Yamaha Racing PR:
Fiat Yamaha Team rider Jorge Lorenzo kept up his 100% front-row qualifying record for the season with another pole position at his home track this afternoon, his third of 2009. Valentino Rossi made a welcome return to the front row after a three-race absence, qualifying just 0.013 seconds adrift of his team-mate in second place.
After Rossi had ruled the roost in practice yesterday, it was Lorenzo’s turn at the top during this morning’s session while the Italian slipped to third behind Andrea Dovizioso. Temperatures climbed even higher than yesterday throughout the early afternoon and when the Qualifying session began it had reached 38 degrees at Montmelo.
Lorenzo held the top spot for most of the first forty minutes before Rossi sprang into the lead with 20 minutes to go, sparking another entertaining battle which saw the Yamaha pair trading places with Casey Stoner and Dovizioso. For the second race running however it came down to the last couple of laps to decide the final line-up and with four minutes to go Rossi re-took pole. Inside the final sixty seconds however his Mallorcan team-mate edged him off with a stunning lap, cheered on by his home fans. The World Champion’s answering challenge fell just over one hundredth of a second short, leaving Stoner to secure third place a further 0.439 seconds off.
Jorge Lorenzo Position: 1 Time: 1’41.974
“The heat was incredible today and it’s going to be very tough doing so many laps tomorrow without getting too tired! I’m so happy to be here on pole in front of my home fans at this track, which I really love. Tomorrow is going to be a very difficult race for everyone and I am expecting a very good fight with Valentino, who has a very strong pace. It looks like Stoner and Dovizioso will be there too so I hope it’s an exciting race for the fans! I have a good rhythm here and I feel very comfortable on the bike so I am just going to stay focused and think about having a great race.”
Valentino Rossi Position: 2 Time: 1’41.987
“It’s good to be back on the front row after three races off it, so we’re happy about that. Of course I am sorry to miss the pole by such a tiny amount, but anyway we have an excellent pace and I am confident for tomorrow. We’ve been waiting for good weather for five races and now the temperature is maybe a little bit too much, but for sure it’s better than rain for everyone! I think that it will be a hard race tomorrow in this heat and after just a few laps I think the bikes will start to slide a bit, which means that we can expect a great battle and a hard fight! I am happy with the work we’ve done here, I am enjoying riding my bike and the weekend is going well so far. There are one or two small things we can hopefully improve tomorrow, but I am ready to be competitive.”
Daniele Romagnoli Team Manager
“This is a perfect day for our side of the garage. For us to start on pole here, at Jorge’s home track, is brilliant and we couldn’t ask for anything more. Jorge clearly has extra motivation in front of the Spanish fans but he did a great job today throughout both sessions and he has an excellent race pace. His last run was very good and he was able to challenge Valentino and take the pole position.”
Davide Brivio Team Manager
“It’s good to be back on the front row – this was one of our primary targets for this weekend. It was such a close qualifying battle with Jorge and we’ve only missed out by a fraction so we’re not too disappointed. We have a strong race pace and everything looks good for tomorrow. Let’s race!”
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team was left pondering what might have been after a dramatic qualifying session for tomorrow’s Catalunya MotoGP race.
American Colin Edwards looked on course to equal his best grid position of the year when he held fifth place until a late crash, while James Toseland ended the session in a season best ninth, but less than one tenth off a brilliant top five.
Edwards will start from sixth place on the grid for the fourth time in 2009, despite a crash in the final five minutes when he lost the front-end of his YZR-M1 machine at Turn Four. The American occupied fifth position when he crashed out unhurt, but fortunately he only slipped one place down the rankings. The 35-year-old made big progress today in solving a front-end feel issue that dogged him during practice, but the Texan is still not 100 per cent comfortable with the front setting of his YZR-M1 machine and will work closely with his crew tonight to find further improvements ahead of tomorrow’s 25-lap race.
Toseland easily enjoyed his best qualifying session of the 2009 campaign. The British rider showed the form that carried him to a top six finish in last year’s Montmelo race in a closely contested session, with just 1.8s splitting the top 17 riders at the chequered flag. The 28-year-old clocked a best time of 1.43.233 on his last lap to claim a place on the third row, but he was just 0.094s away from fifth place Toni Elias on a scorching hot afternoon that saw air temperatures nudge an energy-sapping 40 degrees.
Colin Edwards 6th 1.43.168 – 20 laps
“I guess I’m pretty fortunate to have finished on the second row considering I crashed out at the crucial stage of the session. We made some changes overnight to help me get more comfortable with the front-end and while it was better, I’m still not close to the comfort level I need to go as fast as I know I can. I’m still not comfortable in the middle of the corner and I can’t get it to turn or hold a line. Even when I was on the soft tyres towards the end I still didn’t feel like I could push too hard. I’m normally really smooth but I can’t ride like that right now. Luckily I’d done a pretty decent time on my first two softer tyres because on the last one I crashed out. The crash was a bit weird because I lost the front really early while I was still hard braking and leaning over. Normally when I lose the front it’s at the apex when I’m starting to force the front. If I’m being honest, on race tyres I’m not that confident because of the set-up issue with the front. I k now Valentino, Jorge and Casey are all running a good pace and it’s crucial to get a good start and try and tag onto the back of them. I’d love to say I’m going to be on the podium tomorrow, which is what I had aspirations of, but it’s looking difficult. As always though I’ll be giving it my all for Monster Yamaha Tech 3.”
James Toseland 9th 1.43.233 – 24 laps
“I can’t believe I’m saying this after the season I’ve had but I’m frustrated with my best qualifying result of the season. To finish under a tenth off fifth and be down in ninth is frustrating though, but at least I’m frustrated to be close to fifth and not fifteenth! At the start of the session I was out on used tyres and with the temperature being so hot it was quite difficult to find grip. But it was good to get information on the extra hard tyre in that heat for the race. On my last run I had a new front and rear, so it was difficult to get a good feeling straightaway with the front. In the last two corners on my last lap I had two big moments on the front and without doubt that cost me fifth place. Going into the last two corners I’d have been fifth, but at least at that pace I feel really comfortable because I can do that time with a couple of issues. MotoGP is now so close that a tenth has cost me four places on the grid. It’s a shame that I’m not on the second row because the way I’m riding and the way the team is working, we deserve to be a bit higher up, but we’ve all done a great job today and I’ve got a good chance in the race tomorrow. It’s my best qualifying of the year, so hopefully I can capitalise on it and give Monster Yamaha Tech 3 a good result.”
Circuit Length: 4727
Lap Record: 1’43.195 (Valentino Rossi, 01/01/2005)
Fastest Lap Ever: 1’41.186 (Casey Stoner, 08/06/2008)
Last Years Winner: Daniel Pedrosa