Camel Yamaha Team rider Colin Edwards will start from the front row of the MotoGP grid in tomorrow's Grand Prix of China after setting the third fastest time in a dramatic single qualifying session today. After battling through torrentially wet conditions yesterday, the riders enjoyed a cloudy but dry free practice this morning as they sought to find a suitable dry set-up for their machines. The afternoon started in similar conditions but a brief rain shower midway through the session confined the riders to a tense spell in their pit garages before a thrilling late shootout for grid positions.
Whilst Edwards battled for the top spot with eventual pole setter Dani Pedrosa (Honda) and second-fastest John Hopkins (Suzuki), his Camel Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi was unable to repeat the kind of form that saw him dominate proceedings in the wet conditions yesterday. The Italian was one of several riders to struggle with a lack of dry practice time as he looked to iron out set-up problems and find his pace. He now faces another battle through the pack after setting the 13th fastest time, meaning he will start from the fifth row of the grid.
Colin Edwards (3rd; 1'59.383, 15 laps);
"This has been a really strange weekend because we started off by finding a setting for the wet and then converted it to the dry - usually it is the other way around! I felt so comfortable with the bike yesterday and I was disappointed when I saw that I was down in thirteenth, but I knew the reason for that and I was really confident about today. I can't really explain why we were off the pace in Turkey but have been right on it here in China, because we have hardly touched anything with the bike, just played around with the suspension. We've got some chatter in certain areas of the track but it's worse when the grip is good, especially when we put a qualifying tyre on. On race rubber you can hardly notice it so I think we have a good setting to go the distance tomorrow and I am happy with my tyre choice. I've had some decent starts to races so far this season but haven't been able to maintain the pace, so hopefully I can turn that around tomorrow. It feels good to be back on the front row."
Valentino Rossi (13th; 2'00.720, 18 laps);
"For sure we have a lot of problems and it's disappointing to be back in this position again after such a good day yesterday. When the grip becomes normal again, like today, we have a lot of chatter and it's very hard to ride the bike. Really this situation is quite bad, as the chatter has returned again today and it is similar to how it was in Jerez. Now we have to start from the fifth row and so it's going to be a very hard race. We have talked a lot tonight in the garage and now we will try some things in the morning during warm-up and hope that we can make some final improvements. Now I need to ride a defensive race, try not to make any mistakes and try to take as many points as possible."
Davide Brivio - Camel Yamaha Team Director;
"A very good result for Colin - it's been a while since he was on the front row so it is good to see him back there. He seems much more comfortable on the bike and it's good to see that he is able to ride it so effectively. Unfortunately Valentino wasn't able to follow up his good performance from yesterday with a similar result today, so we will have to take a look at the data with the engineers and try to come up with some ideas for the warm-up tomorrow."
Clouds clear to allow progress for Tech 3 Yamaha Team;
The rain clouds of the opening day cleared sufficiently to permit steady progress for the Tech 3 Yamaha Team during Day Two of the Polini Grand Prix of China at the technically demanding Shanghai International Circuit. However, the solitary qualifying session for all important grid positions was briefly interrupted when a light sprinkling of rain covered the circuit to curtail proceedings for a quarter of the one-hour period. With a new batch of Dunlop qualifying tyres, team riders Carlos Checa and James Ellison secured 14th and 17th positions respectively, the most encouraging aspect for the team being both riders are closer to the leading lap times than in previous Grands Prix. With race weekend's doubling as tyre tests, it has confirmed that the team is heading in a positive direction in both wet and dry conditions.
Carlos Checa (14th, 2'01.052, 18 laps);
"Considering everything that has happened with the weather, it hasn't been too bad. In the morning session on race tyres we have found a direction to move forward and now physically I'm feeling ok after my injuries from Jerez. I have all my strength and gives me more confidence to push hard for the entire race which is quite important to me. I hope tomorrow can be a dry race as we have a few solutions to try in the warm-up and we'll see if we can improve a few other areas to make better and better. The front tyre is working quite well, but the rear we need to increase grip and stability. We already know the race tyre but after the break in qualifying we couldn't run any more race tyres tests as we had to use the new qualifying tyres to make sure we kept within range of the others".
James Ellison (17th. 2'02.088, 16 laps);
"The qualifying tyres are working quite well now. We've made a massive improvement compared to what we have done previously. I'm also just a second from Carlos and that is the closest I've been all year which is another encouraging sign for me. Tomorrow in warm-up we're going to try the race tyre I prefer which is a slightly bigger one and run the whole session with it. With the bigger tyre we have found the stability we were missing so that's a good confidence boost and if the temperature is hotter as the forecast indicates that's going to help us as well. We've been making big improvements every session this weekend and we're getting closer on the race set up considering we really only had that one hour session this morning. During a meeting we have to test qualifying, slicks and wet tyres so it's hard to find a race setup but that's what we have to do. After four races we've now found a good direction to push forward and unlike other teams we have no data from previous years to work on so with everything considered I think that we are finally making the progress we have been aiming for".
