Camel Yamaha team-mates Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards will both start from the fourth row of the grid in tomorrow's British Grand Prix, after running into set-up problems during the second day of practice at Donington Park. Whilst Rossi continued to ride through the pain from the ankle and wrist injuries he sustained at Assen nine days ago, he also struggled to adapt his machine to the demands of the British track, where he has taken victory for five of the last six seasons.
Edwards was equally baffled by the lack of progress he made today after making positive initial steps yesterday. The base setting of the YZR-M1 machine has adapted swiftly to the fast and flowing nature of recent circuits such as Assen and Catalunya, but with only the morning warm-up remaining before tomorrow's 30-lap race the team still have plenty of room for improvement. A small consolation for Rossi was that Nicky Hayden (Honda), the current series leader, was also unable to challenge for a top grid position and will start in between the Yamaha pair on the fourth row in 11th spot.
Colin Edwards (10th - 1'28.481; 30 laps);
"The bike is really not working as well as we would like and to be perfectly honest we're not sure why. The things that worked so well last weekend don't seem to be having the same effect here and we're struggling to come up with an alternative at the moment. It's not for a lack of trying because my crew have worked really hard all day - we played about with the springs and the ride height but kept running down a blind alley. This is one of my favourite tracks and I'm used to turning up here and being in the top three from the first session - like I have for the past two years. In theory it should have been the same today but it's just not happening. Now we have to hope we can find something good in the morning, make a great start and just fight our way through!"
Valentino Rossi (12th - 1'28.808; 28 laps);
"We didn't expect to have so many problems here in Donington because last year our bike worked really well. It's a track where I've always been able to be really fast and go very well from the start, so it's quite disappointing. The situation with the wrist isn't so bad, but I've got some problems in the hard braking areas. For sure I can't ride how I would like to; we're not at the maximum.
We've been quite confident because, since the new chassis in Le Mans, the bike has worked very well and been fast from the start, but here we can't find a good setting for some reason. Tomorrow we will try to find a way to make the situation a little better. Today with Dr Costa I decided to try with some painkillers, to understand better what we need to do for the race tomorrow. With these painkillers it seems I can ride more or less normally. Tomorrow me and my team will try to find the best possible setting to enable me to ride a good race and I will also do some more work with Dr Costa after warm-up in order to be in the best possible shape to ride."
Davide Brivio - Camel Yamaha Team Director;
"It is a strange grid because nobody expects to see Colin, Valentino and Nicky all together on the fourth row. For sure the starting position will be the first problem for our riders to overcome tomorrow. I think with Colin has shown that he has the possibility to run a good race pace if we can just refine the setting a little more, and for Valentino we need to analyse things tonight and see if we can make it a little more comfortable - especially for his wrist.
Today he was feeling stronger but he is clearly not at 100% yet so we will have to wait and see how he is tomorrow. But his problem is not just the injury - the bike setting is not where it should be yet and we are still unclear about the tyre choice for the race."
Dani Pedrosa, 61 laps, 162'52 Km: "I think we did a good job today - so we need to see tomorrow if we can complete the job. The feeling on the bike is good and the race set-up is just about there too so what I need to focus on now is making a great start tomorrow - this is really important. The first few laps will be crucial too of course. I didn't expect to have such a big gap to the rest today, and to be honest I also didn't expect to get pole position at Donington, so it's a nice surprise. We still have to make the final decision on the race tyre, so we'll see how the weather conditions are and use the time in warm-up tomorrow. I'm pleased because we've worked really so far this weekend so I'd like to say thank you to my team."
Nicky Hayden, 57 laps, 229'31 Km: "Well, on the positive side I'm only three tents from the front row, though obviously I'm not thrilled with how qualifying went today. We had some electrical problems at the start of the session which cost me quite a lot of time but that's just the way it goes in racing sometimes. We'll put our heads together and try to get an awesome start tomorrow and recover some places quickly. I'm having a few issues in T4 at the end of the lap, getting quite a lot of wheelying and losing some time there, so we'll come up with something to work on that. Tomorrow's the important day and I'm definitely looking forward to the challenge. We had some kids here from the Make A Wish Foundation today and it was really nice to meet those guys too."
The primary aim of the Tech 3 Yamaha Team is to improve at every outing and the solitary MotoGP qualifying session provided another encouraging result as Carlos Checa and James Ellison lowered their respective lap times in the battle for tomorrow's Gas British Grand Prix at the picturesque Donington Park circuit.
Carlos's qualifying performance mirrored yesterday's practice sessions to be in 13th position, right behind world champion Valentino Rossi, as he spent the majority of the one-hour opportunity to concentrate on a race setup.
Meanwhile, James who is keen to impress his legion of fans at his home Grand Prix, lowered his lap time from yesterday by a further second to be 16th on the grid.
Carlos Checa (13th, 1'29.294, 31 laps);
"We expected to do a little bit better but we are struggling at the end of the lap. We are very fast in the flowing part of the track - as fast as the leaders - so we still have a little work to do on the setup to get the Yamaha around the slower section as it is a combination of trying to get the bike to grip and steer at the slow part of the track so we will try something different for tomorrow.
