Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after Saturday's qualifying at Laguna Seca:
MATTIA PASINI SETS THE 18TH TIME IN THE QUALIFYING PRACTICE AT LAGUNA SECA
The third free practice and the qualifying practice for the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix were held today, for the tenth round of the 2012 season of the MotoGP category.
In the session of this morning, the riders of the 1’000cc class didn’t have much of a chance to take advantage of FP3. The fog and the low temperatures forced the riders to spend most of the time at disposal inside the pit boxes, and Pasini managed to complete five laps (twelfth time) during the last ten minutes of the practice.
The qualifying session was therefore essential to define the choices for the set-up of the ART machine: Mattia and his technicians worked out some modifications to the CRT bike, focusing especially on the pace in view of the race of tomorrow. The Italian ended the session in advance because of a crash, as he holds the 18th position.
Mattia Pasini #54 - 18th with 1'24.017
“After all, I’m happy with how things went today. Apart from the crash, which prevented us from improving our grid position, we put together some positive work and achieved a good set-up for our ART: I was trying to improve, but I was quite on the limit and I just crashed out. Despite that, we managed to gather some very useful data, considering that today we had at disposal one session less. Hopefully it’ll be a good race tomorrow, we have a decent pace and the bike has a quite competitive setting. We’ll do anything possible to reduce the gap from the CRT machines that are ahead of us.”
POWER ELECTRONICS PAIR HEAD CRT CHALLENGE ON LAGUNA GRID
Randy De Puniet and Aleix Espargaró again the fastest two riders on new concept MotoGP machinery, qualifying eleventh and twelfth on the grid for tomorrow's race
After an opening day dominated by Dani Pedrosa at Laguna Seca yesterday, today it was the turn of the man he trails in the championship to take over, Jorge Lorenzo setting the pace in the final free practice session this morning before taking pole position with a last lap effort this afternoon. Heavy fog made the second day's opening session virtually useless until it lifted for the final few moments but there were no such setbacks or indeed surprises in qualifying practice after lunch, when the top three riders in the current points standings took the three front row positions for tomorrow's race.
It was always going to take more than a little fog to stop the POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar Team from continuing their domination of the CRT revolution, with Randy De Puniet and Aleix Espargaró getting to grips with the Laguna Seca layout on their second day here with the ART machine. Qualifying proved to be a two-way battle between the pair for the top CRT position on the grid, Randy sealing it with a lap of 1'22.886 to edge out his team-mate by two tenths after Aleix was baulked by another rider on his final lap.
11th Randy De Puniet 1.22.886 (29 laps): "I am really happy with the result from qualifying. The electronic problems we had yesterday morning and the fog this morning have basically cost us two sessions but we made the most of the time we had. We made some changes for this afternoon and thankfully they were all in the right direction. I'm happy because my race pace gives me plenty of optimism for tomorrow. I was consistently in the low 1'23s and that is going to be important. I am sure we can improve the set-up of the bike in the warm-up tomorrow and after three really good races the objective for the race is to continue in the same way and if possible finish as the top CRT again."
12th Aleix Espargaró 1.23.075 (25 laps): "I didn't manage to get the bike set-up as good as I would have liked today. We couldn't get it turning as I wanted and I struggled for confidence in the front. Luckily at the end of the session I managed to improve a little. Rear tyre wear is quite severe here and after seven or eight laps it was sliding around a lot. On the last lap of qualifying I was on a hot lap behind Valentino but Elías got in my way and I lost my chance. It was a shame because I think it would have been enough to qualify as the top CRT but anyway I am happy with the way we're progressing. In the last few races I have qualified as the top CRT only for Randy to beat me in the race so hopefully this weekend works out the other way around."
Double front row start for Repsol Honda Team in Laguna Seca
Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa qualified second and third respectively for tomorrow's Red Bull US Grand Prix and it's the fifth time this season the riders share the first row of the grid.
It was a very busy session for both Repsol Honda riders after they sat out the morning's free practice due to the fog and cold temperatures at Laguna Seca.
