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MotoGP : Rossi returns to the front row at Mugello - June 3rd 2006


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  1. Round: 6 - 2006 MotoGP Mugello
  2. Circuit: Mugello
  3. Temp: 16ēC
  4. Weather: Dry
  5. Round: 6 - 2006 MotoGP Mugello
  6. Circuit Length: 5245
  7. Lap Record: 1' 50.117 (Max Biaggi, 2005)
  8. Fastest Lap Ever: 1' 48.959 (Sete Gibernau, 2006)
  9. Camel Yamaha Team rider Valentino Rossi will start from the front row of the grid for the first time this season in tomorrow's Grand Prix of Italy after the home hero set the third quickest time in today's single qualifying practice. The session took place under a blanket of thick grey cloud, with cool ambient temperatures of 16ēC and just 18ēC on track, but the threat of rain held off and the teams and riders were afforded crucial dry track time as they adjusted their machine set-up ahead of tomorrow's 23-lap race.

    Rossi's best lap of 1'49.167 came on his penultimate effort and was inside his previous pole record here by almost a tenth of a second. However, it wasn't quite enough to dislodge Sete Gibernau and Loris Capirossi (both Ducati) from the top two grid spots as the Spaniard took his first pole position of the season for the Italian factory. After falling behind with set-up work due to adverse weather conditions yesterday, Rossi's Camel Yamaha team-mate Colin Edwards was unable to make up for lost time today and he could only manage the 14th fastest time, meaning he will start from the middle of the fifth row tomorrow.

    This afternoon Rossi will present a brand new R6 in unique Yamaha MotoGP colours to Marco Ponti, from Gallarate in the Varese region of Italy, who took part in a contest as part of the 'Yamaha Open Weekend.'

    Valentino Rossi (3rd - 1'49.167; 26 laps);

    "It is a good feeling to be back on the front row - I don't think I've been there since Phillip Island last year so it is a long time and I'm glad it came here at Mugello. For sure this is one of my favourite tracks and with all my fans, family and friends here I really want to get a good result. The front row is important for this because in the past few races I have had to fight really hard at the start of the race to pass riders so hopefully I can get a better start tomorrow. We're not on pole but Michelin and Yamaha have worked really hard to improve our performance on a qualifying tyre and this is a big step forward. Anyway my race pace is quite good so I hope to give my fans a lot of reasons for a party tomorrow night. My new helmet design is by a famous Italian cartoonist called Milo Manara. He has drawn a kind of mythical story of my life, with some of my heroes like Steve McQueen, Enzo Ferrari and Jim Morrison, with other characters like my dog Guido, Osvaldo the chicken and lots of beautiful women! I really like it and Milo is somebody I have admired for a long time."

    Colin Edwards (14th - 1'50.405; 26 laps);

    "I'm not too happy at all. This track seems to have a curse over me because I always seem to be unlucky here. Yesterday the weather played against us when we were trying to find some settings for the new chassis so we had to stick to the old one today and for whatever reason it hasn't worked. We haven't managed to work out the root of the problem yet but it seems everything that was good at China and Le Mans has evaporated here. It's not for a lack of trying - I'm pushing really hard but maybe I'm pushing in the wrong place, I don't know! We've had no time this weekend to test and use the new chassis so maybe we're paying the price for that. All we can do is squeeze the most out of what we have in the warm-up and see how much progress I can make in terms of positions in the race."

    Davide Brivio - Camel Yamaha Team Director;

    "I'm very happy for Valentino, it's nice for him to be back on the front row. We've made some improvements to the performance of the bike on qualifying tyres, which is an area we have struggled with so far this season, so we are very satisfied with that. It looks as though Valentino also has confidence with the race setting and he set a good rhythm on race tyres so we hope he can put on a great show tomorrow. Unfortunately Colin was unable to get anything extra out of the qualifying tyre so he is starting from a difficult position. He isn't comfortable with the setting of the bike so our goal is to improve this situation during the warm-up and give him a chance of producing the kind of ride he showed in the last race at Le Mans, when he fought back from a lowly position to score some good points."

