Gauloises Yamaha Team riders Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards will start the inaugural Grand Prix of Turkey from the second row of the MotoGP grid tomorrow, after lapping fourth and fifth fastest in this afternoon's single qualifying session. After making the most of another extended 90-minute free practice in the morning, the difference between the leading riders was much closer today, with the top six all pulling to within a second of the pole position time of 1'52.334 set by Sete Gibernau (Honda).
After a difficult morning, Rossi clocked the fourth fastest lap of the day after making a series of improvements to his YZR-M1 machine designed to meet the demands of this new and challenging circuit. The Italian knocked almost two seconds off his best time from yesterday and is targeting even more set-up refinements in tomorrow's warm-up session before challenging for a record-equalling twelfth victory of the season in the race.
After suffering a series of setbacks yesterday Edwards was able to work without interruption today and the American emerged as one of the strongest contenders for a pole challenge in the final stages of the session. Edwards, who revealed that he has made a change to his riding style here after struggling to compete for the podium in recent weeks, launched his final attack in the very last minute but was held up by a slower rider and ended up conceding 0.042 seconds to Rossi, eventually lining up just behind his team-mate in fifth place.
Valentino Rossi (4th - 1'53.177; 27 laps);
"This morning was not good at all, I had some big problems and we were quite worried. Then this afternoon we made some major modifications and the bike began to work much better. In the end the lap time was not so bad and we were able to finish the session on the second row. After this morning's troubles I am quite happy with this fourth place and maybe we can fight at the front tomorrow. We need to use the warm-up well and make a few more small changes to the set-up. I think it's going to be a very hard race tomorrow; Melandri and Gibernau were very fast today and I think tomorrow will be a big, big battle."
Colin Edwards (5th - 1'53.219; 25 laps);
"We've struggled to find a set-up in recent weeks so here in Istanbul we've basically gone to Valentino's base setting and made gradual changes to suit my style. I've had to adapt my riding more to a 250 style, carrying much more corner speed, and as the weekend's gone on I've learnt more and more tricks that are helping me to go faster. This afternoon I felt good, I had much more confidence in the set-up and it helped me set some consistent times. To be honest I'm a little disappointed not to be on the front row because I felt like I had a 1'52 in me, but it wasn't to be. The main thing is that we've made improvements and if we can keep doing that in the warm-up tomorrow then we should be okay for the race."
Davide Brivio - Gauloises Yamaha Team Director;
"The team has worked very well to improve the situation; it is still not the best but it is certainly much better than yesterday. The steps forward with the bike have allowed the riders to think more about where they can improve and both Valentino and Colin have created a good base to work from in the race. We have some very fast rivals and it will be a hard battle in the race but I can definitely say that we will be trying our best to be a part of it."
- 1. S. Gibernau, Honda - 1' 52.334
- 2. M. Melandri, Honda - 1' 52.463
- 3. N. Hayden, Honda - 1' 52.976
- 4. V. Rossi, Yamaha - 1' 53.177
- 5. C. Edwards, Yamaha - 1' 53.219
- 6. T. Elias, Yamaha - 1' 53.230
- 7. M. Tamada, Honda - 1' 53.667
- 8. A. Barros, Honda - 1' 53.719
- 9. C. Checa, Ducati - 1' 53.836
- 10. S. Nakano, Kawasaki - 1' 54.023
- 11. C. Vermeulen, Honda - 1' 54.217
- 12. M. Biaggi, Honda - 1' 54.358
- 13. O. Jacque, Kawasaki - 1' 54.407
- 14. J. Hopkins, Suzuki - 1' 54.434
- 15. S. Ito, Ducati - 1' 54.669
- 16. R. Xaus, Yamaha - 1' 55.414