MotoGP > MotoGP 2007 Round 11: U.S.A. GP > Qualifying
MotoGPU.S.A.July 21, 2007
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 11
U.S.A. Grand Prix at Laguna Seca Qualifying

PEDROSA and HAYDEN in Hunt for Another U.S. Win

Race Results >>

MotoGP never looks less than spectacular here at Laguna Seca and under azure skies the final hour of qualifying showed just why. Casey Stoner (Ducati) upped his game twice in the final moments of this session to start from the front row. Alongside him as second fastest man is Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) and Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) the third quickest contender.

Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)

Nicky HAYDEN (Repsol Honda Team)

And with Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC212V) finishing up as the fourth fastest qualifier to head row two of the grid. This starting line-up has all the hallmarks of an intense race to come tomorrow. With Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) fifth on the grid and Stoner’s team-mate Loris Capirossi in sixth on row two, there are so many proven and potential race-winners set to fire it off the line.

This final hour of fighting for grid dominance began in 25-degree heat with the track at 43-degrees and Marco Melandri (Gresini Honda RC212V) showed an early intent to be one of the pace-setters. The Italian was the fastest man on track with four minutes gone, but then he tangled with Kurtis Roberts (Roberts KR212V) and crashed heavily when he ran wide onto the dirt.

There was a 20 minutes hiatus while the session was stopped to allow medical staff to attend to the stricken Melandri, but it soon became clear that although he might have picked up a leg injury he was mercifully relatively unscathed after his off. As the session resumed with 44 minutes left to run, the order was Stoner, Pedrosa, Capirossi, Melandri, Colin Edwards (Yamaha) and Vermeulen.

With 39 minutes remaining Rossi hoisted himself to third in the order (only 0.2 seconds off Stoner’s provisional pole time). But then Vermeulen put in a time of 1m 22.906s on what looked to be race tyres. He then posted a time of 1m 22.590s to beat Nicky Hayden’s 2005 lap record. But Nikcy would beat his own record too en route to fourth on the grid.

Marco Melandri was back out despite his crash, but with 22 minutes left, it was approaching the time for qualifiers as race set-up and tyre decisions were finalized. With 14 minutes left on the clock, Nicky put in a 1m 22.883s time to grab second. Then the general frenzy for last ditch laps on qualifying tyres unleashed itself.

Stoner ran off track, Dani grabbed provisional pole with a 1m 22.501s time to head Vermeulen and Hayden until Rossi moved up to third by bettering Nicky’s time. With just one minute left on the dial Dani looked like he might be the fastest man on track until Stoner pulled off a 1m 22.361s time followed by a lap of 1m 22.292s to steal pole.

The first 15 riders on the grid are covered by less than a second and spectacularly involving as the racing invariably is here, this also promises to be one of the more critical races in terms of the momentum of the World Championship before the summer break.




Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 2nd.
"Today we improved the set-up a lot, which was the most important target of the day. I’m also happy to be starting from the front row of the grid again because that’s always an advantage and gives you a chance of getting in front in the first few laps. The race set-up we’ve found is not bad and we’ve got a good idea on the race tyres too so we’ll just be making a few minor adjustments according to what we’ve learned today. My qualifying laps weren’t bad, but I hit some traffic on the first one which cost me time – the second qualifying lap was a little better."

Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda: 4th.
"In the morning we made quite a lot of progress and put in some decent lap times. Thanks to Pete and the boys because they did an awesome job to improve things this morning. When the conditions change in the afternoon it seems to go away from me though and I’m a little way off with the race set-up. I really wanted to get a little higher in qualifying today and I think we had the bike and the tyres to do it – I just didn’t get the most out of the package. I’m a little worried about the race because I seem to be struggling in the afternoons."

Shinya Nakano, Konica Minolta Honda: 9th.
"I’m happy with ninth as it wasn’t a bad lap-time overall. This morning we were changing the settings to find a good solution, but then in the afternoon the conditions were windy and we also saw more sand on circuit. This made it difficult to enter the corners as I wanted, so I lost the front a couple of times but I managed to get a good timed attack lap in, which is what we wanted! I was lucky with the traffic as this circuit is pretty narrow, so if you see someone you have to slow down. I’m hoping for a good start tomorrow to pass a few riders on the first lap."

Marco Melandri, Gresini Honda: 10th.
"I’m gutted this has happened because I had a good feeling with the bike and a front row start was within our capability. I was fourth fastest when I ran into Kurtis, who was going unusually slow. Despite the pain I wanted to get back on track. It was tough to get through the left-handers and change gear, especially uphill. Tomorrow will be tough. Now I just want to focus on recovering as well as I can with the help of the Clinica Mobile."

Carlos Checa, LCR Honda: 15th.
"Everything was going OK until I tried a soft qualifying tyre this afternoon and could not improve. On race tyres I felt quite comfortable in the morning session, we made good progress, and I think if I can maintain lap times of 1m 23s then I can have a good result in the race. At the end of the session I was disappointed in the reaction of John Hopkins when I slowed after seeing yellow flags being displayed. John was on a fast lap but there were no blue flags and I got off the throttle to observe the yellow flag."

Kurtis Roberts, KR212V: 18th.
"he bike’s a lot better. It turns a lot better. It finishes the corner off better. Before it would enter like normal, like all of them do, but once you got it over on your side, it just kept pushing out, it just kept going straight. Where now it just turns in. It was a lot better than it has been so far. We’re 1.3 seconds off and 18th, it shows you how tight and how competitive and how good everything has to be to be up there. As far as tyres are, we got up to 14th or something with race tyres. Put the qualifiers in and it’s just trying to get from point A to point B as fast as it can and it’s just those couple ticks that are slowing us down right now."

Kenny Roberts - Team Principle- Team Roberts.
"That's a new bike. Showed up Wednesday, put it all together, everything fit, and we've been on it ever since. We're struggling a little bit, but we're getting closer. This afternoon we went back to closer to where we were yesterday. I think he's alright with all of that. We're having trouble deciding which tires are better than the other ones. We struggled this morning with front grip. We've sort of got that sorted out. So I think we've got a fairly decent race combination. Depends on the racetrack. If the racetrack gets a little more running on it it'll start coming to us. Now, it's a bit too far away."

Miguel Duhamel, replacement rider for Toni Elias, Gresini Honda: 19th.
"We’re working hard and for me this is like a continual test. We’re improving every time we go out. At the end of the session I tried a qualifying tyre for the first time and improved my time a lot so now my target is to have a consistent race. I’m really enjoying the whole experience."

MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 11
U.S.A. Grand Prix at Laguna Seca

1 Casey STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team)
2 Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)
3 Chris VERMEULEN (Rizla Suzuki MotoGP)
4 Nicky HAYDEN (Repsol Honda Team)
5 Valentino ROSSI (Fiat Yamaha Team)
6 Loris CAPIROSSI (Ducati Marlboro Team)
7 John HOPKINS (Rizla Suzuki MotoGP)
8   Colin EDWARDS (Fiat Yamaha Team)
10   Marco MELANDRI (Team Honda Gresini)
11   Makoto TAMADA (Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3)
12   Anthony WEST (Kawasaki Racing Team)
13   Randy DE PUNIET (Kawasaki Racing Team)
14   Sylvain GUINTOLI (Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3)
15   Carlos CHECA (Honda LCR)
16   Roger LEE HAYDEN (Kawasaki Racing Team)
17 Alex BARROS (Pramac d'Antin)
18   Kurtis ROBERTS (Team Roberts)
19   Miguel DUHAMEL (Team Honda Gresini)
20   Chaz DAVIES (Ducati Marlboro Team)

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