MotoGPCatalunyaJune 4, 2011
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 05
Grand Prix of Catalunya Qualifying

Simoncelli Grabs First Pole Position, Stoner a Close Second

Race Results >>

Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) underlined his ever-growing speed by scoring his first MotoGP pole position at Catalunya today in preparation for tomorrow’s Catalan Grand Prix. The former 250 World Champion went quickest in the final few minutes, taking over from Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V) who had led the session from the start. The final place on the front row was taken by reigning World Champion and current points leader Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha).

Marco SIMONCELLI (San Carlo Honda Gresini) Casey STONER (Repsol Honda Team))

Marco SIMONCELLI (San Carlo Honda Gresini)

Casey STONER (Repsol Honda Team)

Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V) secured a second-row start with fifth fastest time. The factory Repsol-backed team’s third rider Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) is absent this weekend. The Spaniard is still recovering from the collarbone fracture he sustained when he came out worst from a clash with Simoncelli during last month’s French Grand Prix.

This afternoon Simoncelli responded in the best way possible following that incident, by riding a perfect lap of the challenging Catalunya circuit. The Italian came on strong at the very end of the session after struggling to fine-tune the set-up of his RCV during the early stages. After demoting Stoner to second, he still had time for one more lap and was even faster until he got to Turn 12 where he had a big slide, which he saved with his right knee.

Stoner led free practice  which included yesterday’s two rain-affected sessions  and was considerably faster than everyone during the first half of qualifying. After 30 minutes he was six tenths ahead of his closest rival, but when it was time to fit the softer-option Bridgestone he couldn’t find any extra speed. A lack of edge grip was the issue on the softer rubber, but the Australian knows he has a very competitive race pace.

Dovizioso was also in the hunt for a front-row start. The Italian ran strongly in the early stages and with 12 minutes to go he moved into second place behind Stoner. He was confident of retaining that position until he ran wide at Turn Five during his last lap, ending the session just 0.007 seconds shy of fourth-fastest Ben Spies (Yamaha).

Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) was 11th quickest, the Japanese one of many to complain that the track is lacking its usual grip. The former 250 World Champion also struggled to keep the front end down exiting the turns which lost him crucial time. He hopes to find a solution to his difficulties in morning warm-up.

Toni Elias (LCR Honda MotoGP RC212V) qualified 14th for his home Grand Prix, using a 2011 RCV chassis modified to suit his particular riding technique. Although the chassis is a step in the right direction, Elias was disappointed not to have achieved a better position on the grid for his home race.

Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing-Kalex) continued his remarkable run in Moto2, scoring his fifth pole position from as many races. The World Championship leader came out on top of a typically close-fought qualifying session, which had the quickest 19 riders separated by just 1.1s. Bradl’s fifth pole of 2011 certainly didn’t come easily. After the first three practice sessions he was only 11th fastest. Diligent work by his crew honed machine set-up until the young German was able to push to his maximum this afternoon. At one point he ran into the gravel trap at Turn Ten, but he kept his cool to increase his advantage over second-fastest Aleix Espargaro (Pons HP40-Pons Kalex) to 0.114s.

Local star Espargaro was delighted to score his first Moto2 front row, a performance which he hopes to turn into his first Moto2 podium tomorrow. Final man on row one was last year’s Catalunya Moto2 winner Yuki Takahashi (Gresini Racing Moto2-Moriwaki), the Japanese qualifying inside the top three for the third time so far this year.

The second row of the Moto2 grid comprises Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2-Suter), Le Mans winner Marc Marquez (Team Catalunya Caixa Repsol-Suter) and Bradley Smith (Tech 3 Racing-Tech 3).

As always, the session was packed with incident. Smith was one of several fallers, the Briton going down at high speed at the final turn. Luckily, his mid-session pace had been fast enough to secure a place on row two, though he may have been able to challenge for pole if he hadn’t missed the final stages of the outing.

Jerez winner Andrea Iannone (Speed Master-Suter) fell on only his second lap. The Italian lost control at Turn Nine and had several goes at saving it until finally he was pitched over the handlebars. By the time his battered machine had been returned to the pits and repaired he had less than ten minutes track time to get the best-possible grid position. In just four laps Iannone found enough speed to go 22nd fastest, 1.2s off pole.

Tomorrow’s Catalan Grand Prix is the fifth round of this year’s 18-event MotoGP World Championship. Immediately after racing finishes the paddock heads north and across the English Channel for next weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Repsol Honda Team) Marco MELANDRI (San Carlo Honda Gresini)

Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Repsol Honda Team)

Stefan BRADL (Viessmann Kiefer Racing)


Marco Simoncelli, San Carlo Honda Gresini: pole position, 1m42.413s
“It went well and I am much happier now than I have been for the past two weeks leading up to the Grand Prix. I was strong even though we had a few problems at the start of the session when I couldn’t push as hard as I would have liked. By the end we had solved the problems and I was able to ride really fast, although I never thought I would be able to set pole because Casey had been so fast in every session. I took a bit of a risk on the last lap trying to go faster and managed to save it, so finally my long legs have been good for something! Tomorrow won’t be easy because both Casey and Jorge have a fast race pace but I will try to stay with them. My first target is to finish the race, the second is to finish on the podium and you can guess the third!”

