Local hero Valentino Rossi took his sixth pole of the season at Misano in Italy this afternoon, meaning he has finished on top of the standings in all three sessions so far this weekend. Team-mate Lorenzo qualified third, edged out by Dani Pedrosa but continuing his 100% front-row qualifying record for the season.
A welcome sea breeze meant temperatures today were marginally cooler but it was still tough work as Rossi and Lorenzo pushed each other hard in the morning session, the Italian finishing two-tenths in front of the Spaniard. Lorenzo then took an early lead in this afternoon’s practice before Rossi took over with twenty minutes remaining, both riders showing a strong race pace as they continued to fine-tune the settings of their M1s around the 2.626 km track.
Rossi’s time looked fairly untouchable until the riders put in the softer Bridgestone tyres at the end of the session and the lead then swapped a few times between him, Lorenzo and Pedrosa. The championship leader had the last word however with a brilliant final lap to take his 58th career pole. Lorenzo tried his hardest to answer back and set his fastest time of the session on his last lap, but the 22-year-old couldn’t quite get there today and had to settle for third. Tomorrow’s race promises another exciting battle between the championship leaders when it gets underway at 1400 local time.
Position: 1st Time: 1’34.338 Laps: 29
“We expected it to be a bit cooler today but in the end it wasn’t so different from yesterday and it’s still very hard work for all the riders. This afternoon the grip wasn’t great and we found it a bit harder with the race pace, but then we made a second round of modifications and everything felt very good. I am very happy to get the pole position here in Misano. I was able to do a great first lap on my final tyre and that was enough for pole, and the team changed the tyre in the time of an F1 pit stop so thanks to them! We know that it’s going to be a very tough race tomorrow, but we are in good shape. If anyone is wondering about my helmet…I have the donkey on it because in Italy, if you make a stupid mistake we say that you are a donkey. I made a mistake in Indy so this is why! I think it’s very funny!”
Position: 2nd Time: 1’34.808 Laps: 32
“I think the race tomorrow is going to be quite painful in this heat and the physical condition is going to be very important! It will be a long race but we are in good shape and I am looking forward to the challenge. Unfortunately I wasn’t fast enough with the soft tyre right at the end, but we are still on the front row once again and this is the most important thing. My race pace is very good and I did some consistent runs, even though we still have some areas that we need to improve a bit because our setting isn’t perfect yet. But I know that I can push tomorrow, even if it will be very hard.”
“It looked like Valentino really wanted this pole here in Misano! I think we’ve worked very well here so far this weekend, and we’ve got a good base. Valentino is in great shape and we think we’re ready for another big battle. It’s going to be difficult and we expect to see Lorenzo and Pedrosa there at the front as well, but we’re in the best position. Let’s race!”
“In the end we’re happy about today, the front row is always our target and at this track it’s especially important. Of course we were looking for pole position and Jorge did a great job, the last lap was his fastest but unfortunately it wasn’t quite fast enough to beat Valentino, who was very strong today. Our race pace is good but we still need to make a few improvements to the setting, especially the front end as we have a bit of understeer. Now we will check the data and see what we can do to make sure we’re able to put up a good fight.”
American rider Colin Edwards was in superb qualifying form at a baking hot Misano World Circuit today and will start from fifth on the grid in tomorrow’s San Marino Grand Prix.
The Texas Tornado posted his fastest time – 1.35.184 – on his 27th and penultimate lap in advance of his 115th MotoGP start. With 18 minutes remaining Edwards surged from tenth to fourth, before finishing fifth just 0.3s off a front row start. Despite a cooling, Adriatic sea breeze track temperatures still hit 40 degrees at the sun blessed 4.2 km circuit on the Italian Riviera. Edwards is aiming for a top five finish in tomorrow’s 28 lap race, backing up his impressive pace in last Sunday’s Indianapolis GP. < /p>
Meanwhile Briton James Toseland was frustrated to qualify in 14th position as he struggled to find the perfect balance with the revised front set-up on his Monster Yamaha Tech3 YZR-M1. After a meeting with team engineers Toseland is confident that crucial changes for the pre-race warm-up session will be positive for his race day performance.
Colin Edwards 5th 1.35.184 – 28 laps
“I would like to say I could win the race but it’s going be tough. Anything in the mid-35s pace in this heat will be very good and I’ll need a good start and push it early with guys up front. It’s been a little bit tough this weekend to get right on the pace, everything feels like it is happening faster than normal which takes a little getting used to. This morning we tried a different weight balance but that didn’t work, I couldn’t get enough weight on the front. We have playe d around with the front geometry and now I have headed towards the set-up used by Jorge Lorenzo and I think it’s better. I’ve been fighting with running wide and not having enough turning. At the end of the session I put in the soft tyres and I thought, ‘I either crash it or put in a fast lap’ and I’m not sure I even shut off the throttle for the corner onto the back straight. The weather is hot but it’s OK, when the adrenaline is pumping you don’t know if it’s the ice age or heat wave.”
James Toseland 14th 1.36.070 – 28 laps
“I had a tough session. With the new set-up from Indy last week we are still finding our way with this geometry and just got a little bit lost with the direction but right at the end the feeling was a lot better. I think there is positive potential in the changes from Indy and following a meeting with the team I think we now have a better direction. We have been making changes to improve the rear grip but this has been compromising the front feeling, the changes aren’t big but it’s frustrating to be 14th. We are so close to finding something really good and being where Colin is and I know I can do the same job. I’ve got some more pace for the race and I’ll give it my best shot even though it’s difficult to pass here. On my final two laps the bike was feeling good and I was behind Dovizioso and I could stay with him but then Talmacsi was waiting for someone and got in behind Dovi, but he couldn’t keep up and that slowed me. It is no one’s fault, just bad timing.”