2011 Sepang MotoGP Qualifying Practice Result: Close Qualifying Session Settled In Final Minutes

Results and summary of qualifying practice for the MotoGP class at Sepang:

Dani Pedrosa will start Sunday's MotoGP race from pole, extending his clean sweep of the weekend. In contrast to free practice, his margin was reduced to less than three-hundredths of a second, Pedrosa's confidence perhaps knocked a little by an early crash. Pole was not settled until the final few minutes, Pedrosa dislodging Andrea Dovizioso with four minutes to go. Casey Stoner put in a late challenged, but could not quite get ahead of Pedrosa, but with Pedrosa on pole, Stoner in 2nd and Dovizioso in 3rd, the Repsol Honda team took a clean sweep of the front row. 

Colin Edwards continued his strong weekend by qualifying in 4th, the first Yamaha on the grid, just over half a second back from Pedrosa, and ahead of San Carlo Gresini's Marco Simoncelli, who had previously had a monopoly on 4th. The improvements that Ducati showed in the morning carried over into the afternoon, Nicky Hayden setting the 6th fastest time, and just seven tenths slower than Pedrosa. Hiroshi Aoyama will head up the third row of the grid, starting from 7th ahead of Alvaro Bautista, while a crash in the final third of the session left Valentino Rossi on his second bike, and qualifying in 9th. 

At the bottom of the timesheets are the factory Yamahas, with Ben Spies having a very tough qualifying, including a big crash. There is a very good chance that Spies could elect not to race tomorrow, the pain in his rib muscles preventing him from being able to ride properly.


Pos No. Rider Bike Time Diff Diff Previous
1 26 Dani PEDROSA HONDA 2'01.462    
2 27 Casey STONER HONDA 2'01.491 0.029 0.029
3 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO HONDA 2'01.666 0.204 0.175
4 5 Colin EDWARDS YAMAHA 2'02.010 0.548 0.344
5 58 Marco SIMONCELLI HONDA 2'02.105 0.643 0.095
6 69 Nicky HAYDEN DUCATI 2'02.172 0.710 0.067
7 7 Hiroshi AOYAMA HONDA 2'02.254 0.792 0.082
8 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA SUZUKI 2'02.332 0.870 0.078
9 46 Valentino ROSSI DUCATI 2'02.395 0.933 0.063
10 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW YAMAHA 2'02.756 1.294 0.361
11 14 Randy DE PUNIET DUCATI 2'02.939 1.477 0.183
12 65 Loris CAPIROSSI DUCATI 2'03.077 1.615 0.138
13 17 Karel ABRAHAM DUCATI 2'03.438 1.976 0.361
14 8 Hector BARBERA DUCATI 2'03.619 2.157 0.181
15 24 Toni ELIAS HONDA 2'03.646 2.184 0.027
16 11 Ben SPIES YAMAHA 2'03.678 2.216 0.032
17 89 Katsuyuki NAKASUGA YAMAHA 2'04.072 2.610 0.394


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If the old CE11 can get within half a second (and well done sir) then I'd be pretty damn certain our 2010 WC would be in the thick of the Repsols, if not ahead of them.
Oh please Casey and Dani can you put on a race tomorrow with a slendering winning margin akin to qualifying between you.

With Ben wounded as well, I wonder if CE has suddenly become Yamaha's top hope to stick a Yam up among the Hondas. Wouldn't be surprised if Herve Poncharal has managed to get some additional factory parts/setup for this weekend.

Not to take anything away from Colin, but might be just the kind of extra help Yamaha might provide under the radar. Hope it is so, and hope CE does stick it up in front. Let's see how CE's race and Valencia pan out, particularly if Jorge sits out.

Once upon a time, when people told me that Yamaha would effectively de-tune the satellite bikes to stop them getting in the way of the factory effort, I used to laugh. That would be such a dumb thing to do.

But isn't it remarkable that CE11 bounds up the order as soon as rider #1 is not present?

Not the first time, either...

I do think that Tech3 bikes are slightly behind factory bikes, which makes sense.
However I don't think Lorenzo being away changes anything to Tech3 bikes tuning state.

I think what helps Edwards is logic:
Spies and Lorenzo out he automatically gains 2 spots, Barbera back from injury and running his usual pace is potentially 1 more spot easily taken.
So instead of qualifying around 7 he qualifies 4!

Edwards also joked to MCN that he didn't put his Monster stickers on Lorenzo's bike and that if he actually did he'd probably be slower:

Does anyone have any insight as to what version GP11.1 is Hayden riding this weekend? After the last few races, Hayden has managed to keep his bike on 2 wheels to finish races where Rossi failed to do so. More development work should have been given to Hayden as well by Ducati. Hayden should seriously consider switching to Yamaha/Honda/CRT for 2013 if he has another season like this!

Assuming Lorenzo can't make the starting grid at Valencia, putting Edwards on his factory bike for the final race would be a fine going-away gift.

Imagine if CE won the darn thing!

As much as I'd love to see CEII up on the podium in this race, barring any unlikely mistakes by the Repsols, it would seem a big stretch...even for someone as great as Edwards. His best result would be right where he qualified: 4th. A great result to be sure as he's going to be holding off a sure-to-be-charging Simoncelli, who is likely to be looking past Edwards to get at his rival, Dovi. Edwards would need a good start (not his forte) to jump to third in order to stay clear of Simo to the first corner. Let Simo and Dovi duke it out while Edwards looks to gain a few tenths advantage. Something like that scenario could put him on the podium. The more likely outcome is that CEII plays it safe and eventually succumbs to Simoncelli's "youth and exuberance" and settles for his best result ever at Sepang, 5th.

Amazing lack of injury in spite of all 2011. Given the hype surrounding him for this event,I figured he would have qualified better.
I hope Colin has a .50 calibre moment and does Ben a favour as Ben did for him back then.That time it was Ben/Dovi. This time its Colin/Simmo/Valentino.