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MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2012

Round 15: Japan

  • Overview
  • Race Results
  • Qualifying
  • Photo
October 13, 2012

Pedrosa Takes Second in Qualifying

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) will start tomorrow's Japanese Grand Prix from second on the grid after holding the pole position until after time had expired at Honda's Twin Ring Motegi circuit. It was only then that title rival Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) wrested what would have been Pedrosa's fifth pole from his grasp.

Dani PEDROSA(Repsol Honda Team)zoom
(Repsol Honda Team)
Stefan BRADL(LCR Honda MotoGP)zoom
(Team San Carlo Honda Gresini)

Honda riders also placed strongly on the second and third rows, with Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC213V) fifth, and Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC213V) seventh in his return to the grand prix paddock. Just behind Stoner is Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP RC213V), the German making his first visit to Twin Ring Motegi as a MotoGP rider.

Saturday's qualifying weather in Motegi was ideal, as it has been all weekend, sunny and warm, though a chilly cloud came over the circuit near the end of the MotoGP session. With two days of dry, sunny track time, the riders were able to make the most of adapting to the stop-and-go circuit on the new 1000s. What they discovered is that the track was very hard on brakes, with temperatures exceeding 900C. And they also learned that the Honda RC213V was very fast in a straight line; Bradl had the fastest top speed of 309.1Km/h, with Pedrosa second at 306.9Km/h.

Pedrosa finished the three free practice sessions as the fastest rider and with a time that was approaching the existing track record. He continued that form in qualifying, taking turns at the top with Bautista and Lorenzo, and others, and taking control less than five minutes from the end. His 21st lap was faster than Stoner's pole time from last year and good enough to put him top of the order. And he would lower it on his next lap, his 22nd.

But it was not as it seemed. The Spaniard suddenly had a recurrence of the chattering that has bedevilled the team most of the year and he was not able to attack at the very end. Still, he will start Sunday's 15th round of the MotoGP World Championship from the front row for the 12th time in 15 races.

Bautista was also among the leaders throughout the hour before moving into fifth place, where he would finish in the middle of the second row. The last time Bautista started fifth, at the San Marino Grand Prix, he earned his first MotoGP podium.

Today he worked on front suspension, a critical setting on the hard braking course 4.801Km course. The work is especially critical for Bautista, the only rider in MotoGP using Showa suspension.

Shortly after qualifying the San Carlo Honda Gresini team announced that Bautista had been re-signed for the 2013 season.

Stoner returned to racing for the first time since injuring his right ankle in qualifying for the Indianapolis Grand Prix at the end of the summer break. Since then he has been home recovering and gaining strength. Neither he nor his doctors knew what to expect: He did no riding at all while at home.

In qualifying, Stoner felt he had a shot at the front row, but a change in pit strategy left him with no rear grip. He was also finding it difficult to manoeuvre his foot on the predominantly right-handed track. The 2011 MotoGP World Champion was not able to move on the bike, use the rear brake, nor lean over as far as he needs. As to what he expected in the race, he said he really did not know.

Regardless of where he finishes in Sunday's race, the weekend will serve to increase his racing fitness ahead of his final visit to his home grand prix at Phillip Island in two weeks' time.

Bradl finished only a tenth of a second behind Stoner after rebounding from an early crash. Bradl went down very early in the session, the crash forcing him and the team to re-think their plans. Rather than work on a race set-up, they had to chase a fast lap time to get as far up the grid as possible. The team did not final the optimal set-up, but they will be able to fine tune their settings in Sunday morning warm-up.

Michele Pirro (San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR-Honda) finished in 18th place in the middle of the CRT class on his Honda CBR1000RR-powered machine. The MotoGP rookie continued to suffer with a vibration issue which he hopes will be resolved come race time.

Tuenti Movil HP 40 – Kalex team-mates Pol Espargaro and Tito Rabat sandwiched Moto2 championship leader Marc Marquez (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol – Suter) in final qualifying.

For Espargaro, it was an important fifth pole of the season. On each of those occasions he has finished on the podium. Certainly that is his aim this weekend if he's to keep his championship hopes alive. Going into Sunday's 14th round of the championship, Marquez leads his fellow Spaniard 258-210.

