- Round: 2 - 2006 MotoGP Qatar
- Weather: Dry
- Round: 2 - 2006 MotoGP Qatar
- Circuit: Losail Circuit
- Circuit Length: 5380
- Lap Record: 1' 57.903 (Nicky Hayden, 2005)
- Fastest Lap Ever: 1' 55.683 (Casey Stoner, 2006)
- Temp: 32ēC
Camel Yamaha Team riders Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards improved the setting of their Yamaha M1 machines for tomorrow's Grand Prix of Qatar despite struggling for a fast single lap in this afternoon's qualifying practice. Whilst both riders again demonstrated encouraging pace on race rubber, the improved rear grip offered by the qualifying tyre at the end of the session exaggerated the remaining traces of vibration problems and prevented them from mounting a serious challenge for a front row start.
Rossi was the quickest of the pair, clocking the sixth fastest time to seal a slot on the second row of the grid. Edwards, meanwhile, was just over a tenth of a second outside the time set by his team-mate and will start from two places behind him in tomorrow's 22-lap race, which starts at 15h local time (14h CET). Leading the way from pole position will be Australian youngster Casey Stoner (Honda), who produced a record lap of 1'55.683 to surprise the rest of the field in only his second MotoGP appearance. Loris Capirossi (Ducati) and Toni Elias (Honda) complete the front row.
Valentino Rossi (6th, 1'56.076, 25 laps);
"The problem is that when the grip comes up we push more and the vibration comes back, so today we couldn't use the full potential of the qualifying tyre and I am only sixth. Anyway my race rhythm is not so bad and there are many riders close together, so I think it will be a good battle tomorrow. I am very surprised by Stoner and I would like to give him my sincere congratulations. He has been very fast all weekend and he used the qualifying tyre to 100%, even better than Loris, who has a lot of experience. Loris is in good shape again but I think the guys to beat are the young riders - Stoner, Elias and Pedrosa. Tomorrow we will see, but it should be interesting!"
Colin Edwards (8th, 1'56.230, 22 laps);
"We've definitely made the bike better since yesterday and even from this morning. We're still struggling with a little bit of vibration but the problem is continually reducing and I think we're on to something with the setting. We'll make a few small changes in the morning but it's a fine line between what could work and what definitely doesn't work so we have to be careful not to go backwards. My race pace is okay but I'm not going to lie - it was hard work. If the other guys were doing 1'57s I'd be delighted but I think we'll have hold it in the 1'56 mark during the race to come out with a top result. It's going to be tough but if we can make a small step in the morning we'll be ready."
Davide Brivio - Camel Yamaha team Director;
"We have had fewer problems here than we had in Jerez but the situation is still not perfect. The qualifying session did not go so well for us but both riders have a decent race pace and I think they are in good shape for tomorrow. It will be hard because no doubt the young riders will push hard from the start. It will be a close battle at the front but I think we can be a part of it."
Positive progression for Tech 3 Yamaha Team;
Good progress continued today for the Tech 3 Yamaha Team at the tight and physically demanding Losail International Circuit in Qatar. Riders Carlos Checa and James Ellison improved their race setup and this was reflected in the lap times as the gap to the leading teams was lessened considerably.
Both riders completed the one hour qualifying session on the ever-improving Dunlop race tyres; the team decided against using qualifying tyres as they looked to gain an improved race setup and increase their confidence ahead of a long and demanding race tomorrow. Checa is still feeling the effects of two crashes at Jerez less than a fortnight ago and was unable to ride at his full potential, qualifying in 14th position, whilst Ellison will start from 17th tomorrow. However Team Director Herve Poncharal was happy with the improved performance and hopes for a positive race for both riders.
Carlos Checa (14th, 1'57.299, 22 laps);
"We've made some good improvements with the bike and tyres and I have found a race setup that is pretty close to what I desire, but I am still not strong enough with my left arm and that is very important at a track like this. I know in myself that I would be a lot further up the field if I did not have this limitation. It is especially hard on my left side when I am cornering and trying to move around on the bike; I am not as strong as I should be. I don't like riding like this as I am a fighter and want to be at the front, as we showed we can be in winter testing. Anyway we will do our best tomorrow and hopefully we can run a good race despite my problems."
