Valentino Rossi took pole for the second race running at Donington Park this afternoon, his fourth of the season and the 56th of his career. Jorge Lorenzo qualified third and, with four poles for him also this year, the Fiat Yamaha Team has now taken the front grid slot in eight out of the ten races. It is also the fifth consecutive race at which both riders have been on the front row.
After yesterday’s downpours, today was dry with sunny intervals and this morning saw Lorenzo second and Rossi third as they got their first chance to work on their dry settings around the 4km track. In this afternoon’s hour-long qualifying session Lorenzo held pole position for most of the session until briefly surrendering it to Dani Pedrosa ten minutes from the end, whilst Rossi struggled slightly to find the best set-up with the hard Bridgestone tyre.
22-year-old Lorenzo moved back to the top just a couple of laps later but was then edged off by Rossi with three minutes to go, as the Italian found his best form at the perfect time. The Spaniard was unable to match the pace of his championship-leading team-mate with the soft tyre and finished 0.286 seconds adrift, whilst a strong charge from Dani Pedrosa edged the Spaniard into third but was not good enough to knock Rossi off pole.
Tomorrow’s race will start at the later time of 1530 local time, which is 1630 CET.
Position: 1st Time: 1’28.116 Laps: 32
“I am quite surprised to be on pole today because we had a couple of problems this afternoon! This morning unfortunately we didn’t try the hard Bridgestone tyre but we weren’t worried because everyone else had good grip with it. But this afternoon when we finally tried it we found the grip to be not as we expected and our pace with it wasn’t so good. We made some modifications and improved it a bit, then we made a few more and used the soft tyre again and then we were very quick. Like that I could ride the bike how I wanted and it felt great, fast and flowing so this was a good job from the team. We need to do some work to improve our pace with the hard tyre, and then we just have to wait and see what the weather does tomorrow. Whatever happens, we’re starting from the front and this is the most important thing.”
Position: 3rd Time: 1’28.402 Laps: 35
“With the harder tyre, we’re definitely ready and I feel very good on the bike. With the softer tyre and on my last run I wasn’t so fast, but we are not too concerned about this. Anyway I feel confident on my M1 and I am enjoying riding here. Tomorrow we don’t know about the weather but I was fast also in the rain yesterday so I know that I can be competitive even if the weather is bad. I am really hoping for a good race here since it’s the last time we will come.”
“At the end everything worked out okay and we got a nice pole position, the second in a row. We still have some work to do to improve the race setting to finalise the package in case we have dry conditions tomorrow, but we have the warm-up in to try to fine-tune everything. It looks like it’s more likely that it’s going to rain however, in which case we will use what we learned yesterday.”
“We are on target, because starting from the front row will be very important for this race. Today we concentrated mostly on our race setting and Jorge’s pace is very fast and consistent. Maybe we should have considered something a bit different for qualifying with the softer tyre, but the most important thing is that we’re in good shape for the race. We hope that we can have the same weather as today tomorrow, but if the rain does come then we have yesterday’s good session to help us.”
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team duo Colin Edwards and James Toseland will do battle in the last British MotoGP race to be staged at Donington Park from sixth and ninth on the grid respectively.
Edwards secured his seventh top six qualifying result of the season with a best lap of 1.28.865, the American using dry and warm conditions to further evaluate new front fork settings and a revised body position on his Yamaha YZR-M1 machine.
Bidding to score a third MotoGP podium at Donington Park in tomorrow’s 30-lap race, Edwards was one of only seven riders to lap within a second of Valentino Rossi’s impressive pole position pace.
Toseland gave his hopes of a scoring a top six finish in front of a passionate home crowd a huge boost this afternoon. Working closely with his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team crew to improve the setting of his YZR-M1 machine, the 28-year-old performed superbly to equal his best qualifying result of the season.
A lap of 1.29.270s was just 1.154s away from pole position and Toseland was just over four-tenths-of-a-second away from a top six spot on the grid after he’d been as high as fifth position on the timesheets.
The British rider is confident of fighting for his best result of the season, though all eyes will be on the skies tomorrow, with a repeat of the rain that disrupted yesterday’s practice forecast for the race.
Colin Edwards 6th 1.28.865 – 30 laps
“I’m happy with the way I rode but getting close to those guys at the front is getting tough. They are running a pretty fast pace but I’m confident if I can get a good start that I’ll be able to stay with them for the race. If I can get away with them then they might pull me around for a few laps. I’m moving in the right direction with the setting and the changes we’ve made to the front forks and experimenting with my body position has improved the front feeling. But with no testing now it is difficult to get used to something so different quickly and I just need a bit more time to adapt because I know we can make the feeling much better. I’m still not sure which race tyre I’m going to run. I’d like to have the best of both compounds on one tyre. We need the left side of the softer tyre and the right side of the hard one. But deliberating that might be for nothing because I hear we’re probably going to be under water here tomorrow anyway on rain tyres. We got some time in the rain yesterday so I’m happy I’ve got a set-up for rain or dry conditions. I really want a good result with it being the last British GP at Donington Park. I’ve had a lot of success here in the past and it would be good to sign off in style.”
James Toseland 9th 1.29.270 – 30 laps
“I’m happy but at the same time a little bit frustrated because we didn’t have a really good base setting this morning. That meant we had quite a bit of work to do this afternoon, but thanks to my guys because they did a great job again. I improved quite a bit but if we had started this morning like we ended this afternoon then I’m sure I could have qualified on the second row. The base set-up didn’t work so well because we were too hard on the front and rear. I didn’t have much feel at all and I was only doing low 1.32s, so to do 1.29s this afternoon I’m really happy. At least I’ve given myself a good chance of battling for that top six tomorrow and that was always my target. Today was definitely better than last year’s qualifying, although it couldn’t really have been much worse. The new electronics are working brilliantly round here, particularly out of the slow hairpins at the end of the lap, so I’ve got say thanks to Yamaha for that again. Obviously I’m desperate t o get a good result tomorrow. I want to make amends for the disappointment of last year and give the British fans something to cheer about. The support out there today was amazing, and they deserve a good result. I can promise them I’ll be giving it my absolute maximum.”