During qualifying for the second round of the 2011 MotoGP Championship at Jerez, Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner grabbed hold of the 24th pole position of his career in the premier class. The Aussie once again outshined his teammate, Dani Pedrosa, by 0.158 seconds late in the session despite having a run through the gravel.
“The Qualifying result was good but as for using the rest of the session and setting the bike up, we weren’t totally happy with what we achieved,” said Stoner. “We’re struggling a little to get the balance of the bike where I want it, we make some improvements in the front and then some in the rear but never at the same time which is a little frustrating. On my last run of the session I was pushing a little too hard and was a bit late with the brakes, the rear came up and I released the brakes but I had way too much speed going in there, it was nice just to avoid the air fence. Anyway we’re happy, we’re on pole position again but we still need to finish the race tomorrow and I will fight for a podium position and hopefully the race victory, but I never underestimate the Spanish riders, they find something extra for this race and they are very hard to beat.”
“To be on the front row is always very important and second is a good place to start the race,” Pedrosa said. “I would like to improve the bike a little bit, especially on the third section of the track, the only place where I lose some tenths, and it would help to have better braking and exit of the corners there. It’s been tough with the shoulder – in fact this
Dani Pedrosa was only 0.158 seconds shy of taking pole position in Spain and will start from the front row again.
morning I decided to only do a few laps to not stress the arm so much – and it will be difficult also tomorrow, but there’s nothing else I can do, I’ll just try to finish the race in the best way possible and hopefully, bring home a good result.”
After leading the paddock for much of the session Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo charged to third in the timesheets. The defending champion was 0.472 seconds ahead of teammate, Ben Spies, who just missed the front row after posting a lap of 1’39.390.
“I pushed the maximum from the first lap and improved my lap time from this morning,” said Lorenzo. “We were one of the few to improve with the tougher conditions when the track was worse. When we put the soft tires in we managed to make a 1’38.9 lap which is a good time and we were only some milliseconds from Dani and less than two tenths from Casey. We are confident for tomorrow and we are pushing for a podium, if the opportunity arises then we will go for a victory.”
“That’s definitely the best session we’ve had so far,” Spies said. “I’ve got to take my hat off to my crew because it has been a hard weekend. Every practice session we’ve had two different bikes while we’ve been searching for the right set up. They’ve been doing an excellent job getting me more comfortable, I wouldn’t say I’m 100% there yet but from Friday it’s a big improvement. In qualifying I had to do my part and step up to get closer to the front on the grid and it all worked out. I had a small crash, one of those crashes where I knew going into the corner that I’d made a mistake and was trying to slow it down but lost the front.”
Yamaha’s Ben Spies saw dramatic improvement during Saturday’s qualifying and will start from Row 2 at Jerez.
Saturday’s hour-long qualifying session at Jerez was a crash-filled event with falls by Spies, Pramac Racing’s Randy de Puniet, Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards, San Carlo Honda’s Hiroshi Aoyama and Ducati’s Valentino Rossi. Marco Simoncelli continued his excellent pace this season by being the third-fastest Honda rider of the day with fifth place in the charts, followed by Andrea Dovizioso. De Puniet was the leading Ducati rider of the bunch after earning seventh in the books more than a second adrift of Stoner.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 duo of Edwards and Cal Crutchlow occupied eighth and ninth, respectively. Meanwhile, Aoyama managed to come back on a spare bike to capture the 10th-fastest lap after a nasty high-speed crash.
American Nicky Hayden recorded a lap just 0.007 seconds behind Aoyama for the 11th-best time. Rossi had a disappointing day with his efforts leaving him more than 1.4 seconds off the pace in 12th. He will start Sunday’s race from the final spot on Row 4 and will face an uphill battle as he attempts to overcome limitations from his injured shoulder.
“We really didn’t need that fall because I was going quite well with the right bike, the one I like better and that I would have used to do a time with the soft tire later,” Rossi said. “I had to lap with the other bike, which was very different, an experiment that unfortunately didn’t work very well. I didn’t feel good on the bike, and I was slower than I had been this morning. It’s a shame. If I had to make a mistake, that was really the wrong moment, because otherwise the second row was within our reach. I like the track, and our pace isn’t bad; we’ll see what happens if we’re able to get a good start.”
