Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) just missed out on a front row starting spot for Sunday’s Catalunya Grand Prix, finishing 0.168 seconds. behind the third placed rider.
The session was topped by Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha), the Mallorcan who took pole position from teammate Valentino Rossi with just over one minute to go on a blazingly hot day north of Barcelona. The ambient temperature was 38 degrees and the track temperature 52 setting up the hottest conditions of the year and promising an exciting, but difficult sixth round of the MotoGP World Championship on Sunday.
Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Repsol Honda Team)
Toni Elias (San Carlo Honda Gresini)
Dovizioso was happy to be so close to the front row on a track and in conditions that he enjoys. The Montmelo circuit is a rider’s challenge, with elevation changes, blind corners, long sweeping corners, and one of the longest straight-aways on the calendar. The soaring temperatures wreak havoc on the asymmetric rear tires, but Dovi enjoys sliding the Honda and lapped the 4.727kms course in 1m 42.584s, his best ever for the circuit north of Barcelona. So encouraged was the young Italian that he didn’t rule out a podium finish in Sunday’s race.
Toni Elias (San Carlos Gresini Honda) was happy to take fifth in his home race after the team completely reworked the settings on his Honda RC212V. Elias rebounded from a downfield placing in the morning practice to slot into the second row next to Dovizioso. He is confident of at least equaling his qualifying position in tomorrow’s race, but knows it will be difficult given the expected weather conditions.
Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) was disappointed with seventh because he believed he had the potential for a second row start. But late in the session, when everyone had fitted the softer of the two hard rear Bridgestone tires, De Puniet found himself having to thread his way through slower riders which cost him precious tenths of a second. As it was, he finished at the head of the third row, but only .007s from row two.
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa will start his home race from eighth after ending the session earlier than he’d planned. The 2008 winner of this race, Pedrosa crashed during the crucial final minutes of qualifying, denying himself a chance to move up to the front row at the track which is half an hour from his hometown. The crash was a slow one-he ran off the track at turn four and tipped over in the gravel-but fortunately didn’t do any further damage to his right leg or hip. Had he not crashed Pedrosa was certain he would have been one row closer to the front. But the fact that he was as competitive as he was proved his resilience and he was resolute in wanting to perform for his fans. Pedrosa needed a painkilling injection to get through the day and will need another tomorrow for what he fully expects to be a test of endurance. His consolation was that his RC212V clocked the fastest top speed of 326.9ks on the 1.047kms Catalunya front straight.
Alex De Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini) was unlucky to be back in 14th, but confident he had the pace to be with the leaders. The San Marinese was nine spots back on the grid despite being only .3s slower than his teammate Elias. And he was less than a second from a front row start.
Yuki Takahashi (Scot Honda) was unhappy to finish 14th after making a mistake on his best flying lap. The atmospheric conditions upset the settings on his Honda RC212V, but he’s certain the team will make the necessary adjustments for tomorrow’s race.
Gabor Talmacsi finished his first ever MotoGP qualifying session in 19th place, but declared himself content. The Hungarian rider was drafted into the Scot Honda team for this weekend and the remainder of the season, and the transition to premier class has been accelerated. Talmacsi spent last season on a 125, rode three races this year on a 250, then had a month’s break before joining the team this weekend. To make matters worse, his health is less than perfect, which makes riding the Honda RC212V that much more difficult.
Hiroshi Aoyama (Scot Honda) will start Sunday’s 250cc race from the second row after qualifying sixth, but only 0.085s off the front row. Aoyama put himself at a disadvantage after crashing in the early part of the session. The heat made it difficult to achieve the best machine settings and Aoyama predicted a difficult race in similar conditions. Pole position went to Hector Barber, the Spaniard who was .417s faster than Aoyama.
Hector Faubel (Valencia CF-Honda SAG) qualified two spots behind Aoyama in eighth place and agreed that the heat had made it difficult to find the perfect set-up. At the end of the session Faubel was on his fast lap when he ran into a thicket of slower riders, forcing him to back off. Then came a small moment of contact with Mattia Pasini, which further hampered his efforts.
Ratthapark Wilairot (Thai Honda PTT-SAG) was one of the few riders to improve his machine settings en route to a tenth place qualifying performance. Still, the weather conditions were an impediment and there was more to come, just not today. Like Fauble, Wilairot was unlucky with slower riders at the end of the session, otherwise he would have been farther up the grid.
Raffaele De Rosa (Scot Honda) made a few mistakes while qualifying 13th, but noted that the lap times were very close, which meant Sunday’s race would be competitive. What will be most important is getting the machine and tires to work well for the duration of the 23-lap race.
Shoya Tomizawa (Team CIP Honda) was learning yet another new track in his rookie campaign and finding it difficult. The Japanese rider made steady progress throughout practice and qualifying before making a concerted push at the end of the session. Tomizawa’s best lap landed him in 15th place for Sunday’s race.
Randy DE PUNIET (LCR Honda MotoGP)
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda)
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda), 4th fastest at 1m 42.594s, said:
“I’m very happy with this fourth position, even though of course my target was to be on the first row. I like this racetrack - you do a lot of sliding the bike and I really enjoy this kind of riding. We made progress with the machine this morning, then we made a modification to the setting this afternoon that didn’t have the results we expected, so tomorrow we will go back to this morning’s set up. Today it was very hot and conditions were very demanding for the tyres - all the riders seemed to have less grip at the rear. Still, I’m quite satisfied. We have improved our race pace and tomorrow I will fight hard for the podium. We were fast today and I think we can get closer to the frontrunners’ race pace in the low 1m 43s, although consistency is still their advantage.”
