Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) came within 0.131 seconds of scoring his third pole position of the year during this afternoon’s dramatic German Grand Prix qualifying session.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda)
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda)
The session was red-flagged just after halfway following an incident at the end of the start-finish straight. World Championship leader Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) suffered an engine failure that spread oil on the racing line, bringing down Ben Spies (Yamaha) and Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda RC212V) at speed.
At that point Pedrosa had been ahead. The session was restarted as soon as the oil had been dealt with, Lorenzo and then Casey Stoner (Ducati) sneaking ahead of Pedrosa in the final minutes. Nevertheless Pedrosa ended the afternoon a tantalisingly close third quickest and is happy with the work he has done on race set-up. Most important of all he is on the front row – the Sachsenring’s ultra-tight first corner makes this one of the trickiest race starts of the season.
Team-mate Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V) was next up in fourth, to lead the second row. Like everyone else Dovizioso’s work schedule was slightly disturbed by the mid-session stoppage but the Italian is confident he can run a good pace in the 30 lap race. His main focus before the race is to further improve his RCV’s mid-corner performance.
Most riders, including Dovizioso, bettered their Friday times during this morning’s free practice, which started on a slightly damp track. Conditions were very different from yesterday afternoon when the ambient temperature soared to 36 degrees. After overnight thunder and lightning storms this afternoon’s temperature was 24 degrees.
Fifth fastest in free practice, de Puniet had been in the hunt for a fourth consecutive front row until he was brought down by Lorenzo’s oil slick. The Frenchman – who is benefitting from upgraded electronics kit from HRC – suffered a minor injury to his lower right leg when he clipped Spies’ fallen Yamaha while sliding through the gravel trap. De Puniet took no further part in the session but has been cleared fit to race. He will start from seventh place, heading the third row.
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) will take his place in the middle of the third row, starting from eighth position for the third consecutive race. The Italian rookie has been building speed and confidence at the last few GPs and is keen to make up for his tumble at Catalunya, where he had been on course for his best premier-class result.
Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) completed the session in tenth spot, 1.1 seconds off pole. The Italian is still recovering from the dislocated left shoulder he sustained in a practice crash at Assen, which isn’t making life comfortable at this physically demanding anti-clockwise circuit which features seven consecutive left-handers from turn five to turn 11.
Alex de Angelis (Interwetten Honda MotoGP RC212V) had a tough return to MotoGP today, tumbling at the blind turn 12 during the closing stages of qualifying. It was never going to be easy for the San Marino rider, coming into this race without any testing as substitute for the injured Hiroshi Aoyama, but at least he walked away from his high-speed fall unscathed and was able to continue on his second bike. De Angelis had been contesting Moto2 until he got the call up to fill in for Aoyama, who injured his back at Silverstone.
Andrea Iannone (Fimmco Speed Up, Speed Up) proved once again that he has the strongest package in the Honda-powered Moto2 series with his fourth pole position from the last five races. Iannone has also won two of the last five races and would likely have won a third at Catalunya two weeks ago if he hadn’t received a ride-through penalty for overtaking under yellow warning flags. The Italian’s advantage – in a class with control engines and tyres – was impressive, at 0.673 seconds. To put his advantage into perspective, the next 18 riders are covered by 0.665 seconds.
Local favourite and GP rookie Arne Tode (Racing Team Germany, Suter) achieved his best GP qualifying performance this afternoon with second fastest Moto2 time. The 25-year-old from Bergen – who knows this track well from previous visits with the German Superbike and Supersport series – will be doing everything in his power to convert his qualifying speed into a podium finish in front of his home crowd.
Championship leader Toni Elias (Gresini Racing Moto2, Moriwaki) seems to have got his challenge back on track after a difficult few races. Like many Moto2 riders, Elias tested at Aragon (venue for September’s inaugural Aragon GP) following the Catalan GP. He made some radical chassis adjustments and is raring to put them to a full test in tomorrow’s race.
Catalan podium finisher Julian Simon (Mapfre Aspar Team, Suter) will be out to score his fourth top-three result of the year. And few riders know their way around this track than the Spaniard who dominated last year’s German 125 GP, winning the race by more than nine seconds.
Marcel Schrötter (Interwetten Honda 125 Team) wasn’t wholly satisfied with his 15th place in 125 qualifying, especially considering the fact that he has recorded faster times here in the past. Schrötter’s crew will try some changes in warm-up in an effort to improve the 17-year-old’s race pace.
Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda)
Marco SIMONCELLI (San Carlo Honda Gresini)
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda RC212V: 3rd, 1m 21.948s,
“The main target today was to get onto the first row and we've achieved this so I'm happy. It's important to start from the front row because the first corner is close to the starting grid and also the first few corners are very tight, so it's better to be up front and try to stay out of trouble. Always at this track the lap times are very close and we often see a really hard fight in the race - and it looks like this could be the case again tomorrow. We were lucky with the weather today and we got more dry practice time than expected. Generally we did a good job in the two practice sessions and our race pace looks pretty reasonable. I didn't see the crash at turn one but I saw the smoke and I thought maybe there's some oil on the track. I think I was lucky not to be the first one through after Lorenzo's problem. We'll have to be very concentrated during all 30 laps tomorrow because it's a short lap and there's no time to relax. We'll try to find a little something extra with the set-up in warm-up tomorrow but I'm confident we can have a strong race.”
