MotoGP > MotoGP 2006 Round 07: Catalunya GP > Qualifying
MotoGPCatalunyaJune 17, 2006
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 07
Catalunya Grand Prix at Montmelo Qualifying

Roberts Finds Form To Start From Front Row

Race Results >>

Kenny Roberts (Roberts KR211V) was the star of MotoGP qualifying here in Catalonia as he put his Honda-powered machine on the front row. Only Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) on pole and second fastest qualifier John Hopkins (Suzuki) outpaced the former World Champion.



Kenny ROBERTS (Team Roberts)


Nicky HAYDEN(Repsol Honda Team)

In searing heat, with track temperatures at an elevated 43 degrees, this was a punishing hour of final qualifying that proved tough for Honda’s regular front-runners. Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC211V) could only manage seventh on the grid, Casey Stoner (LCR Honda RC211V) eighth, Marco Melandri (Fortuna Honda RC211V) ninth, and local hero Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC211V) 11th.

Stoner had been showing his speed in the previous three sessions, but could not up his pace to the level required in this timed hour. Although he topped the timesheet very early on, the Aussie rookie slipped back as the clock ticked down and he will have work to do in tomorrow’s race.

Pedrosa showed well early on too with a 1m 43.227s lap, until Hayden dislodged the rookie revelation with a 1m 43.189s time to take an early provisional pole. But Dani had more in store and ran a 1m 42.926s time to take back the lead in the standings.

But as the half-hour mark approached Shinya Nakano (Kawasaki) made his presence felt with a 1m 42.806s lap to head the grid. Marco Melandri (Fortuna Honda RC211V), Toni Elias (Fortuna Honda RC211V) and Makoto Tamada (Konica Minolta Honda RC211V) were languishing in 14th, 15th and 16th at this stage.

The Montmelo track is notorious for its changing levels of grip according to variations in temperature and this hour had all the hallmarks of a typical Barcelona afternoon – as the thermometer climbed – so the grip level varied and made choosing a possible race tyre and getting in a hot lap on qualifying rubber a difficult operation.

Nakano’s Kawasaki team-mate Randy de Puniet briefly occupied pole with 20 minutes to go, as did Suzuki’s John Hopkins, but with 13 minutes left Rossi turned a 1m 42.264s lap to head the standings. Sete Gibernau (Ducati) then deprived his bitter rival of pole before Rossi regained it with the 1m 41.855s lap that was not to be beaten in the remaining minutes.

But if the pole remained off limits for the rest of the field, the fight for the remainder of the grid placings was compelling. Roberts went fourth with ten minutes to go and recent history suggested that the American would soon lose out as rivals upped the pace.

Sure enough, Hayden slotted into second with six minutes left, but his time of 1m 42.368s would not prove quick enough for the joint World Championship points leader to remain on the front row. And it was Hopkins who first nudged him off.

Then as Hayden’s bid for the front places lost its shine, Kenny Roberts upped his game to place the KR machine on the front row as fastest Honda qualifier. With Vermeulen, Nakano and Loris Capirossi occupying the second row, Hayden heads row three next to Stoner and Melandri, who fell without injury at the hairpin in the final minutes.

Roberts said, “We were pretty close at Mugello and we learned a lot at the test on the Monday after the race and we just put it altogether here. If we had a second rider in the team we would improve even faster than we have done these past few weeks. Thanks to the input we had from Honda at China and our own design team I'm pretty sure I can run a fast race pace tomorrow.”

Hayden said, “We were alright this afternoon on race tyres, we were up there close to the front, though we’ve definitely still got some work to do if I want to be a contender tomorrow. It hasn’t been the most silky smooth day of my life. This morning I was going quite well when I had a little crash on the brakes when I tipped it in at the end of the back straight. I was just pushing hard and I was in a bit hot – it was a little bit of rider error.”

Stoner, who showed no ill effects from his crash at Mugello two weeks ago, said, “I’m relaxed about today and not bothered that I’m not starting closer to the front, I have a very strong race set-up. On the qualifying tyre I didn’t have a good feeling and I’ll have to make up some positions at the start of the race. We made a big step with the rear-end and race tyre set-up today which has improved rear grip.”

