in tomorrow's Grand Prix of Japan after he qualified on the second row in sixth.
The Italian was fourth fastest after practice and confident that he could challenge for a place on the front row, but he lost precious time on track after encountering excessive front brake disc temperature that required a mid-session change.
Dovizioso ended the session with a best lap of 1.45.612 to complete an impressive qualifying performance from Yamaha in its crucial home race. Four YZR-M1 machines will start tomorrow's action from inside the top six, once again demonstrating the fantastic work carried out by Yamaha's technical staff in the inaugural 1000cc MotoGP World Championship.
Cal Crutchlow 3rd - 1.45.257:
“I am really happy to be on the front row again and I have to say a big thanks to my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew because they did an amazing job to improve the bike from yesterday. In the first two practice sessions I was struggling just to make it inside the top 10 and today I was fighting for pole position, so my team did a great job. I'm actually a bit disappointed not to get my first pole position because I felt today was a good opportunity to get it. I was fast right from the start of the session and I felt much more confident with the hard rear tyre, so that is a big bonus for the race. To be honest though I am not sure whether to race the hard or the soft rear tyre. I haven't made a final decision yet and maybe I'll have to flip a coin. The pleasing aspect today is that I am not only fast but I'm also consistent, so hopefully I'll be in the podium fight tomorrow, which would be a great way to start this busy period to the end of the Championship. It is great to see the YZR-M1 so competitive here in Japan, so hopefully all four of us can put on a good show for the Yamaha fans tomorrow.”
Andrea Dovizioso 6th - 1.45.612:
“I have been very fast and strong in practice, so I have to say I am a little disappointed to only qualify in sixth place. I had a few issues this afternoon but the main one was the front brake discs were overheating. There are so many really severe braking points at this track that the disc temperature is the highest of the Championship. We had to change the discs during the session and that cost me some time. That could play a very important role in tomorrow's race because we have to do 24 laps consecutively at full race speed. I am still confident that I will be fighting for the podium because I didn't feel I got in one very good lap. I don't think sixth is a true reflection of my potential but it is fantastic to see Yamaha so strong again. This is a very big race for Yamaha in Japan and it would be great to finish on the podium .”
Third row for Rossi at Motegi, Hayden tenth
Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden will start tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix from the third and fourth rows of the starting grid, respectively.
In today’s qualifying session, both riders improved their performance compared to the free practices, but while the Italian was relatively satisfied with the work carried out over the course of the four sessions, the American had hoped to find a better setup.
In tomorrow’s morning warm-up session, Rossi will look for a few final setting refinements, while Hayden will try to make some changes in order to improve his consistency.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 9th (1:45.976)
“The position, ninth place, certainly isn’t the greatest, as I had hoped to start from the second row. Still, I think that we worked well. We improved in every session, and again in qualifying today we made good progress. 1:45.9 is a nice time, half a second faster than last year, even though it wasn’t enough to be further forward. Anyway, we managed to lap at a decent pace and more consistently, and that’s positive. Tomorrow we’ll see if it will be enough and if we’ll be able to move up some positions. We’ll also have to decide tomorrow which tyre to use, depending on what the temperature is.”
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 10th (1:46.461)
“Today didn’t really go any easier than yesterday. I had some problems at the start of qualifying and couldn’t get a good rhythm, but once I started putting the soft tyres in, the grip improved and the bike felt better and better. Then at the end, I had a lot of front chatter that was holding me back, including on my best lap, and there were a lot of waving yellow flags on my last run that didn’t help. Unfortunately, I didn’t really get in a good lap, and I didn’t have a good rhythm either. Still, the team is working hard and hopefully tomorrow we can improve and try to do a decent race.”
SECOND ROW START FOR BAUTISTA AT MOTEGI
Team San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Alvaro Bautista made progress on the second day of action at Motegi to find improved confidence with the front end of his Honda RC213V and qualify it on the second row of the grid for tomorrow's race. The team have done a great job today and will try to take another step forward in the warm-up, which would surely give Alvaro a chance of fighting for the podium. Michele Pirro also made progress despite a crash and is hopeful of making up positions from eighteenth on the grid.