John Hopkins will begin his first race since returning to Rizla Suzuki from 14th on the grid after posting a lap that was more than a second and a half off the leader’s pace.
“I don’t really know where to start,” said Hopkins. “It’s been a good day and we’ve taken everything step-by-step to get where we are. It was good to sleep on the track last night – not literally – but to sleep with it in my mind! This morning we went quite a bit quicker, which we expected to do and again we haven’t made any geometry changes whatsoever to the bike. All we’ve changed has been the electronics and the riding position a little bit, but that has just been some fine tuning. It’s amazing the technology that MotoGP bikes have these days – it is just insane!”
Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham and LCR Honda’s Toni Elias will round out the final row, with Elias being the only rider more than two seconds away from Stoner.
Jerez MotoGP Qualifying 2011 Results:
1. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1’38.757
Valentino Rossi suffered a low-side fall during qualifying and will have to start the race from 12th on the grid.
2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1’38.915
3. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’38.918
4. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1’39.390
5. Marco Simoncelli (Honda) 1’39.486
6. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1’39.709
7. Randy de Puniet (Ducati) 1’39.892
8. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1’39.895
9. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1’40.019
10. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda) 1’40.168
11. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1’40.175
12. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1’40.185
13. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 1’40.217
14. John Hopkins (Suzuki) 1’40.310
15. Loris Capirossi (Ducati) 1’40.523
Viessmann Kiefer Racing’s Sefan Bradl secured his second pole of the season after setting a lap of 1’42.706 around the Jerez circuit. Gresini Racing’s Yuki Takahashi and Interwetten Paddock Moto2’s Thomas Luthi will round out the front row on Sunday after sealing second and third respectively in the charts, with Luthi finishing 0.582 seconds adrift of Bradl.
“Everything is working so well at the moment – I’m very happy,” Bradl said. “The team has done a great job here, just as they did in Qatar. We improved a lot here, which hasn’t been easy because of the wind yesterday. This morning we found something in the settings that worked really well. The bike is a great package at the moment and the tires were good too. The difficult thing was trying to find a clear track – everyone was waiting for me, trying to follow me for a good lap. We don’t know what the weather will do tomorrow but we are as well prepared as we can be.”
Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol’s Marc Marquez ended his qualifying session early after crashing out in Turn 1. However, the Spaniard finished fourth in the order as he attempts to comeback from the DNF he recorded during the first round in Qatar. Tech 3’s Bradley Smith earned the fifth-quickest lap with a time of 1’43.500, followed by JiR Moto2’s Alex de Angelis and Gresini Racing’s Michele Pirro.
Scott Redding and his team struggled with his bike in the garage for most of the session, leaving the Brit only 10 minutes near the end. As a result Redding’s best time left him outside the top-10 and he will start Round 2 from the fifth row.
After recovering from a major crash on Friday, Yuki Takahashi was close to overtaking Bradl in the final minutes of the session but ultimately had to settle for second.
Jerez Moto2 Qualifying Results:
1. Stefan Bradl (Kalex) 1’42.706
2. Yuki Takahashi (Moriwaki) 1’42.988
3. Thomas Luthi (Suter) 1’43.288
4. Marc Marquez (Suter) 1’43.332
5. Bradley Smith (Tech 3) 1’43.500
6. Alex de Angelis (Motobi) 1’43.613
7. Michele Pirro (Moriwaki) 1’43.615
8. Aleix Espargaro (Pons Kalex) 1’43.676
9. Claudio Corti (Suter) 1’43.687
10. Julian Simon (Suter) 1’43.766
11. Andrea Iannone (Suter) 1’43.782
12. Kenan Sofuoglu (Suter) 1’43.860
13. Scott Redding (Suter) 1’43.897
14. Mika Kallio (Suter) 1’43.935
15. Dominique Aegerter (Suter) 1’44.024