MotoGP > MotoGP 2007 Round 14: Portugal GP > Qualifying
MotoGPPortugalSeptember 15, 2007
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 14
Portugal Grand Prix at Estoril Qualifying

HAYDEN's Perseverance Pays Off with Pole

Race Results >>

Honda man and reigning World Champion Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC212V) scored his first pole of a title defence season that has gathered increasing momentum over the last few races. Casey Stoner (Ducati) qualified second fastest with Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) completing the front row.



Nicky HAYDEN (Repsol Honda Team)


Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)

Under sunny skies with an ambient temperature of 27-degrees and the track at 36-degrees, the hour of timed qualifying was underway with Rossi setting an early marker for pole at 1m 37.911s. But these were merely exploratory laps on a surface notorious for inconsistent levels of grip.

Rossi, Hayden and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) were the early pace-setters and Rossi further established his claim for pole with a lap of 1m 37.738s just before the halfway point of the session.

At the half-hour mark the provisional front row comprised Rossi, John Hopkins (Suzuki) and Dani Pedrosa. But with 26 minutes left to run, Dani upped the pace to go pole. Hayden ran off track in his bid to get among the front men, and surprise packet Sylvain Guintoli (Yamaha) sped to fourth.

His team-mate Makoto Tamada (Yamaha) also showed a useful turn of speed laying claim to second on the grid as Dani Pedrosa reeled off a 1m 37.552s lap to grab pole. Stoner was lurking in catching distance of the top times as Dani maintained his grip on pole with 20 minutes left to run.

By this stage the majority of riders had completed race distance runs on potential rubber options for tomorrow's race and extra-sticky qualifying rubber was readied for the onset for ‘all-or-nothing' flying laps as riders gave everything to take the top slot.

Toni Elias (Gresini Honda RC212V) showed his mettle when he grabbed second with just under 15 minutes remaining. Then Stoner made his speed count with a 1m 36.594s lap to take pole. Rossi lay second at this stage and the former World Champion was on the pace as the clock ticked.

As the session entered the final five minutes, the order was Stoner, Hayden and Rossi on the provisional front row with Pedrosa, Elias and Shinya Nakano (Konica Minolta Honda RC212V) making up the second row.

But the irrepressible Carlos Checa (LCR Honda RC212V) was determined to figure at the sharp-end of the grid and the venerable Spaniard shot onto the front row with six minutes remaining.

Kawasaki man Randy de Puniet crashed trying to lever himself further up the grid as Rossi put in a 1m 36.576s lap to claim pole with four minutes left. Then with one minute remaining Stoner reeled off a 1m 36.341s lap to put his hands on pole. The top slot looked to cut and dried for the Aussie, but few reckoned on Hayden.

The American grabbed a well-deserved pole with a lap time of 1m 36.301s and with it firmly re-established himself as one of the front runners in MotoGP after what can only be described as a nightmarish title defence season.

Nicky said: “Obviously this year's been tough so it's really nice to be on pole position again and just have something to be happy about. The Michelin qualifying tyres worked really well this afternoon - I've never had so much grip - and it's a big thanks to all the boys in my team because they've worked really hard all weekend. We've improved by half a second in each session and as much as I'd like to say it was all down to me, really the team has made some good adjustments to the machine.”

His team-mate Dani Pedrosa, who qualified fifth fastest said: “As a practice session this afternoon went pretty well and we were able to find quite a good set-up and maintain a fast pace on race tyres. The lap times were reasonably consistent and the endurance of the tyres looks OK at this stage too. Unfortunately on qualifiers I was not so strong today and I had some vibration as I went for my quick laps so I'm not totally happy with the qualifying part of the session. To start fifth is by no means a disaster, but I was hoping for more.”

