Team Movistar Honda RC211V riders Sete Gibernau and Marco Melandri will start the British Grand Prix from the first row of the grid. Reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) may have secured pole, but both Honda the Honda riders look to be in the sort of form that will put them in contention for a victory here at Donington Park tomorrow.
BARROS (Camel Honda)
Troy Bayliss (Camel
All Honda’s MotoGP men are among the top ten qualifiers and Makoto Tamada (Konica Minolta Honda RC211V) in ninth is just over one second shy of the pole time of 1m 27.897s – nearly a whole second faster than the 2004 pole time.
With track temperature at only 25 degrees on an overcast day, the final session began with Colin Edwards (Yamaha) topping the timesheet, with Alex Barros (Camel Honda RC211V) another man using his vast experience of this tricky track to show early pace.
Max Biaggi (Repsol Honda RC211V) showed his hand early on too as third fastest in the first ten minutes. But at the mid-point of the hour-long session the order was Rossi, Melandri, Biaggi, Barros, Edwards, Troy Bayliss (Camel Honda RC211V) and then Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC211V).
Gibernau was the first rider to really up the pace with 12 minutes to go when he shot to the top of the table before Rossi again raised the stakes at the ten-minute mark. Barros could have bested them both, had he not been baulked by a slower rider while on a quick lap.
But as the clock ticked down to the final five minutes it was Melandri who put in a time of 1m 28.482s to take the advantage before Rossi made his 1m 28.897s time. The mark that would remain the target.
Nicky Hayden had a good go at beating it when he briefly went to second with four minutes to go, but he lost the opportunity to improve further when he ran out of time to exploit the grip of another qualifying tyre. In the final minute Melandri again hoisted himself to second with Barros lying third before Gibernau steered his RC211V around Donington’s 4.023km of twists and dips with a 1m 28.182s lap that was good enough for second on the grid.
Gibernau said, “Yesterday the rain robbed us of a lot of time but today we were able to enjoy two hours of good weather and we managed to make the most of it to work on the bike. The first step was to seal a place on the front row of the grid and that is what we did. The bike and my feeling have got gradually better and I’m hoping that the result we have been looking for finally arrives at this circuit and that this can be my best Grand Prix of the season.”
Melandri said, “It was important to get back on the front row after the race at Laguna Seca. We worked well with the tyres and suspension, which allowed me to set a good rhythm and a good fast lap, although I made a small mistake on my last lap. This is like a second home race of the season for me and I’m very highly motivated. I hope to get a good start, learn as much as I can from Valentino and Sete during the race and fight for another podium.”
Barros, heading row two as fourth fastest qualifier said, “I’m content because we’ve done some good work this weekend. We covered all the areas we planned to. This morning and this afternoon too we finished off choosing the rear tyre, and we are ready for the race. Tomorrow will be my 250th GP and it would be great if I could celebrate it alongside my team after a good result.”
Nicky in fifth on row two said, “We had a little problem at the end of the session and didn’t end up using the last qualifier. Overall the bike feels better but we’re really going to have to come up with something for tomorrow. We’re going to have to be ready to dig deep in the race because my pace is a little off. But I have confidence that we’ll be able to come up with something.”
Troy Bayliss, in seventh said, “We’ve worked well and I’m reasonably optimistic about the race tomorrow, even if we could have gone slightly better with the qualifying tyres. Nevertheless we’ve lapped at a fast pace, and there are lots of riders separated by just a few tenths. The third row isn’t bad, but it’s important to get a good start to tag along with the front group, especially at this track.”
Max on row two in eighth said, “Of course I’m not so happy with the result because this year I’ve had such problems in qualifying. My entry speed into the corners is just too slow – this is the problem we have. I always seem to be riding with this feeling of chatter all year. It’s much more of a problem than last year and we just don’t seem to have an answer at the moment. I will have another tough race tomorrow starting from this position.”
Makoto Tamada in ninth said, “The feeling with the bike with a qualifying configuration is improving and I can push my bike more and more. I have to improve in the first part of the circuit. In the other sectors of the track I consider myself competitive. During my fastest lap I made a small mistake braking into the penultimate turn to the right and this lost me some precious time. Tomorrow morning, during the 20 minutes of warm up, we’ll make some final adjustments.”
Dani Pedrosa (Team Movistar Honda RS250RW) had to work hard for his fourth pole position of the season. The Spaniard crashed without injury in the final moments of today’s timed session, but had done enough to wrest the advantage from Jorge Lorenzo (Fortuna Honda RS250RW) who qualified second just 0.130 seconds short of Dani’s 1m 31.834s time.
