It was tight at the top in Catalunya today as the MotoGP elite battled in sweltering temperatures to qualify for tomorrow’s Grand Prix. Yamaha Factory rider Jorge Lorenzo was on typically fast form, breaking into the low 1’41s to take second on the grid. The Championship leader’s qualifying time of 1’41.441 was just 0.146 seconds from pole man Casey Stoner.
Ben Spies was also on form for qualifying, narrowly missing the front row by just 0.004 and pole by just 0.257 seconds.
The Texan starts from fourth place on the grid for tomorrow’s race having beaten local hero Dani Pedrosa by 0.104 seconds for the grid slot.
Position 2nd – Time 1.41.441 – Laps 24
“It was very important to finish on the front row today because I knew all the riders would be pushing to the limit in qualifying. The lap times were very close but I managed to make a good lap. I almost crashed in T3 on my first hot lap on the bumps so second place is good for tomorrow.
We still need a little good feeling on the front; we are struggling on some corners so we need to improve the feeling or it’s going to be difficult in the race. We would have liked to be on pole, but we are happy with the position.”
Position: 4th Time: 1.41.552 Laps: 24
“That was a pretty good qualifying session. I’m a little frustrated as I lost a couple of tenths on one of the splits which would have put me on the front row. I think I had almost too much grip through T1 and T2 with the soft tyre! The bike is working really well, the team’s worked hard to deliver a good set up so I’m confident we can run a competitive pace and stay with it tomorrow. It’s going to be a tough race and I’m hoping the rain stays off!”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“A very exciting qualifying, second position on the front row is great and lap times were really good. There’s still some space for improvement as we are not completely happy with the base set up. Jorge had to fight hard for the front row and it was a spectacular session, let’s see what happens tomorrow.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“I’m satisfied with today’s results. For sure pole is the target but we have a good pace in general. Ben was reasonably happy with the set up yesterday but the team managed to improve it even more for today. We are pretty optimistic for tomorrow. The weather forecast means it might be a little different but we are ready in any case.”
Crutchlow storms to front row at sweltering Catalunya
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team’s impressive qualifying streak in 2012 continued in sweltering heat at the Catalunya track today, with Cal Crutchlow powering to a third front row start in the opening five races.
Air temperatures peaked at a punishing 31 degrees but Crutchlow set a blisteringly hot pace on his YZR-M1 machine to battle for a front row position in a typically exciting conclusion to qualifying.
The British rider briefly led the timesheets with just over 10 minutes left on the clock when he posted a time of 1.41.922. Lap times continued to plummet and Crutchlow was briefly bumped off the front row before he produced a stunning late attack with just over two minutes remaining to secure third spot on the grid for the third time this season.
Taking full advantage of the extra grip from a new soft Bridgestone rear tyre, Crutchlow improved his pace to a 1.41.548, which put him second behind reigning World Champion Casey Stoner. Only 0.107s stood between Crutchlow and a career best MotoGP grid position after Jorge Lorenzo snatched second in the final moments.
Andrea Dovizioso started qualifying in confident mood after he’d finished practice with the third fastest time of 1.41.966.
The Italian’s form continued this afternoon and he put up a strong fight for his second successive front row for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team. When the time attack commenced in the final 20 minutes, Dovizioso wasted no time in demonstrating his potential by surgin g to the top of the timesheets with a lap of 1.41.931.
He improved his pace to a 1.41.687 and will start from sixth, the former 125cc World Champion optimistic that he will be able to battle for the podium in the 25-lap race.
Position 3rd – Time 1.41.548 – Laps 24
“I am really happy to be back on the front row again and it feels great considering this is only the second time I have been to this track. I expected to be up there challenging but wasn’t sure where and my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew did another fantastic job with the bike today. It proves again that I’ve got the raw speed and consistency and now I am really looking forward to the race. It will be really tough if the conditions are the same with the temperature so hot but I am ready for it. This morning I only used an old soft rear tyre and I was still really fast, so I knew when I put in a new soft rear this afternoon that I could be much quicker. I got in a good lap even though I’m not completely comfortable with the set-up and I will definitely run the hard front and soft rear for the race. The hard doesn’t give a big advantage over race distance. Today is a great result and hopefully I can do the same job tomorrow when it really counts.”
Position 6th – Time 1.41.687 – Laps 24
“I am really satisfied with the work we have done this weekend but I can’t deny it would have been nice to be on the front row again. Being sixth on the grid is not bad and the most pleasing aspect for me is that my race pace is very fast and consistent. This morning I was able to be much faster than yesterday and hopefully all the work we have put in will pay off tomorrow. The second half of the race is going to be really important if the conditions are as hot as today and tyre c hoice is going to critical. It seems the Yamaha can’t use the hard rear tyre as well as the soft, but Lorenzo can’t use the soft, so this is a little bit confusing. I will sit down with my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew to carefully consider what the strategy will be with the tyres. I have always been strong at this track and after today’s performance I am expecting a good race.”
2012 MotoGP Spain
|13||Randy De Puniet||ART||FRA||1’43.500|