Marco Melandri (Gresini Honda RC212V) qualified seventh and said: “The team have worked really well. We've tried a few different solutions on the bike, working on the weight distribution and in the afternoon we made a good step forward. We still have a couple of small issues with engine braking but in general the bike has improved a lot and my race pace is good. In high temperatures the tyres are working really well but unfortunately the qualifier was a little too soft and I wasn't able to make the most of it. We'll continue to work towards the race but I'm happy to be on the third row and to be the second Bridgestone rider.”

His team-mate Toni Elias managed ninth for a third row start and said: “Physically I feel like yesterday but we've been able to work on the bike and improve the traction problems. In the afternoon we were able to make the most of that and my feeling with the bike is better even though there are some areas we need to work on. Compared to Brno and Misano my grid position is much better. Obviously we are in a very different position to last year but I like this track a lot and I'm confident of getting a good start tomorrow, giving it my best shot and having a nice race on a circuit where I scored my first MotoGP victory one year ago.”

Checa secured 11th and said: “Qualifying is always a gamble and that's the way it was today. I was aiming to improve my time my final run and start up front. But I came across a lot of traffic and also suffered from a lot of chatter at the rear, which is a problem we have on the soft compound qualifying tyres. This is our weak area in qualifying. It's a shame to start from the fourth row because I feel we have a good race pace with the new tyres and set-up. But I'm optimistic I can get a much better result in the race.”

Nakano ended up 13th overall and said: “I crashed at the start of session and lost my ‘fast bike' or my Number One machine. Despite this I have to say it was a good session. Even with the second machine things were - step-by-step - feeling better and better. I thought I could make a very special qualifying position with the Number One bike, but owing to the crash I simply had to do what I could. Things are still positive.”

Kurtis Roberts (Roberts KR212V) in 19th said: “The chassis performance keeps on improving and I keep getting better with more experience. Even though it's my first time here. When we overlay my data on Kenny Junior's from last year, I'm at the same corner speed or faster, as the 800 should be compared with the 990.”

The resilient Andrea Dovizioso (Scot Honda RS250RW) secured pole in the 250cc class 0.344 seconds faster then second-placed Aprilia rider Hector Barbera, with KTM riders Mika Kallio and Hiro Aoyama completing the front row in third and fourth slots.

After the crushing disappointment of a DNF at his ‘home' race at Misano two weeks ago, Dovizioso responded in the best way possible with a lap of 1m 40.355s to notch his second pole of the season so far. The last time he qualified on pole, he won.

Dovi said: “I'm very happy because it was very difficult to improve my lap times due to the very hot track conditions in qualifying. The bike was very good but I still had to push really hard. We did not have to make many changes to the set up for qualifying because we were very close yesterday. The engine is good and the bike performs really well at this track.”

The in-form Mattia Pasini (Aprilia) secured pole in the 125cc class from second quickest man Lukas Pesek (Derbi), with Simone Corsi third fastest and series points leader Gabor Talmacsi (both Aprilia) completing the front row. Mike di Meglio (Scot Honda RS125R) was the best Honda qualifier in 14th, one place ahead of Bradley Smith (Repsol Honda RS125R)

Di Meglio said: “This morning I had a crash, I just lost the back-end and spun it out but I damaged the exhaust pipe. We changed the pipe for qualifying but the engine did not react quite the same. The bike works well particularly the suspension. We just lack speed out of the corners and the bike does not accelerate like some of the rival bikes. Still top speed is OK and I am 14th on the grid.”




Marco Melandri (Gresini Honda)



Andrea Dovizioso (Scot Honda)

MotoGP:

Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda: 1st.
"Obviously this year's been tough so it's really nice to be on pole position again and just have something to be happy about. The Michelin qualifying tyres worked really well this afternoon - I've never had so much grip - and it's a big thanks to all the boys in my team because they've worked really hard all weekend. We've improved by half a second in each session and as much as I'd like to say it was all down to me, really the team has made some good adjustments to the machine. The harder this year's got the harder they've worked for me so I'm really happy to give them something to smile about. We've still got to improve a lot on race tyres but we're in a good position. The qualifying laps were pretty good and I improved by half a second from the first to the second which is what you've got to do if you want to get up front so I'm happy with how today has gone. Let's hope we can keep it rolling tomorrow."