Alex de Angelis (Aprilia) qualified third fastest with Andrea Dovizioso (Scot Racing Team Honda RS250RW) completing the front row in fourth. Casey Stoner (Aprilia), who lies second to Dani in the World Championship standings, could only manage tenth on the grid.
With three Hondas on the front row and six in the top ten, this race could be a chance for Dani and Dovi to tighten their grip at the top of the table and take some of the sting out of Stoner’s Championship challenge.
Dani said, “On a fast lap a rider in front of me looked behind to see me and then stayed on the same line. I had to change my line to pass him, went onto the rumble strip and crashed. But the weekend is going well. It will be a tough race and if it ends up raining anything can happen. It won’t be easy.”
“I have good feel from the machine and I feel good myself,” said Lorenzo. “But the important part will be the race tomorrow. I’m confident I can record my first win in 250s here. I didn’t make the most of my qualifiers but I’m happy with my race pace.”
Hector Barbera (Fortuna Honda RS250RW) qualified seventh fastest on row two with Hiroshi Aoyama (Team Movistar Honda RS250RW) lining up next to him as eighth fastest qualifier. Yuki Takahashi (Scot Racing Team Honda RS250RW) was ninth fastest overall.
Mika Kallio (KTM) was the fastest qualifier in the 125cc class, with Championship points leader Mattia Pasini second quickest, Marco Simoncelli third fastest (both Aprilia) and World Championship challenger Thomas Luthi (Elit Grand Prix Honda RS125R) completing the front row in fourth.
This is Kallio’s fifth pole start of the season and the Finn was in command here throughout qualifying. But his rivals are close in touch with the front row qualifiers covered by just 0.34 seconds.
Fabrizio Lai (Kopron Racing World Honda RS125RW) marked this Grand Prix with a return to form after a lull with fifth place on the grid, heading row two. The Italian knows he needs a boost and this could be the race where he puts his title challenge back on track.
He said. “I have returned to being competitive after a couple of poor races. I’m not at the very front but I lost the front row start for nothing just because I lost time passing Iannone. The bike was perfect in practice and I’m sure I will make a good race tomorrow.”
Luthi said, “Fourth is not so bad. It’s the front row that’s important. The traffic was chaotic, but it was in the middle of this chaos that I set my fastest lap. We’ve had no real problems all weekend and only minor adjustments to make to the bike. Tyre choice for the race is the only decision we’ve yet to make.”
Tomoyoshi Koyama (Ajo Motorsport Honda RS125R) equalled his best qualifying performance of the season so far with eighth on the grid, Mike Di Meglio (Kopron Racing World Honda RS125R) equalled his best so far with the ninth fastest time, while Alex Masbou (Ajo Motorsport Honda RS125R) sped into the top ten in tenth.
Max BIAGGI (Repsol
Sete Gibernau (Team
Movistar Honda MotoGP)
Sete Gibernau, Movistar Honda MotoGP: 2nd:
“Yesterday the rain robbed us of a lot of time but today we were able to enjoy two hours of good weather and we managed to make the most of it to work on the bike. The first step was to seal a place on the front row of the grid and that is what we did. The bike and my feeling have got gradually better and I’m hoping that the result we have been looking for finally arrives at this circuit and that this can be my best Grand Prix of the season.”
Marco Melandri, Movistar Honda MotoGP: 3rd:
“It was important to get back on the front row after the race at Laguna Seca. We worked well with the tyres and suspension, which allowed me to set a good rhythm and a good fast lap, although I made a small mistake on my last lap. This is like a second home race of the season for me and I’m very highly motivated. I hope to get a good start, learn as much as I can from Valentino and Sete during ! the race and fight for another podium.”
Alex Barros, Camel Honda: 4th:
“I’m calm and content because I know we’ve done some good work this weekend, covering all the areas we had planned to, and taking away any doubts we had about the set-up. This morning and this afternoon too we finished off choosing the rear tyre, and we are ready for the race. I’m a bit sorry for having made a couple of mistakes on both my fast laps which probably lost me a couple of tenths but it’s not a big thing, I think I’ve got a good grid spot anyhow. Tomorrow will be my 250th GP and it would be great if I could celebrate it alongside my team after a good result.”
Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda Team: 5th:
“We made quite a bit of progress today really. The squad has done a real good job in really thinking about things and have come up with some good stuff which makes the bike feel a lot better. From that standpoint I’m happy. My problem is that everyone else has improved quite a bit as well – it’s what happens here – and we still have quite a bit to do. We had a little problem at the end of the session and didn’t end up using the last qualifier. Overall the bike feels better but we’re really going to have to come up with something for tomorrow. We’re going to have to be ready to dig deep in the race because my pace is a little off but I have confidence that we’ll be able to come up with something by 15.30 tomorrow.”
Troy Bayliss, Camel Honda: 7th position:
“We’ve worked well and I’m reasonably optimistic about the race tomorrow, even if we could have gone slightly better with the qualifying tyres. Nevertheless we have lapped at a fast pace, and there are lots of riders separated by just a few tenths. The third row isn’t bad, but it’s important to get a good start to tag along with the front group, especially at this track.”
Max Biaggi, Repsol Honda Team: 8th:
“Of course I’m not so happy with the result because this year I’ve had such problems in qualifying. It’s very unusal for me. I can’t believe I can’t go faster than the third row. With the race tyre we are not so far off but with the qualifier we hit much trouble – I just can’t use it properly. My entry speed into the corners is just too slow – this is the problem we have. I always seem to be riding with this feeling of chatter all year. Much more of a problem than last year and we just don’t seem to have an answer at the moment! I will have another tough race tomorrow starting from this position.”
Makoto Tamada – Konica Minolta Honda: 9th:
“My goal was to conquer a better position on the grid; I consider my self satisfied mostly because of the work developed in the second day of work. In the afternoon we concentrated to prepare the bike with a race configuration and this permitted us to obtain useful information for tomorrow afternoon. The feeling with the bike with a qualifying configuration is sensibly improving and I can push my bike more and more. I have to improve in the first part of the circuit, because yesterday’s fall has left its mark. In the other sectors of the track I consider my self well enough competitive. During my fastest lap I committed a small mistake in braking while entering the penultimate turn to the right and this made me lose some precious time. Tomorrow morning, during the 20 minutes of warm up, we’ll make the last adjustments to the setting of the bike, to definitely have the possibility to compete with the group of the bests.”
Dani Pedrosa, MoviStar Honda: 1st:
"I was on a fast lap and I had a rider in front who looked behind him in the straight but stayed on the same line, even though he knew I was on a fast lap. I arrived in the braking area and had to pass him because he was going so slowly; I had to change my line, went up onto the rumble strip and when I grabbed the brake I crashed. I was annoyed because a few laps earlier De Angelis did the same thing to me and it's not the first time it's happened. Luckily I didn't hurt myself but I could easily have damaged my collarbone. Apart from that I think the weekend is going well. We improved the set-up of the bike and my level of feeling in the final session. I think it will be a tough race and if it ends up raining anything could happen. All the wet specialists would join in the fight and it won't be at all easy."
Jorge Lorenzo, Fortuna Honda: 2nd:
“I have a good feeling about tomorrow, both regarding the bike and myself. What is important, though, is the race and that is tomorrow. I am hoping to get my first victory as soon as possible. I did not feel as comfortable with the qualifying tyre on today but I am satisfied with the rhythm I found. I hope to get a good start and achieve my objective of winning.”
Andrea Dovizioso, Scot Honda: 4th:
“We make a good job and we feel ready. We must trying to improve some little things that make the gap to Pedrosa. I like this track and this is a most important thing. I wish to know what setting Pedrosa did his time. If he had the race setting probably tomorrow he will make a solitary race. I’m happy for the front row and tomorrow I’ll try to make a good race like last year”.
Hector Barbera, Fortuna Honda: 7th:
“Physically I am in good shape. I have found quite a good rhythm here and am ready to prove I can compete with teh top riders. The Championship is in a very important stage now and so it’s important to do things well. Although I had some problems with the qualifying tyre, I think I am well prepared for tomorrow.”
Hiroshi Aoyama, MoviStar Honda: 8th:
"I wasn't able to set a fast lap in the qualifying session and it's a shame to have lost the front row position we had yesterday but in general I am not unhappy. The lap time is quite good and I feel comfortable on the bike. We'll have to see what the conditions are when we get up tomorrow but I'm confident we can have a good race whether it is wet or dry."
Yuki Takahashi, Scot Honda: 9th:
“I’m satisfied for the good time obtained. Today we have solved the setting problem and I have a good feeling with my Honda. For tomorrow I hope for a dry race ”.
