MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2012
Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa will start his home grand prix from the second starting position after nearly taking pole in a session marked by constantly changing weather. Fellow Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo will start from pole with Ducati rider Nicky Hayden third.
The session began on a dry track under puffy white clouds. But the clouds darkened on the horizon as they moved east and threatened to turn the session into a wet one. A very light rain fell on parts of the track, but the rain dampened the riders’ enthusiasm for pushing as much as it did the track. And after some time, the clouds left and the battle for the pole began.
Pedrosa was part of the fight for the pole from the second half of the session, even after spots of rain were felt on pit lane. The rain came down strongly enough for race direction to display the wet track flag with about 28 minutes to go.
But before long the sun would re-appear and Pedrosa and Lorenzo would get into a thrilling speed battle. With 19 minutes remaining in the session, Lorenzo went to the top, then it went to Pedrosa. The lead would change six times, right up until the final 25 seconds when Lorenzo narrowly edged his fellow countryman.
Still, Pedrosa was happy to be on the front row for the seventh time, a record that includes a pair of MotoGP poles and one in the 250cc class.
Having ridden on virtually every surface from full wet to almost dry, Pedrosa felt he was well prepared for Sunday’s second round of the MotoGP World Championship.
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC213V) never felt comfortable pushing in the changing conditions and qualified fifth. Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow had crashed ahead of him in turn one, which the reigning world champion took as a cautionary tale. But he would later nearly fall himself, only saving a certain fall with an impressive shift in body position.
Stoner was on top with just over 21 minutes to run, but understood that the Spaniards were willing to ride more aggressively on a track that was never completely dry. It was his least successful qualifying effort since joining Honda and equaled his qualifying mark from Malaysia in 2010. The second row starting position was not ideal, but he does not believe he should be counted out just yet.
Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC213V) recovered from a crash in the wet morning session to qualify eighth. The Spaniard found an unknown vibration in the front end, which caused him to lose the front and crash. Bautista put that behind him in qualifying, while being careful to avoid the damp patches that caught a number of riders out. His strategy was to not take unnecessary risks, and starting from the middle of the third row was his reward.
In his second MotoGP race, reigning Moto2 World Champion Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP RC213V) qualified .103s behind Bautista after nearly becoming the victim of the wet final corner. Bradl said that small mistake was the difference between the second and third rows, though he could not be faulted in his first ride aboard a MotoGP machineon a track of non-uniform grip.
Through the first three wet sessions he had adapted well to the power of the LCR Honda MotoGP RC213V. The consistency he showed in all conditions gave him confidence of being competitive in the race, no matter the weather.
Michele Pirro (San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR-Honda) qualified 15th in a difficult qualifying session in his second MotoGP race. With three wet sessions prior to qualifying, Pirro did not have any quality dry set-up time. That the track was never completely dry in qualifying did not help. A crash that forced him onto his backup bike, which did not generate the same feedback. The crash came early, so by the time he went back out it was in much better shape and the wet patches had significantly diminished.
Marc Marquez (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol-Suter) was grateful to take his first pole position of the season. Marquez pointed out that his vision problems had only been cured a month earlier, allowing him to take part in the test here at Jerez. From there he went to Qatar, where he won a thrilling race, then here, to one of his home tracks.
The name at the top of the time sheets changed constantly until the 27th minute of the session when Marquez took charge for good. After going to the top, he added two even faster laps to his chart to finish on the pole with a lap of 1m, 43.005s. The pole was his first of the season, to go with seven Moto2 poles last year.
Takaaki Nakagami (Italtrans Racing Team-Kalex) scored his best ever qualifying position in only his second Moto2 race, and nearly on pole. The Japanese rider, who had been out of the World Championships since the end of the 2009 season, had never qualified better than seventh while campaigning a 125 in 2009. The second place was a boost for the team; in Qatar he had qualified ninth and finished 14th. Nakagami’s best lap time was only .080s slower than the best of Marquez.
Pol Espargaro (Pons 40 HP Tuenti-Kalex) had his best Moto2 qualifying effort in third, improving by one spot on his fourth place in the Qatar season-opener.