James Ellison (17th. 1'58.591, 20 laps);
"We're improving all the time and that is the main thing; to move forward every time I get on the bike. I am a lot closer to Carlos and truthfully this is the best session I have had on the bike. I am very happy. We didn't use qualifiers today as we were concentrating on the race set-up and we have found a good tyre that we think will last. We did some consistent times so I am confident that we can finish well, as today I could stick with the other riders I was following. This is the first weekend that we have made big changes to the bike and we've made some good ones. We have moved the handlebars and adjusted my seating for the first time. Moving the 'bars has made a big improvement when exiting the corners, because now I can get over the front of the bike more and feel that I have more control of it."
Herve Poncharal - Tech 3 Yamaha Team Director;
"It has been a positive result for us today. I am happy with the results; it was a choice not to use qualifying tyres as this can give false hope. My main concern is obviously for Carlos and his shoulder. He hasn't recovered from the two big crashes he had at Jerez and is lacking a lot of strength in his left side to be able to control the bike, especially in the many changes of direction around this track. James is improving every time he rides the bike and I can't ask for more than that. This year the target is to provide as much feedback to develop the Dunlop tyres and at every race get closer to the front and we hope we can take another step tomorrow."
Loris Capirossi, second fastest, 1m 55.721s;
"I missed pole by only 38 thousandths of a second. On my final fast lap
I tried too hard in last part of the track and the bike slid a couple of
times. I lost a few tenths and missed my second pole of 2006. It doesn't
matter so much, because last year I was on pole at Qatar but not so
competitive in the race. This year we have a very good race tyres. This
morning things were a little difficult as the track was dirty and we
made some modifications to the set-up, which did not work the way we
expected. So we went back to our existing settings on the front of the
bike and that allowed me to be fast, on both qualifiers and race rubber.
The championship has just started but it is important to be competitive
all the time. The track is proving to be less difficult for us than
expected and we made a nearly perfect job this weekend. Bridgestone has
done a great job in these months! I think we can be an important part of
the game tomorrow."
Sete Gibernau, seventh fastest, 1m 56.177s;
"The race lap times are not too bad so it's a pity to be so close to the
second row and not get there. Normally that's as far as you want to be
back from pole. We have some work to do in the morning warm up to get
more feeling on the front because we are still playing catch-up a
little. We need to find two or three tenths to be able to fight for a
good race finish and the start will be crucial. Before I have to think
about the start I want to make the bike a little bit easier to ride,
because now we are pushing the front a bit too much."
Dani Pedrosa. Total laps: 41.Total kilometres: 220.58 Km;
"My grid position here is the same as Jerez which is not too bad because that was a track I know well and we tested there for three days before the race. But this track is new to me on this bike, so I think 5th is ok. I feel quite good for the race. The most important thing now is to try to get a good start and get a good position into the first corner - this is very important. The qualifying session was difficult for me again. We improved a little, but I still have to learn many things about qualifying: the timing, how to take the most profit from the qualifying tyre and to learn which front tyre I prefer for the track. I had crash this morning when I went on the white line and it was very dusty, I touched the brake a little bit and went down. It was my mistake, but now I know about this for the future!"
Nicky Hayden. Total laps: 47. Total kilometres: 252.86 Km;
"Man, it's close! It's kinda frustrating to be that close but still be so far away because actually a tenth in qualifying is a lot. But I'm looking forward to the race - it should be fun. The Michelin qualifying tyres definitely help my bike. Right now my issues are with grip, but when we put the qualifying tyre in we're one tenth off pole. In race trim it's been a little frustrating. We can make the bike better in one area, like getting into the corner, and then it's not so good coming out. Luckily I've got a lot of sharp people around here working hard, so it's not for a lack of effort - or a lack of brains! Tomorrow's race day, we'll try and sweeten it up overnight, arrive in the morning with the race face on and be ready to go for it when the lights go out. On the practice starts I had some problems with the clutch and the bike reared up. I thought it was me so I tried to do another one and I felt like a goon when it did the same thing! The team will get it sorted though."
