MotoGPUnited StatesJuly 23, 2011
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 10
United States Grand Prix Qualifying

Stoner and Pedrosa on Front Row at Laguna Seca

Race Results >>

Repsol Honda riders Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa will start from the front row for Sunday’s U.S. Grand Prix after a drama-filled qualifying session on the challenging Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca circuit in the hills east of Monterey, California not far from the Pacific Ocean.

Casey STONER (Repsol Honda Team)

Casey STONER (Repsol Honda Team)

Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)

Stoner wasn’t comfortable during the session, trying a number of fixes that he hoped would yield the right set-up. He had a number of near crashes, but persevered to the end. Despite problems with traffic with his first soft tyre, he rebounded with his second one and nearly stole the pole position from Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) with his final lap of the undulating 3.610k road course, before coming up short by a scant.072s. Pedrosa was only .111s from Stoner in third.

The front row starting spot was Stoner’s ninth in ten races this season; his only second row start came in Estoril where he was fourth. Pedrosa was on the front row for the second week in a row. Last weekend in Germany the Spaniard won his second race of the season after starting second on the grid at the Sachsenring.

With its many left hand corners, Pedrosa was hopeful the track wouldn’t be too taxing on his right collarbone. But Laguna Seca is the most physically demanding track on the calendar and there’s nowhere to rest. Plus, the race is 32 laps, the most of any race all season.

The qualifying session was filled with drama, including a number of crashes, and some of the usual shuffling at the end of the hour. Fortunately, none of the seven Honda riders fell and all got quicker throughout the one hour session, held on a warm, sunny afternoon.

Lorenzo moved to the top in the very early minutes and only vacated the position temporarily to his team-mate Ben Spies late in the hour. Pedrosa was an early second and Stoner an early third, with San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli fourth at the outset.

For much of the hour there was drama, but not much changed at the top. Four riders fell, but none were seriously hurt.

As always, it was late in the session when the riders began fitting the softer of the two Bridgestone rear tyres that the times began to plummet.

Lorenzo re-took the top spot from teammate Ben Spies with just over 11 minutes to run. Spies was second when he crashed on the brakes in the turn three, one of only four right hand corners to go with seven lefts. It wouldn’t be long before the Honda riders took advantage.

Pedrosa moved up to second with just over a minute to go and with 15 seconds remaining Stoner moved up to fourth. But he wasn’t done. On his next and final lap Stoner lapped in 1, 21.274s to nearly take his seventh pole of the season and what would have been his third in a row. Instead he’s second on the grid in front of teammate Pedrosa, who had .193s on the sidelined Spies.

Simoncelli’s best lap came one from the end and put him in front of Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso. Dovi spent most of the session around fifth or sixth position, which is where he’s qualified most of the season. Other than qualifying seventh in the season-opener in Qatar, Dovi hasn’t been off the second row. By qualifying sixth, Dovizioso guaranteed four of the top six starting positions went to Honda riders.

Simoncelli made a big move in the morning and closed the gap on the top three. The difference was more confidence in the front end, which allowed him to take better lines through the corners.

Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini) qualified 14th in his first visit to Laguna Seca. The Japanese star missed last year’s race after breaking his back in the earlier British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

LCR Honda MotoGP rider Toni Elias continued to struggle and qualified 17th. The Spaniard had crashed in the morning on the front end. He was denied valuable track time in the afternoon when he and the team made the decision to completely re-build the front of the RC212V. The hard work paid off and he was able to set his fastest time on his last lap.

Ben Bostrom qualified 1.135s off pole in his first ever MotoGP qualifying session as the team-mate of Elias on the LCR Honda MotoGP team. The weekend was a learning experience for the Superbike rider, who won last year’s Superbike race here. This was his first experience riding a MotoGP machine and first time on carbon brakes and Bridgestone tyres. Bostrom is accustomed to racing a Suzuki Superbike for NBA legend Michael Jordan in the American championship and he found the adjustment, and going back and forth between the two very different motorcycles, to be challenging.

The U.S.GP is the only race on the world championship calendar at which the MotoGP bikes run exclusively.

Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Repsol Honda Team) Casey STONER (Repsol Honda Team)

Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Repsol Honda Team)

Casey STONER (Repsol Honda Team)


Casey Stoner, Repsol Honda: 2nd – 1m, 21.274s
“For the whole session we were trying to find the right set-up. All weekend we've been struggling a little and we've not found anything I'm comfortable with. I've closed the front many times and we're still looking to find some balance on the bike to get it working on this track, where we expected it to work well. On my first soft tyre I encountered some traffic and was held up, also there was a crash and a yellow flag so I lost my chance on that tyre. Then on the next soft tyre we had one lap to find some pace and we managed front row, which is important for tomorrow. I don't feel we're running with the pace of Dani (Pedrosa) and Jorge (Lorenzo); they seem to be constantly one to two tenths quicker but we have warm up tomorrow morning to find something in time for the race so we'll see what we can do.”