Andrea Dovizioso, Repsol Honda RC212V: 4th, 1m 22.263s,
“I'm pretty satisfied to have qualified in fourth and to be only four tenths from pole position. We made constant improvements in both of today's sessions and we're in much better shape than we were yesterday. Being fast on this track is really important for me because previously I've struggled here a little bit in all the categories, but today we could go quickly and qualified pretty well. Fourth position equals my best qualifying position so far this season and I'm happy about this. We have a good race pace too. We are not as fast as the first three riders but I think we can improve in a few areas, close the gap, and fight for the top step of the podium. One of the areas where we are still losing out is in the middle of the turn with the bike wanting to go straight, so we'll continue to try to improve this particular part of our set-up. I'm confident for tomorrow's race. ”
Randy de Puniet, LCR Honda RC212V: 7th, 1m 22.610s,
“What can I say? I am lucky because all my bones are whole! We have been working well with the new software and I was up there for the whole session. I was on my last lap on a hard tyre and was ready to come in to swap to a soft tyre but suddenly Jorge's engine blew on the straight and after few seconds the surface was full of oil. It happened too quickly and nobody had the time to react or to display the flags. Spies crashed in front of me and I did the same, hitting his bike and hurting myself heavily. After last year's left ankle fracture I was seriously worried about my condition but I have just a scratch to the right tibia. But it aches very much! Of course I won't be at 100 per cent for tomorrow but my race pace is quite good and I will do my best to take as many points as possible.”
Marco Simoncelli, San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V: 8th, 1m 22.624s,
“Eighth place isn't bad and I'm happy even though to be honest I was hoping to improve at the end of the session and qualifying on the second row. It wasn't to be and if we want to achieve our objective of running with the top five tomorrow we have to take another step forward. I'm half pleased and half disappointed. Like yesterday we had difficulty finding rear traction when I open the throttle and I couldn't find a good feeling. Tomorrow in the warm-up we'll try and find a solution to improve our race pace. The crash this morning obviously didn't help but these things happen and we'll see what we can do tomorrow.”
Marco Melandri, San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V: 10th, 1m 22.917s,
“It was a really difficult session for us and we struggled to find the right way forward. We went back to our setting from yesterday and things improved but I'm still not happy with how I'm riding the bike, so we will try to make a change that gives us a bit more feeling in corner entry, which is where I am slow. Physically I feel quite good although the race will be a different story - it will be long and tough. I haven't really had any problems doing short runs in practice though.”
Alex de Angelis, Interwetten Honda MotoGP RC212V: 17th, 1m 23.515s,
“Of course I am neither happy nor satisfied with this result. And that I crashed isn't good at all. But I am confident for tomorrow's race. The riders in front of me were very close and I think I can close up to the front a little bit more. The set up of the bike needs further improvements to suit my aggressive riding style.”
Andrea Iannone, Fimmco Speed Up, Speed Up: pole position, 1m 24.982s,
“That was a very fast and tough session, so I am delighted to get another pole position. We are showing good consistency at the moment, which shows that we are working very well. If it hadn't been for my mistake at Barcelona [overtaking under yellow warning flags], I could be at the top of the championship, so tomorrow we have to keep pushing as hard as we can and capture some of the points we lost last time. It will be tough - I expect some strong rivalry, especially from Simon who is very fast here.”
Arne Tode, Racing Team Germany, Suter: 2nd, 1m 25.655s,
“This is really great - I never thought we would be able to get such a good grid position here. We were able to make some very good improvements to the bike between the second free practice and this afternoon's qualifying session, which made a big difference to me. The team is working incredibly hard and doing a fantastic job, so this is their reward. Now we will see what we can do in the race.”
Toni Elias, Gresini Racing Moto2, Moriwaki: 3rd: 1m 25.664s,
“We made some radical changes to the bike during the tests at Aragon last week. Adapting the set-up for this track has been quite difficult, but finally the bike is much better and for the first time for a while it seems like I have a very good race rhythm. It will be very important to get a very good start here because the first corner is so tight and the first part of the lap so narrow. I don't know if I will able to go with Andrea, we will have to wait and see. I will try, of course, and tonight we will see if we can find some small improvements in the bike.”
Julian Simon, Mapfre Aspar Team, Suter: 4th, 1m 25.758s,
“I am very happy to be on the front row - it is so important to get a good start at this track, so you can get into the first corner well. We have a good rhythm here and I also feel happy with the set-up of the bike. Maybe we could have gone a bit faster this afternoon, but maybe not without more risk. Tomorrow I hope to stay with the front group and fight. I know this track well and I won here last year on the 125s, so I will be trying my best to win again.”
Marcel Schrötter, Interwetten Honda 125 Team: 15th, 1m 28.975s,
“The 15th spot on the grid is not quite what I was hoping for, but it is still a position which is not bad to start the race from. During the qualifying I had a really good feeling with the bike and I felt comfortable, but then at the end of the session it went very chaotic once again and I was not able to attack anymore.”