Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after qualifying for the race at Qatar:
Lorenzo Conquers New Qualifying Format for Stunning Pole in Qatar
Losail (Qatar), 6th April 2013
Reigning MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo became the first MotoGP rider to take pole position under the new qualifying format tonight at the Losail International Circuit for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Qatar. The new quick-fire format allowing just 15 minutes for the riders to deliver their best lap proved an intense session.
Lorenzo was quick to move to the top of the time sheets with a fast lap only to be relegated to third by rival Dani Pedrosa and then fellow Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow. The Champion then responded with a stunning 1’54.714 second lap, over two tenths clear of Crutchlow in second to take his first pole of the season.
Having set a threatening pace over the practice sessions Valentino Rossi looked promising for a strong qualifying session. Unfortunately the Italian nine-time World Champion was held up in traffic on his second outing with a fresh tyre and was unable to make it to the front row for tomorrow’s race. Rossi will start his first Grand Prix back with Yamaha from the third row in seventh place.
1st / 1'54.714 / 7 laps
“I’m really happy, for three or four laps we pushed to the limit. I knew Cal was really fast over one lap so I had to push to the maximum. I’m very happy with this pole position. The important thing is that the Yamaha works here at this track. I think for the first time of the new qualifying format it has been very positive and for the fans it is very good to watch. For the riders you are a little more nervous and you have less time to make a fast lap. I knew I was competitive but the ten minutes before the qualifying we had some problems with the set up of the bike so it was more difficult to make the time. We had to change to yesterday’s setting. The important thing is to make a good start tomorrow. The last simulations I made were better than yesterday so I’m quite confident for the start. If there are problems in the first laps we have to be patient and wait for the middle of the race.”
7th / 1'55.711 / 7 laps
“The qualifying was not fantastic for us, especially as we lost the second row. Our performance during free practice was better than this, we’ll wait for tomorrow. Unfortunately in the qualifying session with the second tyre where we had to improve I was stuck in traffic so I could not improve my lap time and I lost some positions. For sure tomorrow it becomes more difficult to start from further behind but we have a good pace so we can be quite competitive.”
“The new qualifying system has been run for the first time and Jorge got the pole. It was very exciting I have to say. Everything is focused on just 15 minutes so you are more nervous than with an hour qualification. He did very well and was happy with his performance and with the bike also. We are looking forward to tomorrow’s race. There are three or four guys who are strong, but we will try to win the race and if not be on the podium! The first challenge is the start and we'll see from there.”
“There’s no better way to start the season than with a pole. The lap that Jorge did was amazing. The pace he has is really good and I think we can be pretty optimistic for tomorrow. Unfortunately Vale had some traffic during his last tyre and that compromised his possibility to do two fast laps. He has to start from the third row but he is a fighter and what we have seen from the last two days means we know he can do well. We are ready for tomorrow.”
Front row start for Pedrosa with Marquez on second row in 6th
Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa will start tomorrow's Qatar GP from 3rd position on the grid, with teammate Marc Marquez in 6th, after an exciting introduction to the new qualifying format.
Yesterday, both riders qualified for the second heat of qualifying - Q2, which is a 15 minute time trial for pole position. They both chose to complete two flying laps, then pit for a new soft rear tyre, before their second attempt at the time attack. With most riders taking the same option, it left heavy traffic on the track which spoiled Dani and Marc's third flying lap, with their final laps deciding their grid spots.
Warm up will take place tomorrow at 18h00 local time and the 22 lap race will begin at 22h00.