Maverick Vinales (Blusens Avintia – FTR Honda) was denied the pole position at the last minute and will start Sunday's Moto3 race second on the grid. Vinales was until the final five minutes when he was dropped to second, then third with one minute to go. But Vinales did not give in and sped back to the top of the order by taking a tenth of a second off his best time. Little did he know that the rider just behind him would use his slipstream to steal the pole position.

Vinales was crushed when he suffered a technical issue on the warm-up lap in the previous race in Aragon. Now he has a chance for redemption and to add to his current tally of five wins.

The second fastest Honda was Alessandro Tonucci (Team Italia FMI-FTR Honda), the Italian who qualified fifth, a career best, with Louis Rossi (Racing Team Germany-FTR Honda) eighth overall and third fastest Honda.

Jonathan REA(Repsol Honda Team)zoom
Stefan Bradl
(LCR Honda MotoGP)
Alvaro BAUTISTA(Team San Carlo Honda Gresini)zoom
Casey Stoner,
(Repsol Honda Team)

MotoGP rider quotes

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 2nd – 1m 45.215s
“In the end I didn't know the lap times of the others and I was just pushing as hard as I could to get a place on the front row of the grid, because on my last exit I was eighth. I had many problems with chattering in qualifying and we still don't know why. Everything was OK during the free practices, but this afternoon it was hard to do the lap time. Finally the second place is good enough and I hope we can avoid this chattering in the race tomorrow. The key point will be to choose the correct rear tyre and be consistent for the whole race because the pace will be fast.”
Alvaro Bautista, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 5th – 1m 45.481s
“I think we have taken a good step forward today because we made a couple of changes that helped the feeling with the front suspension even though it is not 100%. Now I have more confidence and I was able to push harder from the start and then have fun this afternoon. We have taken a step forward compared to Aragon and I am confident for tomorrow because our pace is consistent. The only doubt I have is about the tyre life but we'll just try to get a good start and hang on to the guys at the front. I have to thank the guys in the team because they have worked hard along with Showa to put me in a position to show my true potential.”
Casey Stoner, Repsol Honda: 7th – 1m 45.745s
“To be honest, I thought we had a shot at the front row today. The first soft tyre we used we achieved a pretty good time and I knew we had something extra in reserve, in both myself and the bike. We thought with the second soft tyre we would improve, but unfortunately we went in the wrong direction with the bike and I had no rear grip, so I decided to play it safe and not push too hard. Physically I'm a little sore but not so bad, I'm just struggling to lift the bike out of the right hand corners and it's making setting up the bike more difficult than it should be. My team can see that my lean angles are nowhere near what they usually are. I can't get my foot out of the way, therefore I can't lean the bike over enough or pick it up quickly on the exit of the corner. I'm not sure what to expect tomorrow. I'll try to get another good night's rest and do our best tomorrow.”
Stefan Bradl, LCR Honda MotoGP: 8th – 1m 45.848s
“Well, the initial plan for today's qualifying was different but probably I was too aggressive in the first part of the session and crashed out. This changed completely our plan and we could not adjust the bike properly because we had to chase the best lap time for tomorrow's grid. There was not enough track time to improve the bike and we are still struggling with the same problem in the braking zone. The bike is too nervous and I can not be as precise as I want in the entry of the corners. After the crash I was okay and could go immediately faster on the other bike so this is a positive thing because it means that the crash did not affect our pace.”
Michel Pirro, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 18th – 1m 48.653s
“Unfortunately, I wasn't able to give my best today because of the vibration problem, which continued to hinder us today. I am sure the guys will do their best to reduce the problem for the race tomorrow. We had a crash today which didn't help but hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.”

Moto2 rider quotes

Pol Espargaro, Tuenti Movil HP 40-Kalex: Pole position – 1m 50.886s
“I'm happy because I finally got the fifth pole position this year. The first day I did not feel comfortable with the bike. We worked hard and got a good set-up for the race. The timing has been complicated. Marc (Marquez) has got a very quick time. But with the right tyre and the right set-up we have achieved and I want to thank the team for their tenacity and hard work. Tomorrow we have to be smart and be aware that we can not make mistakes that would be definitive for our aspirations in the championship, and yet we have to go for the 25 points.”
Marc Marquez, Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol – Suter: 2nd, 1m, 51.023s
“We had a good qualifying session. We gave 100% and have a good feeling with the bike. We aren't completely happy, because we can improve our setting still ­especially under braking. I am sliding out too much and can't get the bike fully stable. There is still room for improvement and we will work on these missing details in tomorrow's warmup. It looks like the Kalex riders are very strong at Motegi, but tomorrow will be another story. We will see what our rivals do, how we perform and what the situation is.”
Tito Rabat, Tuenti Movil HP 40-Kalex: 3rd, 1m 51.556
“It's been a very positive weekend. From the beginning we have been competitive and we have focused on the development of the bike for the race, which is what we have been having problems in the last grand prix. At first we are there and then we're not. I used the weekend to fix this. We have also managed to make a good ranking. Tomorrow I will try to be ahead. Sure there will be Pol(Espargaro), Marc (Marquez), (Scott) Redding, and I hope to be there with them to fight for winning the race and podium.”

