Press releases from the MotoGP teams and single tire supplier after qualifying at Phillip Island on Saturday:
Lorenzo Picks Up the Pace in Phillip Island Qualifying
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo took advantage of slightly less windy conditions at Phillip Island today to secure second on the grid for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Australia. Lorenzo made big steps forward in set up thanks to hard work from the team overnight, enabling him to get nearly half a second closer to pole man Casey Stoner and nearly half a second faster than Championship rival Dani Pedrosa who sits behind him in third on the grid. Having dropped outside the top three initially, Lorenzo came back with an impressive 1’30.140 lap with a very used tyre to take second. Shortly afterwards the rain began to fall, preventing any further efforts to improve on lap times.
Position : 2nd Time: 1'30.140 Laps: 22
“Casey is really on another planet here, he’s riding so comfortably, sliding a lot and full throttle always so it’s very difficult to be with him. We are closer now though; in qualifying I made a really good lap with the soft tyre. Second place is a good position to be in for tomorrow, it’s important to be just behind Casey into the first corner and to follow his wheel for at least two laps as fast as we can be. A big thank you to the team who worked hard to improve the bike for me for today.”
“After yesterday’s practice we were not so positive but today we made quite some improvements, the guys worked really hard so hats off to them. We changed the bike quite a lot and Jorge felt a lot better with it this morning. The qualifying went quite smoothly, Casey is again half a second faster but he’s risking a lot and he has the feeling and the speed. Jorge is doing really well and it seems like we have a good package to fight with tomorrow.”
Crutchlow and Dovizioso ready for podium attack in Australia
Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso will start tomorrow's AirAsia Australian Grand Prix from the second row of the grid, with the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 riders confident they can both battle for the podium in the penultimate round of the 2012 World Championship.
Still not back to 100% fitness after being struck down by a severe fever and bout of bronchitis heading into this weekend's race at the fast and flowing Phillip Island track, Crutchlow came close to securing a brilliant eighth front row start of the season. In cool, cloudy and windy conditions, the British rider spent the majority of the session concentrating on improving the race set-up of his YZR-M1 machine.
Crutchlow was satisfied with his fast and consistent pace on a used soft Bridgestone rear tyre, which bodes well for a strong challenge in the latter stages of tomorrow's 27-lap race. Crutchlow managed to set a best time of 1.30.763 that left him just 0.188s behind in-form Dani Pedrosa in third position.
Andrea Dovizioso also tested the endurance of Bridgestone's soft rear tyre option over a long run and he was happy with his speed and consistency.
A lap of 1.31.200 put the Italian inside the top three in the early part of the session. But when he switched to a new soft rear tyre to push for a second successive front row start, he couldn't find the same confident feeling and he secured the final place on the second row in sixth.
Cal Crutchlow 4th 1.30.763 – 26 laps:
‘We made some good improvements to the bike today and fortunately I am feeling better too. I'm still not 100% but I have been resting as much as possible and I am improving each day. It was good to have the bike feeling better today as well, although I wasn't pushing too hard for the whole session. I used an old soft rear tyre that I'd run in this morning's practice just to check my pace at the start of the session. I'm really happy because my times were fast and consistent even when the rear tyre had over 30 laps on it. That bodes well for the race tomorrow and I'm confident if I can run the same pace I'll be in the podium hunt. On a new soft tyre I think I could have gone a bit faster but I got held up. Fourth is still a good result and I'm looking forward to a good battle in t omorrow's race, though based on what we've seen so far, Casey is on another planet and nobody will get close to him.”
Andrea Dovizioso 6th 1.31.200 – 26 laps:
“The session started very well and I was quickly into a fast pace that put me inside the top three. My race pace is around the mid-31s and that should be competitive enough to be battling for a podium tomorrow. The problem came when I tried to improve my time on a new soft rear tyre. Immediately it was sliding around a lot and it didn't have the grip I was expecting. I just didn't have a good feeling and it was impossible to push like I wanted. We need to analyse what might have caused that, so considering I couldn't go any faster on a new soft rear tyre at the end of the session, I'm pretty pleased to still be in the top six. We have improved the bike in every session and I am confident I will be battling for the podium.”
Sensational pole position for Casey and important first row for Dani
Casey Stoner left no room for a surprise in today's qualifying practice at Phillip Island and will start his final Australian Grand Prix of his career from pole position. The 2011 World Champion, aiming for his sixth successive win at his home Grand Prix, will start in front of Spanish duo, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa, second and third respectively, who continue to fight for the MotoGP World Championship.
