Honda privateer Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda RC212V) put in a heroic performance during this afternoon’s British Grand Prix qualifying session, holding pole position until the final moments of the hour-long outing. The Frenchman, who slid off at speed at the very end, ended up second quickest, just 0.126 seconds shy of World Championship leader Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha). Conditions were cool and windy, with warmer weather expected for tomorrow’s racing.
Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda)
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda)
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) led the early stages of qualifying and was in the thick of the battle for pole until he slid off on his last lap. The Spaniard, currently second in the championship, qualified third, 0.152 seconds behind de Puniet. Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V) will head up the second row for tomorrow’s British Grand Prix after going fourth fastest, four tenths off Pedrosa.
Silverstone’s return to the motorcycle Grand Prix calendar after an absence of 24 years has been greeted with approval by most riders who all seem to agree to love the high-speed venue, laid out over an old World War Two airfield. So far they only have one complaint – the old section of the track is extremely bumpy – so the circuit will be resurfaced for 2011.
De Puniet was in stunning form, his RC212V dancing across the bumps as he rode to his first front-row start since 2007. Second fastest after the first two free practice sessions he was on the pace from the start of qualifying, moving into first place with 15 minutes to go, just a fraction ahead of Lorenzo and Pedrosa. Unfazed by his tumble at the high-speed Farm left-hander, de Puniet announced that the crash would ensure he will start tomorrow’s race in a quieter frame of mind!
After heading free practice, Pedrosa looked strong throughout qualifying and looked like he might repeat his dominant pole/win/lap record at Mugello two weeks ago. However, while pushing hard to better his times he lost the front at the Brooklands left-hander. It should have been an innocuous low-side crash, but his left leg was run over by the bike as he slid across the tarmac. Pedrosa was taken to the Clinica Mobile but despite some pain and discomfort in both legs he is okay to race.
Dovizioso had his work cut out after tumbling this morning’s session. He was unhurt in the crash, but damaged one of his machines and lost a small amount of track time, which isn’t what a rider wants at a new circuit. Nevertheless the Italian rallied strongly this afternoon to head row two.
Team-mates Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) and Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) qualified in team formation, with Melandri eighth and rookie Simoncelli a brave ninth following a nasty highside in this morning’s session.
Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda MotoGP RC212V) was unable to repeat the excellent tenth place he achieved in Mugello qualifying but he did continue his MotoGP learning process while riding to the 12th best time of the afternoon. The cool conditions have made life difficult for the Japanese star who is struggling to get a good feeling in the cool conditions and is so far unable to choose between the two rear tyre compounds available.
Moto2 underlined its reputation for unpredictability once again today, with former 600 World Superstock Champion and 1000 Superstock star Claudio Corti (Forward Racing, Suter) scoring his first pole position in the new Honda-powered World Championship. Meanwhile points leader and double race winner Toni Elias (Gresini Racing Moto2, Moriwaki) struggled badly, qualifying only 18th fastest. Qatar winner Shoya Tomizawa (Technomag-CIP, Suter) also had an off day, crashing at speed this morning and qualifying 11th.
Italian Corti – whose only Moto2 points-scoring position so far is 15th at Le Mans – rode impressively this afternoon to claim pole by a significant 0.413 second advantage over team-mate Jules Cluzel (Forward Racing, Suter). Qatar podium man Cluzel has a straightforward aim for tomorrow – to finish and score some points following his race crashes at Le Mans and Mugello.
Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing, Suter) is back on the front row for the first time since Qatar, where his qualifying performance was spoiled when a rival took him out on the first lap of the race.
Two weeks after struggling to ninth at Mugello, reigning 125 World Champion Julian Simon (Mapfre Aspar Team, Suter) took the final place on the front row and will be aiming to repeat his rousing ride to a podium finish at Le Mans
Former Colombian Supermotard Champion Yonny Hernandez (Blusens-STX, BQR) heads the second row after qualifying fifth, his sideways style working well on the bumpy Silverstone surface.
Rookie Marcel Schrötter (Interwetten Honda 125 Team) qualified 20th for the 125 Grand Prix after slicing two seconds off his free practice times. The 17-year-old German is feeling confident for the race, knowing full well that he will need an excellent start if he’s to score more points tomorrow.
Tomorrow’s race schedule is different from the usual Continental programme due to the British time difference. For the first time the Moto2 race will start the day at 11.15 (local time), followed by MotoGP at 13.00 and 125s at 14.30.
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda)
Marco SIMONCELLI (San Carlo Honda Gresini)
Randy de Puniet, LCR Honda RC212V: 2nd – 2m 03.434s, said:
"I am very happy because this is my first front row start since Assen 2007. I am really enjoying myself on this track and I thought it was possible to take the pole position today when I stripped half a second off Lorenzo’s top time, but in the last lap he took pole back and I also experienced a fall. I have cut my right thumb in the crash but it was not necessary to stitch it up. For sure this crash was helpful to me as I understood I must remain calm during the race! The overall package is working well and I am riding faster and faster lap by lap but we still have to adjust something especially in the engine mapping and traction control but we will work on it tonight. Honestly, I do not want to dream about the podium but we have got a good potential to race in the front tomorrow."