Alex Debon, Wurth Honda BQR: 13th:
“I had a little problem with my left knee that I hurt in my crash yesterday but it will not affect me in the race. I’m very happy with the bike, the team have worked well the engine is good and the bike working really good. I hope for a good start, if I get one I can have the good race I need to set me up for the second half of the season.”
Jakub Smrz, Molenaar Honda: 17th:
“I was faster in the qualifying session than in morning practice, by about 4/10ths of a second. But I’m not really happy with the feeling I’m getting from the bike. We changed the geometry on the front to steer into the corners faster but on the downhill section I am not comfortable with the change. Still I set my time with a rear tyre that had 17-laps on it so I have to be confident I can make a god race tomorrow.”
Dirk Heidolf, Kiefer Castrol Honda: 21st:
“The bike is not so bad, the engine very good. The only problem is with the rear suspension I had a few slides but I think most of the other riders had some difficulty with that. I having treatment at the Clinica Mobile for my old injury but it is not a problem. I’m fighting the bike round here but that’s because I have not raced for a month. I’ll be OK in the race, if I get a good start.”
Radomil Rous, Wurth Honda BQR: 25th:
“I didn’t make any progress this afternoon because I crashed early in the qualifying session, at the same place that Alex (Debon) crashed yesterday. I’m OK nothing to worry about. I will race with the set up I had in this morning’s session, which was not so bad.”
Thomas Luthi, Elit Honda: 4th:
“Fourth is not so bad I’m on the front row of the grid. The traffic was chaotic but it was during chaos that I set my fastest lap. We have had no real problems to deal with this weekend just minor adjustments, mainly to the suspension but just details. The engine is great and the chassis, we even know which tyres we will run in the race. I think the race will be the same as Assen, a big group of riders at the front in a big battle. I know I can run fast laps consistently and I am confident I will have a god race.”
Fabrizio Lai, Kopron Racing World Honda: 5th:
“I have returned to being competitive after a couple of poor races. I’m not at the very front but I lost the front row start for nothing just because I lost time passing Iannone. The bike was perfect in practice and I’m sure I will make a good race tomorrow.”
Tomoyoshi Koyama, Ajo Motorsport Honda: 8th:
“At the last moment I managed to run with Pasini and get a good lap time. After that it was just traffic. I’m on the second row and I’m happy with that because I set my time on race tyres so I am happy with that. I could also brake very late for the chicane using the tyre. I’m not sure what the race pace will be but if it’s I the mid 1m 38s then I will be happy.”
Mike Di Meglio, Kopron Racing World Honda: 9th:
“The Honda is really good here and it’s especially strong on top speed. I got stuck in quite a lot of traffic, which slowed me on my fastest lap. But I’m feeling relaxed because the bike is good and it’s up to me to make sure I challenge for the win tomorrow.”
Alexis Masbou, Ajo Motorsport Honda: 10th:
“Now things are not so bad. We had some suspension problems with chatter on the front end and a few slides on the rear but most of that has been fixed. We just have some small details to check in the warm up tomorrow.”
Alvaro Bautista, Seedorf RC3 Tiempo Holidays Honda: 12th:
“I have thrown away the second qualifying practice because I have begun to ride into groups where I have not been able to set my pace, being with another riders, the time has passed and I have done nothing useful with the practice. I start from the third row, so let’s see if I can make a good start to have options to be in the leading group”.
Aleix Espargaro, Seedorf RC3 Tiempo Holidays Honda: 19th:
“I am not too much happy with this practice. At the beginning, with a different tyre to yesterday’s one I have improved my time, but after changing tyres at the middle of the session I have entered in a group where I have more difficult to ride fast. The good thing is that I am into the 20 first positions, and usually I am in worst positions. Let’s see if tomorrow, with a little bit of luck, I can make another good start to have the possibility to make a good race”.
Sandro Cortese, Kiefer Boss Castrol Honda: 28th:
“My final qualifying session was bad. The bike was not so bad but I am angry with myself. Time was not to bad but over the last three – four laps the tyres were finished. My section times at 2 and 4 are not good and I lost a lot of time at those places today. I have to improve in the warm up and the race.”
Toshihisa Kuzuhara, Angaia Racing Honda: 30th:
“This is my poorest qualifying session of the season so far, I am quite disappointed. I can run with the others on some parts of this track but at other places I am not fast. Pity because the bike is running really good.”
Federico Sandi, Angaia Racing Honda: 31st: