MotoGP > MotoGP 2007 Round 01: Qatar GP > Qualifying
MotoGPQuatarMarch 9, 2007
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 01
Qatar Grand Prix at Losail Qualifying

Elias Heads Second Row With Dani Alongside

Race Results >>

Under new tyre regulations and with an 800c capacity limit MotoGP 2007 got underway at a sunny Losail circuit with a pole for Valentino Rossi (Yamaha), second place on the grid for Casey Stoner (Ducati) with the final front row slot going to Colin Edwards (Yamaha).



Toni ELIAS(Team Honda Gresini)


Dani PEDROSA(Repsol Honda Team)

With an ambient temperature of a modest 23 degrees, and with the track at 27 degrees, conditions were ripe for riders to make the most of this benign weather. They ripped around this 5.4km track without suffering the customary privations of heat exhaustion when this race was held in October here in the Qatar desert.

The circuit was also relatively dust free owing to the Superbike race held here two weeks ago and a series of local events that have laid down rubber on the tarmac and made the track a much grippier proposition than it has been in recent years.

As the hour long MotoGP qualifying session got underway it was Marco Melandri (Team Honda Gresini RC212V) who headed the timesheet before Carlos Checa (Honda LCR RC212V) snatched pole away from him, only for John Hopkins (Suzuki) to then temporarily wrest number slot from them both.

But this was mere early skirmishing as riders put in laps on prospective race rubber while conserving a limited number of qualifying tyres for the final minutes. With only 14 front tyres and 17 rears available for each rider, longer stints on track without constant returns to the pits for changes were the norm.

Twenty minutes into the session the order was Edwards, Rossi, Hopkins, Loris Capirossi (Ducati), Melandri and Checa. Then as per last season Kawasaki was the first team to fit a qualifier as Randy de Puniet sped to a 1m 56.331s lap to hit pole with 30 minutes remaining.

Within the last twenty minutes Shinya Nakano (KONICA MINOLTA Honda RC212V), who had been running in ninth spot, slid off at high speed without injury. Meanwhile Stoner had hoisted himself to second with Melandri third fastest and Edwards on pole with a time of 1m 56.156s.

Stoner then upped the pace to go pole with a 1m 55.794s lap ahead of de Puniet, Hopkins and Edwards who had now been bumped down to fourth on row two. Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC212V) who had been struggling here so far elevated himself to fifth with a prodigious effort, before ending up ninth overall.

But Edwards was comfortable enough to squeeze yet more speed from his bike and with seven minutes left he managed a 1m 55.654s time to go pole again. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC212V) had not been finding things easy here and his ride to sixth with just five minutes to go was as much as he could manage before ending up fifth overall with a 1m 55.361s time on his very last lap.

It was Toni Elias (Honda Gresini RC212V) who found the most speed from his RC212V in the closing moments when he flew to a 1m 55.358s time, just 0.356s off the pole time, to head the second row of the grid as fourth fastest qualifier.

Kenny Roberts (Team Roberts KR212V) could do no better than 18th fastest, nearly two and a half seconds shy of Rossi’s 1m 55.002s pole time. Many Honda runners will be aiming to find more speed in the warm-up session tomorrow before the race.

Elias, fourth fastest, said, “I’m really happy with this result after such a difficult winter. We’ve worked hard on the set-up of the bike to try and create a solid base with the Bridgestone tyres. This afternoon we just worked right to the end of qualifying and found a compromise that allowed me to make the most of the qualifying tyre. To be in fourth place, at the front of the second row, is important for the race ? especially at a circuit where it is difficult to overtake.”

“Starting from fifth position is OK,” said Dani. “Though obviously I would have preferred to be on the front row. We continued to work on the set-up of the bike in both sessions and I was able to improve my speed from yesterday. The set-up for the race is just about there, though we still have to make the final decision on the race tyre, so we’ll use the warm-up tomorrow morning for that. My qualifying runs went quite well ? the first one was calm and not so quick and on the second one I was pushing more and improved the time quite a lot.”

