Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa gave MotoGP fans a thrilling qualifying session at Jerez swapping the top spot at least a half a dozen times, but track conditions were less than optimum with Lorenzo defining them as “dangerous”, but all the same he was able to shave off two tenths of second from Dani Pedrosa’s 2010 circuit record lap.
However, it wasn’t the two aliens impressive performance that had tongues wagging, but it was Nicky Hayden qualifying in third and his much more titled team mate Valentino Rossi who qualified in a massively disappointing 13th and 3.429s from Lorenzo.
Rossi was not only outpaced by his fellow Ducati factory rider but also by Karel Abraham and Hector Barbera on the less evoluted GP12, and even worse by Randy de Puniet on the Aprilia CRT bike. It may seem like we’re adding more wood to the bonfire that is already blazing under Rossi’s seat, but if every Ducati rider improved over the three sessions (however still very far from Honda and Yamaha) the bike can’t be such a bitch in corner entry that Rossi is describing, infact Hayden has pointed out more than once that the GP12 is “the best Ducati he’s ever ridden.”
So the million dollar question is what is wrong with Rossi, the rider? I think we are still going to be asking ourselves that same question every race weekend until Valencia, when Ducati and Phillip Morris will be writing off their millions of euros investment loss after two harrowing and agonizing seasons.
We posted this picture Jorge Lorenzo’s Nolan helmet, because we admire the fact that he is paying tribute to seriously injured World Superbike rider and fellow countryman Joan Lascorz.
Rider quotes after the jump.
Jorge Lorenzo - 1st
“We are very happy with this pole position because it was a strange session. There were a lot of water patches and it was very dangerous. You had to pay a lot of attention, it would have been easy to crash and get injured. Anyway we start in first position so let’s see what happens in the race. Thank you to the team for working hard to keep giving the right set up in changing conditions.”
Dani Pedrosa - 2nd
“It’s been a really good qualifying session. It was very difficult to know how much to push because there were some wet spots and it was easy to make mistakes. Also after so many laps with wet tyres in the free practices, when you put on the slicks it’s like another bike but you have no time to waste to find a good lap time. So I’m quite impressed with the time and very happy to be on the front row. We’ve been riding well here in Jerez at the test and also during all the practice sessions this weekend, both in the dry and wet, but tomorrow we have to be ready for a tough race in any conditions and I want to have a good race here in front of my fans”.
Nicky Hayden - 3rd
“To be on the front row is really good for us. The track conditions were quite strange, different compared to what we’ve had the whole weekend. It certainly helped that we tested here in the dry not too long ago, as we had a relatively good base setup. We went out hard right from the gun, because we knew some spots of rain were coming. I moved up a couple times and thought, ‘Okay, let it rain now,’ but then I’d drop back down and think, ‘Oh, don’t start raining yet.’ It got better near the end, but it was still tough because there were a lot of wet patches on the track, which made it easy to make mistakes. In the end, we took advantage of the strange situation and made the front row, so I’m really happy for my team. Now we’ll try to make it happen when it counts tomorrow.”
Cal Crutchlow - 4th
“That was quite an eventful session to say the least and I’ve got to be happy with fourth position considering I had the crash. I made a silly little mistake because I hit one of the damp patches and crashed out. It was a high-side but I wasn’t even on the throttle. I think I was on the fi rst lap with a new rear tyre and maybe it wasn’t completely up to temperature when I hit the damp patch. I have to say a massive thanks to my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew because they did an awesome job to get the second bike ready. It was set-up for the wet in case it rained and they did a brilliant job to get me back out so quickly. It was disappointing from the point of view that I lost some time on track and without that I’m sure I could have challenged for the front row again. But fourth on the grid is not a bad result at all and I am looking forward to the race tomorrow. I’m confident I can be fighting to be inside the top five again but I hope it is a full wet or dry race and not the mixed conditions we had yesterday.”
Casey Stoner - 5th
“Qualifying didn’t go so well, conditions have been terrible all weekend, from half dry tracks to fully wet so we haven’t really been able to get any form of set up on the bike. It’s a little bit disappointing, we had hoped to be on the front row but with conditions like this I wasn’t really willing to push. There were a lot of people falling off and the wet patches that were there were incredibly slippery. With this said, there is still half a second that I am accountable for and can’t blame the track, we’re just a little bit off with our settings so we have some work to do tonight. We’re not really sure what to expect until we see the weather tomorrow and this makes things pretty difficult”.