    Sete Gibernau, pole position, 1m 48.969s;

    "This is a very special moment. I know it's only qualifying but I still count this as my first victory with Ducati. I really needed something like this because it confirms that Ducati and Bridgestone were the best choice for me. Also, they believe in me and are giving me the best shot I've ever had in this championship. I'd like to dedicate this pole to everyone at Ducati, both here in the team and back at the factory, because they always give it everything they've got. Bridgestone are amazing too, because they're giving me incredible support. Pole is important but maybe more important than that is the way these guys work with me - they treat me better than I've ever been treated before, so a big thanks to them."

    Loris Capirossi, 2nd fastest, 1m 49.058s;

    "Today was interesting. We started this afternoon with a race set-up and I did 12 laps at a good rhythm, including one 49.8 lap. That's not bad and we'll be even better if tomorrow is a bit warmer. Then I tried some new qualifying tyres that I'd never tried before. The first of them was the best, so I used another of that tyre for my last run but unfortunately I came across some traffic and made a small mistake in the T1 section. Anyway, we are more than okay. I hope tomorrow will be a big day for us. A podium finish would make me happy, we'll just have to see which step of the podium. Sete rode really well today. I 'stole' pole from him at Jerez, so now he's got it back! It's great that Ducati has got pole here. Tomorrow it will be very important to get a good start and use full gas from the beginning, because when the tyres begin to go off, whoever is in front should be able to maintain their advantage."

    Marco Melandri (1'49.343, 4th):

    "I am satisfied with the result. My performance today has allowed me to start on the second row which was what I was aiming for. I am feeling good on the bike and my 'feeling' with the rear end has improved a lot today. I am pretty clear about which tyres I will be using, I have tested two tyres that work really well and tomorrow we will take the final decision also according to the opinion of my Michelin technician. It's quite hard to make use of qualifying tyres at this circuit. I am happy to have performed well in front of my home fans and will give everything to get on the podium tomorrow."

    Dani Pedrosa, 53 laps, 277'98 Km: "Today we improved a lot which I'm pleased about because yesterday I was quite a long way from the front, but of course tomorrow is the important day. Qualifying in eighth is not perfect for me but the lap-times are pretty close so it's ok. This position means I will have to make a good start tomorrow so that the leaders don't get away - that's going to be crucial. I am getting a little more comfortable here, but this is not my favourite track and it's very physical on this bike, I will try to adapt some more. I think the set-up for the race is quite good, but we will have to see how the tyre performance goes tomorrow. We'll find out what we can in the warm up, but only the race will tell."

    Nicky Hayden, 53 laps, 277.98 Km: "We definitely closed the gap to the leaders a bit more today. We made a few pretty big changes overnight that seemed to help so thanks to the guys for working really hard. This morning I was able to drop the pace and get closer to the front, but we've got to take another big step with the bike tomorrow if we want to run with these Italians. We definitely improved in our weak spots, but our top speed isn't very good today so we need to look and see if there's anything we can do with the transmission. I'm excited for tomorrow and they say the sun's going to shine. It's going to be a battle and I hope to be right in the middle of the dog-fight having some fun."

    Toni Elias (1'50.196, 12th):

    "I am not satisfied because even though we improved from yesterday we are still not where we should be. It will be important to get a good result and get in amongst the top riders. It will not be an easy race as there are many quick riders, I just hope we get."

    John Hopkins:

    "This afternoon's session went pretty well. We've got a good race set-up going now, but we'd like to be about a half to three-quarters of a second quicker on race pace. Right now we are doing all we can with the Rizla Suzuki. The Bridgestone race tyres are working really well, the consistency of the grip seems to be good but we'll really have to wait and see what the weather does tomorrow. As far as qualifying goes, we went out and tried our hardest. It's unfortunate that we're not on the first or second rows, but the crew worked really hard and the Bridgestone tyres worked great again - as you can see by their pole position. We will just go out and get the best start we can tomorrow and fight for a top position."

    Chris Vermeulen:

    "We made good progress today even though we didn't get a full dry session this morning - which was a bit of a pain. I still need to learn the track, but we made good steps. In yesterday's first session I was four seconds off the leaders, being 1.4 seconds off at the end of qualifying shows how far I have come. The unfortunate thing is starting in 15th place, but that's what you get when you are coming to tracks for the first time. The goal tomorrow is to get a good start and move up into the next group and have a good race with some of the guys."