Dani Pedrosa 3rd 1'55.151
"Today we were able to improve a lot and take a front row start for tomorrow. It is important to start high up the grid whenever you can, because there are some very fast riders up against us. We still need to improve a few things with the bike and I hope that we can have a good race. The key will be to choose a good tyre compound and find a strong pace"
Marc Marquez 6th 1'55.645
"Today was my first MotoGP qualifying session and the first time that we'd had the short 15 minute run, but the result was what we had expected. I still need a bit of explosivity and to push hard from the start. We got the sixth fastest time, as on the opening two fast laps I made mistakes and we lost some thousandths of a second. That is something that we have to improve. We still have the warm up tomorrow, in which we need to continue working on our pace and from there, we need to choose the best tyre for the race. The important thing will be to make a good start and see what happens"
Crutchlow storms to stunning front row in Qatar
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Cal Crutchlow will start the 2013 MotoGP World Championship from the front row of the grid in Qatar tomorrow night after he starred in a dramatic and tense new qualifying format.
A new qualifying system, which saw the fastest 12 riders go into a 15-minute shootout for pole position in QP2, created some pulsating action on track and British rider Crutchlow was in contention for a career first pole throughout at the floodlit Losail International Circuit.
His third lap was a blistering 1.54.916 that put him 0.248s clear of Dani Pedrosa and the in-form 27-year-old, who topped the timesheets in the fourth and final practice session earlier this evening, looked certain to further improve his fast pace.
Crutchlow launched a determined attack on his second Bridgestone soft compound rear tyre but he was unable to i mprove his pace. Such was his sensational speed he still managed to claim his eighth front row start in MotoGP by taking second behind reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo.
Crutchlow was only 0.202s behind Lorenzo and the former World Supersport Champion is confident he has the pace in full race trim to challenge for a third MotoGP podium in tomorrow night’s eagerly anticipated 22-lap race.
Just as impressive as Crutchlow’s outstanding ride was the performance of Monster Yamaha Tech 3 teammate Bradley Smith in his first MotoGP qualifying session.
He’d performed brilliantly last night in FP3 to ensure he was seeded straight through to tonight’s QP2 session. Tonight was only the second time Smith has been thrust into full blown time attack mode and he delivered superbly when it mattered to finish in a fantastic ninth position.
A best lap of 1.56.315 on the fourth of his eight laps completed secured him a place on the third row of th e grid with Alvaro Bautista and nine-times World Champion Valentino Rossi. He is now confident that he can mark his MotoGP debut with a strong ride into the top 10.
Cal Crutchlow 2nd 1.54.917 – 7 laps:
“It is a very positive way to be starting the first race from the front row of the grid and thanks to my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team because I had a great bike underneath me tonight. I was confident going into QP2 of being able to challenge for the front row because I was fastest in FP4 and the bike felt like it was working really well. I must admit the 15-minute format is really exciting and I think it is great for the Championship and for the fans. I’d have liked it to have been only 10 minutes long because that would have put me on pole position! But credit to Jorge because he pulled a brilliant time out of the bag, though I am really satisfied because starting from the front row is always important. It is going to be a very difficult race but I am ready for it. I think there are six of us that can be fighting for the podium and I will cer tainly be giving it my all to make sure I am one of them.”
Bradley Smith 9th 1.56.315 – 8 laps:
“I was really happy to make it into QP2, so to claim a place on the third row for my first MotoGP race is an incredible feeling. I’m particularly pleased because I only used one soft tyre in the 15-minute session and it looks like everybody else set their best time on their second soft tyre. I used an extra one last night in FP3 to make sure I made into the top 10 for QP2 and I want to keep another soft tyre for the Warm-up session to give me some feeling ahead of the race tomorrow night. So to be on the third row is better than I expected and to be in front of Nicky (Hayden) is a bonus. Hopefully tomorrow night I will be able to get in a battle. That’s the best way for me to learn how to ride this bike more and gain more experience, and I don’t have a target other than that."
Impressive Dovizioso close to front row for Qatar Grand Prix
In the debut of MotoGP’s exciting new qualifying system and his first qualifying session as a Ducati Team rider, Andrea Dovizioso had a successful Q2, with just .009 seconds separating him from the front row for tomorrow night’s season-opening Qatar Grand Prix, and just .446 seconds between him and pole-qualifier Jorge Lorenzo.