Casey spent most of the session working on hard tyres and kept the softer slicks for the last five minutes, when he managed to improve his lap times by almost half a second and take second place on the grid with 1'20.628, just 0.074 second from the pole.
Dani, instead, went out with the soft rear on his first exit and set a fast lap time of 1'20.906 that secured him the third slot before start working on race pace.
Casey, who will use the new engine, and Dani, who has chosen the new engine and chassis for tomorrow's race, are confident to fight in front and maintain a high pace in the tough 32 lap race.
CASEY STONER 2nd 1'20.628
"I'm disappointed as I think we definitely had the potential for pole position. We spent most of the session with the hard tyre trying to improve our pace, we've been struggling with it all season when the temperatures aren't high enough to get it working and we had made a few steps and weren't too far off the pace. Then we put on the soft tyre and unfortunately we never got a clean lap. There was always a CRT bike in the way and considering we're 3-4 seconds a lap quicker than them, you come up on them pretty quick, no matter how big a gap you give them. Every lap was spoiled which is very frustrating as I really feel we could have been on pole but we'll have to settle for where we are. Tyre choice for the race will depend on the weather conditions tomorrow, I think we have the pace and longevity in the tyre for the soft, but if it's hot then we may have to try and make the hard work".
DANI PEDROSA 3rd 1'20.906
"I was a little upset at the end of the session as I wasn't able to improve my lap time, but happy anyway with another front row. We did a big job this afternoon, considering this morning, in my opinion, there was no meaning to go out with such a track and weather conditions. So we had one hour to work with the tyres and set up the new bike that I finally chose for the race. It was an intense and interesting practice; we know what we have to do for tomorrow. The bike is working well and I'm pretty confident for the race. Let's see if we have better conditions than today for the warm up tomorrow and we can work on the finer details, although I think we have already a good package".
PROGRESS FOR TEAM SAN CARLO HONDA GRESINI ON DAY TWO AT LAGUNA
After a difficult first day at Laguna Seca yesterday both Alvaro Bautista and Michele Pirro made important steps forward in final free practice and qualifying today. Alvaro improved his confidence with his bike around this track and made up positions to qualify seventh on the grid, a position he hopes to improve on with further improvements to his set-up ahead of tomorrow afternoon's race. Pirro also made up positions on his free practice classification from yesterday but he is hoping to find a better set-up during the warm-up and improve his prospects for the race from sixteenth on the grid.
Alvaro Bautista ( 7th 1’ 21” 732 ) “Today went quite a lot better than yesterday – the only disappointment is that we hardly got any laps in this morning because of the fog and that probably cost us the opportunity to take another step forward. Anyway we managed to try a couple of different settings out and in the end we found something positive which improved my confidence on the bike. My pace also improved so that's good. Obviously we are still not at 100% but we have taken an important step. A third row start isn't bad and if we can get away well off the line we can hope to stay with the second group because the front three are on a different level. My objective is to rediscover the feeling I had before Mugello and have a good race.”
Michele Pirro (16th 1’ 23” 877) “The lap times have improved quite a lot from yesterday but we need to take another step if we are going to be competitive in the race. The guys will work hard as always to put me in a position to score a good result and I will do my part. De Puniet and Espargarò have a big gap over the rest of the CRTs here but it will be a long race and anything is possible.”
Fausto Gresini “Compared to yesterday we have taken a big step forward with Bautista and seventh place on the grid is not bad – it will give us the opportunity to run with the second group and hopefully fight for a result between fifth and seventh. It wasn't a bad day for Michele either. He still needs a little more to close down the gap to De Puniet and Espargarò at the head of the CRT battle but we should be there in the fight behind them and Michele will certainly be doing his best."
Lorenzo Claims Fourth Consecutive Laguna Seca Pole
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo delivered a signature scorching performance this afternoon to take his fourth consecutive Laguna Seca pole position start ahead of tomorrow’s Grand Prix of USA. The Championship leader was straight into the top spot at the beginning of the qualifying practice and was only challenged by rival Casey Stoner towards the end of the session. Lorenzo responded in the last seconds with an incredible lap, coming from a slow first split to an unbeatable last taking pole 0.074 seconds clear. The time of 1’20.554 stands as a new lap record for the circuit.