The qualifying practice was a repetition of the previous four years: Casey setting the pace and the rest of the field chasing the Australian hero, who has been unstoppable during the whole weekend. Despite a crash on Turn 4, on his out lap of his third run, Casey didn't lose too much confidence and continued to improve his times to secure pole position with 1'29.623, his fifth of the 2012 season and fifth successive in Phillip Island.
The penultimate round of the season will see Dani Pedrosa starting from the front row for the eleventh race in a row. Dani, with a best lap time of 1'30.575, found more feeling in the qualifying practice and was improving his pace on his last exit when the rain appeared finally placing him 0.9 off Casey.
CASEY STONER 1st 1'29.623
"It's been a good progression over these past few races and it's great to get pole for my home grand prix. The bike has been good since Friday and I'm feeling comfortable on it again. It wasn't an easy session this afternoon, we went out on a hard tyre and on my out lap, as I was peeling into the Honda turn, the bike decided to flip me. I tried to make sure I kept my leg out of the way as I came off, fortunately it didn't get caught up. My left hip is hurting a little as I landed on it but hopefully we shouldn't have any issues with it tomorrow. The bike feels pretty good for race pace, we would have liked to have done some more work in this afternoon's session but we lost time after the crash. A big thanks to all the fans for coming out and putting up with this weather, hopefully we can turn this pole into a win tomorrow!".
DANI PEDROSA 3rd 1'30.575
"I was trying some different things on the bike to get a little more comfortable, but they didn't work out very well for the middle of the session. On my first soft rear tyre I couldn't improve and then on my last run I was going quicker on the first lap and rain arrived. Anyway to be on the front row again is very good and I think we found a good bike setting for tomorrow's race. Casey is unreachable, he's on another level and doing an amazing job this weekend, but my pace is quite similar to Jorge's, so I hope to be at least constant for the fight with him".
THIRD AND FIFTH ROW FOR BAUTISTA AND PIRRO AT 'THE ISLAND'
There was little change from their free practice positions for Team San Carlo Honda Gresini riders Alvaro Bautista and Michele Pirro today as they qualified on the third and fifth row of the grid for tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island. Michele finished the session fourteenth fastest, seven places behind his team-mate Alvaro, who has a good race pace and is hopeful of gaining positions when the lights go out tomorrow afternoon. Michele, meanwhile, will be aiming to maintain his position as the third CRT on the grid and in the current championship standings with two races to go.
Alvaro Bautista (7th 1’ 31” 490) “We continued to work on the setting of the bike this morning without making major improvements from yesterday. In the afternoon we did some laps on used tyres and the pace was decent. On new tyres we were able to go a little faster and we were hoping to make at least a position up on the last outing and get on the second row but it started to rain and I had to settle for sixth place. Anyway I am confident because my race pace is good and apart from Stoner, who is on another planet, and maybe Lorenzo and Pedrosa who are also very fast we can match the others and fight for fourth or fifth place again. The start will be important then after that we'll see!”
Michele Pirro (14th 1’ 33” 050) “I think being the third fastest CRT bike today behind the two ARTs was about the best we could hope for today although I am not totally happy because I was hoping to break into the 1’ 32s and even though we were close we didn't manage it. We still have some movement on the rear that we need to fix because it is slowing me down in corner exit. Anyway, I am confident that in the warm-up the guys will find some solutions and then I am sure in the race the tyres will play a huge role. I'm ready to defend my positions as the third highest CRT in the championship.”
Fausto Gresini “It is a shame that Alvaro wasn't able to break the second row today and the rain at the end was a real blow for us because he didn't get chance to make the most of the new tyre on his last exit. Anyway, his race pace is good and so I think he can have a decent race. I'm also optimistic about Michele's chances because once again he has show to be the third fastest CRT.”
BRADL GETS 5th SPOT ON TEH GRID AHEAD AUSSIE GP
Phillip Island, 27th October: the second day of track action at the Island circuit began under cloudy skies with cooler temperatures compared to yesterday’s springtime weather with LCR Honda’s racer Stefan Bradl lining up in fifth place (1’30.798) ahead tomorrow’s 27-lap race.
The 22-year-old was down to eight in this morning third free session but was back to his competitive form for the 60-minute qualifying session which saw the German strongly making his way into top-5.
