(Top) Jorge Lorenzo smashed the track record during qualifying at Laguna Seca. (Bottom) Ben Spies qualified fourth and was the first American in Saturday’s qualifying before a crash during the session.
Factory Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo was atop the time sheets in Saturday’s hour-long MotoGP qualifying session. Lorenzo used his Yamaha YZR-M1 to set a new track record at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, lapping the 11-turn road course in a time of 1’20.554 (Stoner set the previous track record in ’10 at 1’21.376).
“I knew Casey and Dani were going to try and take pole but I really wanted it here in America so I tried my best,” revealed Lorenzo. “I pushed to the limit, especially in the last corner, I was at full lean and opened the throttle really soon. In my first two tries for a perfect lap there was a lot of traffic so I had to wait for the right moment. The important thing is tomorrow, pole position is nice but anyway the race is what counts.”
Warm, sunny weather, and the new generation 1000cc engines allowed the top-five riders to all smash Stoner’s old record, too. Lining up with Lorenzo on the front row will be the Repsol Honda’s piloted by Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa. Both Honda riders put in spirited rides and were the only riders in the field to get down into the 21s. Even still, Stoner was less than pleased with how it all went down.
“I’m disappointed as I think we definitely had the potential for pole position,” said Stoner who plans on retiring at the end of this season. “We spent most of the session with the hard tire trying to improve our pace, we’ve been struggling with it all season when the temperatures aren’t high enough to get it working and we had made a few steps and weren’t too far off the pace. Then we put on the soft tire and unfortunately we never got a clean lap. There was always a CRT bike in the way and considering we’re three or four seconds a lap quicker than them, you come up on them pretty quick, no matter how big a gap you give them. Every lap was spoiled which is very frustrating as I really feel we could have been on pole but we’ll have to settle for where we are.”
Pedrosa also expressed frustration with the CRT traffic: “I was a little upset at the end of the session as I wasn’t able to improve my lap time, but happy anyway with another front row. We did a big job this afternoon, considering this morning, in my opinion, there was no meaning to go out with such a track and weather conditions. So we had one hour to work with the tires and set up the new bike that I finally chose for the race. It was an intense and interesting practice; we know what we have to do for tomorrow.”
American Ben Spies was the next fastest and will start tomorrows 32-lap race from the second row if he feels well enough having high-sided late in the session.
“Today was okay,” said the ever optimistic Spies. “We obviously had a crash which was unfortunate as I think we could have got on the front row. I was feeling really good I just maybe didn’t let the right side of the tire heat up to quite the right temperature and had a pretty big high side. Anyway we got back out and were able to do the same times as before the crash. I need to get some x-rays to check my heel as I took a big hit on it in the crash.”
Cal Crutchlow slotted next one position in front of his teammate Andrea Dovizioso. Alvaro Bautista was seventh-fastest of the day. Nicky Hayden proved to be the fastest Ducati finisher at eighth—two positions in front of Valentino Rossi..
Laguna Seca MotoGP Qualifying Results:
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’20.554
2. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1’20.628
3. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1’20.906
4. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1’21.094
5. Cal Cruthlow (Yamaha) 1’21.268
6. Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha) 1’21.539
7. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1’21.732
8. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1’21.734
9. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1’21.753
10. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1’22.544
11. Randy de Puniet (ART) 1’22.886
12. Aleix Espargaro (ART) 1’23.075
13. Colin Edwards (Suter) 1’23.699
14. Karel Abraham (Ducati) 1’23.704
15. Yonny Hernandez (BQR) 1’23.769
16. Michele Pirro (FTR) 1’23.877
17. Toni Elias (Ducati) 1’23.898
18. Mattia Pasini (ART) 1’24.017
19. Danilo Petrucci (Ioda) 1’24.227
20. Ivan Silva (BQR) 1’24.560
21. James Ellison (ART) 1’24.715
22. Steve Rapp (Attack) 1’26.887