Casey Stoner, Repsol Honda: 2nd, 1m 42.429s
“I’m disappointed with qualifying, we had good pace and should have been able to go a lot faster on new tyres. In my first run of the session the bike wasn’t working so well, the tyres weren’t warming up as expected with that set-up and I had a lot less grip on the soft tyre, which we couldn’t understand why. We tried changing tyre pressure but it made it worse and we weren’t able to do anything with the last tyre which I’m very frustrated with because I almost did the same lap time with the soft and the hard tyre. Front row is obviously where we want to be but I’m annoyed as we spent the whole session working on the tyres and not improving the bike set-up. For tomorrow we’re confident with our race pace on hard tyres if the weather stays dry, it’s just upsetting to have a qualifying session like this.”

Andrea Dovizioso, Repsol Honda: 5th, 1m42.749s
“Montmelo [Catalunya] is a special track, you slide a lot and it’s a good fun to ride with a MotoGP bike. This morning we worked on the set-up and weight balance to improve the grip and this afternoon I had a better feeling. I’m happy with the race pace, we lapped consistently and together with Stoner, who made an impressive lap time. I think myself, Sic [Simoncelli] and Lorenzo will all be in the fight. The first row was possible but in my last lap I went wide at Turn Five, so I lost the opportunity. But to start from the second row is also fine as I feel strong and I have the pace to fight in the race. Tomorrow we will have a good race, hard fought and I look forward to it.”

Hiroshi Aoyama, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 11th, 1m43.734s
“It was a difficult session because I didn’t have good feeling with the bike due to the lack of grip on the track and also because the bike was ‘wheelying’ a lot. I managed to close the gap to the front guys but it wasn’t enough to make sure of a good grid position. We will try and find something in the warm-up that gives me more confidence with the bike and hopefully have a good race.”

Toni Elias, LCR Honda MotoGP: 14th, 1m44.510
“This morning we fitted the new 2011 chassis which made a little improvement for me on front feeling and rear traction out of the corners, but it was not the solution of our issues. We are still working all together to increase our pace but I cannot feel the bike: I miss braking stability and grip on the maximum angle. This is a difficult situation for everybody in the team because we have got the potential to finish in the top ten.”


Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing-Kalex): pole position, 1m46.753s
“The time gap is very close so we can expect many riders fighting at the front tomorrow, so I will have to be clever. Yesterday and this morning we had a strange problem in the corner exits which we had never had before. We improved this step by step in qualifying and I was able to use the tyres quite well. I made a good lap but for sure I was at the maximum. My goal is to win, of course, but there will be a lot of riders, so I will just try to finish in the best position.”

Aleix Espargaro (Pons HP40-Pons Kalex): 2nd, 1m46.867s
“We battled for pole position until the last moment today, but Bradl won the battle again. We have done a good job all weekend here. We were already very strong at Le Mans and we are even a little stronger here. The team improved the bike for qualifying, so now I feel very competitive. We will see what happens tomorrow  I expect a big group fighting for the front positions. I will try and make my first podium in front of my home fans.”

Yuki Takahashi (Gresini Racing Moto2-Moriwaki): 3rd, 1m46.978s
“Moto2 qualifying is always so close and so tough, so I am very happy to make a second-row start for the third time this year. The team has worked very hard for this result today because in free practice we were in ninth position. The bike is quite good now and I am ready for the race. I know the race will be very hard with many riders fighting for position. Of course I will do my best and battle for the podium.”

MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 05
Grand Prix of Catalunya Qualifying
1 Marco SIMONCELLI (San Carlo Honda Gresini)
2 Casey STONER (Repsol Honda Team)
3 Jorge LORENZO (Yamaha Factory Racing)
4 Ben SPIES (Yamaha Factory Racing)
5 Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Repsol Honda Team)
6 Cal CRUTCHLOW (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)
7 Valentino ROSSI (Ducati Team)
8 Nicky HAYDEN (Ducati Team)
9 Alvaro BAUTISTA (Rizla Suzuki MotoGP)
10 Hector BARBERA (Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP)
11 Hiroshi AOYAMA (San Carlo Honda Gresini)
12 Randy DE PUNIET (Pramac Racing Team)
13 Loris CAPIROSSI (Pramac Racing Team)
14 Toni ELIAS (LCR Honda MotoGP)
15 Karel ABRAHAM (Cardion AB Motoracing)
- Colin EDWARDS (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)
1 Stefan BRADL (Viessmann Kiefer Racing)
2 Aleix ESPARGARO (Pons HP 40)
3 Yuki TAKAHASHI (Gresini Racing Moto2)
4 Thomas LUTHI (Interwetten Paddock Moto2)
5 Marc MARQUEZ (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol)
6 Bradley SMITH (Tech 3 Racing)
7 Mika KALLIO (Marc VDS Racing Team)
8 Julian SIMON (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2)
9 Esteve RABAT (Blusens-STX)
10 Jules CLUZEL (NGM Forward Racing)
1 Nicolas TEROL (Bankia Aspar Team 125cc)
2 Hector FAUBEL (Bankia Aspar Team 125cc)
3 Maverick VINALES (Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing)
4 Johann ZARCO (Avant-AirAsia-Ajo)
5 Efren VAZQUEZ (Avant-AirAsia-Ajo)
6 Sandro CORTESE (Intact-Racing Team Germany)
7 Jonas FOLGER (Red Bull Ajo MotorSport)
8 Luis SALOM (RW Racing GP)
9 Sergio GADEA (Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing)
10 Adrian MARTIN (Bankia Aspar Team 125cc)

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