Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi looked like he was going to shock the MotoGP paddock with a pole position until a late run by Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner bumped him down to third.
If today’s qualifying session is any indicator of what MotoGP fans are in store for tomorrow, it’s going to be one heck of a race in Italy. Four racers had a legitimate chance at Mugello’s pole position, with Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi looking like he might get his first pole of the year until Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo and Marlboro Ducati’s Casey Stoner would edge him out of that position.
Lorenzo is the hottest rider on the grid right now, backing up his victory in Le Mans with pole today. The Spanish rider laid down a 1’48.987-second lap late in the session to edge out Ducati’s Stoner by 0.021-seconds.
“I feel satisfied with the pole position. It is important to be on the front row and get a good start here. We have good pace on the harder (race) tires and it looks like we will have the chance to fight for the podium and maybe the victory,” Lorenzo said.
Stoner will be a podium threat after finishing second-fastest today. The Aussie rider shrugged off a crash late in the morning’s final free practice session and almost pulled out the pole. He will be joined on the front row of the grid by Rizla’s Capirossi. The Italian rider’s familiarity with the course worked to Capi’s advantage and he will start from the front row for the second consecutive year.
Reigning MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi will vie for his eighth-consecutive victory at the Gran Premio d’Italia
Jorge Lorenzo is the hottest rider in MotoGP right now and will look to make it two victories in a row tomorrow.
Alice from the second row. The Doctor finished fourth-fastest today. It is the first time the Italian rider will not start from the front row on a course he has been dominant on since entering the MotoGP ranks.
LCR Honda’s Randy de Puniet is the top Honda qualifier, posting the fifth-fastest time today. The French rider will be joined on the second row by Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards, who finished a scant 0.048-seconds back.
A trio of Honda’s will mount a charge from the third row of the grid. Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso finished seventh-fastest, just ahead of teammate Dani Pedrosa. Dani P injured his hip when his rear tire slid out and his bike went into a violent shake.
San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Toni Elías crashed at the end of the morning’s practice session but was able to salvage a ninth-place starting position. Scot Racing’s Yuki Takahashi rounds out Mugello’s top ten.
Casey Stoner – 2nd
“We had a great free practice session this morning despite the crash and I was very comfortable with the bike, so I was optimistic about this afternoon. Unfortunately as we picked up the pace in the afternoon we found some problems with the front and I couldn’t make the bike turn as I wanted it to. You spend a lot of time on the edge of the tyre through the long corners at this circuit and that is where we’re losing time. We’ll see if we can change a couple of things and improve the bike before the warm-up tomorrow. Second place on the grid is obviously a great position but I know we could have done a lot better so I can’t help but feel frustrated. It also makes me look forward to tomorrow even more because I can’t wait to get back out on track!”
Loris Capirossi – 3rd
“It has been a fantastic day today, especially because I was a bit angry yesterday and we had a really good meeting with all the team and decided to change a lot of things on the bike. Stuart is so clever because he made the right modifications to the GSV-R and from first thing this morning it was working well. Our target is to always try and do our best, but this front row is a great feeling for us. The race is tomorrow but this has given a good lift to the whole team and we will now try as hard as possible tomorrow afternoon. I know that Suzuki has been doing a lot of work at the factory and we now hope that the new engine that is coming to Barcelona will help even more. The race will be hard for everybody tomorrow, but I don’t have anything to lose and I will try my best and see what happens!”
Andrea Dovizioso – 7th
“We have improved our lap time session after session, reducing the gap from the fastest riders and this is a positive move. Yesterday we had a gap of 1.3s, this morning it was one second and this afternoon we got it down to five tenths so I’m happy about that. This morning we made an adjustment to the settings which improved the feeling during corner entry. For the qualifying session we tried another modification but we didn’t get the results we expected, so we’ll need to make some changes to finalise the set-up tomorrow morning in the warm-up. I’m confident we can improve by two or three tenths but it will be difficult to consistently match the pace of the fastest riders. Tomorrow the race will be tough and really I was hoping to start from the second row. Still, I will do my best to get a good start and try not to lose contact with the first group. It’s my home race and the atmosphere here is incredible. The fans are so passionate and so I’ll be going all out to give them something to cheer about tomorrow.”
Dani Pedrosa – 8th
“Considering what happened today, eighth place on the grid is actually quite good because I was in a lot of pain on the bike and for a while it was touch and go whether I’d be able to ride at all. In this morning’s session I had a slide from the rear tyre and the bike went into quite a violent shake. During this, I pulled a muscle in my right hip really hard and maybe caused some more damage – we’ll have to check what the next scans show. But what I can say is that it was very painful and I had to stop riding immediately because the pain stopped my right leg from working properly – it was like a switch. This afternoon I had some painkillers, but it was still very difficult. It’s very hard to make a prediction for the race – I will try, but at the moment I don’t know for how long I can continue my pace – we’ll see.”
Chris Vermeulen – 11th
“It is not a good qualifying position, but we have definitely taken a step forward today with the bike. All of the mechanics and engineers have done a great job today and they have given me a lot more confidence – especially in the front of the bike. Hopefully we’ll take yet another step forward in the race tomorrow. I want to congratulate and also thank Loris. He helped me out in the session and showed me some lines that his 20 years of experience here have produced and you can definitely see the difference when you follow him – that certainly helped me out towards the end of qualifying. I’m in a reasonable position on the grid and in with a lot of good riders, so if I can get a good start hopefully we can have a decent race tomorrow.”
Nicky Hayden – 16th
“I know we’re in the same position on the time sheets, worse in fact, but actually the feeling with the bike got better as the session went on this afternoon and the lap time improved quite a lot from the morning. My pace through T1 is acceptable but I’m the slowest guy out there through T3 so that’s what we’ll be focusing on tonight I think. We still have a big gap to make up and we need to make a major step if want to be competitive but anything can happen at this track. We’ve got the many Engineers here from Bologna so hopefully they can help me out a bit.”
MotoGP 2009 Mugello Qualifying –
1. J. Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’48.987
2. C. Stoner (Ducati) +0.021
3. L. Capirossi (Suzuki) +0.134
4. V. Rossi (Yamaha) +0.161
5. R. de Puniet (Honda) +0.512
6. C. Edwards (Yamaha) +0.560
7. A. Dovizioso (Honda) +0.661
8. D. Pedrosa (Honda) +1.086
9. T. Elias (Honda) +1.091
10. Y. Takahashi (Honda) +1.318
11. C. Vermeulen (Suzuki) +1.418
12. A. De Angelis (Honda) +1.461
13. N. Canepa (Ducati) +1.541
14. J. Toseland (Yamaha) +1.550
15. M. Melandri (Kawasaki) +1.723
16. N. Hayden (Ducati) +1.937
17. M. Kallio (Ducati) +2.021