Ben Spies continued to show the consistent fast pace in evidence from the first practice yesterday, moving quickly up to the top five early in the session. The Texan was provisionally on the front row for some time before dropping just outside it to fourth. A big high side at turn three threatened to bring an end to his qualifying however he made it back and out again on his second bike to complete the heat. He starts on the second row in fourth, 0.54 seconds from pole.
Position : 1st Time: 1'20.554 Laps: 33
“I knew Casey and Dani were going to try and take pole but I really wanted it here in America so I tried my best for Yamaha. I pushed to the limit, especially in the last corner, I was at full lean and opened the throttle really soon. In my first two tries for a perfect lap there was a lot of traffic so I had to wait for the right moment. The important thing is tomorrow, pole position is nice but anyway the race is what counts.”
Position : 4th Time: 1'1.094 Laps: 27
“Today was ok, we obviously had a crash which was unfortunate as I think we could have got on the front row. I was feeling really good I just maybe didn’t let the right side of the tyre heat up to quite the right temperature and had a pretty big high side. Anyway we got back out and were able to do the same times as before the crash. I need to get some x-rays to check my heel as I took a big hit on it in the crash.”
“A fantastic qualifying and a spectacular last lap by Jorge making a new lap record. We have a good pace and a good package to fight for victory tomorrow. We’ll have to wait and see what the temperature is going to be as it’s very cold in the morning then warms up a lot!”
“A great pole from Jorge, he’s putting a lot of pressure on the Honda guys. Ben had a big crash using the second soft tyre during the qualifying. Anyway, he’s pretty consistent and happy with the bike set up and hopefully tomorrow he will be 100% fine to ride. I’m pretty confident because he’s finished all the practices in the top four and we know which tyre he is going to use.”
Lorenzo sets lap record to take pole position at Laguna Seca
Round 10: United States Grand Prix – Qualifying Practice
Laguna Seca, Saturday 28 July 2012
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium, Hard. Rear: Soft, Medium (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Hard (Main), Soft (Alternative)
Weather: FP3 - Dry. Ambient 14-14°C; Track 19-25°C (Bridgestone measurement)
QP - Dry. Ambient 17-18°C; Track 40-43°C (Bridgestone measurement)
Current MotoGP™ championship leader Jorge Lorenzo will start on pole position at the United States Grand Prix after the Spaniard set a new lap record of 1’20.554 on the Yamaha Factory Racing M1 in qualifying at Laguna Seca.
Lorenzo broke the existing pole position record – set by Casey Stoner in 2008 - earlier in the session before Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner moved to P1 when he also went under his old mark with a few minutes remaining in the session. However, Lorenzo took pole position on his very last lap to relegate Stoner to P2 ahead of his teammate Dani Pedrosa who rounded out the front row. Randy de Puniet qualified in eleventh position, with the Frenchman continuing the dominance of the Power Electronics Aspar team among the CRT entries during qualifying.
This morning’s FP3 session was subjected to heavy fog which kept track temperatures low and reduced grip levels due to the high moisture levels. Only a few riders took to the track until the end of the session when the cloud started to lift and more riders ventured out. Just like yesterday, track conditions in the afternoon were much better with sunshine and track temperatures in the low-40°C range for the one hour qualifying session. For qualifying, most riders used the combination of the softer rear and harder front slick for better drive out of corners and improved front-end stability when setting their best lap times.
The next session for the United States Grand Prix will be Morning Warm Up at 0940 local time (GMT -7) tomorrow and the thirty-two lap race is scheduled to start at 1400.
Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“Track conditions today were similar to yesterday, with cloud cover in the morning and clear skies in the afternoon. However, the cloud this morning was much heavier so many riders chose not to go out on circuit until right at the end of FP3 so track time was somewhat limited today. It was clear from yesterday’s and today’s sessions that most riders prefer the harder front slick option so I expect this to be the popular choice for tomorrow’s race, though rear tyre choice at this stage is not as clear cut with both the softer and harder rear slicks viable options for tomorrow’s race. I anticipate that many teams will wait until tomorrow afternoon and make a decision on rear tyre choice depending on what the track temperature is just before the race.”