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 5th.
"As a practice session this afternoon went pretty well and we were able to find quite a good set up and maintain a fast pace on race tyres. The lap times were reasonably consistent and the endurance of the tyres looks okay at this stage too. Unfortunately on qualifiers I was not so strong today and I had some vibration as I went for my quick laps so I'm not totally happy with the qualifying part of the session. To start fifth is by no means a disaster but I was hoping for more. However, with a good start tomorrow we have a chance to fight at the front. It's 28 laps and there are other riders with good pace too so I will be taking nothing for granted. It should be very interesting tomorrow and I hope to have a good race for myself and the team."

Marco Melandri, Gresini Honda: 7th.
"The team have worked really well. We've tried a few different solutions on the bike, working on the weight distribution and in the afternoon we made a good step forward. We still have a couple of small issues with engine braking but in general the bike has improved a lot and my race pace is good. In high temperatures the tyres are working really well but unforunately the qualifier was a little too soft and I wasn't able to make the most of it. We'll continue to work towards the race but I'm happy to be on the third row and to be the second Bridgestone rider."

Toni Elias, Gresini Honda: 9th.
"Physically I feel like yesterday but we've been able to work on the bike and improve the traction problems. In the afternoon we were able to make the most of that and my feeling with the bike is better even though there are some areas we need to work on. Compared to Brno and Misano my grid position is much better. Obviously we are in a very different position to last year but I like this track a lot and I'm confident of getting a good start tomorrow, giving it my best shot and having a nice race on a circuit where I scored my first victory one year ago."

Carlos Checa, LCR Honda: 11th.
"Qualifying is always a gamble and that's the way it was today. I was aiming to improve my time my final run and start up front. But I came across a lot of traffic and also suffered from a lot of chatter at the rear, which is a problem we have on the soft compound qualifying tyres. This is our weak area in qualifying. It's a shame to start from the fourth row because I feel we have a good race pace with the new tyres and set-up. But I'm optimistic I can get a much better result in the race."

Shinya Nakano, Konica Minolta Honda: 13th.
"I crashed at start of session and lost my ‘fast bike' or my Number 1 machine. Despite this I have to say it was a good session. Even with the second machine things were - step-by-step - feeling better and better. I thought I could make a very special qualifying position with the Number 1 bike, but thanks to the crash I simply had to do what I could. Things are still positive, as although I had a slightly different feeling with my second bike, the Michelin tyres were a big improvement and helped me stay in the top 10 for most of the session. Tomorrow is the important thing - the race - but we've decided on the race tyre and I'm happy with the Number 1 race bike. The start will be important once more as it's very difficult to overtake in Estoril."

Kurtis Roberts, KR212V: 19th.
"It's my first time here, and it's a pretty strange track to learn, with the bumps and slow corners. But I've been chipping away at it session by session. I should have qualified better, but I made a mistake on my fast lap, and then tried to get another lap out of the qualifying tyre - but it didn't make it. My other problem is my left foot. I cut it at Misano the night after the race. I was wearing flip-flops and I caught it on something sharp. I've never seen so much blood - I cut the artery, and needed ten stitches. It's a bit painful still, but it's not hampering me too much."

Kenny Roberts - Team Principle. Team Roberts.
"The chassis performance keeps on improving and Kurtis keeps getting better with more experience. Even though it's his first time here, when we overlay his data on Kenny Junior's from last year, he's at the same corner speed or faster, as the 800 should be compared with the 990. Last year that was enough for the lap record and to fight to win the race. The problem is the same as all season: we're doing what we can with what We've got, but we need more acceleration and speed from the motor."