Thanks to solid performances over the previous two days, both the Italian and his teammate Nicky Hayden had advanced directly into tonight’s 15-minute Q2 session, which was made particularly challenging by an extremely dirty track surface. Dovizioso was pleased with his setup and was able to ride to his bike’s limit, whereas Hayden struggled with chatter in his first run and pitted for a fresh tyre after just one lap. His second exit was affected by unfortunate timing and mistakes.
Andrea Dovizioso - Ducati Team, 4th (1:55.160)
“I’m very pleased to make the second row, just a few tenths from first place. I didn’t expect to do a 1:55.1 lap, or especially to be so close to Lorenzo. It was nice to have a good feeling with the bike when I tried to push hard with a new tyre in the last laps. I’m really happy with the work that the team did this weekend because we managed to make it to qualifying with a perfect setup of our electronics, so we were quickly able to use the bike to its full potential. Starting from the second row will be important for the race. I still have some big question marks for the race because everything is still new for me, but I’m very motivated for tomorrow. We’ll see how things are in the race.”
Nicky Hayden - Ducati Team, 11th (1:56.667)
“In the first run, I had a lot of chatter from out of nowhere. I went back out, and right when I went to start my hot lap, the other guys were pulling out of the pits, and I just made too many mistakes in the traffic. I’m certainly not thrilled, especially because last year I was one second faster in qualifying. It was a poor job by me when it counted, but credit to Andrea for a really good session. I think our setups are very similar, but we’ll definitely have to check his data.”
THIRD ROW FOR BAUTISTA IN NEW QUALIFYING FORMAT
The new qualifying format for MotoGP provided an entertaining session under the floodlights in Qatar tonight although it didn't work out perfectly for Alvaro Bautista, who qualified eighth fastest. The Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini rider is still struggling with some small set-up issues that he is hoping to resolve in tomorrow's warm-up session. It was an important experience for Bryan Staring as the Australian rookie continue to adapt to the demands of MotoGP.
Alvaro Bautista (8th 1’ 55” 870 ) “The new qualifying format was good fun but in fifteen minutes you don't have time to make any mistakes. I didn't have much feel for the front tonight and we tried to fix it but we're still not happy. My pace on used tyres isn't bad so we'll try to improve the setting in the warm-up and I'm confident that if we make a good start I can run with the front group. The race is long and this track isn't easy so anything could ha ppen but we'll see! ”
Bryan Staring (23rd 1’ 58” 912) “I am satisfied tonight because I feel I am slowly getting to grips with MotoGP. My position on the grid isn't the best but for me it was important to go into the race having taken some steps to further improve my feeling with this bike and we did that. I feel more relaxed today and I am sure we can start to make some real progress soon. Unfortunately it takes time but I have a very supportive team.”
Fausto Gresini “It wasn't too bad for us tonight even though Alvaro doesnt have a great feeling for the front. We'll try to find a solution in the warm-up that can give him more confidence to push. If we can do that I think he can state his case in the race. Bryan did his best tonight, he is making small steps forward and we will help him to continue in this way.”
BRADL TAKES 5th SPOT ON THE GRID AHEAD QATAR GP
BRADL TAKES 5th SPOT ON THE GRID AHEAD QATAR GP
Losail, 6 April: the opening round of 2013 season continued today under the lights of Losail circuit with the new qualifying session split up into two segments which decided the first starting grid of Qatar Grand Prix that will get underway tomorrow at 22:00 local time. LCR racer Stefan Bradl used free practice 4 to prepare his RC213V for the 15 minute shootout – QP2 which saw the 23-year-old achieving a massive 5th fastest time (1’55.477).
Stefan: “The fifth position is our target because the rivals are very strong in every circuit and in every condition, so we must be very happy with our performance today. During the free practice 4 we improved our set-up and our front-end feeling which was the key for going faster. I was not completely happy so we made another adjustment before the QP and we have been lucky because it worked good. This new qualifying system made everybody nervous but, at the end, it has been exciting. All the riders used the same strategy and there was a lot of traffic but we will get used to this and I think it’s more fun for our fans”.
