Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner took pole position in Saturday’s qualifying session at Catalunya. The Australian was followed by Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo in second and Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow. Lorenzo’s teammate Ben Spies posted the fourth fastest time and was followed by Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa and Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso rounding out the second row.
This is Stoner’s second pole win of the season, the first of which he took at Estoril, a race he later went on to win. The reigning MotoGP held the top spot during the early laps of the session and held steady until other riders put up a challenge in the sweltering conditions. Stoner wouldn’t be bested, however, and took the top time despite still suffering from the chatter woes that have hindered the Honda. .
“We used the qualifying as an extended practice session as we don’t always have enough time to do everything during the 45 minute sessions,” said Stoner. “This morning we did a lot of work with the hard tire, so in the afternoon in these hot conditions, we worked more with the softer one to get a clearer understanding if we can run with it for race distance. We were in and out a lot during the session trying a few different things, hoping to reduce the chatter which is still proving to be a problem, as soon as I touch the throttle the bike starts to chatter in the rear and it’s making things very difficult.”
Points leader Lorenzo also commented on the need to iron out some kinks with his bike before Sunday’s event: “I almost crashed in T3 on my first hot lap on the bumps so second place is good for tomorrow. We still need a little good feeling on the front; we are struggling on some corners so we need to improve the feeling or it’s going to be difficult in the race.”
Cal Crutchlow took the final spot in the front row after posting the third best time in the final two minutes of the session.
Crutchlow continues to surprise on the Tech 3 Yamaha, the British rider taking the final spot in the front row with just two minutes remaining in the session.
“I am really happy to be back on the front row again and it feels great considering this is only the second time I have been to this track,” Crutchlow explained. “I expected to be up there challenging but wasn’t sure where and my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew did another fantastic job with the bike today. It proves again that I’ve got the raw speed and consistency and now I am really looking forward to the race. It will be really tough if the conditions are the same with the temperature so hot but I am ready for it.”
A second row start for Spies is an encouraging sign that the American might be able to turn around his poor performances this season. Fellow Row 2 starters, Pedrosa and Dovizioso, briefly held the top spot in qualifying before Stoner blazed through the track with the top time. The former Repsol teammates will battle with Spies for a good start on Sunday.
Ducati’s Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi will both start from the third row. The Doctor was able to improve his lap time by over a second from yesterday’s practice round.
“I’m pretty pleased because we improved the bike’s setup and we made the third row, which was our goal for today, even if I really lose a lot in the last part of the track, especially on entry in the last two corners,” said Rossi. “Anyway, we can also be pretty satisfied with our race pace because I was able to ride well and consistently, even on a used tyre. The forecasts say it could rain tomorrow, and of course we know that we can do well in the wet, although it could also be good for us even if we just get a bit cooler temperatures.”
Power Electronics Aspar rider Randy De Puniet was the top CRT qualifier, coming in 13th, followed by returning CRT rider Colin Edwards of NGM Mobile Forward Racing. This is Edwards’ first race since his crash at Estoril where he fractured his collarbone.
2012 MotoGP Catalunya Qualifying Results:
1. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1’41.295
2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’41.441
3. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1’41.548
4. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1’41.552
5. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1’41.656
6. Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha) 1’41.687
7. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1’42.029
8. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1’42.065
9. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1’42.175
10. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1’42.356
11. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 1’42.375
12. Karel Abraham (Ducati) 1’43.266
13. Randy De Puniet (ART) 1’43.500
14. Colin Edwards (Suter) 1’44.024
15. Aleix Espargaro (ART) 1’44.041
16. Michele Pirro (FTR) 1’44.356
17. James Ellison (ART) 1’44.763
18. Mattia Pasini (ART) 1’44.764
19. Yonny Hernandez (BQR) 1’44.833
20. Danilo Petrucci (Ioda) 1’45.730
21. Ivan Silva (BQR) 145.962