MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2012
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC213V) will begin the defence of his 2011 MotoGP World Championship from the middle of the front row after a hectic end to the one hour night qualifying session at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.
Stoner was one of only two riders to head the 21-rider MotoGP qualifying field for the first race of the 2012 championship, and by far the most dominant. But when the one-hour session ended, he was a narrow second to Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo.
The 26-year-old Australian, whose clockwork precision led to ten victories last season, had a frustrating session. Every time he and the team made a change, the expected improvement in time was elusive. By the end of qualifying he had gone full circle without significantly improving his time, nor his motorcycle. Nor was he able to take full advantage of the softer rear tyre most riders used to set their fast qualifying times.
That said, Stoner has an enviable record in Qatar-he has victories in four of the past five races, and poles in the last three races-and he can be expected to be in the mix for Sunday evening's 10:00 p.m. opening race of the year.
Team-mate Dani Pedrosa will start from the row three pole position after setting the seventh fastest time. Pedrosa had electrical issues on Friday and today he had further problems that forced him onto his backup bike. He said he was not comfortable on his second bike and lost concentration in the session, which resulted in a qualifying effort that was well below his standard. But the Spaniard was resolute that the worst of his problems are behind him and if he makes one of his trademark lightning starts he can quickly be part of the lead pack.
Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP RC213V) will start his first ever MotoGP race from the third row. The 2011 Moto2 World Champion made steady progress throughout his first weekend aboard the Honda RC213V, putting it all together early on. Bradl shot to the upper part of the time sheets early on, on the first of his four soft tyres, then concentrated on his race set-up. The young German might have bettered his time had he not been balked by a slower rider on his final lap.
Spaniard Alvaro Bautista starts from row four in his MotoGP debut aboard the San Carlo Honda Gresini RC213V. Bautista concentrated on improving front end feel, never reaching the point of confidence. He was looking forward to tomorrow night's warm-up session to test one last solution before heading into his first race as a Honda rider.
San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Michele Pirro (FTR-Honda) was the fifth fastest of the new CRT set aboard his Honda CBR1000RR-powered FTR machine. Having had very little pre-season testing, Pirro and his team have a myriad of development issues to tackle this weekend. Figuring out the proper electronics package is a particularly daunting issue with so little track time, which is what held the young Italian back in tonight's qualifying session.
Swiss rider Thomas Luthi (Interwetten-Paddock, Suter) qualified on the Moto2 pole in Qatar. The former 125cc World Champion put in a very fast time on his second flying lap of the course, then spent the remainder of the session working on race set-up. The strategy turned out to be the right one, though there were some anxious moments at the end. Marc Marquez (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol, Suter) came within .072s of Luthi, with Speed Master rider Andrea Iannone (Speed Up) completing the front row only .037s behind Marquez.
It was Marquez who nearly stole the pole position in his first qualifying session since last October's Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island. Marquez was injured in practice for the following race in Malaysia, suffering vision problems that only recently cleared up. With less 2012 track time than most of his peers, Marquez made a remarkable return to nearly earn his first pole position of the year. Instead he will sit second on the grid to Luthi.
Iannone gathered speed throughout the 45-minute session to clock his best time on his second to last flying lap. The Italian took one last run at the pole with his final run, though he was noto able to improve his time. Still, Iannone was encouraged by his race pace and the work that the team had done to get him ready for tomorrow night's curtain-raiser. And also that he was able to put the Speed Up machine on the front row in its first race.
Maverick Vinales will start the first ever Moto3 race from a tightly bunched front row aboard his Blusens Avintia FTR-Honda. The young Spaniard battled for pole throughout before finishing a shadow second; he was .016s off pole-sitter Sandro Cortese aboard his Honda 250cc four-stroke powered FTR. Despite that, he was confident that his race pace would make him a contender and was looking forward to the end of the race when he could put his talent to use on worn tyres.
Louis Rossi (Racing Team Germany, FTR-Honda) will start next to Vinales at the end of the front row. The Frenchman was only .099s behind Vinales, with .115s covering the top three.
Italian youngster Romano Fenati (Team Italia FMI, FTR-Honda) qualified on row two in his grand prix debut.
|1||Jorge LORENZO (Yamaha Factory Racing)|
|2||Casey STONER (Repsol Honda Team)|
|3||Cal CRUTCHLOW (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|4||Ben SPIES (Yamaha Factory Racing)|
|5||Nicky HAYDEN (Ducati Team)|
|6||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|7||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)|
|8||Hector BARBERA (Pramac Racing Team)|
|9||Stefan BRADL (LCR Honda MotoGP)|
|10||Karel ABRAHAM (Cardion AB Motoracing)|
|11||Alvaro BAUTISTA (San Carlo Honda Gresini)|
|12||Valentino ROSSI (Ducati Team)|
|13||Colin EDWARDS (NGM Mobile Forward Racing)|
|14||Randy DE PUNIET (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|15||Aleix ESPARGARO (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|16||Yonny HERNANDEZ (Avintia Blusens)|
|17||Michele PIRRO (Team San Carlo Honda Gresini)|
|18||Mattia PASINI (Speed Master)|
|19||Danilo PETRUCCI (Came IodaRacing Project)|
|20||Ivan SILVA (Avintia Blusens)|
|21||James ELLISON (Paul Bird Motorsport)|
|1||Thomas LUTHI (Interwetten-Paddock)|
|2||Marc MARQUEZ (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol)|
|3||Andrea IANNONE (Speed Master)|
|4||Pol ESPARGARO (Pons 40 HP Tuenti)|
|5||Mike DI MEGLIO (S/Master Speed Up)|
|6||Max NEUKIRCHNER (Kiefer Racing)|
|7||Esteve RABAT (Pons 40 HP Tuenti)|
|8||Claudio CORTI (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|9||Takaaki NAKAGAMI (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|10||Simone CORSI (Came IodaRacing Project)|
|1||Sandro CORTESE (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|2||Maverick VIÑALES (Blusens Avintia)|
|3||Louis ROSSI (Racing Team Germany)|
|4||Luis SALOM (RW Racing GP)|
|5||Niklas AJO (TT Motion Events Racing)|
|6||Romano FENATI (Team Italia FMI)|
|7||Zulfahmi KHAIRUDDIN (AirAsia-Sic-Ajo)|
|8||Miguel OLIVEIRA (Estrella Galicia 0'0)|
|9||Arthur SISSIS (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|10||Alexis MASBOU (Caretta Technology)|