First Top Ten start for Andrea Iannone
The floodlights were back on for the third consecutive night at Qatar’s Losail International Circuit, which was covered by a thin layer of sand following a day of strong winds in Doha.
Andrea Iannone continues to suffer from arm pump in his right forearm, which prevented the Italian from riding his bike aggressively during this evening’s qualifying sessions. Nevertheless, the runner-up position obtained in Q1 allowed him to take part in the Q2, in which he clocked an excellent time of 1'56.523, putting him in tenth position on the starting grid for tomorrow night’s race.
Andrea Iannone – Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team
“Unfortunately, after riding in Q1, I only had one soft tyre left for Q2, or I probably could have done something better. Along with my team, I want to understand how to change my riding, because I have some problem in tight corners. However, I improved my time in every session, and I think that’s absolutely a positive. My goal now is to finish the race inside the top ten.”
Challenging qualifying night for Ben Spies
The floodlights were back on for the third consecutive night at Qatar’s Losail International Circuit, which was covered by a thin layer of sand following a day of strong winds in Doha.
Having just missed out on making the top ten in the free-practice sessions, which would have advanced him directly into Q2 for this evening’s debut of MotoGP’s new qualifying format, Ben Spies had to take part in Q1.
However, just minutes into the final free-practice session, the American lost the front end of his bike on the slippery track surface and suffered a hard fall. Fortunately, he didn’t land on his still-recovering left shoulder, but the crash nonetheless affected his performance in Q1.
Ben Spies - Ignite Pramac Racing Team
“The session was going okay for us at first. We were just working on race setup with old tyres on from yesterday, and we actually started to get faster and gain some confidence. Then I just got into turn 2 too hot and I grabbed a lot of front brake and went down at pretty good speed. Fortunately, we were able to get up and go out with the second bike. The problem was that the back of the bike had a completely different setting, and I couldn’t get up to the same speed that I was at before and get into Q2. Overall, it was good to get back on the bike, and it was good that we were getting up to speed. I’m sorry for the team, and we’ll come back tomorrow.”
POWER ELECTRONICS ASPAR RIDERS REPEAT LAST YEAR'S SUCCESS
Aleix Espargaró and Randy De Puniet remain as the top CRT riders with the Catalan making it through to QP2 with a great performance and his French teammate reducing the deficit after making set-up improvements
Although it is still early days it looks like the new MotoGP qualifying session is already going down very well indeed. The final sessions before race day are divided into three parts, a half hour free practice, then there is a ten minute break and the riders outside the Friday FP top ten contest Q1 over 15 minutes. Then after another 10 minute break the Q2 session sees the top ten joined by the fastest two Q1 riders for a final 15 minutes showdown. The result is that the riders have to go for it right from the start and every minute of each frantic session is absolutely vital. Lorenzo was the most alert rider in this new format of qualifying and he achieved the first pole of the year. In addition to Lorenzo's pole success there was a triumph for Espargaró who made it through as the only CRT rider to make it through to Q2.
After winning the CRT title last year and having had a great preseason Aleix Espargaró appears to be enjoying his role as the top CRT rider in MotoGP. The POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar rider seems to be untouchable at present, improving his times over each day in Qatar, leading Q1 and getting through to Q2 - which previously might have seemed imposible. He is 12th overall and it looks unlikely that any other CRT rider can challenge him as the top man. Indeed the only rider who appears capable of getting close to hi mis his teammate Randy De Puniet. After three days of work the Frenchman has finally found a solution to a front end issue and his performance is improving, with him now within half a second of Aleix.
12th Aleix Espargaró 1.57.064: "Although we still have the most important part of the weekend to come, things are already going really well here. It's crucial to start the season charged up, motivated and working hard. Myself and the team are so pleased and we want to make the most of this in the race. We had the new format of qualifying and it was great to get through to the second round. In addition to that we have a good race pace and with this good work under our belts we want to continue as top CRT. The new qualifying sessions were brilliant as you have to perform well from the word go, with less traffic on track, so it's also great for the spectators."
