Alvaro Bautista earned the first pole position of his MotoGP career after posting the top time at Silverstone.
Black clouds at Silverstone caused no small amount of anxiety among teams in Round 6 MotoGP qualifying on Saturday. Spots of rain began to fall with nine minutes remaining in the session and soon after caution flags were flown and riders began to pit. At that point, San Carlo Honda’s Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista was out front and in the end held strong at the top of the timesheet, earning the first MotoGP pole position of his career. Yamaha Factory Racing’s Ben Spies qualified second followed by Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner rounding out the front row. Though caution flags were shown before the official end, the session was not cancelled and most riders returned to the track in the final minutes.
“The conditions today were strange and difficult but we managed to find a good setting, I was up front for the whole session and set my fastest lap on my own,” said Bautista. “I’m really happy for myself and also pleased for the team.”
Track conditions were made all the more concerning after the morning’s practice session where Tech 3 Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow lost his front end and went down. The British rider suffered an injury to his ankle and was taken to Northampton General Hospital after the incident. He was unable to participate in the qualifying session and thus marks the second consecutive year that Crutchlow has sustained injury at his home Silverstone round. He may not miss the race on Sunday though, as doctors later found no fractures and Crutchlow was able to put pressure on his ankle after the swelling reduced. Medics at Silverstone will make a final assessment before the main event where it will be decided if he can enter the 20 lap contest or not.
Spies managed the conditions well though and even held the fastest time for a period during the session. “It was difficult conditions today again, like yesterday but it was the same for everybody. We tried our hardest, I’m happy for the team as they gave me a great bike and we set our best time with the hard rear tyre.When I put the soft one on we were a couple of tenths up then I made a mistake and hit the curb, I had a good lap going but messed it up. I’m just happy to be on the front row and working well with the team, let’s see what tomorrow brings.”
Like Crutchlow, Spies also went down last year at the British circuit as did teammate Jorge Lorenzo, forcing both Yamaha riders to pull out of the Grand Prix mid-race. Spies hasn’t found much to smile about yet this year either, failing to come near a podium in the first five races and beset by all manner of misfortune. Lorenzo, on the other hand, currently leads in championship points and has three wins to his credit through five rounds. The Spaniard heads up the second row with the fourth-fastest time in qualifying.
Behind Lorenzo is Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa in fifth and Pramac Racing’s Hector Barbera in sixth. Ducati’s Nicky Hayden leads the third row and Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso held to eighth. LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl rounds out the third row with Ducati’s Valentino Rossi in tenth.
Ben Spies is still looking to compete for podium position this year. He took second in qualifying at Silverstone.
Both Rossi and Hayden went down during qualifying at Vale corner. Both riders were able to walk away from the separate incidents, but there will no doubt be work to do before the race on Sunday.
Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro once again posted the fastest time among CRT riders, coming in 11th ahead of teammate Randy de Puniet in 12th. NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards will start Sunday’s race from 15th on the grid.
Weather will continue to be a major issue going into Sunday’s Grand Prix. Silverstone is the largest track on the GP schedule this year and as such can be wet in one segment and dry in another. During qualifying, the rain clouds had moved in over the start/finish while patches of blue sky were visible from other sections of the track.
MotoGP Silverstone Qualifying Results 2012:
1. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 2’03.303
2. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 2’03.409
3. Casey Stoner (Honda) 2’03.423
4. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2’03.763
5. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2’03.835
6. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 2’03.876
7. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 2’04.162
8. Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha) 2’04.304
9. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 2’05.035
10. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 2’05.416
11. Aleix Espargaro (ART) 2’06.283
12. Randy De Puniet (ART) 2’06.303
13. Yonny Hernandez (BQR) 2’06.814
14. Michele Pirro (FTR) 2’07.016
15. Colin Edwards (Suter) 2’07.376
16. Mattia Pasini (ART) 2’07.511
17. James Ellison (ART) 2’08.228
18. Danilo Petrucci (Ioda) 2’08.686
19. Ivan Silva (BQR) 2’10.092