Gorgeous Jorge Lorenzo, Fiat Yamaha, posted the fastest lap and won the pole position start for Sunday’s MotoGP race.
Lorenzo posted the fastest lap at 1’36.214, beating Rossi’s 1’36.474. Despite suffering from a mysterious illness after a three-month absence Stoner has returned to qualify for third and round out the front row for tomorrow’s race.
Leading Row 2 in fourth place is Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, who qualified in second position for the 2008 Estoril GP. The Spaniard is joined on the second row by Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Colin Edwards in fifth and LCR Honda’s Randy de Puniet rounding out the second row.
Starting on Row 3 is Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi. Pedrosa’s Repsol Honda teammate, Andrea Dovizioso, who is still looking for the first pole position of his MotoGP career, will start in eighth with Ducati’s Nicky Hayden ninth-fastest.
Pramac Racing’s Mika Kallio will start in Row 4 next to San Carlo Gresini Honda’s Alex de Angelis, who qualified 11th. The duo is joined by Yamaha’s Brit James Toseland in 12th. Toseland is still looking for his first podium finish since his 2008 MotoGP career began.
Qualifying for Row 5, in 13th, is San Carlo Gresini Honda’s Toni Elias. Elias has not had a Row 1 grid start since 2006, but has finished in the top-ten eight times in 2009. Pramac Racing’s Niccolo Canepa, will start on the grid in 14th, followed by Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen.
At the back of the grid on Row 6 is Hayate Racing Team’s Marco Melandri and Scot Racing Team’s Gabor Talmacsi.
MotoGP Estoril Qualifying:
1. Lorenzo J. Yamaha 1’36.214
2. Rossi V. Yamaha 1’36.474
Ducati’s Casey Stoner talks about returning after a 3 month absence, “My body’s sore because I haven’t been on the bike for so long but so far I haven’t struggled with any of the symptoms that had bothered me before the break.”
3. Stoner C. Ducati 1’36.528
4. Dani Pedrosa (Honda), 1’36.702
5. Edwards C. Yamaha 1’37.142
6. de Puniet R. Honda 1’37.448
7. Capirossi L. Suzuki 1’37.489
8. Dovizioso A. Honda 1’37.541
9. Hayden N. Ducati 1’37.654
10. Kallio M. Ducati 1’37.813
11. de Angelis A. Honda 1’37.822
12. Toseland J. Yamaha 1’37.823
13. Elias T. Honda 1’37.911
14. Canepa N. Ducati 1’38.042
15. Vermeulen C. Suzuki 1’38.342
16. Melandri M. Kawasaki 1’38.538
17. Talmacsi G. Honda 1’39.320
MotoGP Estoril Qualifying Rider Quotes:
Jorge Lorenzo – Fiat Yamaha:
“It’s been quite a few races since I’ve had a pole! I was getting a bit worried because doing one fast lap has always been one of my strong points but lately we haven’t been able to be quite competitive enough with the soft tire. This weekend however everything is working really well and the setting with both tires is great, so I was able to go out and do some very fast laps. Tomorrow is another day and we know that everyone will be strong, so we will just try and push to the limit and see what happens.”
Valentino Rossi – Fiat Yamaha:
“We improved the setting a lot this afternoon from yesterday and managed to fix a lot of the problems we had in the braking, so today was not so bad. We still need more traction on the exits from the slow corners however and we are also losing some time in the tight hairpin. We are not so far but we need to study the data and find a way to improve things a bit more for the race. It will be quite a strong fight tomorrow I think and 28 laps in this heat is going to be hard, but we will be ready.”
Casey Stoner – Ducati Marlboro Team:
“Yesterday it looked as though a front row start was a long shot but at the end of the qualifying session today I was actually disappointed not to be on pole! This morning we came out and everything felt good and this afternoon was the same. We were competitive on race tires but when we put the soft tires on to make them work we couldn’t get any grip. We weren’t generating any heat into the right hand side of the tire so I don’t know if it was a faulty batch or we were just unlucky. The second tire had more grip but I didn’t use it to its full potential. Anyway, a front row start is nice for us and I want to thank my whole team and everybody else who has stuck by me lately. We’ve had a lot of critics while I’ve been away and I’ve had to laugh at some of the things I’ve read. Tomorrow is the race, which is the big one, but it’s nice to come back in this way and I think we’ve already shown that it was the right decision to take the time off.”
Nicky Hayden – Ducati Marlboro Team:
“We’ve made a little bit of progress in every session with every run, just slowly chipping away. We made quite a big change again this afternoon and dropped another eight tenths off the lap time, although obviously some of that was down to using the softer tire. The team has done a good job – we’ve tried a couple of things we’ve never tried before and made some progress. I thought I maybe had the chance to qualify a little bit better but at the start of my last flying lap De Angelis ran into the back of me on the front straightaway! I mean, I can understand if you bump a guy in the middle of a second gear corner or something but there I was doing 274km/h and they can see on the data where the bike came unstable because you can see the steering go side to side. My first instinct was that something had happened to the bike so I shut off the throttle and it ruined my last flying lap. Anyway, we’re on the third row and it’s going to be a long, hard race tomorrow. I know a lot of guys in my group are going about the same speed but if we can take another little step in the morning we’ll be okay. Like always it will be important to get a good start and not get boxed in the first turn. We’ll see.”
“We have got a bit of vibration from the front and we need to resolve that, but other than that we are quite competitive,” remarked Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi.
Loris Capirossi – Rizla Suzuki:
“Overall it’s been ok for us today, we made some improvements this morning and tried to continue with that this afternoon. We changed a few things on the bike and the whole team worked well to make things better for me. We have got a bit of vibration from the front and we need to resolve that, but other than that we are quite competitive. I want to say thank-you to Suzuki, because normally this is one of the worst tracks for us and we have improved a lot on the rear grip – which was a big problem in the past – and the new package we have is much better. We have improved on top speed as well, we are now quite competitive and for us this is great and a very important step forward.”
Chris Vermeulen – Rizla Suzuki:
“We made some good changes to the bike today and consistently improved on the lap-time. We ran both the compounds of tires on the front and rear this afternoon and we’ve got a reasonable race set-up. I’m a bit disappointed in actual performance because I just couldn’t quite get the lap-time I wanted, but I was able to achieve the one I did quite easily so we should be able to run at that pace all race. Hopefully I’ll get a good start and make up a few places early on and have a good race.”