14th Randy De Puniet 1.57.551: "Finally a day with some good news! Today we made a big step forward and I'm pleased because we've found some solutions to issues which were holding us back. I've also reduced the gap to Aleix, from over a second to five tenth, with the adjustments we've made especially to the front end. That gives me more confidence on the bike but I still need to try a few more things before the race in warm up, continuing on the same path as today. Aleix looks really strong here at this first GP but with today's improvements maybe we can challenge him as top CRT."
QATAR, FIFTH ROW FOR ZARCO, PESEK ANDA PETRUCCI EXPERIENCED THE NEW QUALIFICATION SESSION
The Came Iodaracing Team began the first day of qualifying for the Qatar GP with different fortunes in Moto2 and MotoGP. In the middle class, the French rider of the Came Iodaracing Team, Johann Zarco, managed to get the 14th fastest time in the final Moto2 qualifying session. Johann Zarco, together with the team, tried to change the clutch settings to overcome the difficulties encountered in practice yesterday. Unfortunately, this change did not works as aspected. Johann Zarco, therefore, will take with Suter's Team Came Iodaracing on the fifth row with the 14th fastest time (2.01.885), delayed by Pol Espargarò, (Kalex), that get the Moto2's pole position with the best lap time 2.00.882, of 1.003 s.
The situation is different for the two riders of Team Came Iodaracing in the reigning class. Lukas Pesek and Danilo Petrucci, finished their adventure in the first qualifying session, ending a 15 th and 20 th overall. In the only qualifying session played, Lukas Pesek made a very good job, ending near the best two. By the time 1.57.926, Pesek brings Ioda-Suter-BMW number 52 in fifth place in the first qualifying session, while a bit more difficult met Danilo Petrucci. The Italian rider of the Team Came Iodaracing couldn't gain as much position he wanted in just 15 minutes available of the Q1.
JOHANN ZARCO - MOTO2 RIDER- 14 ° - FIFTH ROW - 2.01.885 "My position does not satisfy me, tomorrow I have to do a good start to get a good result. Regarding the chassis, the situation is much better than yesterday, but we made a small change to the clutch that did not go well. Yesterday we had some problems and we were hoping to solve them but it not worked properly. This definitely made me lose five tenths on the second delay that I have against Espargarò.I've managed however, for a ride that is with Nakagami with Espargarò and this gave me good information on the strengths of our bike and where we were losing ground. I know that the team is working to resolve the problems, I am sure that tomorrow we can do something good".
LUKAS PESEK - MOTOGP RIDER - 15 ° - FIFTH ROW - 1.57.926 "I think I was faster than we expected.I've been on a good group for a couple of laps, I went at once strong and that's what really matters. The strange and amazing thing for me is that I finished among the top three CRT ever in these qualifications.I'm really happy to be able to achieve this result. Tomorrow we must see how the race will be for me. I race here with the 125 but with the MotoGP is all another thing, it is as if it were another track. "
DANILO PETRUCCI - MOTOGP RIDER - 20 ° - SEVENTH ROW - 1.58.486 - "First of I have to get in habit of the new system of qualification then I'm not the type of driver used to use the trails as is common to do in the smaller categories, especially I have not found anyone on the track to attack in 15 minutes. We had planned to do a good ride with the soft tire, but I made a mistake and I threw this opportunity, in the second run, instead I did two laps alone that made me realize that good or bad my time is not too far from the other CRT. "
The Qatar floodlight await the first race for NGM Mobile Forward riders Edwards and Corti
NGM Mobile Forward Racing riders completed the first qualifying session of the season with the new qualifying format here in Qatar. The American rider and his Italian teammate will both start the race from the seventh row.
Edwards seems to have found a reliable electronics setting that makes him confident for tomorrow’s race and makes him believe that the fight between the CRTs during the race will be close. His teammate Corti has significantly improved his feeling with the bike and believes that he can improve his lap times and maintain a good race pace for tomorrow with his FTR - Kawasaki bike.