250cc:

Andrea Dovizioso, Scot Honda: 1st.
"I'm very happy with because it was very difficult to improve my lap times due to the very hot track conditions in qualifying. The bike was very good but I still had to push really hard. We did not have to make many changes to the set up for qualifying because we were very close yesterday. The engine is good and the bike performs really well at this track. Our race pace is very high and I can run consistently fast lap times. The only potential problem will be tyres I think the performance will drop off very quickly in the race."

Julian Simon, Repsol Honda: 7th.
"It obviously isn't the position I was hoping for, but I think that we worked very well so I have to thank the team. They are helping me to understand my motorcycle better and trying to change things I don't quite seem to be improving on. Nevertheless, I'm happy mainly with the times we have achieved, as I think it's fast and in this category everyone is rolling very fast, especially on this track. As for tomorrow my aim is to get to a good start, which is why I'm trying out a new clutch, because in previous races I've had problems when starting. Then I'll try to reach the front, stay with the leading group and keep up the struggle there."

Yuki Takahashi, Scot Honda: 9th.
"I have a very good feeling with the bike but when I tried my time attack there as too much traffic. I have a good race pace. We found a good tyre for the race and did the whole session on that today so I am confident. Yesterday I had a problem at T4, the long right corner, so I changed my line and have improved. In fact at Misano I changed my riding style a little on entering the corners and I m faster and feel good on the bike."

Shuhei Aoyama, Repsol Honda: 12th.
"My time today was very slow, because I couldn't use all the tyres I would have liked to and that prevented me from doing any better. Actually, the composition of tyre which suited me best was quite scarce and I had to use them sparingly over the training sessions. Tomorrow I'll have to make a big effort during the first few laps in order to get as far ahead as I can."

Eugene Laverty, LCR Honda: 17th.
"I'm happy with my qualifying position and we have made progress this weekend. But there is still a big problem under brakes with the rear set up, the bike is very unstable, and I had a stupid crash at the end of the session over the bumps on entry to the final corner, the front just got away from me."

Ratthapark Wilairot, Thai Honda PTT-SAG: 18th.
"With this morning's time I could have been on the fourth row of the grid but we had to try and improve the set-up of bike - unfortunately it wasn't as fruitful as we expected. Anyway we're in a decent position. I guess the race pace will be around 1'42 and I'll be fighting for the points. I like this track and I'm sure I can put on a good performance here."


125cc:

Mike di Meglio, Scot Honda: 14th.
"This morning I had a crash, I just lost the back end and spun it out but I damaged the exhaust pipe. We changed the pipe for qualifying but the engine did not react quite the same. The bike works well particularly the suspension. We just lack sped of the corners the bike does not accelerate like some of the rival bikes. Still top speed is OK and I am 14th on the grid."

Bradley Smith, Repsol Honda: 15th.
"Yesterday we were having trouble to get the bike to turn because if you ride the ideal line here the others will just run up the inside of you. We fixed that overnight but now we have to work on the acceleration. Top speed is OK but its getting there that's causing m problems. We changed the gearbox ratios so I can short shift it off the corners and it helps a little. Here 0.4s gives you six - seven places on the grid. I got a good slipstream and went 0.7s faster, half of that was riding really hard."

Tito Rabat, Repsol Honda: 17th.
"The afternoon was very easy, very fast. We have some small engine problems by they are just small settings. The only real problem is no acceleration but we do have good speed. The suspension is not bad and the bike handles well. I hope that tomorrow I will get a good start and be able to fight in the top group."

Alexis Masbou, FFM Honda: 19th.
"It's a difficult week-end. In the first practice session we went in the wrong direction with our set-up. Luckily we were able to solve our problems in the second session and improved a lot. This morning we broke an inlet valve at the beginning of the session but I was able to do six flying laps, which put me in 17th position. For the second qualifying session this afternoon we had some head wind in the straight line and my bike was set-up for back wind, which is what we had this morning. I was nevertheless able to improve my lap time and although I feel comfortable on the major part of the racetrack, I keep losing one second in the final section which comprises the two fastest corners on the racetrack."

