With track temperatures hot enough to fry an egg on, Fiat Yamaha
's Valentino Rossi blazed to the top of the timesheets and captured the pole position start for Sunday's MotoGP
round at Sepang. Teammate and rival, Jorge Lorenzo took second with Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa following up in third.
Fiat Yamaha's Valentino Rossi appears poised to take the MotoGP championship with one round left.
The Doctor appears driven to clinch the MotoGP title during the Sepang round as he set a new pole-position lap record during qualifying, beating his 2006 time by 0.087. If Rossi can finish here in fourth or higher, he will add yet another championship notch to his belt before heading into the final race at Valencia.
“My target was to try and go under 2’01, because in the winter test here I got to around that pace, but I managed to go even better and beat my own time from 2006 with a 990cc bike and qualifying tires. It was a great lap,” Rossi said.
During the early stages of qualifying, Lorenzo was posting slower speeds, but the Mallorcan pushed harder near the end of the session and earned the second-fastest time behind Rossi with Pedrosa taking the final spot on the front row.
Marlboro's Casey Stoner will start behind Rossi on Row 2 in fourth and will be joined by veteran racer Loris Capirossi on the Rizla Suzuki
GSV-R. San Carlo Gresini Honda's Toni Elias rode well and grabbed the final spot on the second row of the grid after posting the sixth-fastest time.
Ducati Marlboro's second pilot, Nicky Hayden, put up the seventh-quickest time on board the Desmosedici followed by Randy De Puniet on his LCR Honda. The Frenchman is
Rossi rival and teammate, Jorge Lorenzo will have to push through some residual hand pain from his crash at Phillip Island if he is going to take second in the championship.
chasing his second-podium finish for 2009 and some much-needed points in the championship before the final round in Valencia as only one point separates the number seven through ten riders in the championship standings.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 ace Colin Edwards
will start on Row 3 in ninth behind Pedrosa and Elias. Heading up Row 4 is Alex De Angelis on his San Carlo Gresini Honda. The man from San Marino will be joined by another Honda rider, Andrea Dovizioso and Pramac Racing's Mika Kallio in 12th.
Scot Racing Honda's substitute rider, Aleix Espargaro, finished in 13th, ahead of MotoGP veterans Chris Vermeulen of Rizla Suzuki and Hayate Racing's Marco Melandri.
MotoGP Sepang Qualifying Results:
1. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 2'00.518
2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) +0.569
3. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) +0.736
4. Casey Stoner (Ducati) +0.937
5. Loris Capirossi (Suzuk) +1.198
6. Toni Elias (Honda) +1.400
7. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) +1.462
8. Randy De Puniet (Honda) +1.580
9. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) +1.677
10. Alex De Angelis (Honda) +1.756
11. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) +1.844
12. Mika Kallio (Ducati) +1.917
13. Aleix Espargaro (Ducati) +2.341
14. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) +2.514
15. Marco Melandri (Kawasaki) +2.570
MotoGP Qualifying Rider Quotes:
Valentino Rossi - Fiat Yamaha:
Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa (3) will be gunning for Casey Stoner's third-place points position this Sunday.
"I am so happy about that final lap! I couldn't believe it when I saw it on my dashboard, I thought it was possible to go faster but not by that much! My team and I have worked very well here and we've had a good strategy with Bridgestone, which left us with plenty of time at the end to try for the pole. It's very important to be on the front row here so we have done our job well, plus I am confident about our setting and our race pace. We're in good shape. It's incredibly hot and tomorrow will be hard for everyone, as it always is here, but we have a good advantage and I am really looking forward to the battle. Let's see where we are at this time tomorrow!"
Jorge Lorenzo - Fiat Yamaha:
"Today hasn't been my best day and I have found things quite hard. The conditions are basically the same as yesterday so I can't blame them, but we just don't have the same levels of grip and confidence that we had before and it's hard to understand why. We didn't make the step we expected and we are lacking pace compared to our rivals. Now we all need to study the data and work out what we can do for the warm-up tomorrow. I am happy that we were able to be back on the front row as this will be important, now we will just try our best to be in better shape for the race."
Dani Pedrosa - Repsol Honda:
Casey Stoner is probably isn't still smiling after a disappointing Saturday qualifying. Stoner was seen shaking his head in disgust during the last lap of qualifying.