Toni Elias (San Carlo Honda Gresini), 5th fastest at 1m 43.139s, said:
“The truth is that we’re really satisfied with today because after a difficult free practice this morning we managed to ‘turn over the tortilla’, as we say here in Spain, and the afternoon was a completely different story. Basically, the mechanics have stripped down the bike and rebuilt it again and I want to thank each and every one of them because they have done a fantastic job. The whole team have worked hard yesterday and today and without that we couldn’t have done what we did in qualifying. I still think we have to keep working just as hard because our potential is much higher, but after finishing second to last this morning and then qualifying fifth this afternoon… we can’t ask for more than that. The target for tomorrow will be to repeat this position because obviously it is going to be difficult to break the top four in normal circumstances with what we have. If any of them make it easy for us and if we have the chance to make up a position or two, obviously we’ll take it. But the important thing is to keep this hard work up and make sure we are in a position to take advantage where we can.”
Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda), 7th fastest at 1m 43.175s, said:
“I am a bit disappointed because we have been expecting the second row. I had the potential to get it, but found some slower riders in the last laps losing some tenths, as my ideal time is half a second faster. However, we are really pleased with our race set-up and our race lap times. A second row start could make my life easier, but I feel confident for tomorrow’s race. We have to take a good start and overtake a couple of riders in the first lap to catch the front group”
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda), 8th fastest at 1m 43.207s, said:
“I’m reasonably satisfied with my pace today, especially considering how things felt yesterday. We’ve qualified for the race and, although I’d have preferred to be on the front two rows, this position is OK. In fact, I think I could have been a row further forward had I not had the crash in the last few minutes of qualifying - that’s the period when the best times are usually set. I went into the corner a little bit too fast and wide and had to run straight on. Then I saw the air fence and decided it was best to get off the bike. This morning I had an injection for the pain which worked quite well so I didn’t have another one for the afternoon, though it was becoming more uncomfortable by then. Tomorrow I’ll have another injection and we’ll try to take the best result possible in the race. It’s going to be extra hard work because of the heat, but there are a lot of my fans out there so I’ll be riding my hardest for them.”
Alex De Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini), 14th fastest at 1m 43.422s, said:
“We’ve taken a big step forward and closed the gap a lot, but we were a little unlucky today because for the sake of a few tenths of a second we’re ten places behind where we could have been on the grid! My team-mate was three-tenths quicker and he’s fifth, so that tells you everything. So on one hand it’s a shame but on the other hand it is a huge source of motivation to know that we’re all so close and it just makes you more determined to keep fighting. Obviously the top four are a step ahead, but after that it’s really tight and the battle of the satellite bikes is the one we really want to win. We have to keep working hard and above all think positive. If we believe we can do well then there is no reason why we cannot.”
Yuki Takahashi (Scot Honda), 16th fastest at 1m 43.777s, said:
“I'm not really satisfied because I could have done better. Unfortunately, in the fast lap I made a mistake. Otherwise, the position on the grid would be better. The temperature of air and asphalt, higher than this morning, disturbed a bit our set-up, but I believe we can adjust it in time for tomorrow's race.”
Gabor Talmacsi (Scot Honda), 19th fastest at 1m 45.833s, said:
“I'm more than happy. I did not do any silly mistake, I did not crash, I qualified. What can I ask more? This was my first attempt on a MotoGP bike: let us be realistic. Moreover, I'm not in my best shape. I have a bit of temperature, but Dr. Costa helped me. Tired? Yes, a little. Two sessions in a single day is a lot of work.”
Hiroshi Aoyama (Scot Honda), 6th fastest at 1m 47.166s,said:
“I went down in the first part of the session - in this condition, so hot the air and tarmac, it is difficult to understand well everything. If tomorrow we'll have the same condition, it is going to be a very tough race.”
Hector Faubel (Valencia CF-Honda SAG), 8th fastest at 1m 47.379, said:
“’m really happy because I get the goal that I wanted to achieve, but I think that I could go faster than I rode today. The weather conditions made the bike work not so well. Also when I was in my best lap I saw a lot of traffic and I could not go full throttle. I saw (Mattea) Pasini was riding slower than me in the front and I tried to pass him and I touched him. This made me go slow for a moment and the the front wheel went away. Anyway, I’m happy because (Hiroshi) Aoyama is only 2 tenths of second fast than me and it’s a good result for the moment.”
Ratthapark Wilairot (Thai Honda PTT-SAG), 10th fastest at 1m 47.559s, said:
“The bike was better than yesterday, but the weather conditions made the bike work not at the máximum performance. It was necessary take slipstreams to steal the tenths of a second to get a good place in the grid. In the last laps I pushed hard to try to be in the first eight positions, but it was a lot of traffic in the track and it was imposible to go fast. I’m satisfied for the work done, the team worked hard and my perfomance was really good.”
Raffaele De Rosa (Scot Honda), 13th fastest at 1m 47.747s, said:
“The feeling is not the best, and I made a few mistakes in some places. But the lap times are very close - tomorrow will be important to be in the right group. The point is that, with a weather hot like this, it's difficult for the riders, for the engines, for the tyres. But I'm confident.”
Shoya Tomizawa (Team CIP Honda), 15th fastest at 1m 40.032s, said:
“In today’s qualifying practice I was very, very nervous because yesterday I couldn’t ride well and I have to learn the track very, very fast. I have to push and I have to try harder, but this circuit is a little bit difficult and I try some attack, but I don’t get a good time. And finally, at the end of qualifying today, I didn’t change my motorcycle and did all my laps with the same one. That’s why I could keep good concentration and I could push harder for the front and the rear also and this practice is very, very good for me today.”