Melandri, 9th fastest, said, “It wasn’t an easy day for us. In the afternoon we improved the rear feeling with the bike a little but and I put in a good time on a qualifying tyre. Unfortunately when I tried to improve on that I crashed. Tomorrow we’ll see another great race and I’m looking forward to it because I really like this track

Pedrosa, down in 11th, said, “My team has done a really good job from the beginning of this weekend and we’ve been quick and consistent in the other sessions. But unfortunately we didn’t make such a good plan for the qualifying tyres and at the end of the session I had a lot of traffic. On the warm up lap with my last set of qualifiers there were four riders who were slowing down from their flying laps in the middle of the track. This cost me a lot of time and I couldn’t make a fast lap.”

Elias, 14th fastest qualifier, said, “We’ve done a good job throughout the day, gathered a lot of information and now we have to check the data and react to it because that is the only way to head into tomorrow’s race with any sort of guarantee. We still have a traction problem but hopefully the heat from the crowd can eliminate that! It will be an exciting start and I’ll be trying to make up as many positions as possible.”

Tamada was downbeat about his 15th place on the grid, more than one second shy of the pole time. The Japanese said, “I’m not happy about my grid position. I’ve got rear grip problems and what disturbs me most is the rear tyre movements are starting early during acceleration and not allowing me to check the slides.”

250cc series points leader Andrea Dovizioso (Humangest Racing Honda RS250RW) notched his second pole of the season with a lap of 1m 46.792s. The Italian was faster by just one tenth of a second than his title rival and home hope Jorge Lorenzo (Aprilia).

The man standing in for the injured Hector Barbera, Alex Debon, qualified third fastest on the second factory Aprilia, and Alex de Angelis (also Aprilia) completes the front row of the grid.

With the immediate retirement of Sebastian Porto (Repsol Honda RS250RW), it was left to his team-mate, the rapid Shuhei Aoyama (Repsol Honda RS250RW) to keep the team in the hunt for honours with a sixth place on the grid. There will be no replacement rider this weekend for the veteran Porto, who has now called time on a glittering career.

Yuki Takahashi (Humangest Racing Honda RS250RW) slotted his machine onto the third row of the grid with a ninth place display. The Japanese, who is currently in third place overall in the points standings, will thus have more work to do than he would wish tomorrow.

Dovi said, “It was important for me to do well here in Barcelona and this pole makes me feel even better than at Le Mans. I don’t usually care so much about my position in qualifying, but this time I’m very satisfied to be in front because this is a nice, hard, technical track, where a rider can make the difference. The Aprilias are very fast here with this straight so long, but I did the pole anyway so this is good.”

Aoyama said, “I’m more or less satisfied with practice today, because I could have been quicker in my final fast laps, but I made some mistakes that prevented me from improving my time. We are however in a good position and we’ve been improving step-by-step, as we did in France. We have a good set-up, the tyre choice is clear and the rider is ready to make a good race, just like in Le Mans a couple of weeks ago.”

Takahashi said, “Despite a tyre that wasn’t at the right temperature as I went out of the pit box, I decided to push hard because I was behind Andrea, who was doing his ‘hot’ lap. Unfortunately, though, I lost the front and fell off and so I couldn’t improve my time. I crashed out twice this weekend, but apart from this I am satisfied about the job we’ve done so far.”

The half-hour of 125cc final qualifying belonged to Spanish World Championship points leader Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia) who coaxed his machine to an unassailable 1m 50.281s lap time. Mika Kallio (KTM) qualified second, Pablo Nieto (Aprilia) third and Bautista’s team-mate Hector Faubel fourth.

Kallio was among the front-runners early in the session, as was Gabor Talmacsi (Humangest Honda RS125R), but the Hungarian Honda man faded as the session wore on and he had to be content with an eventual 14th fastest time for a fourth row start.

Fabrizio Lai (Seedorf Racing Honda RS125R) qualified 13th fastest while reigning World Champion Thomas Luthi (Elit Grand Prix Honda RS125R) was tenth fastest and will start from the third row in tomorrow’s race. This is Luthi’s second best qualifying performance so far this season.

Luthi said, “When the final session started I had to try some different tyres. The first set I had was so-so but I liked the second set I tried. The bike was really good in that session – handling was good and the engine really fast. I was alone out there and had to push really hard to get my time. Apart from a couple the riders ahead of me on the grid no one can is likely to be able to run at that pace for more than a few laps.”