Toni Elias (1'55.735, 3rd - front row of the grid):
"I am very
satisfied. I want to thank my team and the Michelin mechanics for the
great job they have done. We worked very well today, but it is going to
be a difficult race tomorrow as a lot of riders are going quick and the
tyres are sure to disintegrate because of the heat. The most important
thing will be to get a good start. This is my first front row start of
the season and I hope to continue this kind of form. I also want to
thank the Clinica Mobile who have helped me over gastroenteritis and I
am looking forward to the race."
Marco Melandri (1'56"822 12th - fourth row of the grid):
"In the morning
session I was lapping in the 1'56s on race tyres so we ended the session
in confident mood. In the afternoon, and with the qualification tyres
on, things were different and we could not better our time from the
morning. The bike is working well and I feel comfortable on it so I'm
disappointed. Tomorrow I have to make a good start - it won't be easy
from the fourth row of the grid and overtaking on this circuit is quite
tricky. It's a shame because this is a circuit I like a lot."
Makoto Tamada - KONICA MINOLTA Honda Rider (16° - 1'57.891");
"Today, the modifications made on the suspensions setting level permitted me to be quicker but not to solve the problem I have with the front contact feeling in entering the corners.
Tomorrow morning, together with the KONICA MINOLTA Honda Team technicians, we will try to ameliorate the situation, even if, I could not even imagine to find myself so far from the top riders after the qualifying session of the second GP of the season."
Shinya Nakano: 9th (1'56.237);
"I'm never happy to qualify as far back as ninth, but if I'm honest, it is better than I was expecting today, after the problems we've had here. Since yesterday we've been struggling with chatter from the front and rear of the bike, and although we've managed to make a small improvement through changes to the bike set-up, it's still a major problem. The chatter was less on the qualifier, which allowed me to at least salvage a reasonable starting position this afternoon, but we can't race on a qualifier unfortunately. I'm hoping that we can sit down tonight and come up with a solution to try in warm-up tomorrow, because it's going to be a very difficult race for me otherwise. I guess we will see tomorrow, but I'll be out to collect as many points as I can regardless."
Randy de Puniet: 15th (1'57.822);
"Thankfully, my hand is much better today. I've been able to steadily improve my lap time on race tyres and I'm sure I could have qualified higher today but for going off the track after running wide to avoid Casey round the back of the circuit. So, while I'm not so pleased to be starting 15th on the grid, I am happy that I'll actually be on the grid tomorrow after the problems that I had with my hand on Thursday. Tomorrow my aim is to finish my first MotoGP race, preferably in the points. If I can do that then it will be a good end to the weekend for me and for the team."
Alex Hofmann #66 (1'59''591):
"I'm disappointed because before today I never qualified myself four seconds slower than the pole position, neither at the beginning of my career. Today all the riders did a step ahead but we worsened technically from yesterday. It seems to me like I'm making steps behind and that's a very awful sensation for a rider. I'm worry because we don't know which direction we need to follow and, theorycally, this track should have been the more adapted to our tyres, so I don't know what to think anymore".
Jose Luis Cardoso #30 (1'59''733):
"Today we made lots of test, we tried many regulations and we worked a lot on the suspensions because I had no confidence in the entry of the corners. Unfortunately, we didn't find any adequate solution, we had chosen a nice front tyre, softer, but it had not enough length. In consequence, we used a harder tyre that, unfortunately, was a bit of a trouble for the set-up of the motorcycle, wasting all the work that had been done. This explains why we did so many test, but we had no positive results to be able to improve our times some more. To qualify, we used a race tyre, that allowed us to ride one second lower than with the qualifying tyre we had".
Qualifying Practice - Final Times
- 1. Casey Stoner (AUS) LCR Honda 1'55.683
- 2. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Ducati Marlboro Team +0.038
- 3. Toni Elias (SPA) Fortuna Honda +0.052
- 4. Nicky Hayden (USA) Repsol Honda Team +0.110
- 5. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team +0.325
- 6. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Camel Yamaha Team +0.393
- 7. Sete Gibernau (SPA) Ducati Marlboro Team +0.494
- 8. Colin Edwards (USA) Camel Yamaha Team +0.547
- 9. Shinya Nakano (JPN) Kawasaki Racing Team +0.554
- 10. Kenny Roberts (USA) Team Roberts +0.589