Valentino Rossi survived a late crash during qualifying at the Cardion ab Czech Republic Grand Prix to take his fifth pole position of the season, in clear and sunny conditions at Brno after a battle for supremacy with his teammate Jorge Lorenzo.
Valentino Rossi survived a late crash during qualifying at the Cardion ab Czech Republic Grand Prix to take his fifth pole position of the season, in clear and sunny conditions at the undulating Brno track.
At one of his favourite venues on the calendar Rossi took his Yamaha M1 round the circuit in 1’56.145 on the 21st of his 23 laps after a battle for supremacy with his team-mate and closest World Championship rival Jorge Lorenzo – who trails him by 25 points in the standings and was 0.05s behind the Italian in this session.
Lorenzo has looked good throughout the weekend and will be confident of pushing Rossi hard in Sunday’s race. Perhaps the Spaniard will take heart from Rossi’s late crash as he seeks to keep the pressure on from the other side of the Fiat Yamaha pit-box.
In the absence of Casey Stoner, who is on sick leave for three rounds, Dani Pedrosa could be the biggest threat to Rossi and Lorenzo, with the talented Repsol Honda rider having qualified in third place, just under four tenths down on Rossi.
Toni Elías, meanwhile, reacted well to the news that he will not be riding for the San Carlo Honda Gresini team next year, placing himself at the front of the second row on his RC212V.
With Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) and Alex de Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini) qualifying fifth to seventh respectively the top seven was dominated by Yamaha and Honda.
De Angelis will be joined on the third row by Ducati’s Nicky Hayden and Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi, who survived a scary moment to qualify ninth. There was a crash for temporary factory Ducati stand-in Mika Kallio who placed tenth, whilst Randy de Puniet ran off track at one stage and qualified 13th.
World Champion Marco Simoncelli stepped up his pace to take his third pole of the year in the 250cc class, with the Metis Gilera man holding off a late challenge from the pretender to his crown, Hiroshi Aoyama.
The Italian had already looked set for his third pole of the year in the final stages of the session when Scot Racing’s championship leader Aoyama laid down a time off 2’01.961 to take provisional pole. Nonetheless Simoncelli fought back on his final lap, riding around Alex Debon (Aeropuerto-Castello-Blusens) to improve on Aoyama’s best by 0.35s.
Héctor Barberá has been in good form so far this weekend and in great form in recent qualifying sessions but he could not add to his three poles from the last four GPs as he qualified in third place for the Pepe World Team, 0.453s behind Simoncelli and just ahead of Debon – who completed the front row.
The second row will comprise Mike di Meglio (Mapfre Aspar), Roberto Locatelli (Metis Gilera), Mattia Pasini (Team Toth Aprilia) and an off-colour Álvaro Bautista (Mapfre Aspar Team), who was more than a second off Simoncelli’s pace and crashed without consequence with less than four minutes remaining.
Ongetta Team ISPA rider Andrea Iannone sent out a reminder of his talent to the rest of the 125cc grid with pole position the smaller category.
The young Italian rider’s 2’08.171s time on the 12th of his 14th laps was enough to put him at the head of the grid in front of second fastest competitor Nico Terol (Jack & Jones Team) who lapped 0.3s behind him.
The front row of the grid for the tenth 125cc race of the year is completed by German rider Sandro Cortese (Ajo Interwetten) and World Championship leader Julián Simón (Bancaja Aspar), that pair going round with a similar pace to Terol’s.
Simón’s British team-mate Bradley Smith will start in fifth place, having lapped 0.786s down on Iannone, and the Oxfordshire teenager is to be joined by Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing), Aspar colleague Sergio Gadea and Pol Espargaró (Derbi Racing Team) on row two.
A disappointing session for Marc Márquez (Red Bull KTM) saw him qualify down in 20th place having crashed towards the end of QP, whilst the young Spaniard’s team-mate Cameron Beaubier misses Sunday’s race due to the fractured left collarbone which he sustained on Saturday morning.