Talmacsi said, “I pushed at the limit throughout the qualifying session but eventually it wasn’t enough. I need more acceleration out of the turns and, more importantly, in turning the bike because the balance of the bike doesn’t let me run fast enough. The positive thing is that I made the same times with race tyres on and this is good for tomorrow.”



Casey STONER (Honda LCR)


Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Humangest Racing Team)

MotoGP:

Kenny Roberts Jnr, KR Honda: 3rd:
“That was pretty good for us I had been out there alone and it was only in the last few minutes that I had somebody ahead of me to aim at. The lap timer was not working so I didn’t know the lap time till I came in. We were pretty close at Mugello and we learned a lot at the test on the Monday after the race and we just put it altogether here. If we had a second rider in the team we would improve even faster than we have done these past few weeks. The rain here didn’t help but we have a good base set up now thanks to the input we had from Honda at China and our own design team. I’m pretty sure I can run a fast race pace tomorrow. The chassis works the way we want it to the engine is strong and the tyres and suspension couldn’t be better.”

Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda: 7th:
“We were alright this afternoon on race tyres, we were up there close to the front, though we’ve definitely still got some work to do if I want to be a contender tomorrow. It hasn’t been the most silky smooth day of my life. This morning I was going quite well when I had a little crash on the brakes when I tipped it in at the end of the back straight. I was just pushing hard and I was in kinda hot – it was a little bit of rider error which didn’t help and slowed down progress a little bit. Plus, we’re getting a bit too much heat in the rear tyre which is a bit of a worry for me and I might have to shake-up my tyre choice a little bit. Qualifying didn’t go just great. On my last lap I had a pretty good lap going but in the last split I just got completely hosed in last corner, a dude just pulled in front of me, and that cost me a shot at the front row. Still, we’ll give it all we’ve got in the race tomorrow.”

Casey Stoner, LCR Honda: 8th:
“I’m relaxed about today and I’m not bothered that I’m not starting closer to the front, I have a very strong race set-up. On the qualifying tyre I didn’t have a good feeling and it’s easier to make up some positions at the start of the race. We found a big step with the rear-end and race tyre set-up today which has improved rear grip. I’m going to race with the standard 16.5 inch front tyre, the newfront tyre I tried yesterday still lacks some braking stability although it has better mid-corner feel.”

Marco Melandri, Fortuna Honda: 9th:
“It wasn’t an easy day for us. In the afternoon we improved the rear feeling with the bike a little but and I put in a good time on a qualifying tyre. Unfortunatley when I tried to improve on that I crashed. Tomorrow we’ll see another great race and I’m looking forward to it because I really like this track. We still have time to respond and I hope to make the most of it. I’m sure we can find a setting that allows us to be competitive in the race.”

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 11th:
My team has done a really good job from the beginning of this weekend and we’ve been quick and consistent in the other sessions. But unfortunately we didn’t make such a good plan for the qualifying tyres and at the end of the session I had a lot of traffic. On the warm up lap with my last set of qualifiers many riders were waiting for me, and then at the first corner there were four riders who were slowing down from their flying laps in the middle of the track. This cost me a lot of time and I couldn’t make a fast lap. Well, I’m 11th so I have to think about tomorrow and try to do a really great start – this is now very important – and a great race. Obviously I’m disappointed to be this far back, especially at my home race, but the race set-up of the bike is pretty good and we’ll have to see if we can handle the race pace tomorrow.”

Toni Elias, Fortuna Honda: 14th:
“We’ve done a good job throughout the day, gathered a lot of information and now we have to analyse the situation and react to it because that is the only way to head into tomorrow’s race with any sort of guarantee. We still have a traction problem but hopefully the heat from the crowd can eliminate that! It will be exciting start and I’ll be trying to make up as many positions as possible. I’m really looking forward to racing in front of my people.”

Makoto Tamada, Konica Minolta Honda: 15th:
“I can not be happy of my position in the starting grid of the Catalunya Grand Prix. This morning we could obtain a clear improvement of the performance of yesterday while in the afternoon, with the hot weather, I could not sufficiently exploit the rear tyre grip. What disturbs me the most are the rear tyre movements starting in acceleration and impeding me to check the sliding efficiently.”

