2011 Motegi MotoGP Qualifying Practice Result: Thrilling Session Sees Records Fall

Summary and results of the qualifying practice for the MotoGP class at Motegi:

Casey Stoner has secured pole position for tomorrow's MotoGP race at Motegi, smashing records along the way. Pole in Japan is his 10th of the season, a new record, and Stoner added a new pole lap record into the bargain, taking nearly three tenths off a second off Jorge Lorenzo's pole record set on qualifying tires back in 2008.

Stoner did have to work for the pole, however. After his Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa had led for much of the session, getting into the 1'45 bracket very early in the session, Stoner upped the pace to just sneak ahead of the Spaniard. A lap later and he took nearly three tenths off Pedrosa, but a couple of minutes later, Jorge Lorenzo struck back at Stoner, taking provisional pole with a new lap record of 1'45.523. With 2 minutes left in the session, Stoner upped the pace again and took pole back again, setting a scorching pole record in the process.

Despite being demoted to 2nd on the grid, Jorge Lorenzo was much happier after qualifying. A major setup change after the morning FP3 session saw Lorenzo match the pace of the factory Hondas, putting him right amid the Repsols, where he needs to be if he is to have a chance of taking points from Stoner on Sunday. Andrea Dovizioso rounds out the front row of the grid, the Repsol Honda man making his point very forcefully at Motegi, in front of the HRC bigwigs who selected Marco Simoncelli over him for support. Dovizioso finished ahead of Dani Pedrosa, the Spaniard losing the early lead he held and not quite timing his final runs right to get back onto the front row, leaving him down in 4th.

Beside Pedrosa on the second row of the grid sits Ben Spies, the factory Yamaha rider much recovered from the bout of food poisoning that plagued his first few days in Japan. Rounding out the second row is Marco Simoncelli, the pace of the San Carlo Gresini Honda rider dropping off a little as the others improved, and only securing 6th in the final seconds of qualifying.

Valentino Rossi will have been irritated to have Simoncelli nip in at the last minute and bump him down to the third row of the grid, but the Marlboro Ducati rider's qualifying position is his best since Brno. There are signs of slow and steady progress for the Italian, with the lessons learned at the recent Jerez test perhaps starting to pay off. Rossi sits ahead of Rizla Suzuki's Alvaro Bautista, the Spaniard equalling his best qualifying position of the year with another 8th place. Bautista ended the session just a tenth of a second ahead of his compatriot, Mapfre Aspar's Hector Barbera, and under two tenths ahead of the Marlboro Ducati of Nicky Hayden, the American rounding out the top 10.


Pos No. Rider Bike Time Diff Diff Previous
1 27 Casey STONER HONDA 1'45.267    
2 1 Jorge LORENZO YAMAHA 1'45.523 0.256 0.256
3 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO HONDA 1'45.791 0.524 0.268
4 26 Dani PEDROSA HONDA 1'45.966 0.699 0.175
5 11 Ben SPIES YAMAHA 1'46.042 0.775 0.076
6 58 Marco SIMONCELLI HONDA 1'46.211 0.944 0.169
7 46 Valentino ROSSI DUCATI 1'46.467 1.200 0.256
8 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA SUZUKI 1'46.586 1.319 0.119
9 8 Hector BARBERA DUCATI 1'46.694 1.427 0.108
10 69 Nicky HAYDEN DUCATI 1'46.763 1.496 0.069
11 7 Hiroshi AOYAMA HONDA 1'46.811 1.544 0.048
12 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW YAMAHA 1'46.818 1.551 0.007
13 14 Randy DE PUNIET DUCATI 1'46.917 1.650 0.099
14 5 Colin EDWARDS YAMAHA 1'47.165 1.898 0.248
15 17 Karel ABRAHAM DUCATI 1'47.922 2.655 0.757
16 24 Toni ELIAS HONDA 1'48.169 2.902 0.247
17 64 Kousuke AKIYOSHI HONDA 1'48.367 3.100 0.198
18 6 Damian CUDLIN DUCATI 1'48.962 3.695 0.595
19 72 Shinichi ITO HONDA 1'49.971 4.704 1.009


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Seeing JLo picking up his pace dramatically once again raises the question about that "acceleration issue" of the Yams for me. Out of slow corners all MotoGP bikes should have plenty of power, all are cutting the power electronically to keep the front wheel on the ground. So why is the Honda accellerating better than the M1? Shorter wheelbase, higher center of gravity of the M1?