Stefan: “We are very happy today because we did not expect the fifth place in qualifying after yesterday’s issues with the bike set up. I was struggling to much with bike confidence but we made some chassis adjustments finding a good solution for the afternoon session. After that I was finally back into my standard form lapping with more confidence and more average speed. Let’s see what is going on tomorrow but we are more prepared right now considering the particular layout of this track”.
Karel Abraham on 4th row in Australia hope to make good race
Czech MotoGP rider Karel Abraham finished eleventh in today´s qualifying practice to Grand Prix of Australia and will start from 4th row to the race. Karel did his best lap time 1:31,910 in lap 20 with 2,287 seconds gap to the fastest Casey Stoner.
“It´s pity that it started rain in the end of session, when I was riding in strong group and can improve my lap time. The most positive is that I was able to make more laps similar to the best one. Also the bike is prepared well, we still have some problems with grip on rear tyre and our mechanicians must decide, if it´s necessary to make another setup changes.”
Marco Grana, šéfmechanik Cardion AB Motoracing
“After qualifying we can be optimistic, because we know that we can improve more. We didn´t make perfect lap today and I´m sure that Karel can be faster. We are really fast in the first sector, but we can be better in sector 2. We had bad luck in the end of qualifying practice, because it started to rain when Karel was riding with Valentino and Alvaro and in this group he was able to improve his time. I´m sure that he could reach 1:31,6 and finished on eighth place. It should be sunshine tomorrow and I hope we will do good race.“
SUPER RANDY QUALIFIES NINTH AT PHILLIP ISLAND
POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar rider takes on prototypes with sensational 1'31.667 lap on his CRT as team-mate Espargaró qualifies twelfth
POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar rider Randy de Puniet took the challenge to the prototypes at Phillip Island today, qualifying ahead of three of them and just 0.006 shy of another with a sensational lap of 1'31.667 on his ART machine. The Frenchman was easily the fastest CRT bike around the Australian track, impressing the crowd almost as much as local hero Casey Stoner, who delighted them with pole position after a dominant weekend so far. Tomorrow's race promises to go Australia's way too although the world's eyes will also be on the battle between Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa, with Lorenzo looking to wrap up the World Championship title by finishing ahead of his Spanish compatriot.
De Puniet gave a warning of his stunning potential around this track with the seventh fastest lap of the final free practice this morning and he followed up with another lap seemingly beyond his means to seal a third row start against all the odds. Just three tenths and three grid places behind him is his team-mate Aleix Espargaró, who didn't make as strong a start to the weekend as Randy yesterday but has gradually upped his game today and establish himself as a threat to the Frenchman's CRT victory ambitions tomorrow.
9th Randy De Puniet 1.31.667 (23 vueltas): "I am really happy with the way things are going this weekend. We have been fast from the start and my feeling with the bike is great here. I am really enjoying myself and I hope this continues tomorrow through to the end of the race. We start from the third row, which is a great achievement for a CRT bike, having been seventh fastest this morning. I think we could have gone even faster in qualifying this afternoon but the conditions changed at the end of the session. Anyway I feel comfortable and confident. The objective is to hang on to the prototypes in the race and see what happens. I need to pull as many points back as possible on my team-mate but it will be tough because he is looking strong here too. Today was a great day; hopefully tomorrow is another one."
12th Aleix Espargaró 1.31.990 (22 laps): "I am pleased with our performance today because we have improved a lot from yesterday. We were a long way off in the first couple of sessions in terms of lap times and feeling but the situation has been turned around by a lot of hard work. The bike feels how I want it to feel now and that is important, as is the fact that we set a consistent pace riding alone and using my own reference points. We didn't set a single lap as good as my team-mate but our main weapon tomorrow is our consistency. We have worked with the gearbox, the engine and the chassis here and pretty much everything we tried was positive."
Rossi qualifies on third row Down Under, Hayden tenth
Although precipitation held off until the final few minutes of today’s qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix, the MotoGP riders nonetheless had to deal with chilly conditions for the entire session, which saw Ducati Team racers Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden post the eighth and tenth best times, respectively.
