MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2012
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC213V) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) scored a brilliant Honda one-two in this afternoon's qualifying session for tomorrow's Portuguese Grand Prix at Estoril. Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC213V) will start the race from the second row of the grid after recording the sixth fastest time in the hour-long session.
Conditions here have been typically changeable with strong winds gusting off the Atlantic and all sessions have been affected by a track that has refused to completely dry following yesterday's early morning rain. Even during the first few minutes of qualifying a few spots of rain began to fall, adding some extra tension to proceedings.
Following a promising FP3 this morning Stoner and his crew tried some further adjustments to his RC213V, but the changes made the bike slightly worse, delivering more rear grip, but at the expense of turning performance. Stoner has also been struck by a nasty cold and is on antibiotics.
Nonetheless the reigning World Champion rallied himself for the final ten minutes when the track was reopened following a brief stoppage due to a crash involving Colin Edwards (Suter BMW) and Randy de Puniet (Aprilia). Edwards suffered a fractured collarbone in the accident.
On his first flying lap out of the pits the Australian moved ahead of Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) who had dominated the early stages of the session. But that wasn't enough to give him his first pole position of the year. Moments later Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) bettered Stoner and he had to dig deeper to produce another faster lap that put him back on top.
At the same time last year's Estoril winner Pedrosa was giving it all on his final run, the Spaniard crossing the line just 0.013s behind his team-mate. Pedrosa admitted that he had been concerned earlier in the session when he was saw the rain arrived while sat in the pits having some machine issues fixed. Luckily for him conditions stayed fine and he was able to secure his second consecutive start from second on the grid. Pedrosa believes he might even have made pole if he had encountered less traffic during his final attack.
Bautista - preparing for his third race with Honda - scored his best grid position so far in sixth place, 0.729s behind Stoner. The Spaniard's impressive pace proved once again that he is feeling more and more at home on his RC213V. His previous best qualifying performance on the bike was eighth at last weekend's Spanish Grand Prix.
The complex, bumpy and narrow Estoril circuit is always a special challenge, especially for MotoGP rookies like Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP RC213V). In fact the reigning Moto2 World Champion was making a typically professional job of his first weekend here on a MotoGP bike, ending free practice in tenth and hoping to improve further in qualifying. Unluckily, he was on his fastest lap when the red flags were shown following the Edwards/de Puniet crash. Bradl believes he would have been seventh fastest if he had been able to complete that lap.
Michele Pirro (San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR-Honda) was in the thick of the CRT action, putting his Fireblade-powered machine 16th on the grid. Pirro did not go quite as quick as he had hoped but he is still the fourth fastest CRT bike on the grid.
In the frantic Moto2 class Marc Marquez (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol-Suter) scored his second pole position in a row, just 0.120s ahead of Thomas Luthi (Interwetten-Paddock-Suter). World Championship leader Marquez dominated the session, but was never more than a fraction ahead of the rest of the pack.
Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team-Kalex) also spent much of the 45 minutes in the frame for a front-row start until he got demoted to the second row during the final few minutes. But the Briton came back strong on his final lap to clock the third fastest lap, just 0.224s behind Luthi.
The lap times were typically close in the Honda CBR600-powered class with the top 15 riders separated by a mere 0.907s. The man in 15th spot is none other than reigning 125 World Champion Nicolas Terol (Mapfre Aspar Team - Suter) who is gradually getting to grips with the very different demands of the Moto2 category.
Johann Zarco (JIR Moto2 - Motobi) was in the running for the front row until he had problems in the final few minutes. He ended up fourth to lead row two, just ahead of Jerez winner Pol Espargaro (Pons 40 HP Tuenti-Kalex) and another former Moto2 winner Andrea Iannone (Speed Master - Speed Up).
Two Honda riders will start tomorrow's Moto3 race from the front row of the grid. Maverick Vinales (Blusens Avintia - FTR Honda) ended this afternoon's qualifying session second fastest, three tenths behind pole-man Sandro Cortese (KTM) and four tenths in front of Miguel Oliveira (Estrella Galicia 0.0 - Suter Honda).
Vinales, currently second in the points chase, was happy with his progress in practice and qualifying and is confident that he will be in the hunt for victory tomorrow.
Local hero Oliveira joined the battle for pole position, spending some time at the front of the pack, but slipped back to third in the closing stages of the session.
Sixteen-year-old rookie sensation Romano Fenati (Team Italian FMI - FTR- Honda) , who won his first Grand Prix at Jerez last weekend and now leads the World Championship, was sixth fastest today, almost exactly a second off pole.
Efren Vazquez (JHK T-Shirt Laglisse - FTR Honda) will start the race from the third row of the grid after recording ninth fastest time.
|1||Casey STONER (Repsol Honda Team)|
|2||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)|
|3||Cal CRUTCHLOW (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|4||Jorge LORENZO (Yamaha Factory Racing)|
|5||Ben SPIES (Yamaha Factory Racing)|
|6||Alvaro BAUTISTA (Team San Carlo Honda Gresini)|
|7||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|8||Hector BARBERA (Pramac Racing Team)|
|9||Valentino ROSSI (Ducati Team)|
|10||Nicky HAYDEN (Ducati Team)|
|11||Stefan BRADL (LCR Honda MotoGP)|
|12||Aleix ESPARGARO (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|13||Karel ABRAHAM (Cardion AB Motoracing)|
|14||Randy DE PUNIET (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|15||Yonny HERNANDEZ (Avintia Blusens)|
|1||Marc MARQUEZ (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol)|
|2||Thomas LUTHI (Interwetten-Paddock)|
|3||Scott REDDING (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|4||Johann ZARCO (JIR Moto2)|
|5||Pol ESPARGARO (Pons 40 HP Tuenti)|
|6||Andrea IANNONE (Speed Master)|
|7||Julian SIMON (Blusens Avintia)|
|8||Toni ELIAS (Mapfre Aspar Team)|
|9||Alex DE ANGELIS (NGM Mobile Forward Racing)|
|10||Dominique AEGERTER (Technomag-CIP)|
|11||Takaaki NAKAGAMI (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|12||Ricard CARDUS (Arguiñano Racing Team)|
|13||Bradley SMITH (Tech 3 Racing)|
|14||Mike DI MEGLIO (S/Master Speed Up)|
|15||Nicolas TEROL (Mapfre Aspar Team)|
|1||Sandro CORTESE (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|2||Maverick VIÑALES (Blusens Avintia)|
|3||Miguel OLIVEIRA (Estrella Galicia 0'0)|
|4||Danny KENT (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|5||Zulfahmi KHAIRUDDIN (AirAsia-Sic-Ajo)|
|6||Romano FENATI (Team Italia FMI)|
|7||Luis SALOM (RW Racing GP)|
|8||Efren VAZQUEZ (JHK T-Shirt Laglisse)|
|9||Hector FAUBEL (Bankia Aspar Team)|
|10||Alexis MASBOU (Caretta Technology)|
|11||Jakub KORNFEIL (Redox-Ongetta-Centro Seta)|
|12||Niccolò ANTONELLI (San Carlo Gresini Moto3)|
|13||Adrian MARTIN (JHK T-Shirt Laglisse)|
|14||Brad BINDER (RW Racing GP)|
|15||Louis ROSSI (Racing Team Germany)|