Published on 29 Jul 2012 by Toni M.
Yesterday’s qualifying practice at Laguna Seca saw the Black Mamba (Jorge Lorenzo) strike again, and while he pipped Casey Stoner for the pole position with his last flying lap, the Spaniard has a blistering race pace, but Repsol Honda riders Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa aren’t that far off (tire choice will be critical) and today’s 32 lapper will in all likelihood see these three riders overtake the very much slower CRTs, who are struggling on this short and very technical circuit.
Just a comparison on how slow the CRTs are (Casey Stoner said, “There was always someone in the way, either cruising around or backing off in the middle of the corner”) compared to the AMA Superbikes who are also racing at Laguna Seca this weekend, Josh Hayes qualifying time would have have put him ahead of Ivan Silva (20th) and Ben Bostrom would have been faster than James Ellison (21st).
Here’s what some of the riders had to say:
Jorge Lorenzo - 1st
“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.”
Casey Stoner - 2nd
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
“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”.
Ben Spies - 4th
“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.”
Cal Crutchlow - 5th
“We made a good improvement from yesterday even though I could 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
“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.”
Alvaro Bautista - 7th
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.”
Nicky Hayden - 8th
“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.”
Stefan Bradl - 9th
“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”.
Valentino Rossi - 10th
“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.”
Randy de Puniet - 11th
“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.”
Aleix Espargaró - 12th
“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.”
Colin Edwards – 13th
“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.”
Karel Abraham - 14th
” I’m not happy today. Although in the end I began to improve slightly, but I still need to really into it if I can get. It is makes me nervous and cranky. Tomorrow will certainly be a difficult day. Laguna Seca circuit is very demanding, and it is very technical and there is no proper straight. Today I also had a more sore hand. I had a massage and I’ll need another one, but the race should not be affected. ”
Michele Pirro - 16th
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.”
Mattia Pasini - 18th
“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.”
Danilo Petrucci - 19th
“Unfortunately the fog of this morning has changed all our plans, 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”.