PETRUCCI WILL STARTS FROM THE 7th ROW LAGUNA SECA
The weather has conditioned the second day of the US Grand Prix. This morning the fog has forced the Race Direction to delay the free practice of some minutes and when it started the riders had to wait that the fog went away and the track became dry.
Danilo Petrucci has got the 19th time with 1’24.227 at 3.673 from Jorge Lorenzo’s pole position. The Came Iodaracing Team rider has suffered the bad condition of the track this morning where he should have to test some modification to his TR003’s set up.
"Unfortunately the fog of this morning has changed all our plans – Petrucci said – we should test some modifications to the suspensions but we couldn’t do it and loosing time for whom debut on this track is very bad. I’m not very satisfied of the position on the grid, but we are close to our rivals and for the race of Tomorrow I have a good pace”.
BRADL NINTH FASTEST AT CHALLENGING LAGUNA SECA GP QUALIFYING
Monterey, 29th July: misty conditions known as "marine cloud" welcomed the MotoGP contingent this morning at Laguna Seca race track for the final free practice. Luckily the afternoon qualifying session matched yesterday’s sunny skies and ninth spot on the grid went to LCR Honda racer Stefan Bradl (1’21.753).
Completing the third row ahead tomorrow’s 32-lap race, Bradl fully utilized the afternoon session to fine tune his RCV chasing important front end feeling improvements to better cope with the bumpy Californian track.
Stefan: “Not great and not so bad... in between! It’s more difficult for me compared with the past races because yesterday I had to find my pace and orient myself on this new track: then this morning we lost the session due to the bad weather so we started working on the bike package this afternoon. I am not really happy about the front end feeling because we are losing too much time in braking and in corners entries so actually I miss the perfect confidence to go faster. We need to analyze the data and make a change for tomorrow because the surface is pretty bumpy. Starting from the third row is not so bad but I am aware it will be a long race and I will try to follow the guys in the front”.
Edwards opens up fifth row at the Laguna GP
A good qualifying session today for the NGM Mobile Forward-Racing Team and Colin Edwards, who will be on 13th position in tomorrow’s starting grid right behind the Aprilias of De Puniet and Espargaro and two satellite Ducati right behind.
Busy workday for the American rider who was unable to take full advantage of the morning’s free practice due to the morning fog over the track, delaying the testing of the various modifications scheduled for the morning practice to be done during the actual qualifying session.
Colin Edwards – 13th position (1´23.699)
“There was a constant on this bike, I always felt like I’m on top of it so I told the guys to take the seat pad off; got on the bike I felt much more in the bike, which is going to help with the weight transfer and calm everything down. In turn we took some weight off the front so we could go back to a softer front fork spring like I like to use to get the thing to turn. As far as qualifying, I went out and tried the hard tire, the soft tire, tried a different shock that made a minimal difference but still was a little bit better. During the last lap the fuel pump failed and coming out of turn four with the throttle wide open I lost all power and I was lucky I had nobody behind me. I feel confident for the race, obviously the two Aprilias are up front and they have a pretty good pace so lets see if I can latch on and see if we can roll with them.”
Sergio Verbena – Crew Chief
“We are happy with today’s qualifying practice, finally we had a good weekend. This morning we didn’t really push because of the weather conditions and this afternoon we tried some new things such as a different rider position on the bike to make him more comfortable, together with modifications in suspensions, which he said were pretty good. We are in 13th position; we have two CRTs in front of us and two prototype bikes behind us. It’s a pity because in the last time attack we had an electrical problem and Colin couldn’t finish the lap in which we could have been a couple of tenths faster; in any case we are happy and we will see what happens tomorrow.”
Difficult qualifying session for Ducati Team at Laguna Seca
Laguna Seca’s thick, wet fog typically burns off relatively early in the morning, but it persisted for today’s final free-practice session for the United States Grand Prix, reducing the useful track time and prompting most riders to wait until the final ten minutes or so before leaving the garages.