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 3rd – 1m, 21.385s
“We couldn't improve as much as I'd like to in the final part of the practice, we tried some different settings and unfortunately we didn't find a good one, but to start from the front row is always important and here we are again. I felt more comfortable with the hard tyres, which it's positive because they will be the ones used for the race, but we still need to make another step forward tomorrow and hopefully find a little more grip in the rear. Lorenzo seems very stable and fast, so I hope to find something else with my mechanics tonight and to be able to fight for a great result tomorrow. The race will be very fast, there are many laps here, so it will be important to be focused on every lap and stay strong until the end. I know the race distance will be hard for me physically; you have to work a lot in this track, there are a lot of bumps and you need to be very focused not to make any mistakes. But I will try my best and I hope to stay strong and consistent until the end.”

Marco Simoncelli, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 5th – 1m, 12.696s
“Overall it has been a positive day. We took our biggest step this morning and then built on that this afternoon, although we still have work to do to close the gap to the top three. Lorenzo is maybe in the best shape at the moment ahead of (Casey) Stoner and Pedrosa, but if we can find a couple of tenths in my race pace we can challenge for the podium. I had more confidence in the front today and held my line better through the corners, as well as improving acceleration out of the final turn. We could still find more time there though.”

Andrea Dovizioso, Repsol Honda: 6th – 1m, 21.735s
“My target was to start from the first two rows, so finishing sixth is not too bad, but I hoped to start at least from the fourth position because it’s external and gives more advantages from the start. Anyway, we are quite close and we need to work more to gain another two-tenths in race pace. This afternoon we improved a lot thanks to some changes we made in the set-up, moving the weight more to the back. This setting helps us to brake stronger and this suits more my riding style. We will continue working in the warm-up tomorrow because the pace of (Jorge) Lorenzo and Dani (Pedrosa) is really high. I hope to make a good start and maintain contact with the front group. I will do my best to have a good race and fight for the podium.”

Hiroshi Aoyama, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 14th – 1m, 22.937s
“I have improved my lap times from session to session and also found more confidence with the bike and track. I am quite satisfied with my lap time considering that this is only my second ever day here at Laguna. Tomorrow we will try to take another step and make up positions in the race. Tyre choice will be important, the race will be long but if we can stay consistent we can make up positions.”

Toni Elias, LCR Honda MotoGP: 17th – 1m, 24.156s
“We are back to our ‘standard’ situation and obviously we were expecting something better. Anyway, I want to say a massive thank you to the guys because they worked hard even today, because we had to change the bike geometry during the session. We are struggling with the same front issue that was the cause of my crash this morning. If you crash here you lose confidence because it’s a very tricky surface. I love lapping here but in this condition it’s not fun for me. We will try to fix the bike in tomorrows warm up trying to improve front and rear grip for the race.”

Ben Bostrom, LCR Honda MotoGP: 18th – 1m, 25.291
“The two bikes couldn’t be more opposite: tyres, brakes,’s unbelievable. There’s a lot to learn and I was trying to improve every time I get on the bike step by step because I do not want crash the bike. It’s nice to have Lucio (Cecchinello) and the guys also watching so they can see the difference. The adjustments we have made this afternoon were better and our lap time improved a little bit. Probably I could have gone faster, but I made race distance in the last session and I am racing two different bikes this week end so I am pretty satisfied so far.”

MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 10
United States Grand Prix Qualifying
1 Jorge LORENZO (Yamaha Factory Racing)
2 Casey STONER (Repsol Honda Team)
3 Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)
4 Ben SPIES (Yamaha Factory Racing)
5 Marco SIMONCELLI (San Carlo Honda Gresini)
6 Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Repsol Honda Team)
7 Valentino ROSSI (Ducati Team)
8 Hector BARBERA (Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP)
9 Nicky HAYDEN (Ducati Team)
10 Cal CRUTCHLOW (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)
11 Colin EDWARDS (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)
12 Alvaro BAUTISTA (Rizla Suzuki MotoGP)
13 Karel ABRAHAM (Cardion AB Motoracing)
14 Hiroshi AOYAMA (San Carlo Honda Gresini)
15 Randy DE PUNIET (Pramac Racing Team)
16 Randy DE PUNIET (Pramac Racing Team)
17 Toni ELIAS (LCR Honda MotoGP)
18 Ben BOSTROM (LCR Honda MotoGP)

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