Alvaro Bautista (5th 1’ 45” 481) “I think we have taken a good step forward today because we made a couple of changes that helped the feeling with the front suspension even though it is not 100%. Now I have more confidence and I was able to push harder from the start and then have fun this afternoon. We have taken a step forward compared to Aragon and I am confident for tomorrow because our pace is consistent. The only doubt I have is about the tyre life but we'll just try to get a good start and hang on to the guys at the front. I have to thank the guys in the team because they have worked hard along with Showa to put me in a position to show my true potential.”
Michele Pirro (18th 1’ 48” 653) “Unfortunately I wasn't able to give my best today because of the vibration problem, which continued to hinder us today. I am sure the guys will do their best to reduce the problem for the race tomorrow. We had a crash today which didn't help but hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.”
Fausto Gresini “That was an extremely good session for Alvaro, who showed good race pace. We were a little unlucky in qualifying because he was held back by a couple of people crashing and some slower riders but a second row start is good and I am happy with it. Michele had a crash and is also having problems with vibrations on the bike but we are trying our best to give him a better bike. Hopefully we can do it because his pace is okay and he can have a good race.”
BRADL TO LINE UP IN 8th POSISTION AT MOTEGI GP
Motegi, 13rd October: second day of practices at the 4.801km Japanese circuit saw LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl placing his RC213V in 8th place (1’45.848) ahead tomorrow’s 24-lap race. The German dedicated the majority of his time on track today to improve his feeling in the hard braking zones.
Bradl stayed solely on used tyres and finished ninth in this morning free session and continued work on his brake set-up but his qualifying session got off to a bad start with a crash from which he escaped unhurt to rejoin his colleagues in the latter part of the qualifying.
Stefan: “Well…the initial plan for today’s qualifying was different but probably I was too aggressive in the first part of the session and crashed out. This changed completely our plan and we could not adjust the bike properly because we had to chase the best lap time for tomorrow’s grid. There was not enough track time to improve the bike and we are still struggling with the same problem in the braking zone. The bike is too nervous and I can not be as precise as I want in the entry of the corners. After the crash I was okay and could go immediately faster on the other bike so this is a positive thing because it means that the crash did not affect our pace”.
TWENTY-FIRST TIME FOR ROLFO IN THE QUALIFYING SESSION FOR THE GRAND PRIX OF MOTEGI
The starting grid of the MotoGP class for the Japan GP was defined today, after the qualifying session of this afternoon.
The second day at the circuit of Motegi was positive for Rolfo. Since the morning, Roberto kept making progress with his lap times consistently, improving of almost a second after the FP2 of Friday.
In the qualifying practice, Rolfo took advantage at its best of the first part of the session, when he set some good lap times. Right when there were just few minutes left, he went straight and left the track, which limited his chances to grab a better spot on the grid, so that the Italian will have to start from the seventh row.
Roberto Rolfo #84 - 21st with 1'49.183
“Today was another positive day. We made a step forward after yesterday and we improved the feeling with the bike. I was hoping to get a better result in the qualifying practice, because the beginning of the session was good, with the first change of tyres we managed to set some good lap times. At the end of the session, when there were just few minutes left, I went straight and I only had one last quick lap to use, in order to improve. We have to work to be faster in T1 and T3, and the race will be very important, in that sense. Throughout these four sessions we managed to improve of about two seconds, in the race we’ll try to stay with the other CRT machines to learn and work on the pace on top of this bike.”
Fifth row at Motegi for Karel Abraham
after crash in qualifying practice
Czech MotoGP rider Karel Abraham will start to Grand Prix of Japan from the last position in fifth row. Karel crashed out in the last ten minute of qualifying practice. Czech rider is unhurt and also his bike wasn´t damaged, but he lost the chance to fight for better position in key moment of the weekend. With 1:47,791 Karel lose 2,822 seconds to the fastest Jorge Lorenzo.