The afternoon qualifying session took place in normal conditions, but Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi didn’t manage to find the best setup to ride the California circuit effectively. Tomorrow will see them starting from the third and fourth rows, respectively.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 8th (1:21.734)
“After the performance we had in the race at Mugello and then again in the test, we expected to be a lot closer to the front than this. It’s a bit frustrating to be over a second back, especially at a little track like this where even three or four tenths is a lot. Tonight we’ll decide if we want to make big changes for tomorrow or try to refine what we have, and the main priority will be to settle on a tyre. The morning warm-up might not be very useful if it’s foggy again, but we’ll see what tomorrow brings and give it our best shot.”
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 10th (1:22.544)
“As long as we ride at our race pace, we’re close to the two or three other riders in the second group. Unfortunately though, just like at the last race, when we try to do a fast time, we’re not able to improve enough. When I put on the soft tyre, it creates more problems, which are always the same, really: to avoid having the tyres start sliding too much after a few laps, we must load the rear a lot, and that causes us to lose feeling with the front. As long as I ride at a 1:22 pace, I’m able to be pretty consistent, but when I have to push harder, the front starts to close. The bike moves a lot and I go wide. Anyway, we’ll see. I’m tenth, but my rhythm is a bit better. Obviously, I’m expecting a difficult race tomorrow.”
Crutchlow and Dovizioso qualify inside top six in Laguna Seca
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team riders Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso will start next to each other on the second row of the grid for tomorrow's 32-lap US Grand Prix at the spectacular Laguna Seca track. Crutchlow powered his YZR-M1 machine to the fifth fastest time in a record-breaking qualifying session this afternoon, while Italian team-mate Andrea Dovizioso will line-up one place further back on the grid in sixth position. Factory Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo claimed a stunning pole position with his 1.20.554 the fastest ever lap of the California track, but Crutchlow and Dovizioso were able to set an impressive pace in a s ession run in gloriously sunny conditions. This afternoon's weather couldn't have been a bigger contrast to those that greeted the paddock this morning when Crutchlow and Dovizioso virtually missed a whole session because of cold and foggy conditions. Both quickly made up for lost time this afternoon and concentrated on analysing the soft and hard compound Bridgestone rear tyre options ahead of tomorrow's race. Crutchlow was once again the top non-factory qualifier with a best lap of 1.21.268 securing him a place on the second row for the sixth time in 10 races and he finished just over 0.3s away from Dani Pedrosa in third position. Dovizioso was only 0.271s further back in sixth place, his best time of 1.21.538 clinching him his best starting position since he was sixth for the Catalunya round in Spain last month.
Cal Crutchlow 5th 1.21.268 – 32 laps:
“We made a good improvement from yesterday even though I coul d only do eight laps this morning because of the conditions. I have been inside the top six all weekend and that is a huge step forward compared to last year when I had a really tough weekend and was riding around outside of the top 10. The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team did a fantastic job last night to repair the bike I badly damaged in the crash in practice and hopefully a fifth place on the grid and a strong performance today repaid them. The second row is a good starting position and I've had decent pace all weekend, so I'm looking forward to the race. I've been consistent and fast on both the hard and the soft tyre so the final decision will depend a lot on air and track temperature tomorrow."
Andrea Dovizioso 6th 1.21.539 – 34 laps:
“We improved the bike a lot this afternoon and it was quite a busy session because we lost a complete practice this morning with the weather conditions. We had to change the work p lan a little bit but we got everything we needed to accomplish done in the afternoon and I am happy and ready for the race. My race pace is good and I think I had the potential to be a bit higher up the grid but each time I tried to push on the soft tyre I encountered some traffic and couldn't get a clear track to put a whole lap together. It is going to be a very tough race tomorrow because the top three are so fast and I hate to say it but it looks impossible to beat them. I have worked a lot on the soft and the hard tyre and I like both, so we will have to decide which one we take for the race based on the conditions.”