Joey Litjens, Molenaar Honda: 26th.
"Yesterday I was really sick, I have an infection that has left me very weak and in qualifying I just did not feel myself. My engine was better in qualifying than practice, the chassis is working and the bike is steering OK. I t my best time I mid-session but began to get very tired and could not better it. My lack of stamina is all I have to worry about and, of course, getting one of my best good start."

Danny Webb, Molenaar Honda: 29th.
"We changed a few things for this race and the whole weekend has been so much better than in recent races. We changed the front forks in a bid to try and find more confidence in the front end. We had to sacrifice a little mid corner speed but I am learning to over ride that and I fell good on the bike - I am going so much better. Today I was only 2.8s off pole position. I know I have to improve my performance in qualifying but I'm confident I will."

Dino Lombardi, Scot Honda: 30th.
"In comparison with the race at Misano this is much, much better. I still have a problem exiting the final corner and I am losing a few important tenths of a second there and braking my braking is not perfect but we will work to find solutions."

Louis Rossi, FFM Honda: 34th.
"Everything is new for me, the bike, the track, the team, and my aim is to learn as quickly and as precisely as possible in order to be competitive very soon. The team support is simply great they keep giving me very useful advice and I'm concentrating on putting them into practice. In the first few laps I was very impressed with the other riders, but after a few laps I decided to observe them and to tray and repeat their performances. I am very concentrated on my apprenticeship and making good progress, and I also wish to give back to the French Motorcycle Federation after offering me this exceptional opportunity."


MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 14
Portugal Grand Prix at Estoril Qualifying

line
MotoGP
1 Nicky HAYDEN (Repsol Honda Team)
2 Casey STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team)
3 Valentino ROSSI (Fiat Yamaha Team)
4 Makoto TAMADA (Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3)
5 Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)
6 Colin EDWARDS (Fiat Yamaha Team)
7 Marco MELANDRI (Team Honda Gresini)
8 Sylvain GUINTOLI (Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3)
9 Toni ELIAS (Team Honda Gresini)
10 John HOPKINS (Rizla Suzuki MotoGP)
11 Carlos CHECA (Honda LCR)
12 Chris VERMEULEN (Rizla Suzuki MotoGP)
13 Shinya NAKANO (KONICA MINOLTA Honda)
14 Alex BARROS (Pramac d'Antin)
15 Loris CAPIROSSI (Ducati Marlboro Team)
16 Anthony WEST (Kawasaki Racing Team)
17 Alex HOFMANN (Pramac d'Antin)
18 Randy DE PUNIET (Kawasaki Racing Team)
19 Kurtis ROBERTS (Team Roberts)
 
250cc
1 Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Kopron Scot Honda)
2 Jorge LORENZO (Fortuna Aprilia)
3 Hector BARBERA (Team Toth Aprilia)
4 Mika KALLIO (Red Bull KTM 250)
5 Hiroshi AOYAMA (Red Bull KTM 250)
6 Alvaro BAUTISTA (Master - Mapfre Aspar)
7 Julian SIMON (Repsol Honda 250)
8 Alex DE ANGELIS (Master - Mapfre Aspar)
9 Yuki TAKAHASHI (Kopron Scot Honda)
10 Thomas LUTHI (Emmi - Caffe Latte Aprilia)
12 Shuhei AOYAMA (Repsol Honda 250)
 
125cc
1 Mattia PASINI (Polaris World)
2 Lukas PESEK (Valsir Seedorf Derbi)
3 Simone CORSI (Skilled Racing Team)
4 Gabor TALMACSI (Bancaja Aspar)
5 Sandro CORTESE (Emmi - Caffe Latte Aprilia)
6 Sergio GADEA (Bancaja Aspar)
7 Pol ESPARGARO (Belson Campetella Aprilia)
8 Hector FAUBEL (Bancaja Aspar)
9 Stefan BRADL (Blusens Aprilia)
10 Joan OLIVE (Polaris World)
 

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