MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2012
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) will start tomorrow’s season ending Valencia Grand Prix from pole position following a stirring performance in this afternoon’s qualifying session. The Spaniard will be joined on the front row by Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC213V), riding his last race before retirement.
The final qualifying session of the year became a three-way battle between MotoGP’s top three riders: Pedrosa, Stoner and recently crowned World Champion Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha). All three took their turns at the top, suggesting a thrilling final race. With the top three positions in the World Championship already decided – Lorenzo, then Pedrosa and Stoner – tomorrow’s grand finale will be a straightforward battle between the year’s fastest three riders. No need for anyone to worry about losing points, just go for the win...
During the final 15 minutes of qualifying Lorenzo and Stoner duelled for pole – Lorenzo on top, then Stoner, then Lorenzo and then Stoner again by just 0.05s. Pedrosa had yet to do his best, however, and in the final minute he produce a stunning lap, bettering his Australian team-mate by more than half a second. This lap was the fastest ever at Valencia by a motorcycle, thanks to Pedrosa’s riding, the performance of his RC213V and the fact that the entire circuit has been resurfaced. Moments later Lorenzo completed his final lap, demoting Stoner to third and closing to within 0.351s of Pedrosa.
Pedrosa’s fifth pole of the year makes him favourite for a third MotoGP win at a track where he took victory in 2007 and 2009. However, it is not been an easy two days here for the former 125 and 250 World Champion or any of his rivals. Conditions have been changeable, with today’s hour-long qualifying outing the only fully dry session, so teams have had little time to perfect their dry set-up.
Stoner did not get his RC213V working the way he wanted today. The Australian was working towards a traction-control setting that would allow him to freely spin the rear tyre to help get the bike turned around this tight circuit, but despite making chassis improvements, he was not able to get the electronics right.
Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP RC213V) will start his final race as a MotoGP rookie from the middle of the second row. The 2011 Moto2 World Champion was close to the front throughout the session, during which he focused on improving rear traction because the bike did not feel stable in the corners. His crew did not quite fix the issue, so they will work on electronics settings to give Bradl a better bike for the race.
Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC213V) was not at all satisfied with his qualifying. The Spaniard could only manage eighth quickest after struggling with front-end feeling that kept pushing him wide as he rode through the turns. His gearbox set-up also needs further work, so he is pinning his hopes on a good morning warm-up session.
Michele Pirro (San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR-Honda) was fourth fastest CRT rider and 15th overall. His main issue today was chatter, a problem that increased as the grip level rose this afternoon. Like his team-mate, Pirro is hoping his crew can improve things in time for tomorrow morning.
Pol Espargaro (Pons 40 HP Tuenti-Kalex) took his eighth Moto2 pole position of the year – and his fourth in a row – despite not taking part in the last 14 minutes of the 45 minute outing. Espargaro was almost half a second faster than the rest of the pack when he slid off, causing damage to his bike which prevented him from taking any further part in the session.
Espargaro’s pace was once again magnificent, the Spaniard 0.406s ahead of recently crowned World Champion Marc Marquez (Team Catalunya Caixa Repsol-Suter). Two weeks ago at Phillip Island Espargaro won the Australian Moto2 race by almost 17 seconds, a record advantage in this hotly contested Honda-powered series.
The Moto2 pace was so high that Marquez also crashed, tumbling with four minutes to go, then proving his determination by remounting and continuing his efforts to beat Espargaro’s time. Marquez’s final lap was a no-holds-barred effort but it only slightly reduced his disadvantage to his compatriot.
However fast Marquez went this afternoon it would not have made any difference to his starting position. Yesterday the 19-year-old was penalised for an incident involving another rider. His punishment is to start the race from the back of the grid. This is not the first time Marquez has suffered this penalty – he started last year’s Australian Moto2 race from the back row and finished the race in third position.
Marquez’s punishment moves Thomas Luthi (Interwetten-Paddock-Suter) from third to second on the grid, the Swiss coming back well from a series of difficult races. It also means that fourth-fastest Takaaki Nakagami (Italtrans Racing Team-Kalex) moves up to claim the last place on the front row.
The second row will be led by Nicolas Terol (Mapfre Aspar Team – Suter), the 2011 125 World Champion scoring his best grid position of his rookie year in Moto2. Terol will start the race alongside team-mate Jordi Torres (Mapfre Aspar Team – Suter) and Dominique Aegerter (Technomag-CIP Suter).