Nicky, ninth quickest, said, “My last Michelin qualifier felt really good and my first three splits were not bad, but in the last split I didn’t quite put it together and I actually went a little bit slower in that split. Up until that point I had a pretty decent lap going. The third row isn’t really where I hoped to be starting the first race of the year and we’re just trying to get the front end right so that I’m able to roll around these corners and not have to do so much stop-and-go riding. We’ve got a few little issues with some chatter but the bottom line is that I’ve got to come in here tomorrow, do my part and get the most out of the bike.”

Marco Melandri, tenth fastest man, said, “I am satisfied with the bike and the tyre choice for the race. Unfortunately I made a mistake with my choice of qualifying tyre, which is why I haven’t qualified a little closer to the front. We didn’t find the right feeling with the first qualifier and I didn't feel comfortable, which meant I couldn’t get the best out of the second tyre.”

Shinya Nakano ended the session 11th fastest, and said, “Despite the crash I feel OK and I’m not hurt. It was a fast crash on one of the right-hand corners, so I was lucky. Compared to my crash down the Mugello straight a few years ago, it was a slow one! I’m obviously a little disappointed, as I wanted something better from today for the team and myself. After the crash I could improve my lap time with a qualifying tyre, but now we have to look forward to tomorrow and use morning warm-up to choose a tyre for the race.”

“I knew qualifying would be difficult,” said Carlos Checa, 12th fastest, “The team had expected front-end chatter using the softer tyres, front and rear, but I did not expect the problem to be quite so bad. By the final two corners of my fast lap I had a big problem on the brakes turning into the corners. But I’m happy with my pace in race trim and I am quite confident, the rear is stable with our race tyre. We need to understand the qualifying chatter for the future but my main focus now is a good start and a strong race.”

Roberts struggled in 18th spot. He said, “I tried a hard-compound race tyre in the middle of the session, and had a real close call from the left side going into a corner. Confidence-wise, it’s one of those things where you get a real bad feeling and it takes away your momentum. Then when I put the qualifying tyre on, there was basically no advantage. I couldn’t keep my corner speed up. I got more grip, but I couldn't do a thing with it.”

Reigning World 250cc Champion Jorge Lorenzo dominated the 45-minute qualifying session for the class and netted the first pole of the season. The front row was an all-Aprilia affair with Hector Barbera second quickest, Alex de Angelis third fastest man and with 2007 World 125cc Champion Alvaro Bautista completing the front row.

Just 0.2 seconds cover the front row qualifiers while 2007 series runner-up Andrea Dovizioso (Humangest Racing Team RS250RW) qualified seventh fastest, 1.270 seconds off the pole time. Next fastest Honda qualifier was Dovi’s team-mate Yuki Takahashi (Humangest Racing Team RS250RW) in ninth. Julian Simon (Repsol Honda 250 RS250RW) qualified tenth.

Dovi said, “I’m not totally satisfied. We made a good job and improved my lap time, but the other riders have done the same and the first four have made very good lap times. We have to make some little improvements to my bike; in warm up tomorrow morning we’ll look for perfection and with more work I think we have a good chance of doing well.”

Takahashi said, “I’m very happy about my lap time. Today I raced quickly but not right on the edge, not risking too much. On this track it isn’t easy to pass the other riders because of the sand off the racing line. It’s essential to make a good start in order to be among the first riders.”

Simon said, We didn’t have much time left towards the end because I stopped a bit late. We put on a softer compound and I was only able to do one more lap. I had a problem with Simoncelli on that lap. I passed him and then he passed me back and then I went off the track. But the overall result is positive because I’m still a bit bruised after the crash in Jerez. Let’s hope that I’ll be able to finish the race.”

Gabor Talmacsi netted the first pole of the 125cc series with a last gasp lap of 2m 06.011s to deny his team-mate Hector Faubel the number one grid slot for tomorrow’s 18-lap encounter. Mattia Pasini qualified third fastest (all Aprilia) while Lukas Pesek (Derbi) completes the front row.

Esteve Rabat (Repsol Honda RS125R) qualified eighth fastest with his team-mate Bradley Smith (Repsol Honda RS125R) ninth overall for a third row start. Alex Masbou (FFM Racing Honda RS125R) will start from 15th while Mike di Meglio (Humangest Honda RS125R) lines up in 18th spot.