Herve Poncharal - Tech3 Yamaha Team Director;
"We've had a good two days and given a lot of information to Dunlop about wet weather tyre development. Carlos found a good feeling with his tyre for the dry and so did James. We've done all our times since Qatar on race tyres but now the qualifying tyres seem to be working well. Carlos is in between Elias and Rossi which shows we are between good riders and different bikes. I'm very pleased with James this afternoon. I'm sure when James gets some more confidence he will improve a lot. Hopefully the race will be dry, because nobody has done a lot of laps but we are happy. We are progressing and we are improving. We won't win the race or be on the podium tomorrow but we are performing our mission as we started from scratch with Dunlop. Also, now that Carlos is recovered I think it will help him racing more aggressively and more comfortably".
Dani Pedrosa, 40 laps, 211'24 Km. "It's really good to be on pole position and I'm really happy because this time I went quickly on qualifying tyres which is something I haven't managed so well in the previous qualifying sessions. I don't really know what was different today - it was not one specific thing - I just felt more confident with the tyres, so I am happy. The session was strange because it was dry, then it rained, then it was dry again so maybe not everyone was able to perform at the same level. One important thing is that we couldn't test the race tyres as much as we'd have liked. Anyway, I'll just be looking to make a good start and have a good race tomorrow. I'm not thinking about the win yet, just to perform at my maximum."
Nicky Hayden, 41 laps, 216'521 Km. "The shower in the middle of qualifying screwed things up for us a little bit so we've still got a few unanswered questions for tomorrow. Last year it rained a lot too, and it's the first year here with this new bike so we could have used some more dry time to sort some stuff out, but everyone's in that same boat. My biggest issue right now is with engine braking unsettling the bike into corners. This morning we were working on that, and it's a little bit frustrating but we'll come ready to get our heads down and see if we can sort something in warm-up tomorrow. It feels good to be leading the championship and I'm happy with my run of consistency, so I'm looking for that next win".
Sete Gibernau, 6th fastest, 1m 59.639s;
"That was a bit of a strange session. Everything seems to be working
well enough from a race point of view, but we still have to work some
more with Bridgestone to find the right race tyre choice. The first part
of the session went okay but later on I was struggling to get a lap time
with the qualifiers because I could do the first part of the lap not so
bad, but after that the tyre wasn't giving me the grip I needed for a
qualifying lap. It's up to us and Bridgestone to find the right solution
for the race, because when the tyres are okay we know we can go well,
but we don't what to end up in the same situation we were in at
Istanbul. We have one more rear to try in tomorrow morning's warm-up
session, one more choice that might help us for the race."
Loris Capirossi, 10th fastest, 2m 00.078s;
"Sete and I have been using the same rear race tyre, but we need a bit
more endurance for the race. I have been using a front tyre that's a bit
harder than Sete's but it's okay for the race, while Sete's is softer
but maybe doesn't have the endurance. This afternoon's rain didn't help
us because we couldn't test everything we wanted to test. At the end of
the session I didn't have full confidence in the front, so I couldn't
fully exploit my qualifying tyres. We did our best today and we will
need to make the most of warm-up to test more tyres, making sure we
don't take any big gambles for the race."
Marco Melandri (2'00"014, 8th):
"This morning we struggled to find a
good feeling on the Shanghai track. we worked a lot on rear suspension
in order to improve my feeling with the bike. We spent a lot of time
trying to find a solution for that. Then, when the rain started falling
we spent a bit of time waiting to see if it would dry out, but 15
minutes from the end of the session we went out on soft tyres. We must
work on the suspension as I think that is where the main problem is,
we're not far from a solution and I'm confident for the race. The weight
balance is quite good and i hope to make a good start in order to fight
for the podium."
Toni Elias (2'01"275, 16th, 16 laps ):
"It was a diffcult day. In the
morning we were able to work in the dry, but I didn't have a good
feeling with the rear of the bike. What's more, it proved hard to find a
good set-up that allowed me to feel comfortable although we can work on
it in the warm-up tomorrow. It will be a difficult race tomorrow and we
must make a good start if we want to be with the lead group."
