MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2012
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) stormed to a brilliant pole position at sunny Misano this afternoon, winning a thrilling duel with World Championship rival Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha). Pedrosa’s pole was backed up by strong performances from HRC’s two satellite riders, Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP RC213V) and Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC213V) who will both start tomorrow’s San Marino Grand Prix from the second row of the grid.
Jonathan Rea (Repsol Honda RC213V) – making his MotoGP debut as substitute for injured World Champion Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC213V) – made excellent progress to qualify on the third row.
Pedrosa has made impressive inroads into Lorenzo’s points lead in recent weeks, winning three of the last four races to sit just 13 points behind his fellow Spaniard with six races remaining. His fourth pole of the year could not have come at a better moment.
The former 125 and 250 World Champion left his crucial move until the very end of qualifying, with pole swapping hands four times in the last few minutes. Pedrosa went fastest just 20 seconds before the chequered flag came out, dislodging Lorenzo who had knocked Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) off the top only seconds before. Crutchlow had been fastest after taking over from ever-impressive rookie Bradl.
Pedrosa’s advantage over Lorenzo isn’t huge – only 0.018s – but being on pole is always a good psychological boost, especially after two difficult days of practice during which rain dramatically limited track time. Track conditions were so poor yesterday that most top riders did not even venture out. When the circuit was as good as dry, track temperatures were too low to bring slick tyres up to operating temperature, and when it was wet it was not wet enough to allow riders to run rain tyres without tearing them up in just a few laps. So Pedrosa spent both Friday sessions in the pits, as did Rea. Bautista did venture out yesterday afternoon, but only for eight laps. This morning conditions still were not perfect but the track was once again busy, with Bautista fastest.
That left everyone with just the one-hour qualifying session in which to work on set-up, choose race tyres and do their ‘time attack’ to achieve the best possible grid position. Not only that, riders had to wait a while before grip reached a level that allowed them to push to their limits. Pedrosa’s remarkable performance proved once again that he has a brilliant crew behind him, able to give him the best-possible machine even when time is extremely limited.
Bradl’s performance once again proved how much the young German has learned in the first two thirds of his rookie MotoGP season. As fast and smooth as ever, the reigning Moto2 champ led the session for a while, improving his pace as his crew improved his RCV’s front-end set up. He finished the hour fourth quickest, just 0.220s down on Crutchlow. The result equalled his best MotoGP grid slot, achieved at June’s Dutch TT.
Bautista was also involved in the battle for pole, the Spaniard moving up to second behind Lorenzo with ten minutes remaining before slipping to fifth, a slender 0.078s behind Bradl. Fifth on the grid is Bautista’s best qualifying result since he took pole at June’s British GP. It signals a return to form from the former 125 World Champion who has regained some of his earlier confidence, thanks in part to some Showa suspension upgrades received here.
Yesterday’s miserable weather conditions hurt Rea more than most. The Briton’s full-time job is contesting the World Superbike championship aboard a Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR, so he is only starting to climb the MotoGP learning curve. Rea, who recently won the hugely important Suzuka Eight Hour race in Japan on a CBR1000RR, had two tests on Stoner’s RC213V before coming here, but still needs every lap he can get. MotoGP machines are significantly more demanding to ride than superbikes, with limits that are more difficult to reach and more challenging to find. Rea is also set to race Stoner’s RCV at the Aragon GP in two weeks time.
Stoner – who is recovering from surgery on the right ankle he injured at August’s Indianapolis GP – aims returns to action shortly before his home race at Phillip Island.
Michele Pirro (San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR-Honda) had a promising day’s work for his team’s home GP, ending qualifying 15th and a close third in the CRT class. The Italian believes he can find some more speed from his CBR1000RR-powered FTR machine, so he can battle to be top CRT rider in the race.
The brilliant Marc Marquez (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol-Suter) took his seventh pole position of the Moto2 season, bettering title rival Pol Espargaro (Pons 40 HP Tuenti-Kalex) by just 0.044s. Espargaro had been trying to make further inroads into his compatriot’s advantage when he slid off without injury with five minutes to go. The Spanish pair finished first and second at the front of a grid which is as tightly packed as usual in this Honda CBR600-powered series. Just 1.178s covers the fastest 20 riders.
Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team-Kalex) was third quickest, a further 0.053s down for his second consecutive front-row start. Takaaki Nakagami (Italtrans Racing Team-Kalex) leads the second row following his best qualifying since the Spanish GP back in May. The Japanese will start the race alongside fifth fastest Andrea Iannone (Speed Master – Speed Up) and Thomas Luthi (Interwetten-Paddock-Suter). Esteve Rabat (Pons 40 HP Tuenti – Kalex) was seventh fastest and first man on the third row of the grid.
Two Honda –riding teenagers will start tomorrow’s Moto3 race from the front row after impressive performances in the first qualifying session of the day. Italians Romano Fenati (Team Italian FMI – FTR Honda) ended the 45-minute outing second quickest, 0.370s behind World Championship leader Sandro Cortese (KTM) and just 0.019s ahead of Niccolo Antonelli (San Carlo Gresini – FTR Honda).
Fenati’s team-mate and fellow teenager Alessandro Tonucci (Team Italian FMI – FTR Honda) also rode well today, scoring his best GP grid position. He was seventh fastest to lead the third row, just 0.708s off pole. Miguel Oliveira (Estrella Galicia 0.0 – Suter Honda) will start from the other side of row three after qualifying ninth fastest.
The session did not go so well for World Championship hopeful Maverick Vinales (Blusens Avintia – FTR Honda). The young Spaniard – who led the title chase earlier this season – could only manage 11th, which puts him on the fourth row of the grid with a challenging first few laps ahead of him.
|1||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)|
|2||Jorge LORENZO (Yamaha Factory Racing)|
|3||Cal CRUTCHLOW (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|4||Stefan BRADL (LCR Honda MotoGP)|
|5||Alvaro BAUTISTA (Team San Carlo Honda Gresini)|
|6||Valentino ROSSI (Ducati Team)|
|7||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|8||Ben SPIES (Yamaha Factory Racing)|
|9||Jonathan REA (Repsol Honda Team)|
|10||Nicky HAYDEN (Ducati Team)|
|11||Karel ABRAHAM (Cardion AB Motoracing)|
|12||Randy DE PUNIET (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|13||Hector BARBERA (Pramac Racing Team)|
|14||Aleix ESPARGARO (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|15||Michele PIRRO (Team San Carlo Honda Gresini)|
|1||Marc MARQUEZ (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol)|
|2||Pol ESPARGARO (Pons 40 HP Tuenti)|
|3||Scott REDDING (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|4||Takaaki NAKAGAMI (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|5||Andrea IANNONE (Speed Master)|
|6||Thomas LUTHI (Interwetten-Paddock)|
|7||Esteve RABAT (Pons 40 HP Tuenti)|
|8||Ratthapark WILAIROT (Thai Honda PTT Gresini Moto2)|
|9||Mika KALLIO (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|10||Bradley SMITH (Tech 3 Racing)|
|11||Yuki TAKAHASHI (NGM Mobile Forward Racing)|
|12||Julian SIMON (Blusens Avintia)|
|13||Simone CORSI (Came IodaRacing Project)|
|14||Xavier SIMEON (Tech 3 Racing)|
|15||Johann ZARCO (JIR Moto2)|
|1||Sandro CORTESE (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|2||Romano FENATI (Team Italia FMI)|
|3||Niccolò ANTONELLI (San Carlo Gresini Moto3)|
|4||Danny KENT (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|5||Luis SALOM (RW Racing GP)|
|6||Jonas FOLGER (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3)|
|7||Alessandro TONUCCI (Team Italia FMI)|
|8||Zulfahmi KHAIRUDDIN (AirAsia-Sic-Ajo)|
|9||Miguel OLIVEIRA (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|10||Arthur SISSIS (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|11||Maverick VIÑALES (Blusens Avintia)|
|12||Louis ROSSI (Racing Team Germany)|
|13||Hector FAUBEL (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3)|
|14||Brad BINDER (RW Racing GP)|
|15||Efren VAZQUEZ (JHK t-shirt Laglisse)|