Ben Spies - 6th
“It was actually a pretty scary session for everybody, the track started out damp and then got better but there were some damp patches right where you wanted to be. It was the first dry session of the weekend for us so we had to ride hard. We had a setting on the bike we hadn’t tested here but thought on paper it would be better, some things were good and some bad. We mistimed the tyres a little bit just because we saw a black cloud coming in so I think we could have been on the front row. I didn’t want to make a mistake though and throw another bike down the track and make the guys rebuild it! We’re pretty much up there, for how bad the conditions were I’m happy to come out unscathed and on the second row.”
Andrea Dovizioso - 7th
“The changing weather conditions have not helped at all this weekend because I need time on the Yamaha to improve my feeling. Although I am very close to the top six I still don’t feel completely comfortable on the bike and that means I am not riding with my normal confidence. I need time and this weekend we haven’t been able to do that many laps in the dry. It is a pity because the conditions we had today is where I am normally very strong but I struggled. Cal has proven again today that the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 package is very competitive, so it is down to me to improve. Hopefully the race tomorrow is dry and we get a completely dry weekend in Estoril to help me make progress and get the best out of the YZR-M1.”
Alvaro Bautista - 8th
“Today was another difficult day. This morning we worked on solving our issues from yesterday but only made slight improvements. Then when we were trying a new setting the bike was vibrating a lot into the first turn and I lost the front and crashed. We were able to use the slick tyre this afternoon even though there were still some damp patches out there with the threat of more rain. After my crash this morning I didn’t want to risk more than necessary so a third row start isn’t bad and if we get a good start we can be fighting for a good result.”
Stefan Bradl - 9th
“Well…I am a little bit unhappy because we had a very good session but I made a small mistake in the last corner in my last lap. That cost us half a second which means one row: second row I guess. In general it was a tricky qualifying because in the beginning we had a lot of wet patches but every time we went out we improved our lap time as the track conditions was drying up. Actually we are doing well in the dry and in the wet too and I think we could have gone for the second row but it’s okay anyway”.
Hèctor Barberà - 12th
“To be honest I’m not happy with the result of the day because I think that the fourth row on the grid it’s not my place. Despite that I have worked hard with my crew to gain even more grip on the front tyre with a wet track conditions and feel in my GP12 for tomorrow’s race. I struggled a lot with these tricky track conditions but we still have tomorrow’s warm up to reduce my less confidence to a more comfortable level.
Valentino Rossi - 13th
“Qualifying didn’t go well today. The conditions were quite difficult because it was cold and the asphalt was dry, but not completely. Anyway, it was like that for everyone, so that wasn’t the problem. Unfortunately, I’m still having a very hard time riding and entering corners, both on the brakes and off. I’m slow to achieve maximum lean angle and don’t carry the necessary corner speed, so when it’s time to accelerate, I’ve already lost too much ground. We’ve been trying to solve this situation for a while, but we haven’t managed it yet. We have to keep working on the setup because Nicky had a nice session today and really did a good job. Comparing the data, we’ve confirmed that we’re losing all our time on corner entry. Anyway, we went a bit better in the wet, so we’ll see what conditions we have for the race.”
Michele Pirro - 15th
“It was a shame about the crash because I had to use the second bike, which I didn’t have a great feeling with. Luckily the track conditions had improved but my feeling still wasn’t as good and I almost crashed again. I saved it but hurt my arm and that slowed me down too. It is frustrating because we have had three wet sessions this weekend and not been able to do the work on the bike that we had planned. The guys are working very hard though and that has allowed us to at least take a small step forward.”
Danilo Petrucci - 18th
This practices were very difficult considering that the conditions in these two days are continually changed. In the qualifying the asphalt in some points was still damp and needed to have a very good feeling with the grip of the slick tyres to make the time. I have preferred to not risk too much for the chattering and for not to ruin the job done with the team in these days considering that we have found some good solutions under all conditions”.