MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2012
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC213V) nearly earned his fourth pole of the season before being denied the spot after time had expired in MotoGP qualifying for the U.S. Grand Prix at the scenic Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Stoner went to the top of the time charts with less than two minutes to go and was on pace to lower his lap time when he was balked by slower riders on his final laps. That gave an opening to Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo, who edged out the world champion by a mere .074s when he crossed the line 28 seconds after the hour had expired.
Stoner will now try to win the race for the second year in a row, and third time overall, from the middle of the front row, just in front of team-mate Dani Pedrosa. Stoner won from second on the grid last year and from the pole in 2007.
Pedrosa was not happy about not being able to improve his time at the end of the hour, but was happy to be on the front row for the seventh time this season. Pedrosa confirmed that he will race the newest spec Repsol Honda RC213V, with the updated chassis and engine, while Stoner will race with the previous chassis and the new engine.
Both Stoner and Pedrosa sat out Saturday morning’s FP3 because of foggy conditions, while most of the other riders spent some time on the track. The session began with only a few CRT riders making laps, but in the final 14 minutes the rest of the field trickled out. The decision by the Repsol Honda team to skip the session, which both riders endorsed because of the marginal conditions, put added emphasis on qualifying, where they not only had to work on a set-up, but also decide whether to use the soft or hard Bridgestone rear tyre in Sunday’s tenth round of the MotoGP World Championship.
Spaniard Alvaro Bautista qualified seventh fastest in his first visit to Laguna Seca as a member of the San Carlo Honda Gresini team. It was his best qualifying effort at the twisty track by five positions. Like the Repsol Honda riders, Bautista lost valuable set-up time by missing most of the morning’s free practice, though he did venture out near the end of the hour.
Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP RC213V) finished with the ninth fastest time in his first official qualifying session at the track in the hills east of Monterey. This was Bradl’s first trip to Laguna Seca on a MotoGP machine, though he had learned the track earlier in the year when he took part in a track day aboard a Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade. That helped orient him on the first day, but he still lacked the experience needed to get the most out of the LCR Honda MotoGP RC213V in such a limited time.
Michele Pirro (San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR Honda) was also making his first visit to Laguna Seca, yet another new track where he had no data for the CRT machine, and the only one this season where he has had no experience. The track is unlike any other in the world, with constant changes of direction and elevations, and a gradually bumpier surface. Riders often struggle to learn the track’s idiosyncrasies in their first forays on the 3.61Km, 11-turn circuit.
Sundays’ U.S. Grand Prix is the final race before the summer break, after which the series returns to the U.S. for the Indianapolis Grand Prix in three weeks’ time.
|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||Cal CRUTCHLOW (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|6||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|7||Alvaro BAUTISTA (Team San Carlo Honda Gresini)|
|8||Nicky HAYDEN (Ducati Team)|
|9||Stefan BRADL (LCR Honda MotoGP)|
|10||Valentino ROSSI (Ducati Team)|
|11||Randy DE PUNIET (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|12||Aleix ESPARGARO (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|13||Colin EDWARDS (NGM Mobile Forward Racing)|
|14||Karel ABRAHAM (Cardion AB Motoracing)|
|15||Yonny HERNANDEZ (Avintia Blusens)|