“I´m really angry, because just in the moment we had checked up all problems I crashed out. The morning session had been really bad for us and also first afternoon ride didn´t go well. After first pit we suffered some technical problems with front brake. We have found good set up after second pit stop, but I rode on hard tyre, so it still wasn´t perfect. Finally in the last ride on softer tyre I started to be faster, but then I hit in the corner the track by my foot or probably footrest and my bike slide out of track. It happens sometimes, but today it happened in the worst moment. Fifteenth position is really bad, because even I´m able to make good start, I will lose contact with riders which I want to fight with.”
POWER ELECTRONICS ASPAR RIDERS LEAD CRT BIKES FROM ROW FIVE
Espargaró thirteenth and De Puniet fourteenth as duo separated by less than two tenths at Japanese GP
Qualifying for the Japanese GP took place today at Motegi, and it was Jorge Lorenzo who took pole position on his final lap of the session. Dani Pedrosa had been attempting to repeat his top spot from the morning practice, but was beaten by the late push from his rival. Close behind the two Spaniards was Cal Crutchlow, just like at Aragón. Spies and Bautista also looked strong, and just five-tenths of a second separated the top five on the timesheet. That brings hope of a close race in the Japanese round of the series tomorrow.
Once again, the POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar riders headed the CRTs in qualifying. The day wasn't completely smooth for the duo, but both responded well and met expectations. Aleix Espargaró, who had experienced a run-off in the morning practice session, worked against the clock to seal a best time in qualifying of 1'47.383. That was taken on his eighteenth of twenty laps. Less than two-tenths of a second behind was his teammate, Randy De Puniet. The Frenchman is having difficulties finding the perfect setting for solid braking and faster cornering, but he nonetheless put up a challenge to his teammate in every session and will aim to again tomorrow. The two are separated by just a pair of points in the CRT standings.
13th Aleix Espargaró 1.47.383 (20 laps): "Having Randy as a teammate and direct rival is an honour. If at the end of the year I manage to take the best CRT honour, then it will be all the more deserved for having such a tough rival. This weekend I was pretty comfortable ahead of him until qualifying, where I had to give everything that I had on the final laps to be able to take a tenth off him. Tomorrow's race will not be easy and I will have to go all-out in order to finish ahead of him. We have a good pace and were the best CRT riders out there. We are ready for the race and it is great to be closer every time to the non-CRTs; we could even beat them, which shows we are doing a good job."
14th Randy De Puniet 1.47.581 (21 laps): "The qualifying session was the best run of the entire weekend. There is still something that leaves me uneasy, which is that I am unable to slow the bike down on corner entry. It is difficult for me at every corner this weekend and I am running wide a lot. Thankfully we improved rear grip for qualifying and my feeling got considerably better. The front suspension is where we are having the most issues. We will analyse the data this afternoon and try and get to the race as ready as we can be. Whatever the case, we will go out there trying to perform at our best and trying not to make mistakes, as that could cost us dearly."
FOURTH ROW FOR HECTOR BARBERA’ AT THE TWIN RING IN MOTEGI
It was a positive day at the Twin Ring in Motegi for the Pramac Racing Team that, thanks to the weather conditions, was able to work constructively for the whole day.
The white and green rider, Héctor Barberà, will start from the fourth row for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Japan. The Spaniard posted the twelfth- best time of 1’46.881 during the sixty-minute qualifying, putting in a big effort and improving his feeling with his Ducati, session after session.
Tomorrow the Pramac Racing Team will use the twenty-minute warm up to refine the best bike set up, helping Héctor to improve more his confidence.
Héctor Barberà – Pramac Racing Team Rider – 12th place in 1’46.881
“I see today as a positive day, even if I finished far from the first positions. I improved a lot my confidence, returning to have the right feeling with the bike after a painful period and it is what I needed.
