2012 Estoril MotoGP Qualifying Practice Result: Incident-Packed Session Sees Close Finish

Results and summary of qualifying for the MotoGP class at Estoril:

Casey Stoner will start from pole for Sunday's MotoGP race at Estoril, setting the fastest lap in the final minutes of an incident-packed session. Stoner's advantage over teammate Dani Pedrosa is minimal, and not much bigger over surprise 3rd place man Cal Crutchlow, the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha man grabbing his second front-row start of the season.

Crutchlow's impressive run sees him qualifying ahead of both of the factory Yamahas. Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies both had problems in qualifying, Spies with traffic, Lorenzo with the timing of his run, leaving them in 4th and 5th on the grid. Alvaro Bautista is the best satellite Honda, ending the session in 6th and on the final spot of the second row of the grid. Andrea Dovizioso heads up the 3rd row, putting the final Yamaha in 7th ahead of the Pramac Ducati of Hector Barbera and the factory Ducatis of Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden.

But the results of qualifying don't really reflect the drama. A few spots of rain fell in the final stadium sector of the track as the second half of the session started, but the rain never really carried on. Then, as the final ten minutes of qualifying approached, Randy de Puniet crashed heavily in the Esses, his bike sliding off and hitting the coasting Colin Edwards. Edwards fell badly, suffering a suspected collarbone fracture in the fall, and though De Puniet came away much better off, the Frenchman suffered some badly bruised ribs and a bruised finger. The session was red-flagged, and after resuming, the track was so busy that the riders were all getting in each other's way. Ben Spies, Dani Pedrosa, and several others were  balked by slower riders on a fast lap, and Jorge Lorenzo appeared to make a mistake in turn one as he started what would have been his final qualifying lap.


Pos No. Rider Bike Time Diff Diff Previous
1 1 Casey STONER HONDA 1'37.188    
2 26 Dani PEDROSA HONDA 1'37.201 0.013 0.013
3 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW YAMAHA 1'37.289 0.101 0.088
4 99 Jorge LORENZO YAMAHA 1'37.466 0.278 0.177
5 11 Ben SPIES YAMAHA 1'37.723 0.535 0.257
6 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA HONDA 1'37.917 0.729 0.194
7 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO YAMAHA 1'37.943 0.755 0.026
8 8 Hector BARBERA DUCATI 1'38.006 0.818 0.063
9 46 Valentino ROSSI DUCATI 1'38.059 0.871 0.053
10 69 Nicky HAYDEN DUCATI 1'38.253 1.065 0.194
11 6 Stefan BRADL HONDA 1'38.265 1.077 0.012
12 41 Aleix ESPARGARO ART 1'39.353 2.165 1.088
13 17 Karel ABRAHAM DUCATI 1'39.398 2.210 0.045
14 14 Randy DE PUNIET ART 1'39.586 2.398 0.188
15 68 Yonny HERNANDEZ BQR 1'40.029 2.841 0.443
16 51 Michele PIRRO FTR 1'40.225 3.037 0.196
17 54 Mattia PASINI ART 1'40.387 3.199 0.162
18 5 Colin EDWARDS SUTER 1'40.964 3.776 0.577
19 77 James ELLISON ART 1'41.394 4.206 0.430
20 9 Danilo PETRUCCI IODA 1'41.486 4.298 0.092
21 22 Ivan SILVA BQR 1'41.490 4.302 0.004


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Spies did a bit of balking himself by the look of it, blocking Pedrosa and Bautista.

Can we have a dry weekend pls? So it really is about the riders and their machines and less about the pesky weather.

Ben put his leg out to signal that he was slowing down, which Bautista didn't see. No one's fault there. The cameras didn't show what happened between Pedrosa and Ben, but by the way Pasini, Barbera and Ellison blocked Spies it looked like someone gave the order to not let him qualify well! He had the pace though, and given the 2nd row start of Lorenzo, and Pedrosa's and Cal's pace I'm sure the race will be a barn burner.

Also Bautista got his best lap right before that incident by using Ben for a decent tow. Without that he wouldn't have qualified in 2nd row I guess.

And Dani got to them only in the 3rd sector. He was already more than half a second down on Casey after sector 2. Nobody blocked him there. Not from qualifying in pole anyway.

It's interesting to go back and look at the last time (almost) 1000cc MotoGP bikes went out to qualify at Estoril, in 2006.

Clearly the weather didn't help this year, but the track was dry, if a bit crowded; the tyres have evolved a bit, and we are being asked to believe the bikes have picked up another 40hp. If nothing else, that should show up in the top speeds: 16% more power should give better than 5% more speed.

In fact the first ten qualifying times in 2006 were faster than Stoner's 2012 pole. They still had qualifiers in 2006. The fastest lap in the race was by Kenny Roberts Jr, at 1'37.914". That would still have qualified him on the 2nd row of the grid, ahead of Bautista.

For top speeds, the fastest in QP in 2006 was... Casey Stoner, on a privateer LCR Honda. 327km/h. Maybe he got it with a tow, but all the first 6 (4 Hondas and 2 Ducatis) were better than 325.

In 2012, the first 6 (3 Hondas, 2 Ducati's and a Yamaha) were over 333, the fastest being Barbera's 335.9, which was definitely a tow. Discarding that, the next was Rossi at 335.1. So the typical improvement for the fastest few bikes was... 1%. Which suggests they have picked up 3% more power, around another 7.2hp.

That's actually quite impressive: the motors in 2006 lasted one race and consumed 24L of fuel in a race; in 2012 they last 18 sessions and are only allowed 21L. To make more power in those circumstances is a major achievement of engineering. Also quite an expensive one.

But to make 40 more... well, we read it on the internet, it must be true.

Another point of comparison is the the CRT's. The gap in top speed is about 19km/h, or around 6%, suggesting 18% more power. If the full fat versions are making 250hp, that would suggest only 212 for dePuniet's ART... quite a bit down on the WSBK version reported to be closer to 240. But then, 12 engines in a season is a lot less than Biaggi gets through... and Biaggi went 326km/h at Monza, suggesting he has 11% more ponies... or 235hp. Possibly enough to have kept him in the slipstream of the 800 Ducati in testing at Mugello. And consistent with the 2006 MGP speeds.

So if I had to bet on a hp figure for the current 1000's, it would be for 250 to 253.

There are still some other factors that may come into play. Is water seepage in the final corner killing their drive onto the straight and lowering the top speeds? And isn't 327 -> 334 more like a 2% increase? Is the straight long enough to take advantage of all the new power?