It's sad that Hayden lost his good form from friday, I still hope he'll find it again on sunday. Rossi ..., it looks like there is progress, the question is: "Is it because of the change position on the bike" or "Is it because of the aluminium front frame"?

Props to Dovi, if he just found that killer inside of him some 6 months earlier ...

Great qualifying by Casey again and unlucky Jorge nearly spoilt Hondas party.. What happened to Dani?? just didn't get the soft tyre to work at all. Has good race pace so hopefully a good race tomorrow..
Rossi was on the 3rd row at the start of the season they then went backwards and have now got back to the head of the 3rd row.. Ducati have made zero progress in 3/4s of a season,
Presiozi could well be the Nick Leeson of Ducati.

Great qualifying by Lorenzo. Probably a bit misleading though, as the Yamaha tends to perform better in qualifying trim on the soft tire. Still, people saying that the Honda is much faster than the Yamaha might want to think again after this qualifying. The biggest difference is Stoner.

Thought Rossi would do better at this track, still 1.2 seconds back, which is a long way. But he should be closer to the race pace on Sunday.

What has happened to Pedrosa? Ever since Brno he has been well and truly overshadowed by Stoner. It may just show that Stoner and his crew have worked out how to set up the Honda everywhere. Pedrosa, like Rossi, is likely to be stronger in the race.

Simoncelli also seems to have lost his way. He's been way off Stoner's pace for several races now. Can't blame Dovizioso for being upset at being relegated to LCR.

And a good effort from Damian Cudlin too, all things considered.

A lot of people comment on Stoner's use of "we" in his interviews.
I think Motogpmd is on the money when he mentions Stoner's crew as being a key factor in his performance; after all Stoner is nothing if not honest, and when he says "we" I reckon he truly means it. I'm not taking anything away from his own abilities here as I happen to think that he is the best rider on the planet at the moment. But certainly the work the crew does is crucial, and perhaps this is what is letting Pedrosa down?

Top work by Dovi, well done. And it's fantastic to see Rossi up the order in in Qualifying and let's hope that they find that thing they've found so often in morning warm-up, I can't wait to see #46 pushing for podiums again. I think the schadenfreude has been done to death now... time to move on.

Come on Jorge, you have got it in you... make it a fight for the title.

You always knew George would not be prepared to yield to Casey or anyone else. Thrilling final few minutes between them. I expect George will give the Honda's as good as he gets in the race. True Champion head he has. Great job done by Dovi and Ben's recovery is good news.
Hopefully the front 6 will get through an incident free first lap and we could have an epic race in Motegi.

Is Hector Barbera the unsung hero of MotoGP? This is not the first time he has out-qualified a factory Ducati on the satellite machine. And h certainly gave Hayden a run for his money at Aragon. Big effort from this Spanish team.

Let me say I'm not a Jorge fan . . . last year, his attitude irked me. He's fast as hell (obviously), but his bratish mentality just brushed me the wrong way! BUT . . . he's won me over this year! Maybe carrying the #1 plate has changed his 'tone/attitude' slightly, but he's been a class act this year! And he's ridding the wheels off that M1 to keep it where its at! Let's hope Yamaha makes the bike slightly more competitive next year, so we can have someone at least push Casey!

Times are much faster than 2010 due to the new surface, but Honda improvement compared to last year is not more important than Yamaha or Suzuki

2010 VS 2011

pole: 2010 Dovi 1'47.001, 2011 Stoner 1'45.267 -1.734

Honda -1.734
Stoner 2011 1'45.267
Dovi 2010 1'47.001, 2011 1'45.791 -1.210
Pedrosa 2011 1'45.966

Yamaha -1.683
Lorenzo 2010 1'47.206, 2011 1'45.523 -1.683
Spies 2010 1'47.648, 2011 1'46.042 -1.606

Suzuki -1.416
Bautista 2010 1'48.002, 2011 1'46.586 -1.416

Ducati -0.638
Stoner 2010 1'47.105
Rossi 2011 1'46.467
Hayden 2010 1'48.182, 2011 1'46.763 -1.519

From last year Lorenzo gained 1"6, Hayden 1"5, Bautista 1"4 and Dovi 1"2.
However compared to last year only Ducati failed to improve over 1"4, overall they just gained 0"6.

This is a Honda owned track, a track where the Hondas are developped, a track where Honda hasn't won since 2004 and not a track where Honda improved more than Yamaha or Suzuki compared to last year.