Rabat said, “This morning was a bit of a disaster and I had a few problems. But then, around noon, I was able to keep a good pace. Then I was able to lap behind another rider and make two good laps. There are still a few things to decide, like the tyres and some set-up elements, but things are more or less clear for tomorrow.”

Smith said, “We tested some new settings that did not work out and then we went back to the beginning. It’s a bit late now, but I’ve done better work than yesterday. I feel confident for tomorrow because I know that I can be fast all by myself and I don’t need to follow anyone else. I know I could have done better, but we only have thirty minutes to clock a good lap time, get a good pace and find good settings, so I’m happy.”



Marco MELANDRI(Team Honda Gresini)


Andrea DOVIZIOSO(Humangest Racing Team)

MotoGP:

Toni Elias, Tean Honda Gresini: 4th:
“I’m really happy with this result after such a difficult winter. We’ve worked hard on the set-up of the bike to try and create a solid base with the Bridgestone tyres. This afternoon we just worked right to the end of qualifying and found a compromise that allowed me to make the most of the qualifying tyre. Te be in fourth place, at the front of the second row, is important for the race ? especially at a circuit where it is difficult to overtake. Hopefully I can get a good start! We still have a little work to do to improve the race pace.”

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team: 5th:
"Starting from fifth position is ok, though obviously I would have preferred to be on the front row. We continued to work on the set-up of the bike in both sessions and I was able to improve my speed from yesterday. The set-up for the race is just about there, though we still have to make the final decision on the race tyre, so we'll use the warm-up tomorrow morning for this. My qualifying runs went quite well - the first one was calm and not so quick and on the second one I was pushing more and improved the time quite a lot. For the race I hope to be fighting at the front, though some of the other riders are looking pretty fast so it may be difficult. I'm on the middle of the second row so the track may be a little bit dirty there - still, I'll be aiming to get a good start in the race tomorrow."

Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda Team: 9th:
"My last Michelin qualifier felt really good and my first three splits were not bad, but in the last split I didn't quite put it together and I actually went a little bit slower in that split. Up until that point I had a pretty decent lap going. The third row isn't really where I hoped to be starting the first race of the year and we're just trying to get the front end right so that I'm able to roll around these corners and not have to do so much stop-and-go riding. We've got a few little issues with some chatter but the bottom line is that I've got to come in here tomorrow, do my part and get the most out of the bike. The team's working hard and I've got faith in the boys in my corner. It's going to be a big day tomorrow. We'll bring all we've got, try to get a smokin' start and not got pinched down there on the inside of the third row. I'm definitely looking forward to going racing again."

Marco Melandri, Team Honda Gresini: 10th:
“I am satisfied with the bike and the tyre choice for the race. Unfortunately I made a mistake with my choice of qualifying tyre, which is why I haven’t qualified a little closer to the front. We didn’t find the right feeling with the first qualifier and I didn’t feel comfortable, which meant I couldn’t get the best out of the second tyre. Hopefully I can get a good start and make a few passes over the opening laps to make up positions. I’m confident about it all because we’ve worked hard towards the race and the rhythm is good. In the test on Sunday I’ll work on the qualifying tyres because it is always important to start near the front if you want to battle for a top position.”

Shinya Nakano, KONICA MINOLTA Honda: 11th:
“Despite the crash I feel OK and I’m not hurt. It was a fast crash on one of the right-hand corners, so I was lucky. Compared to my crash down the Mugello straight a few years ago, it was a slow one! I was trying to improve my lap time and was adjusting my riding style a little but perhaps it was the wrong thing to do as I lost the front. I’m obviously a little disappointed, as I wanted something better from today for the team and myself. After the crash I could improve my lap time with a qualifying tyre, but now we have to look forward to tomorrow and use morning warm-up to choose a tyre for the race.”

Carlos Checa, Honda LCR: 13th :
“I knew qualifying would be difficult because the team had expected front-end chatter using the softer tyres, front and rear, but I did not expect the problem to be at such a high level. By the final two corners of my fast lap I had a big problem on the brakes turning into the corners. But I’m happy with my pace in race trim and I am quite confident, the rear is stable with our race tyre. We need to understand the qualifying chatter for the future but my main focus now is a good start and a strong race.”

