Nicky Hayden on Rossi’s accident: “I was catching him quite quick but I wasn’t sure if he had a problem with the bike. I first thought he’d come out of the pits and maybe something was leaking. But it was so quick and early at a place where you don’t normally lose the rear. I saw dust out of the corner of my eye.”
Nicky Hayden talked about the moment he witnessed Valentino Rossi’s 2010 world title hopes vanish in Mugello today. The American was in pursuit of the 31-year-old’s Fiat Yamaha in this morning’s final free practice when Rossi was viciously high-sided at the entrance to the left-hand part of the Biondetti chicane.
“I saw it out of the corner my eye and it looked so quick and so early in the corner,” remarked Hayden. “I was on a good lap and I was catching him quite quick but I wasn’t sure if he had a problem with the bike. I first thought he’d come out of the pits and maybe something was leaking. But it was so quick and early at a place where you don’t normally lose the rear. I saw dust out of the corner of my eye.”
The 28-year-old said losing Rossi for the majority of the season was a massive blow for MotoGP. Rossi had won the opening race of the season in Qatar and trailed series leader and Fiat Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo by nine-points going into his home race in Mugello.
“He’s bigger than just the competition, the whole sport just isn’t the same without Rossi. If you do get on the podium tomorrow you’ll be thinking in the back of your head, ‘well if Rossi was here it might not be like that.’ Nobody wants to see a guy in a lot of pain. That’s not cool at all and it was clear he was suffering. He can put on a show sometimes and do stuff but nobody wants to see him go through that kind of pain.”
Meanwhile Ben Spies was satisfied with his impressive ride to seventh-place on the grid for tomorrow’s Italian MotoGP race in Mugello. The American, who has failed to finish the last two races in Jerez and Le Mans, was just 0.124 seconds off claiming a top-six with a best time of 1.49.861.
“It’s easy to get ahead of yourself, but coming to a track that is as different as Mugello I’m quite happy with today. But I’m also a little upset. I wasn’t going to be close to the two front guys but I did make a few big mistakes on the fast lap
and left a couple tenths out there, which would have got me on the second row. I’m a little frustrated with myself about that. But to be in the top- eight with the limited track time I’m really happy and after Jerez and Le Mans it was good to bounce back and get back to normal”
Spies believes he’s finally become more accustomed to the softer compound Bridgestone rear tire after having scored his best qualifying result of the 2010 campaign.
He added: “I definitely didn’t get the most out of them but I stepped up a bit in qualifying and it wasn’t like I did that lap time on a perfect lap. But that happens so I’ll try and get a good start and stay in there on the first few laps.”
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team-mate Colin Edwards claimed his best grid position of the season also. A quickest time of 1.49.683 secured the double World Superbike champion fifth and he was under 0.3 seconds away from a front row start.
“I’m back!” Edwards shouted. “It feels so good to be back up near the front where I know I belong. In the early part of the season I knew I hadn’t forgotten how to ride a bike but nothing was really working and it has been a struggle. The first three races have been terrible but reverting back to last year’s set-up that we know works has given me a massive confidence boost. It is still hard work but I certainly think it’s easier than the start to the season. I just feel way more comfortable, particularly with the front-end of the bike. I could push like I wanted to and I feel confident for the race tomorrow. I’m ready for a fight and a good battle because all this year it feels like I’ve just been riding round. I feel sorry for Valentino and Yamaha and I wish him a speedy recovery because the championship is not the same without him.”
On a different note Jorge Lorenzo has spoken of his sadness of main title rival and Fiat Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi’s suffering a broken right leg in practice for the Italian MotoGP today. Rossi’s title hopes disappeared in a cloud of dust after he broke his right tibia (shinbone) in a massive high-side crash during this morning’s final free practice session. Rossi is expected to miss three months of the season and could be out of action until his home race at the Misano circuit in early September.
The incident installed 23-year-old Lorenzo as a hot favorite for the 2010 title with Rossi out of the hunt and the closest rival being Andrea Dovizioso who’s already 28-points back in third.