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda RC212V: 3rd – 2m 03.586s, said:
"Today we were quite fast in both sessions and we have a good machine setting, so I think we have the potential for a strong race. We still need to decide which of the Bridgestone tyre options we’ll use because tomorrow it looks like it may be warmer than today. I crashed when I was on my last qualifying lap as I braked going into a left hander, I hit some bumps and then the front started to move a lot and then had a little slide. Maybe the bike went over me and at that moment it hurt, but afterwards the pain went away so I’m ok for tomorrow. The lap times were getting faster in each session and I think I’m still learning the track - every time you go out you learn more about the line, the braking points and the corners where the bumps are - and that’s normal on a new track. We’re on the front row which is always important for a good getaway, so tomorrow I hope we can have another good performance."
Andrea Dovizioso, Repsol Honda RC212V: 4th – 2m 03.995s, said:
"I’m happy with qualifying in fourth place and starting from the front of the second row. I wanted to be a little bit closer in terms of lap times and we still need to improve the pace for tomorrow so that we can fight for first place, but I’m satisfied with the result today. This morning I crashed, fortunately without hurting myself, and I was able to get straight back on my second bike and be back on the pace immediately. Because of this crash we couldn’t do so much comparison work between the two chassis we had available, and so during qualifying I only used the new one, which seems to work well. The track layout is really fascinating – I like it a lot – but the main issue remains the bumps. We’re quietly confident for tomorrow and I’m definitely looking for another podium finish – at least."
Marco Melandri, San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V: 8th – 2m 04.555s, said:
"This is a very different circuit, there is so much to learn. But we have worked well so far and I think we can have a good race. The biggest problem is the bumps, but they are the same for everyone, so it’s just a part of the set-up we have to work on. I don’t know if I can fight for fourth place like I did at Mugello, but whatever, we will try our best."
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V: 9th – 2m 04.868s, said:
"I am pretty sore after my crash this morning, but I must just focus on the work ahead. I really like this track – it is fast and you have to be aggressive, which suits my style. The bike is coming along, but we would be in better shape if I hadn’t fallen this morning and lost some important track time. We will try and get a good start in the race and not make any first-lap mistakes."
Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda MotoGP RC212V: 12th – 2m 05.712s, said:
"My feeling for the bike is getting better and we could improve since the morning session. The direction in which we are going is good, but we still have a lot of work to do to get where I want to be. The choice of the tyre is very important here for the race and at the moment we are still not sure which tyre will be the right one."
Claudio Corti, Forward Racing, Suter: pole position – 2m 09.624s, said:
"I keep thinking that this is a dream – maybe I will wake up now! I like this track and I remember some of it from when I raced in the Superstock Championship here, but the track has changed a lot since then, so I only know a few of the corners. Anyway, I’m fast and my race pace is good. It will be a tough race, like they always are in Moto2. This is a difficult championship because we all have the same engine spec, so it is very tough to find any advantage."
Jules Cluzel, Forward Racing, Suter: 2nd – 2m 10.037s, said:
"I’m very happy with this performance, especially because we come here after crashing out of the last two races in France and Italy. The team has worked well here, but we have more work to do to make the bike easier to ride over race distance. The big thing is that I need to finish here – I don’t need to get another podium, I just need to score some points."
Stefan Bradl, Viessmann Kiefer Racing, Suter: 3rd – 2m 10.413s, said:
"This has been a difficult track for me, it’s not easy to learn. Yesterday afternoon and this morning weren’t easy sessions, but finally we found something in the bike setting for qualifying and I was able to improve a lot, so I have to say thank you to my mechanics for their great work. I am looking forward to the race."
Julian Simon, Mapfre Aspar Team, Suter: 4th – 2m 10.419s, said:
"I’m very happy. Yesterday’s first session was wet which was a problem considering that this is a new circuit for all of us. Then this morning didn’t go well for me either, but finally in qualifying I was able to push much harder and finally I was able to make the front row. My mechanics pushed very hard to give me a good setting, so I was able to run a good pace, and I am sure I can ride a good race tomorrow."
Marcel Schrötter, Interwetten Honda 125 Team: 20th, 2m 19.299s, said:
"I am quite satisfied with the result, but I know I could do better. I am in the top 20 and that is okay in my opinion, as there is not much difference in lap times until the guys around 13th position. I can achieve more from here tomorrow in the race. I don’t really know why it is, but I get faster always at the end of the sessions. I really have to work on that in the future."