Moto3 Rider Quotes

Maverick Vinales, Blusens Avintia-FTR Honda: 2nd, 1m, 58.574s
“I am very satisfied with qualifying, but above all with the pace that we ran. We worked hard on tyres and found a good setting. It is always nice to take pole, but I am happy with our pace. We found out why we had an issue with tyres yesterday and now we just need to improve slightly in the warm up tomorrow. Our aim is to go at 100% in these remaining four races and try and win as many as possible.”
Alessandro Tonucci, Team Italia FMI-FTR Honda: 5th, 1m, 59.072s
“We wrapped up the work started yesterday with the team to get a better feeling in the rear. We made the right adjustments and were able to seize second row. It's my best qualifying result. We'll try to improve the pace tomorrow during warm-up so that we can race at the front.”
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2012
Round 15: Japan Qualifying
MotoGP Class
Rank Rider (Team)
1 Jorge LORENZO (Yamaha Factory Racing)
2 Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)
3 Cal CRUTCHLOW (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)
4 Ben SPIES (Yamaha Factory Racing)
5 Alvaro BAUTISTA (Team San Carlo Honda Gresini)
6 Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)
7 Casey STONER (Repsol Honda Team)
8 Stefan BRADL (LCR Honda MotoGP)
9 Valentino ROSSI (Ducati Team)
10 Nicky HAYDEN (Ducati Team)
11 Katsuyuki NAKASUGA (Yamaha YSP Racing Team)
12 Hector BARBERA (Pramac Racing Team)
13 Aleix ESPARGARO (Power Electronics Aspar)
14 Randy DE PUNIET (Power Electronics Aspar)
15 Karel ABRAHAM (Cardion AB Motoracing)
Moto2 Class
Rank Rider (Team)
1 Pol ESPARGARO (Tuenti Movil HP 40)
2 Marc MARQUEZ (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol)
3 Esteve RABAT (Tuenti Movil HP 40)
4 Scott REDDING (Marc VDS Racing Team)
5 Thomas LUTHI (Interwetten-Paddock)
6 Johann ZARCO (JIR Moto2)
7 Bradley SMITH (Tech 3 Racing)
8 Julian SIMON (Blusens Avintia)
9 Nicolas TEROL (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2)
10 Toni ELIAS (Italtrans Racing Team)
11 Takaaki NAKAGAMI (Italtrans Racing Team)
12 Simone CORSI (Came IodaRacing Project)
13 Axel PONS (Tuenti Movil HP 40)
14 Yuki TAKAHASHI (NGM Mobile Forward Racing)
15 Mika KALLIO (Marc VDS Racing Team)
Moto3 Class
Rank Rider (Team)
1 Danny KENT (Red Bull KTM Ajo)
2 Maverick VIÑALES (Blusens Avintia)
3 Sandro CORTESE (Red Bull KTM Ajo)
4 Zulfahmi KHAIRUDDIN (AirAsia-Sic-Ajo)
5 Alessandro TONUCCI (Team Italia FMI)
6 Luis SALOM (RW Racing GP)
7 Jonas FOLGER (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3)
8 Louis ROSSI (Racing Team Germany)
9 Efren VAZQUEZ (JHK t-shirt Laglisse)
10 Romano FENATI (Team Italia FMI)
11 Miguel OLIVEIRA (Estrella Galicia 0,0)
12 Niccolò ANTONELLI (San Carlo Gresini Moto3)
13 Alex RINS (Estrella Galicia 0,0)
14 Arthur SISSIS (Red Bull KTM Ajo)
15 Alberto MONCAYO (Andalucia JHK t-shirt Laglisse)

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