I’m feeling good and I’m optimistic about tomorrow’s race, even if we still have a few things that we need to work on, to improve the race pace. Tomorrow we should use the warm up to make the necessary changes on our Ducati, trying to achieve a good result and to take home some important points for the ranking. But I know we can do it!”
Lorenzo smashes pole position record at Motegi
Round 15: Japanese Grand Prix – Qualifying Practice
Motegi, Saturday 13 October 2012
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium, Hard. Rear: Soft, Medium (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main), Hard (Alternative)
Weather: FP3 - Dry. Ambient 20-20°C; Track 30-30°C (Bridgestone measurement)
QP - Dry. Ambient 22-21°C; Track 32-31°C (Bridgestone measurement)
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo set a new pole position record in today’s qualifying session at Motegi with a time of 1’44.969 that eclipsed the previous mark by 0.298 seconds.
Lorenzo’s scorching time was set using the softer rear slick option – the medium compound – in conjunction with the harder front slick, and this proved to be the most popular tyre combination throughout the day. Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa will line up second ahead of Monster Yamaha’s Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow, with both riders also setting times below the previous pole position record. The best CRT qualifier at Motegi was Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro who qualified in thirteenth with a time of 1’47.383.
Both rear tyre options were used today with riders doing race simulations on both the softer and harder rear slicks in FP3 and Qualifying, with the softer rear slick being preferred for the time attack at the end of qualifying due to its greater edge grip. In similar fashion to the free practice sessions yesterday, the harder front slick was used widely today, its greater stability helping with the frequent hard braking zones at Motegi. Track conditions today were conducive to good lap times with a dry track and track temperatures in the low 30°C mark.
Motegi morning warm up takes place at 0940 local time (GMT +9) tomorrow with the twenty-four lap set to start at 1400.
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“We had favourable weather conditions again today and the condition of the track was ideal for qualifying. The good levels of grip on offer and the improved rider feel provided by the 2012 specification tyres meant that the pace today was very fast, both in the race simulations and also the time attack with Jorge, Dani and Cal all setting times below the old pole position record. Tyre choice for tomorrow is still difficult to predict, looking at the results over the last two days it is apparent that most of the field will choose the harder front slick, but rear tyre choice is more open at this stage. A lot will depend on what the track temperature is for the race.”
Positive qualifying for Edwards at Motegi
Colin Edwards regains trust in his CRT and qualifies in 16th position in the AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan. The American rider and his team NGM Mobile Forward Racing have tried different settings during FP3 and the qualifying session, finishing the last session really close to the top CRTs and at only a few tenths from one of the prototypes.
Edwards’s race pace also shows to be consistent and will try to be with the top bikes of his category and get in the points zone gain. Tomorrow the race will start at 7:00 am Italian time.
Colin Edwards – 16th (1´48.125)
“The changes that we made overnight didn’t really seem to work so we went back to what we had. Started qualifying with hard tires and didn’t have much grip. We put on the soft tires, made a couple of changes in the electronics to make sure that it was going to react the way we wanted them to, then we just put our head down. Once I did 49.0 I thought that there was more out there, this bike is hard to push, it seems that if you push it goes slower. Then just started cleaning my lines, get my brake markers dialed, we did 48,6 and then on the last lap 48,1. I think that we could be doing 48s at the beginning of the race. I am happy; it feels good to be able to push. Thanks to my guys, they have worked a lot.”
Sergio Verbena - Crew Chief
“The setting modifications that we tested this morning did not turnout the way we expected. In the afternoon we changed direction and that seemed to work better after getting some positive feedback from Colin. We seemed to have found the right path to follow for the setting and with that setting we had a good qualifying session. We improved of one and a half seconds from yesterday’s best personal lap time. We are getting closer to the best CRTs. Colin’s race pace is makes us feel confident for tomorrow’s race.”