Kenny Roberts Jr., Team Roberts: 18th:
“I tried a hard-compound race tyre in the middle of the session, and had a real close call from the left side going into a corner. Confidence-wise, it’s one of them things where you get a real bad feeling and it takes away your momentum. Then when I put the qualifying tyre on, there was basically no advantage. I couldn’t keep my corner speed up. I got more grip, but I couldn’t do a thing with it.”
“Overall, I haven’t been matching the times I did here in the test. I keep thinking we’re making the bike better, and my feeling keeps getting better, but the times are tough to do. I put 90 percent of it down to me, not being able to give the guys feedback good enough to find the right direction. The bike’s still no good in the areas I’ve been struggling. There’s a better bike in the garage. We’ve just got to figure out what needs doing and what I’m doing. Sometimes you ride 100 percent and the bike’s doing the right things and it’s fine. Sometimes if it’s doing the right things at the wrong time, then you’re off, and then you look bad, as we look now.”

Kenny Roberts Senior - Team Owner:
“We haven’t kept up with it. Just before we get there, we go backwards. So it’s been a very frustrating weekend so far. Of course we are ready to make big changes to the bike. It’s up to Junior. We can change everything on it if he wants to. We need to set down and find out why we are so slow.”

250cc:

Andrea Dovizioso, Humangest Racing Team: 7th:
"I'm not totally satisfied. We made a good job and shift after shift we have improved my lap time, but also the other rider have made the same improvement and the first four have made a very good lap time. We have to make some little improvements to my bike: in warm up tomorrow morning we'll look for perfection and with more fighting I think we have good possibility of a good finish."

Yukio Takahashi, Humangest Racing Team: 9th:
"I'm very happy about my lap time. Today I raced quickly but not at my edge, in order not to risk too much. On this track it isn't easy to pass the other riders because of the sand beside the track. It's essential to make a good start in order to be among the leading riders. I'll do my best!"

Julian Simon, Repsol Honda 250: 10th:
“The practices were OK. I've tried to get a good pace quickly to be able to focus only on riding, because this afternoon we used a bit stronger pain-killers than yesterday. It’s been good because they really stopped the pain. I pushed from the beginning and was able to improve my lap-time. Then we made some adjustments to the bike and the times were even better. We had not much time left towards the end because I stopped a bit late. We put on a softer compound and I was only able to do one more lap. I had a problem with Simoncelli in that lap. I passed him and then he passed me back and then I went off the track. But, well, the result is positive because I'm still a bit bruised after the crash in Jerez. Let's hope that I'll be able to stand the race well tomorrow. My aim is actually to finish it.”

Shuhei Aoyama, Repsol Honda 250: 13th:
“I don’t really know what happened today. I have to improve for the race. The feelings are not perfect, but not really bad either. I lack a bit of concentration and I don’t know what kind of a pace I’ll be able to keep, but what I know is that I'm going to give it all in every lap.”

Ratthapark Wilairot, Thai Honda PTT SAG: 22nd:
"I couldn't improve as much as I wanted, but overall it was a positive day and there's only a little gap with the guys ahead of me. We were able to refine the set-up of the bike, we worked on the gearbox and chose a tyre for tomorrow's race. My goal is to score a few points, but I know it will be tough because the 250cc class is very competitive this year. We did some good work and I hope our effort will be rewarded in this first Grand Prix of the year."

Eugene Laverty, Honda LCR: 24th:
“It hasn’t been the smoothest weekend so far and 24th is not where I want to be, I’m looking forward to a better race performance. I lost track time in the morning session with an engine problem and the chassis set-up is not perfect -- the rear is sliding and the front moving around too much.”

125cc:

Esteve Rabat, Repsol Honda 125cc: 8th:
“This morning was a bit of a disaster and I had a few problems. But then, around noon, I was able to keep a good pace. Then I was able to lap behind another rider and make two good laps. There are still a few things to decide, like the tyres and some set-ups, but we have more or less everything clear for tomorrow.”