250cc:

Andrea Dovizioso, Humangest Honda: 1st:
“It was important for me to do well here in Barcelona and this pole makes me feel even better than Le Mans. I don’t usually care so much about my position in the qualifier, but this time I’m very satisfied to be in front because this is a nice, hard and technical track, where rider can make the difference. Aprilias are very fast here with this straight so long, but I did the pole anyway so this is good. I want to thank my team because they are doing a great job: race by race, session by session I feel more and more confident riding my Honda. My pace is also good and so I can do well tomorrow. I think that my main rival is going to be Jorge Lorenzo, but there are other riders that have a good rhythm.”

Shuhei Aoyama, Repsol Honda: 6th:
“Despite the tyre wasn’t at the right temperature as I just went out of the pit box, I decided to push hard because I was behind Andrea, who was doing his ‘hot’ lap. Unfortunately, though, I lost the front and fell off and so I couldn’t improve further my time. I crashed out twice this weekend, but a part of this I am satisfied about the job we have done so far. I have a good feeling with the bike and I’m okay with the tyres for tomorrow as well.”

Yuki Takahashi, Humangest Honda: 9th:
“Despite the tyre wasn’t at the right temperature as I just went out of the pit box, I decided to push hard because I was behind Andrea, who was doing his ‘hot’ lap. Unfortunately, though, I lost the front and fell off and so I couldn’t improve further my time. I crashed out twice this weekend, but a part of this I am satisfied about the job we have done so far. I have a good feeling with the bike and I’m okay with the tyres for tomorrow as well.”

Martin Cardenas, Wurth Honda BQR: 18th:
“The qualifying session was the best one of the weekend so far. We had front-end problems from the start of practice and I couldn’t get the bike to hold its line. We changed the settings, made them stiffer an it helped. We still have some work to do before the warm up but we are close. The rear end was sliding a bit but that’s nothing to worry about. The engine is very good so if we improve a little I will be OK in the race.”

Arturo Tizon, Wurth Honda BQR: 19th:
“"Tomorrow we have to turn everything up-side-down to find solutions to the setting problems we had in the qualifying session. I will go back to close to the set up we ha at the IRTA pre-season test at this circuit.”

Fabrizio Perren, Stop and Go Racing: 21st:
“I had a small problem with the engine today, a little down on power. We expected to run at 1m 49s but could not get below the 1m 50.1s time we set yesterday. We are closer to the leaders than at Mugello so I feel OK with that. If I get a good start and get in a good group I know I will have a good race.”

Arnaud Vincent, Molenaar Honda: 22nd:
“The session was bad because the engine was down on power. No acceleration and not enough top speed. Pity because I rode well today and the team have given me a good chassis and suspension set up. If I get a good engine fo tomorrow I will have a good race.”

Sebastian Porto, Repsol Honda:
Sebastian Porto has announced his retirement from racing.

125cc:

Thomas Luthi, Elit Honda: 10th:
“When the final session started I had to try some different tyres. The first set they gave me were so–so but I liked the second set I tried. The bike was really good in that session handling was good and the engine really fast. I was alone out there and had to push really hard to get my time. I felt the limit apart from a couple the riders ahead of me on the grid cant run that pace for more than a few laps.”

Gabor Talmacsi, Humangest Honda: 11th:
“I pushed at the limit throughout the qualifying session but eventually wasn't enough. I need more acceleration in exiting the curves and, most important, I struggle in turning the bike because the balance of the bike doesn't let me running fast. The positive thing is that I make the same times with race tyres on and this is good for tomorrow.”

Fabrizio Lai, Seedorf Racing World: 12th:
“Today all the riders were motivated to do the best: in the first corner we were three or four very near each other. I was the more exterior and I touched someone and I crashed out. After I used the second bike, but it wasn’t perfect as the other one. I wasn’t perfect, too: my left hand hurt. I tried to do my best but the gap to recover for Hondas is too much. On fast tracks Aprilias are favoured and tomorrow it will be an hard race.”