British rider Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team-Kalex) was eighth fastest, less than eight tenths down on pole, to lead row three.
Miguel Oliveira (Estrella Galicia 0.0 – Suter Honda) rode brilliantly in the year’s final Moto3 qualifying session, missing out on pole position by a fraction of a second. The young Spaniard ended the outing just 0.053s behind pole-position man Jonas Folger (Kalex KTM).
Maverick Vinales (Blusens Avintia – FTR Honda) was Honda’s next best performer. He will start the season-ending Moto3 race from the middle of the second row after setting the fifth fastest time in this afternoon’s qualifying session. Vinales still has the chance to take second overall in the Moto3 series – he is currently nine points behind Luis Salom (Kalex KTM).
Alongside Vinales in sixth place will be Efren Vazquez (JHK t-shirt Laglisse – FTR Honda) who was just 0.054s behind his compatriot and fellow FTR Honda rider.
Eighth-fastest Niccolo Antonelli (San Carlo Gresini – FTR Honda) and ninth-placed Louis Rossi (Racing Team Germany – FTR Honda) are on row four, just ahead team-mates Alessandro Tonucci (Team Italia FMI – FTR Honda) and Romano Fenati (Team Italia FMI – FTR Honda).
As usual, the Moto3 race will kick off tomorrow’s final day of the 2012 season, followed by Moto2 and then MotoGP. There’s little rest for Moto2 and MotoGP teams after that, with Moto2 riders testing on Monday and MotoGP riders starting their preparations for 2013 on Tuesday and Wednesday.
|1||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)|
|2||Jorge LORENZO (Yamaha Factory Racing)|
|3||Casey STONER (Repsol Honda Team)|
|4||Cal CRUTCHLOW (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|5||Stefan BRADL (LCR Honda MotoGP)|
|6||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|7||Nicky HAYDEN (Ducati Team)|
|8||Alvaro BAUTISTA (Team San Carlo Honda Gresini)|
|9||Hector BARBERA (Pramac Racing Team)|
|10||Aleix ESPARGARO (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|11||Valentino ROSSI (Ducati Team)|
|12||Randy DE PUNIET (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|13||Karel ABRAHAM (Cardion AB Motoracing)|
|14||Colin EDWARDS (NGM Mobile Forward Racing)|
|15||Michele PIRRO (San Carlo Honda Gresini)|
|1||Pol ESPARGARO (Tuenti Pons 40 HP)|
|2||Marc MARQUEZ (Team Catalunya Caixa Repsol)|
|3||Thomas LUTHI (Interwetten-Paddock)|
|4||Takaaki NAKAGAMI (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|5||Nicolas TEROL (Mapfre Aspar Team)|
|6||Jordi TORRES (Mapfre Aspar Team)|
|7||Dominique AEGERTER (Technomag-CIP)|
|8||Scott REDDING (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|9||Simone CORSI (Came IodaRacing Project)|
|10||Andrea IANNONE (Speed Master)|
|11||Johann ZARCO (JIR Moto2)|
|12||Julian SIMON (Blusens Avintia)|
|13||Xavier SIMEON (Tech 3 Racing)|
|14||Esteve RABAT (Tuenti Movil HP 40)|
|15||Toni ELIAS (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|1||Jonas FOLGER (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3)|
|2||Miguel OLIVEIRA (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|3||Luis SALOM (RW Racing GP)|
|4||Sandro CORTESE (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|5||Maverick VIÑALES (Blusens Avintia)|
|6||Efren VAZQUEZ (JHK t-shirt Laglisse)|
|7||Danny KENT (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|8||Niccolò ANTONELLI (San Carlo Gresini Moto3)|
|9||Louis ROSSI (Racing Team Germany)|
|10||Alessandro TONUCCI (Team Italia FMI)|
|11||Romano FENATI (Team Italia FMI)|
|12||Alex MARQUEZ (Ambrogio Next Racing)|
|13||Adrian MARTIN (JHK t-shirt Laglisse)|
|14||Jakub KORNFEIL (Redox-Ongetta-Centro Seta)|
|15||Brad BINDER (RW Racing GP)|