    Shinya Nakano: 5th - 1'49.328"On my last flying lap I could see Cardoso some way in front of me, so I used him as a target. I thought to myself that, if I didn't overtake him before the end of the lap, my time wouldn't be a good one, so I concentrated on chasing him down. I caught him just before the end, and as a result I qualified fifth. So, thanks for that Jose Luis! Compared to the three free practice sessions this afternoon's qualifying was much better. During free practice I was struggling to keep my times consistent, but then this afternoon everything came together and I was able to put together a string of laps in the 1'51 bracket on race tyres, which puts us in a strong position for tomorrow's race. Today we ran with a sixteen-inch rear tyre for the first time. Nobody has used this type of tyre before, so it was something of an unknown quantity, but it definitely offers some advantages compared to the standard size tyre. On corner entry the smaller tyre seems to absorb the bumps better, producing less chatter than the standard slick, and it also makes changing direction a little easier. After the jump start at Le Mans I've been practicing my starts here, using the rear brake to stop the bike creeping forward, so I'm confident there won't be any repeat performance tomorrow!"

    Makoto Tamada - Konica Minolta Honda Rider (10° - 1'50.084");

    "Today afternoon we had favourable weather conditions to push us in searching the best performance. With the latest modifications executed to the rear suspension after this morning free practice session my feeling was immediately better and I think that my race pace is sufficient to stay with the leading group. I tried to do my best with the qualifying tyres but this time the rear one I used at the end revealed to be too smooth and it did not permit me to cover the entire lap. We have defined the race tyres, I feel good and I'm confident I can get an interesting result tomorrow."

    Randy de Puniet: 16th - 1'50.597"For sure, my qualifying position is not the best, but I can take some consolation in the fact that, on race tyres, we have a good set-up. I ran two qualifying tyres in the last fifteen minutes of the session, but I just didn't seem to be able to use them to their full potential. I don't know why, but both tyres were the same; it was strange. But, most important is that the bike is good for the race tomorrow. Starting from the sixth row of the grid for sure makes my job harder in the race tomorrow, but if I can get a good start then, hopefully, I'll be able to close the gap on the leading riders and finish with a good result."

    Alex Hofmann #66 (18th - 1'52.100): "Today we went on working on the tyres and on the set-up definition of our DUCATI for the race of tomorrow. I'm not satisfied, we slightly improved the rhythm for the race but we're still quite far from our aims. A pity was when, at the end of the session, I was slowed down by two riders that had some problems while I was making a fast lap with the qualifying tyres; I would surely have gained half a second and one position on the grid. The whole Team worked very hard, we made the maximum with the tyres we had at our disposal and we will go on tomorrow morning during the warm-up ; there are still many difficulties with the race tyres. Anyway, tomorrow, I will do my best to get to obtain more points in the general classification of the Championship, I would like to make a good result in front of all our sponsors and supporters".

    Jose Luis Cardoso #30 (19th - 1'52.780): "Today there were some difficulties with the set-up of our motorcycle. The tyres we had at our disposal didn't have enough duration ; we tested different configurations to lighten the problem but without finding any real satisfying result. Besides, I had other difficulties, some chattering didn't allow us to improve more, and we will now have to resolve all this during the warm-up, to get the chance to make a good race in front of our public".

    Qualifying;

  10. 1. S. Gibernau, Ducati (ESP) 1' 48.969
  11. 2. L. Capirossi, Ducati (ITA) 1' 49.058
  12. 3. V. Rossi, Yamaha (ITA) 1' 49.167
  13. 4. N. Hayden, Honda (USA) 1' 49.212
  14. 5. S. Nakano, Kawasaki (JPN) 1' 49.328
  15. 6. M. Melandri, Honda (ITA) 1' 49.343
  16. 7. J. Hopkins, Suzuki (USA) 1' 49.478
  17. 8. D. Pedrosa, Honda (ESP) 1' 49.516
  18. 9. C. Stoner, Honda (AUS) 1' 49.915
  19. 10. M. Tamada, Honda (JPN) 1' 50.084
  20. 11. K. Roberts, Team Roberts KR (USA) 1' 50.181
  21. 12. T. Elias, Honda (ESP) 1' 50.196
  22. 13. C. Checa, Yamaha (ESP) 1' 50.347
  23. 14. C. Edwards, Yamaha (USA) 1' 50.405
  24. 15. C. Vermeulen, Suzuki (AUS) 1' 50.430
  25. 16. R. De Puniet, Kawasaki (FRA) 1' 50.597
  26. 17. J. Ellison, Yamaha (GBR) 1' 51.866