On the race tyres we are a lot closer than what our qualifying position indicates and we know that Dunlop are working very hard to improve the qualifying tyres so that we can get better grid positions. I'm confident that the changes we make over night will help in the area of the track we need to improve and this will assist in hopefully giving us a good result at the end of the race.
After the last few races we know we have the consistency in the Dunlop tyres to race the distance and I think that some other riders on another brand of tyre will struggling to do 30 laps at the same pace in the heat.
James Ellison (16th 1'30.382, 28 laps);
"It hasn't been the best day for me after what has happened in recent weeks but I've taken two seconds off since yesterday morning and we are finding a pretty good setup on race tyres. We haven't finalised our setup but it has been gradually been getting better and better as front end feel is so important around here...
I'm going quicker all the time I have made a good leap considering we haven't quite found that window but we're working on it. I'm one second off Carlos on race and qualifiers so that's encouraging because I know when we get that setup sorted I'll be right on him.
This is also my home grand prix and I'm overwhelmed by the support I'm seeing around the track. I've spent a lot of time with the crowd this weekend and I've had nothing but loads of great support. They know I'm riding hard and trying 100% and that really means a lot to me. It's like playing football in front of a home crowd; you really want to do well, so I'm aiming to pay them back with a decent result.
Herve Poncharal - Tech3 Yamaha Team Director;
"It was another quite good day today. The qualifying position is not as good as Assen but it is very close to the other Yamahas of Rossi and Edwards. We are not so bad on race tyres so it will be another interesting weekend. Of course, it is very important for James as it is his home Grand Prix and he wants to shine. It won't be easy but we know he will push hard all day and his lap times have improved considerably from when he took to the track yesterday morning.
Our lap times to the fastest four or five are quite close on the Dunlop race tyres so if we can stay with some other factory bikes during the race we will learn even more in relation to them That is why we are here. Dunlop sent a lot of new stuff from Japan along with one of their senior engineers as this is an important race for them and an important time of the year.
Everybody is already talking about next year and it is important for Dunlop to show what they can do, to show they are committed and to show where they want to go. But we will be aiming to improve our performances from today and continue to be more competitive in the race as we have proven in the last two races. We have shown that we are improving all the time in the performance of the entire package and we aim to keep that momentum going with a good result tomorrow.
Loris Capirossi, 5th fastest, 1m 28.394s;
"It was a very good idea to miss yesterday's second free practice session because when I am rested and relaxed I can ride much better. I rode both sessions today because Alex uses different tyres, so the work he does with tyres isn't so useful to me. As usual, my chest started to hurt after about 30 minutes of riding. I did do a 14-lap run but the race is 30 laps, so I've decided to miss morning warm-up to save myself for the race. I won't use pain-killers and I think I will be able to run a good race pace. If I was 100 per cent fit I would have done better today but considering my condition fifth place is not so bad. I'm happy with Bridgestone because last year we had some problems here but they've made good progress since then. I only did a half race-distance run but I'm happy with our race tyres. I'm quite confident for tomorrow, I'll just try and relax as much as I can before the race."
Marco Melandri: 3rd 1'28.205 (+0.529) "It is incredible to have set the
third fastest time just two weeks after the accident. This is quite a
tough circuit and it will be very difficult tomorrow. Donington requires
a lot of physical effort and even though I am not at 100% I hope to
finish the race and gain some points. We have to take a step forward
with my own pace. In particular I need to improve my feelin with the
front in the last part of the track Moreover, I can be fast for one lap
but I still suffer a lot if I do more than 3 or 4 laps in a row. All in
all, considering the pain I am in it was a very good result today."
Michel Fabrizio (crashed): "I am really sorry. I wasn't even pushing
that hard and I think we were doing a good job with the team. We still
had a lot of room for improvement and we knew where it was. I think we
were heading for high 1'21s but I fell in the final corner before the
straight. It is a shame because it has brought an important experience
to an abrupt end."
"I'm very happy with today's result and being on the front row of the grid. All the guys have worked really hard this week and all credit to all of them. The Bridgestone qualifier worked excellent and it gave me fantastic grip for the lap. Tomorrow's race is 30 laps long and that is going to be hard work around here. As I said before the last time I was here was on a 600 and it's a lot different trying to muscle one of these bikes around, especially in this heat. The thing tomorrow is going to be trying to make a tyre last and be competitive for the whole race distance - that will be the tricky bit! We have given ourselves the best chance by getting a front row start, so hopefully I can get away well and stay with the lead group."
"I'm a bit frustrated with myself really! I feel that I could have got another front row start, if not pole position. I feel in myself that I was riding a little timid after this morning's crash. At the end of the day though we are starting fourth and we have got a good set-up for tomorrow with the bike and the tyres. I think we are ready to go racing in this heat. Cheers to my team, they have done an excellent job this weekend. Well done to Chris, it's good to see him starting up on the front row. We're really looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully both of the Rizla Suzukis and Bridgestone tyres will have a good race."