Lorenzo, who is chasing a third successive victory in 2010 in the 23-lap Italian MotoGP race, said: “Firstly I want to say how sad I am for Valentino. I know how bad it is to be injured, especially at your home race, and it looks very painful for him. It is very bad news for motorcycling, for the riders and also for Vale. He has a very bad injury and I know that feeling when you ride hurt and it is not a great feeling. For sure he could stay in a very bad situation but we all hope that he recovers because the races are not the same without Valentino.”
Lorenzo looked on course to claim his first pole position of the season today until he was denied by a late charge from Repsol Honda rival Dani Pedrosa. Lorenzo logged a best time of 1.48.996 but finished 0.177 seconds behind Pedrosa.
“Today we made some good steps forward and I am very happy about how my bike is feeling here in Mugello. I have a good race pace, the Bridgestone tires feel good and I think I can make a fight tomorrow. We have to stay calm, focused and concentrated and hopefully it will be a good race for us.”
Former World Champion Casey Stoner admitted he has little chance of fighting for the victory in tomorrow’s Italian MotoGP race at Mugello. The Australian will start the 23-lap clash from the front row after qualifying his factory Ducati in third-place behind Spanish duo Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo. But the 24-year-old, who has crashed out of two of the opening races, played down his chances of repeating his success at Mugello of a year ago.
Despite earning third-place in qualifying, Ducati’s Casey Stoner has voiced that he is not confident headed into the Italian GP.
Stoner has reverted to last year’s Ohlins front forks to solve some of the front-end issues which have dogged him in the early part of the season. Today, however, he claimed his main problem was a lack of rear grip from his factory Ducati GP10 machine. Stoner posted a best time of 1.49.432 but was a massive 0.613 seconds behind Repsol Honda rider Pedrosa this afternoon.
“Race pace wise I’m way off and nowhere near where I need to be. I made one of my best qualifying laps I’ve ever done for the situation I’m in. If we don’t improve the set-up I don’t really want to start at the front and go backwards. I’d rather start back and move forwards. But we’ve got a lot of work to do tonight and do everything we can tomorrow. We hoped we’d be a bit faster at this track than we have been in the past with the new bike and the new engine. We have struggled a little bit and it is something we definitely weren’t expecting and we need to find a few tenths to at least be competitive. I just want good feedback from the bike. I wanted to be doing at least mid-50s but I’m doing high 50s and I know I’m going to struggle to match the pace of Dani and Jorge and it will be a hard race. We’ve got to get some pace out of our bike though before we can understand the forks properly.”
Stoner starts tomorrow’s race still searching for his first rostrum finish of the season and he’s already 59-points adrift of series leader Lorenzo.
Dani Pedrosa declared himself satisfied after the Spaniard claimed his second pole position in the last three MotoGP races at a subdued Mugello today.
With reigning world champion and home favorite Valentino Rossi sidelined by a serious right leg injury, Pedrosa seized pole position from Fiat Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenz in the final seconds of qualifying.
Pedrosa clocked a best time of 1.48.819 to beat fellow Spaniard Lorenzo by just 0.177 seconds with Aussie Casey Stoner completing the front row.
Dani Pedrosa took the best time of 1.48.819 ahead of Jorge Lorenzo for pole position in tomorrow’s race.
“It’s great to be on pole here and we’ve been working very hard through free practice and in qualifying this afternoon to improve things from yesterday. We have achieved this, so I’m satisfied. Being on the front row is the important thing and we have to keep our concentration because to win the race is the target – we have to make it tomorrow! We were pushing very hard right to the end of the session and we were able to do a good final lap, but the most important factor is that we’ve been able to be consistent too. Lorenzo will be the man to beat tomorrow, but we are confident, the machine is working better here and we are in better shape than at the last race in Le Mans. So tomorrow for the race we hope to maintain our performance right to the end. We still have to improve our race pace a little but I’m feeling very well here.”
Pedrosa joined several of his MotoGP rivals in declaring his sadness at Rossi’s injury that has killed of the Italian’s hopes of claiming a tenth world crown in 2010.
The 24-year-old added: “I didn’t see Rossi’s crash, but what I’ve heard about the injury doesn’t sound good. It’s a pity because all of us riders know how you feel when you are hurt, and I just hope that the operation goes well for him because the first operation is always the most important.”