Like all riders, Espargaro endured three wet sessions before qualifying, which was held on a dry track with damp patches. Those damp patches claimed more than their share of victims, and the Spaniard sensibly didn’t try to be a hero. Rather he focused on the race and the championship instead of one fast lap.
Alex Rins (Estrella Galicia 0.0-Suter-Honda) became the third youngest rider to take a pole position in only his second Moto3 race. The 16-year-old from Barcelona made a quantum leap from having qualified 13th in Qatar to take the pole position for Honda in what he said was “one of those crazy one-lap runs.” That was made necessary because he wasn’t sure whether to use rain tyres or slicks.
His veteran crew suggested slicks, which turned out to be the wise choice. Rins was able to lap the 4.423Km track in 1m, 57.07s, beating the second fastest rider by .012s.
Team-mate Miguel Oliveira was fast in the morning wet, though he found the mixed conditions in the afternoon difficult. Still, he qualified third fastest at the end of the front row and .468s off pole.
Like Rins, the Portuguese rider chose slick tyres to set his fast time and put him on the front row. His concern going forward was less about qualifying than the race. The weather forecast calls for rain, which he knows could create havoc among the very young riders of the introductory class.
Alexis Masbou (Caretta Technology-Honda) was riding injured; he had previously done damage to his right foot and could not properly leverage his Honda NSF250R. But when he saw his partial lap times he decided to put the pain aside and race the clock. Had he not been slowed by another rider in the final segment, he might have finished further up the grid. Instead he ended with the fourth fastest time, a career best in qualifying, and right behind Rins for the run to the first turn.
|1||Jorge LORENZO (Yamaha Factory Racing)|
|2||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)|
|3||Nicky HAYDEN (Ducati Team)|
|4||Cal CRUTCHLOW (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|5||Casey STONER (Repsol Honda Team)|
|6||Ben SPIES (Yamaha Factory Racing)|
|7||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|8||Alvaro BAUTISTA (Team San Carlo Honda Gresini)|
|9||Stefan BRADL (LCR Honda MotoGP)|
|10||Randy DE PUNIET (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|11||Karel ABRAHAM (Cardion AB Motoracing)|
|12||Hector BARBERA (Pramac Racing Team)|
|13||Valentino ROSSI (Ducati Team)|
|14||Aleix ESPARGARO (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|15||Michele PIRRO (Team San Carlo Honda Gresini)|
|1||Marc MARQUEZ (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol)|
|2||Takaaki NAKAGAMI (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|3||Pol ESPARGARO (Pons 40 HP Tuenti)|
|4||Thomas LUTHI (Interwetten-Paddock)|
|5||Mika KALLIO (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|6||Claudio CORTI (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|7||Esteve RABAT (Pons 40 HP Tuenti)|
|8||Mike DI MEGLIO (S/Master Speed Up)|
|9||Randy KRUMMENACHER (GP Team Switzerland)|
|10||Johann ZARCO (JIR Moto2)|
|11||Alex DE ANGELIS (NGM Mobile Forward Racing)|
|12||Scott REDDING (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|13||Andrea IANNONE (Speed Master)|
|14||Max NEUKIRCHNER (Kiefer Racing)|
|15||Dominique AEGERTER (Technomag-CIP)|
|1||Alex RINS (Estrella Galicia 0'0)|
|2||Sandro CORTESE (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|3||Miguel OLIVEIRA (Estrella Galicia 0'0)|
|4||Alexis MASBOU (Caretta Technology)|
|5||Jakub KORNFEIL (Redox-Ongetta-Centro Seta)|
|6||Jack MILLER (Caretta Technology)|
|7||Isaac VIÑALES (Ongetta-Centro Seta)|
|8||Arthur SISSIS (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|9||Maverick VIÑALES (Blusens Avintia)|
|10||Romano FENATI (Team Italia FMI)|
|11||Efren VAZQUEZ (JHK T-Shirt Laglisse)|
|12||Louis ROSSI (Racing Team Germany)|
|13||Alex MARQUEZ (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|14||Adrian MARTIN (JHK T-Shirt Laglisse)|
|15||Danny KENT (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|