The Italian was relatively pleased with his pace while using a race setup, although he still hopes to make some final improvements for tomorrow. The track’s bumps and fast corners proved to be particularly challenging for the American, whose team will try to take a step forward during the morning warm-up session.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 8th (1:31.661)
“Qualifying went okay, as my pace is more or less at the level of Bradl and Bautista, with the two Yamahas of Dovizioso and Crutchlow a little faster, but only by some tenths. I’m pretty consistent. I did a 1:31.7, a decent time, with a tyre that had about eighteen laps on it, so that’s not bad as we approach the race. We have a little too much vibration and understeer with the soft tyre, so I wasn’t able to improve much with it, although fortunately, it was just enough to make the third row. Tomorrow morning we’ll try to refine the final details and then we’ll see. It will be a long race, so we’ll have to see what conditions we find and what pace we’re able to do.”
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 10th (1:31.681)
“Unfortunately, things haven’t gone much better today, as we’re still having trouble finding the right direction. I’m breaking traction on the edge of the tyre, and that causes a lot of movement, especially in the fast corners. Also, the bumps are making it difficult to stay online. I made a mistake in T1 on my last good lap. Then I had a better lap going at the end when the rain came, at which point it was too much to risk. Tomorrow is when it counts, and we’ll probably make a big change to the bike. Starting tenth is difficult, but I really hope I can be competitive.”
EIGHTEENTH TIME FOR ROLFO IN THE QUALIFYING PRACTICE AT PHILLIP ISLAND
The starting grid for the MotoGP class was defined today, at the circuit of Phillip Island, for the Airasia Australian Grand Prix.
In the last free practice, Rolfo and his crew tried out some solutions in order to achieve a stronger performance for the ART machine in the fast turns and when braking, improving his best time of 0.860 seconds after the session of Friday afternoon.
The qualfying practice was the right occasion to work on the rhythm for the race and analize deeply the reactions of the tyres on the Australian track. The Italian ended the session with the eighteenth placement, and he’ll start from the sixth row of the grid tomorrow.
Roberto Rolfo #84 - 18th with 1'33.577
“The position with which we ended the qualifying practice isn’t the one we were hoping for, we were aiming at a better result. On the other hand, I’m happy for the improvement we had: the changes to the front part of the bike helped me and in the session we went well, generally speaking, for a few laps we focused on the pace and the result was good. On my fast lap I made a mistake in the second part of the track and we lost some time in the sixth turn. I was hoping for a time close to low 1’33, to get near the fifteenth position. Despite the placement on the grid, we have a good rhythm and we just have to sort some data for the used tyre, in particular for the turns. We put together a logical and positive work, and maybe the rain at the end of the practice cut us off from one last chance. We’ll see how the warm up goes tomorrow and in the race we’ll try and stay with the other CRT machines.”
Stoner seizes pole position at Phillip Island
Saturday, 27 October 2012
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium. Rear: Medium, Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main), Hard (Alternative)
Weather: FP3 - Dry. Ambient 14-15°C; Track 22-25°C (Bridgestone measurement)
QP - Dry. Ambient 15-15°C; Track 25-25°C (Bridgestone measurement)
Casey Stoner further enhanced his reputation as ‘King of the Island’ after slinging his Repsol Honda RC213V around the Phillip Island circuit in a time of 1’29.623 in Qualifying to seize pole position for tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix.
Once again Stoner was the only rider to lap in the 1’29 bracket today and his pole position time was over half a second quicker than Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo, whose time of 1’30.140 secured second place on the grid. Rounding out the front row in third place was Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa who along with Lorenzo, were the only riders able to lap within one second of Stoner’s benchmark time. Power Electronics Aspar’s Randy de Puniet showed remarkable pace today to be the top CRT qualifier with a time of 1'31.667 slotting him into ninth place.
Cloud cover and a strong breeze blowing from the sea kept temperatures low and directed intermittent rainfall over the circuit resulting in challenging track conditions for the riders. Today’s peak track temperature of 25°C was 5°C cooler than during yesterday afternoon’s FP3 session, thus necessitating the use of softer compound options front and rear. As a result of the frigid temperatures, some riders did not undertake planned evaluation runs on the harder front and rear slicks.
Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“We had even cooler conditions than yesterday along with some wind and rain, so tyre choice for FP3 and Qualifying was similar to the first two practice sessions. Some riders did use the harder rear slick during qualifying but the cold conditions meant they soon reverted to the softer rear slick to ensure maximum grip from the rear tyre. Even though conditions prevented their use today it appears that some riders will use the harder slick options for the race, though at this stage I expect the majority of riders to use the softer slicks front and rear. However, the weather forecast for tomorrow predicts warmer temperatures and if this does happen, then perhaps more riders will try the harder slicks in morning warm-up to assess their potential for the race.”