News 8 Nov 2009

MotoGP: Stoner and Hayden strong in Valencia qualifying


Ducati Marlboro Team rider Casey Stoner will start the final round of the 2009 MotoGP World Championship from the front of the grid after a dominant performance in today’s single qualifying practice for the Gran Premio Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana. The Australian was rarely troubled at the top of the time sheets, whilst his team-mate Nicky Hayden was also impressive as he lapped sixth fastest in a late charge.

Today’s result sees Hayden maintain his record of never qualifying outside the front two rows at Valencia, the circuit where he clinched the 2006 title, whilst for Stoner this is his second pole position at the Spanish track in successive seasons. Tomorrow the 2007 World Champion chases a repeat of his win here last year and a hat-trick of back-to-back victories to round off the 2009 season.

CASEY STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team) (1st; 1’32.256)
“We’ve been fastest in every session so far so we have to be pleased with that and the fact we were able to do most of the lap times we did on a race tyre today is a good sign. I felt pretty comfortable out there but one of the softer rear tyres 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. 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.”

NICKY HAYDEN – (Ducati Marlboro Team) (6th; 1’33.154)
“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 more much enjoyable to ride today and after being fifth this morning I was hoping for the same result this afternoon because that is my worst qualifying result here at Valencia. We’ll take sixth though – 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.”

Last qualifying session of the year for the MotoGP category on the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia. Pramac Racing riders, Mika Kallio and Aleix Espargarò, have sensibly improved theirs best lap times conquered yesterday, but not enough to go further than the eleventh and sixteenth final position. For this reason Mika and Aleix have to be content with the fourth and sixth row. The Finnish rider has encountered some difficulties with the front part of the bike but thanks to the work of his technicians the problem has been located and tomorrow in the warm up the situation should improve. His teammate, young Aleix, seems trustful for tomorrow as he found a good race rhythm during today’s final session. The start of the last race of the MotoGP 2009 season is set for tomorrow at 2pm local time.

Fabiano Sterlacchini – Pramac Racing Technical Director

“With Mika we miss always a few tenths of a second to take that step forward during qualifying. A pity because it has been all season long that we found ourselves in the same conditions. Next year it will be really important for us to study a different method of work that would allow us to be more competitive in qualifying to start from better positions on the starting grid. Aleix has done well even the sixteenth position isn’t a great result: he is young and he is showing that he has a lot of space to improve.”

Mika Kallio – Pramac Racing rider – 11th best lap time in 1’33.809

“Basically this year, in every racing weekend, during the qualifying session we finish around the tenth, eleventh position. The feeling with the bike is always really good, but I feel I still miss some confidence to be able to fight for better positions. It’s a pity because in the race we always demonstrate to be constantly faster than some of the riders that are in front of us on the starting grid. Next year, with the experienced gain this season, I am sure we can do much better.”

Aleix Espargarò – Pramac Racing rider – 16th best lap time in 1’34.308

“Today I made it to be more aggressive on the bike and this makes me happy and trustful for tomorrow’s race. In my best lap time I made a mistake in a couple of braking points otherwise I could have improve my fastest lap time. Now the hardest part of my work is about to begin: to stay two seconds behind the fastest ride isn’t too bad as a result, but from here I really need to sweat to really improve. Every tenth of second gained under the two seconds is like gold. I consider tomorrow race the beginning of my MotoGP career.“