Bradley Smith, Repsol Honda 125cc: 9th:
“Well, we are a bit behind compared to the results we had during the previous tests. We tested some new settings that did not work out and then we went back to the beginning. It’s a bit late now, but I’ve done better work than before. I feel confident for tomorrow because I know that I can be fast all by myself and that I don’t need to follow anyone else. I know that I could have done better, but we only have thirty minutes to clock a good laptime, get a good pace and find good settings. I’m happy.”

Alexis Masbou, FFM Honda GP 125: 15th:
“The problem for me is the rear tyre, its sliding a lot and making it difficult to get on the gas. The front end is good and the engine also but we have to find a solution to the sliding. Tonight we will speak with Dunlop about tyres for tomorrow and then change the suspension if necessary. The warm up will be important for us.”

Mike Di Meglio, Humangest Racing Team 125cc : 18th:
"Today I'm not happy at all. We tried a bigger tyre and that gave me more stability solving the problems I had until yesterday, in particular where there were holes in the track. But anyway I'm not been ever able to make a good lap time and now my technicians are trying to understand what could have slowed me. For sure tomorrow will be very difficult to recover so many positions, but I try to give my very best."

Joey Litjens, Arie Molenaar Racing: 27th:
“I was running well for almost the complete training and qualifying then broke piston! Pity because we had found a good engine setting. The team know what to do and I’m confident I will go faster tomorrow. The chassis set up is pretty close to what we ran at the test here last week so I’m not worried.”

Daniel Webb, Arie Molenaar Honda: 28th:
“This morning I had a slide off but I’m OK, I it a bump running into the corner. In the afternoon I just didn’t have confidence with the front end. The set up is good so I should be OK tomorrow. I have a good engine and that gives me some confidence.”


MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 01
Qatar Grand Prix at Losail Qualifying

line
MotoGP
1 Valentino ROSSI (Fiat Yamaha Team)
2 Casey STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team)
3 Colin EDWARDS (Fiat Yamaha Team)
4 Toni ELIAS (Team Honda Gresini)
5 Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)
6 John HOPKINS (Rizla Suzuki MotoGP)
7 Loris CAPIROSSI (Ducati Marlboro Team)
8 Randy DE PUNIET (Kawasaki Racing Team)
9 Nicky HAYDEN (Repsol Honda Team)
10 Marco MELANDRI (Team Honda Gresini)
11 Shinya NAKANO (KONICA MINOLTA Honda)
12 Carlos CHECA (Honda LCR)
13 Chris VERMEULEN (Rizla Suzuki MotoGP)
14 Olivier JACQUE (Kawasaki Racing Team)
15 Alex BARROS (Pramac d'Antin)
16 Sylvain GUINTOLI (Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3)
17 Alex HOFMANN (Pramac d'Antin)
18 Kenny ROBERTS JR (Team Roberts)
19 Makoto TAMADA (Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3)
20 Jeremy McWILLIAMS (Ilmor GP)
21 Andrew PITT (Ilmor GP)
 
250cc
1 Jorge LORENZO (Fortuna Aprilia)
2 Hector BARBERA (Team Toth Aprilia)
3 Alex DE ANGELIS (Master - MVA Aspar)
4 Alvaro BAUTISTA (Master - MVA Aspar)
5 Thomas LUTHI (Emmi - Caffe Latte Aprilia)
6 Hiroshi AOYAMA (Red Bull KTM 250)
7 Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Humangest Racing Team)
8 Mika KALLIO (Red Bull KTM 250)
9 Yuki TAKAHASHI (Humangest Racing Team )
10 Julian SIMON (Repsol Honda 250)
13 Shuhei AOYAMA (Repsol Honda 250)
 
125cc
1 Gabor TALMACSI (Bancaja Aspar)
2 Hector FAUBEL (Bancaja Aspar)
3 Mattia PASINI (Polaris World)
4 Lukas PESEK (Valsir Seedorf Derbi)
5 Raffaele DE ROSA (Multimedia Racing)
6 Sergio GADEA (Bancaja Aspar)
7 Tomoyoshi KOYAMA (Red Bull KTM 125)
8 Esteve RABAT (Repsol Honda 125cc)
9 Bradley SMITH (Repsol Honda 125cc)
10 Simone CORSI (Skilled Racing Team)
 

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