The CRTs have become very competitive bikes and we will expect to see a very exciting first race under the floodlight in Qatar.
Colin Edwards - (1´58.361) 19th
“We made a little change to the bike today for the qualifying; we kind of came back to what we had but wasn’t the golden piece and because we have no major dramas with the electronics since we kind of found something that works, so we didn’t try to do anything too crazy today, kind of stick to what we’ve got. We went out to qualify and went four tenths faster than I had gone all weekend, I am excited for the race tomorrow. The new qualifying system was pretty cool, instead of sitting around for an hour it was down to business; you only had a certain amount of time and it was done. I enjoyed that. As far as where we qualified today, it doesn’t look good but that is all we had today so we will have to wake up bright and early and wait for the race and get on the gas.”
Claudio Corti - (1´58.755) 21st
“I am pretty happy even if the lap times are not incredibly fast because the feeling with the bike has improved. We have been able to make the bike easier to ride and in terms of the race that means that it will be easier to maintain a good race pace. I could have improved of a few tenths the lap times since I realized that during my fast lap I made a few mistakes. Yesterday we found our selves having a few problems after the free practices but we managed to overcome them in time for tomorrow’s race. I hope to have a good start and a good race; I want to get close to Colin and the other FTRs. We can’t let our guard down and we have to double our efforts. We will see what the result is after they wave the checkered flag tomorrow!"
Sergio Verbena – MotoGP Technical Director
“Last year after the first qualifying of the season we were the best CRT. This year we are we are a little bit behind, the level of the competition has definitely improved and the level is very high even within the CRTs. We have reduced the gap of half a second form yesterday’s lap times, finding a good race pace for tomorrow and we only have to find a bit more grip in order to allow Colin to go faster. We are close to the other FTR- Kawasaki bikes and that means that we are close to having the ideal setting. During the warm up we will try to work to provide Colin with the consistency needed for the race, considering the sand on track. Claudio had some problems throughout the weekend but today he has proved he can have a good consistency in terms of his lap times. He has been able to ride through the problems and if we are able to find the ideal setting he could be able to put up a good fight.”
Lorenzo leads under lights in Qatar qualifying
Round 1: Qatar MotoGP™ - Qualifying Practice One and Two
Losail International Circuit, Saturday 6 April 2013
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft & Hard; Rear: Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
Weather: Dry. Ambient 25-24°C; Track 27-26°C (Bridgestone measurement)
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo laid down a lap of 1’54.714 on his penultimate lap in QP2 to claim pole position for the first race of the 2013 MotoGP™ season at Qatar’s Losail International Circuit.
Lorenzo’s time eclipsed that of Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow by 0.202 seconds, the two riders ensuring a Yamaha 1-2 at the front of the grid. Rounding out the front row was Respol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa who made a big improvement from yesterday to set a best time that was four-tenths off pole position. Aleix Espargaro impressed again on the Power Electronics Aspar ART machine, the Spaniard the only CRT rider to make into QP2 and finishing twelfth overall.
Track temperatures were cooler today with a peak of 27°C and windy conditions coated the circuit in more dust, keeping grip levels low and as a result tyre choice was dictated by the need to have the best possible edge grip from the rear tyre and braking stability. All of the riders in the QP2 set their best times on the combination of the softer rear and harder front slick and this option could feature in tomorrow’s race.
The twenty-four MotoGP™ riders have one final session tomorrow – Warm Up at 1800 local time (GMT +3) – to hone their setup and work out their tyre strategy before the twenty-two lap race commences at 2200.
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“We had similar track conditions to yesterday with a lot of sand on the circuit and so the combination of the harder front and softer rear slick was once again widely used for today’s qualifying sessions. Sand on the track not only reduces grip, it also increases abrasion so I am pleased with the performance of both specification of our rear slick tyres so far this weekend. Also, with the top seven riders setting a qualifying time within one second of each other, the signs are promising for an exciting contest tomorrow.”