“I’m happy to be on the front row again because, as always, this gives you a clear getaway when the start lights go out. I think we’ve got a good machine setting for the race tomorrow and we just need to adjust it a little bit during the warm up. At the end of the qualifying session I didn't make a very good job of it with the last soft Bridgestone tire so my lap time doesn’t reflect our full potential this afternoon. First I made a couple of mistakes and then I had some traffic which caused me to lose a little bit of the concentration you need to go at maximum pace at this moment. Anyway, I’m happy to be on the front row again. It will be a very tough race, very demanding for sure, but we always look for the win and we will give all we have to make it happen. I'm very motivated for this race.”
Casey Stoner - Ducati Marlboro:
"I’m really disappointed with that session because I know we could and should have been fighting for pole position. I had a much better feeling with the setting at the start of the session but midway through we went to change tires and after that we suffered from a huge vibration in the bike. We still haven’t worked out what it is yet so we need to figure it out and fix it for tomorrow. I tried the softer compound but the chattering was even worse. I swapped to my other bike but we had a different setting in it that I hadn’t tried and I didn’t feel comfortable. Everything that could go wrong in the crucial second part of the session did go wrong but if we can fix this problem then we’ll be in good shape for tomorrow. Anyway I’m happy with my pace in race conditions and I look forward to tomorrow”
Loris Capirossi - Rizla Suzuki:
"We struggled a lot up until this afternoon's qualifying practice, because we were always trying to find the best solution for setting-up the bike. We changed the front a little bit for
"I am quite happy with my lap-time, because it was hot this afternoon and the bike worked well. My rhythm is good around here and I think that tomorrow we have the chance to start well and make a really good race," said Rizla Suzuki's Loris Capirossi (65) on his fifth-place grid start.
this afternoon and immediately on the first run I knew the bike was really working well. I am happy and I want to say well done and a big thanks to all my crew, because they have done a great job today."
Toni Elias - San Carlo Honda Gresini:
“The position is good – we’re on the second row, which is where we wanted to be – and my rhythm is okay, but we still need to improve. We have been working so hard on finding rear traction that maybe the bike has been compromised in other areas, so we need to work out how best to find a better balance between the two things. It’s not easy and I know you can’t have everything but it’s just a little frustrating because we are a few small steps away from having a really competitive package for the race here. Hopefully we can take those steps overnight and in the warm-up tomorrow.”
Nicky Hayden – Ducati Marlboro:
“I didn’t actually make as big a step this afternoon as I had hoped from the morning session. On race tires in the hotter temperature it was certainly tough and I was struggling a little bit. We had a couple of problems during the session but in the end I was able to find one good lap to get me into a respectable grid position, very close to the second row. I’m not too happy with my race pace – we’re missing a few tenths and we have some work to do tonight to try and find where we can make them up. I’m never really happy with seventh place but to be honest today it was a pleasant surprise because it could have been much worse off than that if we were just a few tenths slower. We’ve got a big job to do tomorrow. 22 laps around here when your race pace isn’t perfect is certainly not easy but that’s what we train for. Hopefully we can improve in the warm-up, get a good start and we’ll see what we got for them. ”
Randy De Puniet - LCR Honda:
“It’s been the hardest weekend so far to set up the bike. After yesterday’s difficult session, we worked hard to improve the machine set-up and I finally lapped with a good pace in the afternoon session. In these conditions, I could not qualify better than this; we still have some rear grip issues to adjust as the asphalt temperature is very high and I do not feel very comfortable with my braking points, especially in turns 1, 4, 9 and the last one. However, things are going in the right direction and tomorrow’s warm-up session will be helpful to fix the bike.”
Alex De Angelis - San Carlo Honda Gresini:
Alex De Angelis has not revealed his plan for 2010, but hopes hopes a strong finish in the final two rounds will keep him in MotoGP.
“Honestly speaking, I’m happy with our performance today, because yesterday we were a long way off the other satellite bikes but today we have gradually closed the gap and I have finished up just a couple of tenths short of my team-mate, who is on the second row. My team did a great job and we were lapping in the 2’02s throughout the session, which is good for tomorrow. Hopefully, we can take another step forward in warm-up and close the gap even more to that second group. My objective is to have a good race and, if possible, hang on to seventh or eighth place in the championship. I know (Loris) Capirossi is looking strong here but if I can stay in touch with him then we have a good chance going to Valencia, a circuit I love and always go well at.”