Sandro Cortese, Elit Honda: 19th:
“I have many, many problems with the front tyre, and just a little on the rear but the rear we fixed already. I lost the front end completely once I had to bang my knee down on the track to get the bike back on two wheels. Then I came into the pit changed tyres but the front was just the same and I went into the gravel. I’m riding well and I set my time alone. If we can sort out the front end the bike will be good, the engine is fast.”

Tito Rabat, Wurth Honda BQR: 20th:
“I have a very good set up for this track. This is the first time I will race a GP at Montmelo. I have raced two Catalan Championship races here so I know the circuit. The bike is fast and I am now 1.5s faster than ever before around here.”

Aleix Espargaro, Wurth Honda BQR: 22nd:
“Once again a circuit with a long straight where my bike is not fat enough. was down on top speed today. I also had a few setting problems in the qualifying session so no way I could get a fast5 lap. Tomorrow I will give my best and hope to score my first points of the championship at my home GP.”

Lorenzo Baroni, Humangest Honda: 23rd:
“Finally we have found a good set-up of my Honda and my feeling with the bike has improved a lot. It has been made a good step forward since the first races, therefore I'm able to be more constant and fast in the long distance. So, I fell confident for tomorrow, but I need to make a good start and try to stay with the faster riders.”

Michele Conti, Seedorf Racing World: 34th:
“Today the qualifying session was well balanced and the classification shows it. The bike is ok but I have still to learn a lot… Tomorrow it will be a very difficult race: I have not to lose the contact with the fastest group during the first lap to recover important positions.”

Joey Litjens, Molenaar Honda: 36th:
“I’m quite angry with myself. OK ‘half a second faster than at the test her but should have been faster. In final qualifying I was with a group but we didn’t go fast enough we just kept getting in each others way. Pity because the bike is really good, the engine is really fast. I know I can go at least half a second faster and will do it in the race tomorrow.”


MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 07
Catalunya Grand Prix at Montmelo Qualifying

line
MotoGP
1 Valentino ROSSI (Camel Yamaha Team)
2 John HOPKINS (Rizla Suzuki MotoGP)
3 Kenny ROBERTS (Team Roberts)
4 Chris VERMEULEN (Rizla Suzuki MotoGP)
5 Shinya NAKANO (Kawasaki Racing Team)
6 Loris CAPIROSSI (Ducati Marlboro Team)
7 Nicky HAYDEN (Repsol Honda Team)
8 Casey STONER (Honda LCR)
9 Marco MELANDRI (Fortuna Honda)
10 Randy DE PUNIET (Kawasaki Racing Team)
11 Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)
12 Colin EDWARDS (Camel Yamaha Team)
13 Sete GIBERNAU (Ducati Marlboro Team)
14 Toni ELIAS (Fortuna Honda)
15 Makoto TAMADA (KONICA MINOLTA Honda)
16 Carlos CHECA (Tech 3 Yamaha)
17 Alex HOFMANN (Pramac d'Antín MotoGP)
18 James ELLISON (Tech 3 Yamaha)
19 Jose Luis CARDOSO (Pramac d'Antín MotoGP)
 
250cc
1 Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Humangest Racing Team)
2 Jorge LORENZO (Fortuna Aprilia)
3 Alex DEBON (Fortuna Aprilia)
4 Alex DE ANGELIS (Master - MVA Aspar Team)
5 Hiroshi AOYAMA (Red Bull KTM GP 250)
6 Shuhei AOYAMA (Repsol Honda Team 250)
7 Roberto LOCATELLI (Team Toth)
8 Jakub SMRZ (Cardion AB Motoracing)
9 Yuki TAKAHASHI (Humangest Racing Team)
10 Marco SIMONCELLI (Squadra Corse Metis Gilera)
- Sebastian PORTO (Repsol Honda Team 250)
 
125cc
1 Alvaro BAUTISTA (Master - MVA Aspar Team)
2 Mika KALLIO (Red Bull KTM GP 125)
3 Pablo NIETO (Multimedia Racing)
4 Hector FAUBEL (Master - MVA Aspar Team)
5 Mattia PASINI (Master - MVA Aspar Team)
6 Julian SIMON (Red Bull KTM GP 125)
7 Lukas PESEK (Derbi Racing)
8 Simone CORSI (Squadra Corse Metis Gilera)
9 Nicolas TEROL (Derbi Racing)
10 Thomas LUTHI (Elit - Caffe Latte)
 

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