The sun was out but heavy winds created havoc for the MotoGP qualifying at Valencia today. Riders struggled for traction around the 2.48-mile circuit, but Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner pushed his way through to a pole position start for Sunday’s race. Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa and Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo will join Stoner on the front row.
Ducati's Casey Stoner (27) snagged pole position for the final race of the 2009 MotoGP season.
Despite capturing the pole-position start, Stoner seemed dismayed, "I felt pretty comfortable out there but one of the softer rear tires pushed the front that bit harder and it folded on me in four or five corners. It's a shame because potentially we could have gone that bit quicker but I can't complain."
Gracing for the front row for the 16th time this season, Lorenzo was quite pleased with his third-place start. The Mallorcan is hoping to take second in the MotoGP Championship and is confident he can put up a good challenge tomorrow.
2009 World Champion Valentino Rossi was in and out of the pits for most of the session making changes to his Fiat Yamaha, but his best was fourth on the grid. "Today was not the best day for us. We haven't found the right setting for the bike yet, we've tried hard but we don't have enough grip yet to allow us to go fast," said Rossi. However, the Doctor's fourth-place position was enough to secure him the BMW M Award for best-qualifier in the 2009 season.
Fellow Yamaha rider Colin Edwards, who starts in fifth-place for the eighth time this season, is hoping to bring back to Texas a fifth-place in the championship standings as well. The American is trailing Repsol Honda's Andrea Dovizoso by just four-points. Stoner's Ducati teammate, Nicky Hayden captured sixth on the grid. The Kentucky Kid has never qualified outside the front two rows at Valencia during his MotoGP career and it's here that Hayden won his 2006 title.
On Turn 1, Randy De Puniet laid down his LCR Honda but
Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa is hoping for a second win for the 2009 season while on home soil at Valencia.
the Frenchman used his back-up to qualify for seventh. San Carlo Gresini Honda’s Toni Elias grabbed eighth and wildcard entry and the 2009 World Superbike champ Ben Spies in ninth aboard his Sterilgarda Yamaha. The American was as high as a provisional seventh early on in the qualifying session.
Pedrosa’s teammate, Dovizioso, will start from Row 4. The Italian will be joined by the 2009 Rookie of the Year Mika Kallio on his Pramac Racing Ducati and Honda satelitte rider Alex De Angelis taking the final fourth-row slot.
Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi will start from Row 5 in 13th place with Monster Yamaha’s James Toseland, who is racing his final MotoGP in 14th, and Marco Melandri in 15th aboard the Hayate Racing Kawasaki.
MotoGP Valencia Qualifying Results:
1. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1’32.256
2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) +0.263
3. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) +0.281
4. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) +0.666
5. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) +0.829
6. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) +0.898
"In the end I think it's an ok qualifying results (ninth) for us, we just need to keep doing more laps on the bike. I can feel what the bike wants to do but I'm just not ready to take it there yet," said Ben Spies about his feelings on the new Sterilgarda Yamaha MotoGP ride.
7. Randy De Puniet (Honda) +1.135
8. Toni Elias (Honda) +1.219
9. Ben Spies (Yamaha) +1.283
10. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) +1.422
11. Mika Kallio (Ducati) +1.553
12. Alex De Angelis (Honda) +1.588
13. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki) +1.841
14. James Toseland (Yamaha) +1.851
15. Marco Melandri (Kawasaki) +1.932
MotoGP Valencia Qualifying Rider Quotes:
Casey Stoner - Ducati Marlboro:
"We've been the fastest in every session so far so we have to be plased with that and the fact we were able to do most of the lap times we did on a race tire today is a good sign. We're on pole position again, in good shape for the race tomorrow and looking forward to it. Hopefully the weather holds out because it would be nice for everybody to end the season with a good race."
Jorge Lorenzo - Fiat Yamaha:
"Two good sessions for us today and we're happy because our target was the front row, as it has been all season. Our race pace is good too and we are confident that tomorrow we can put up a good challenge for the last race of the season, which looks like it will be very exciting! It was quite windy today so we hope it's less so tomorrow, we'll try and refine the setting a little more but we're ready to race."
Valentino Rossi - Fiat Yamaha:
"I have to start on the second row and we have quite a big question mark for tomorrow's race. At the end of the session, was able to do some better laps with the softer tire but unfortunately with these conditions we will have to use the harder tire tomorrow. We will work tonght and again in the morning warm-up and hopefully we can find a way to improve so that we can race as we would like to. I'm happy about the qualifying award, at least we have one positive thing to take from today!"
Nicky Hayden - Ducati Marlboro:
"We have made a lot of progress from yesterday but we have had to work hard and make huge changes to the bike. I know it's not usually a good sign when you can't roll something competitive out on a Friday but that's what we're aiming for and for the moment my team are doing a great job in the time we have available. The bike was much more enjoyable to ride today and after being fifth this morning I was hoping for the same results this afternoon because that is my worst qualifying result here at Valencia. We'll take sixth thoug - it's not my best qualifying position but from where we started the year in Qatar I think I was last on the grid and in the hospital so to end it with a second-row start is pleasing. Tomorrow is going to be a tough one as always but we'll try to get a good start, make sure we don't get squeezed in down in turn one and have some fun. I'm looking forward to it."