Makoto Tamada - KONICA MINOLTA Honda Rider;
"I am really sorry I was not able to completely exploit the qualifying tyres potential to obtain a better position in the starting grid. I'll have to recover from the forth row trying to catch immediately the group of the leading riders because here I feel I can rely on a good potential. Rain did not permit us to complete the test to choose the race tyres, therefore, tomorrow morning we should have to finish this job during the warm up. My Honda RC211V setting instead, has already been defined and my feeling even in dry conditions is more than satisfactory."
Shinya Nakano: 4th - 1'59.570;
"I was quite confident going into qualifying after this morning's free practice session, and I was lying eighth when the rain started halfway through the session. After the difficulties we had yesterday, eighth was not bad, but I really wanted to try and improve on a qualifying tyre, and at that point it didn't look as if I would get the chance. But the rain had almost stopped after 15 minutes, so we decided to try a qualifier anyway, just to get a feel for the conditions and to find out if it was possible to push hard with the soft tyre. It looked okay, so we put in another qualifier, but grip wasn't consistent around the whole circuit, so at some corners I couldn't push as hard as I would if it had been completely dry. Unfortunately, because of the time lost through the rain, I didn't have time for another run on a qualifier. On race tyres we're not so far off the leading riders, and I think we can still make some improvements to the bike overnight, so I'm fairly confident for the race tomorrow. For sure, starting the race from the front row would have been better, but I'm happy enough with fourth place on the grid."
Randy de Puniet: 9th - 2'00.044;
"This morning we concentrated on finding both a set-up and a race tyre for the dry conditions, and we continued with this during the first half of this afternoon's qualifying session. Them just as we were starting to think about switching to a qualifying tyre, the rain started. Luckily it only lasted a few minutes, so with 15 minutes to go we tried our first qualifying tyre. I made a small mistake on the first qualifying run, which lost me some time, and then I got held up behind Carlos Checa on my second qualifier, which again cost me valuable time. Unfortunately, we decided to use the softest compound qualifier for my third and final run, and by the time I got to the long right hand turn before the straight, the rear was starting to spin up as the tyre went off and I had to settle for ninth place on the grid. I'm looking forward to the race tomorrow. In Istanbul I wanted to finish my first MotoGP race, so I was little bit cautious, but for tomorrow my plan is to go as hard as I can from the start, to try and stay in touch with the leading group of riders for as long as possible, and, hopefully, finish the race with a good result. That's the plan anyway."
Alex Hofmann #66 (16th - 2'01.972):
"Today, during the qualifying practice, the time at our disposal has been limited because of some rain, at half session, that forced us to remain in the pits. However, we managed to do a good job and we're ready for the race. I'm optimistic because we have found a good direction to work on. Today, the qualifying tyre also worked better than usual, and that's a pity we had no time to use the second one. Anyway, the development work we're making with the tyres is beginning to give some results, the race tyres have shown a small improvement and we're confident. Tomorrow my aim is to make a good start, get a good position from the first laps and keep it. I hope to give some good satisfactions to my Team and all the sponsors that believe in us".
Jose Luis Cardoso #30 (19th - 2'02.948):
"This morning, I rode for the first time on the dry track of the Chinese circuit, we made some test with the tyres but unfortunately I crashed after some laps. It happened as I was in a change of direction but I didn't really understand the reason. Fortunately, I didn't hurt myself too much and I would like to thank the Clinica Mobile for their assistance, they have been treating me very well. Then, during the qualifying practice, I felt some pain but finally had the opportunity to test some tyres. That's a pity it rained at half session because we needed to make more kilometres. Anyway, I want to thank my Team, they really worked a lot yesterday, and today as well".
- 1. D. Pedrosa, Honda - 1' 59.009
- 2. J. Hopkins, Suzuki - 1' 59.373
- 3. C. Edwards, Yamaha - 1' 59.383
- 4. S. Nakano, Kawasaki - 1' 59.570
- 5. N. Hayden, Honda - 1' 59.574
- 6. S. Gibernau, Ducati - 1' 59.639
- 7. C. Stoner, Honda - 1' 59.890
- 8. M. Melandri, Honda - 2' 0.014
- 9. R. De Puniet, Kawasaki - 2' 0.044
- 10. L. Capirossi, Ducati - 2' 0.078
- 11. M. Tamada, Honda - 2' 0.176
- 12. C. Vermeulen, Suzuki - 2' 0.304
- 13. V. Rossi, Yamaha - 2' 0.720
- 14. C. Checa, Yamaha - 2' 1.052
- 15. T. Elias, Honda - 2' 1.275
- 16. A. Hofmann, Ducati - 2' 1.972
- 17. J. Ellison, Yamaha - 2' 2.088