Alex Hofmann, 15th fastest, 1m 29.479s;
"Fifteenth place obviously isn't what I was looking for today but I almost did my fastest laps on race tyres, not qualifiers. We didn't start so good yesterday and we've been behind ever since, so we were still working on set-up in the afternoon session. I'm happy I found a way to do 29s on race tyres, we just need to make it a bit more comfortable so I can do that over race distance. At the end of the session I tried three specs of qualifying tyre, the first two didn't suit my style and that lost me some confidence at a crucial moment. The third made me faster than on race tyres but we missed the chance to do a second run on another of that tyre by just a few seconds, so we were a bit unlucky. The start of the race will be extra important because it's not easy to overtake here. Everybody is going to be very keen to make some passes on the first lap."
Randy de Puniet: 6th - 1'28.428;
"I'm very happy to secure a second row start today, especially after the problems we had during free practice yesterday. Our technical people did a fantastic job on transforming the bike overnight; the chatter hasn't been completely eliminated, but as my lap time today shows, the bike is a lot easier to ride than it was yesterday. Just as important as my qualifying time is the fact that I was able to put in consistently fast laps on the tyre that we'll run in tomorrow's race. I'm not so keen on the Donington Park circuit, especially the final sector from the Fogarty Esses to the finish line, but this is the area I concentrated on today, and I'm glad to say we've made an improvement through this section. Starting from the second row of the grid, and with a race tyre that we know works well around this circuit, we have put ourselves in the best possible position for tomorrow's race. Today was a real team effort, so I'd like to thank everyone in the team, and the guys at Bridgestone, for their help. I just hope now that I can translate today's performance into a good race result tomorrow to repay them for all their hard work."
Shinya Nakano: 7th - 1'28.431;
"I'm a little bit disappointed, as I was expecting better after two good free practice sessions yesterday. Tomorrow's race is 30 laps, which will place a high demand on tyres, so we've concentrated today on confirming our tyre choice for the race. I'm happy to say that, once again, Bridgestone have come up with the goods, and I'm confident the tyre we've selected will perform consistently throughout the race tomorrow. During qualifying I had a small problem with the gearbox on the bike, which meant I missed the chance to use two of my qualifying tyres. For sure I'd rather be starting from the front or even the second row, but the race is long so I'm sure there will be plenty of opportunities to make up places as the race progresses."
Makoto Tamada - Konica Minolta Honda Rider (14° - 1'29.362")
"Today's afternoon I expected to improve my performance as our programme was to test a rear race tyre with better performances. Actually the grip was better but a big chattering problem annoyed me. For this we have not defined the race tyres yet and tomorrow morning, during the warm up, we will necessarily have to make the last tests.
I'm not worried to start from quite the end of the starting grid because in the two latest GPs I could make up positions immediately after the start. Therefore, tomorrow morning I hope to find the conditions to race with a pace permitting me to make up efficaciously."
Ivan Silva #22 (17th - 1'31.838): "DUNLOP brought us tyres that should allow us to get to mid-race in good conditions. It has been a pity not to have the possibility to take advantage of the qualifying tyres we had at our disposal because I was optimistic. Unfortunately, with the first tyre, I had difficulties because of the traffic on the track, and with the second one, I crashed in the fast part going down. A real pity! Anyway, I'm really satisfied about the Team, everybody worked very good during the whole weekend. I'm sorry about the crash, especially because I could have improved my best lap time".
Jose Luis Cardoso #30 (18th - 1'32.252): "With the race tyres, the rhythm is not bad, it's quite regular even if I need to improve a lot more my lap times. I have not much confidence on the front and tomorrow morning, during the warm-up, we will go on working, we will try some other modifications for the race. At the end of the session, I had two qualifying tyres at my disposal but I didn't managed to obtain a good time as I committed some errors. Let's think about the race, I really want to make a good result, my Team deserves it, everybody is working very hard".
- 1. D. Pedrosa, Honda (ESP) 1' 27.676
- 2. C. Vermeulen, Suzuki (AUS) 1' 28.158
- 3. M. Melandri, Honda (ITA) 1' 28.205
- 4. J. Hopkins, Suzuki (USA) 1' 28.252
- 5. L. Capirossi, Ducati (ITA) 1' 28.394
- 6. R. De Puniet, Kawasaki (FRA) 1' 28.428
- 7. S. Nakano, Kawasaki (JPN) 1' 28.431
- 8. C. Stoner, Honda (AUS) 1' 28.447
- 9. K. Roberts, Team Roberts KR (USA) 1' 28.473
- 10. C. Edwards, Yamaha (USA) 1' 28.481
- 11. N. Hayden, Honda (USA) 1' 28.509
- 12. V. Rossi, Yamaha (ITA) 1' 28.808
- 13. C. Checa, Yamaha (ESP) 1' 29.294
- 14. M. Tamada, Honda (JPN) 1' 29.362
- 15. A. Hofmann, Ducati (GER) 1' 29.479
- 16. J. Ellison, Yamaha (GBR) 1' 30.382