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MotoGP : Edwards seals front row start as Rossi struggles for fitness - June 23rd 2006

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  1. Weather: Dry
  2. Round: 8 - 2006 MotoGP Assen
  3. Circuit: Assen
  4. Circuit Length: 4555
  5. Lap Record: new track
  6. Fastest Lap Ever: 1' 36.411 (John Hopkins, 2006)
  7. Temp: 20ēC
  8. Camel Yamaha Team team-mates Colin Edwards and Valentino Rossi will start from opposite ends of the grid in tomorrow's 76th edition of the Dutch TT after enjoying contrasting fortunes in qualifying practice. Whilst Edwards was consistently amongst the fastest riders on track throughout the day, topping the time sheets in morning free practice before clocking the third quickest time to seal a front row start in the decisive afternoon session, Rossi continued to suffer from the effects of a heavy crash yesterday and was only able to complete fourteen laps in qualifying.

    The Italian's best effort was almost four seconds off the pole position time of 1'36.411 set by John Hopkins (Suzuki) and he now faces an anxious wait to see if he will be able to take his place at the very back of the grid for the eighth round of a luckless season. Rossi will undergo further therapy this evening but his participation in the event will not be 100% confirmed until after tomorrow's morning warm-up, when he will make a final assessment of his fitness along with the Clinica Mobile doctors.

    Colin Edwards (3rd - 1'36.755; 27 laps);

    "Obviously I would have liked to be on pole position and I felt with the pace we were setting that we had a good shot. I went out there at the start of the session and ran a couple of tyres. On my final race tyre I was really happy with the pace and then we started throwing some qualifiers on but I don't know if I had a 1'36.4 in my bag. I was pretty happy with 36.7 that I did but for Hopkins and Nakano to do a 36.4 was pretty impressive so it would have been a case of taking my brain out and setting it on one side to try and match that! Anyway, right there at the end Stoner and Pedrosa were just sitting in the middle of the track on my last lap so we'll never know. As I say my race pace is good so I'm looking forward to tomorrow and I just hope Valentino can make the best possible recovery overnight to try and salvage something from the weekend."

    Valentino Rossi (18th - 1'40.298; 14 laps);

    "This afternoon I tried using some painkillers but the fracture in my right wrist hurts a lot. Truly it was very difficult to ride - the hand is very swollen and I don't have much strength. Together with Marco Montanari and Doctor Claudio Costa we have done the best that was possible, I've had a lot of treatment and I was able to ride for a few laps, but the strong pain stopped me from finishing the qualifying session. Tomorrow we will see how I am and, depending on what happens in the warm-up, we will decide whether I will ride or not. Anyway it's going to be very difficult. We tried to move the brake lever a little bit down and we're now looking at the possibility of making a bigger brake lever to see if this is better for me."

    Davide Brivio - Camel Yamaha Team Director;

    "Colin did a good job - he was consistently fast in every practice session and qualified on the front row so we couldn't ask for much more. The omens are good for the race for him and starting from the front row makes him one of the contenders to win the race. Unfortunately that is not the case for Valentino. He had to be very strong just to complete a few laps this afternoon and now it is just a case of letting him rest and seeing how his condition develops overnight. Obviously we want him to race but our first concern is his physical condition. Thankfully the Clinica Mobile is doing a fantastic job, as always, and we know he is in good hands."

    Tech 3 Yamaha Team on form in Assen Qualifying;

    The improved performance of the Tech 3 Yamaha Team continued at the "A-Style" Assen TT when the experienced Carlos Checa gave the team it's most superb qualifying result of the 2006 season to place himself eighth on the grid for tomorrow's race. Additionally, team mate, James Ellison continued his climb through the ranks and will start from 14th position after recording his best time of the year to be just over half a second behind Checa These ever improving results are a fitting reward for the concentrated efforts and dedication that the team and tyre manufacturer, Dunlop have maintained since the season started and auger well for even more impressive results during the rest of the year.

    Carlos Checa (8th, 1'37.378, 31 laps);

    "This is our best qualifying position and the result makes me and the team very happy. We have improved our time from yesterday so tomorrow we start from the third row where we have never been before this year. .We have good pace and hopefully we can stay with our rivals that have been close to my lap times and have similar pace to me... We have confidence that we can keep the same lap times and this will give us a good chance tomorrow. In Barcelona we found the consistency and here it looks like we are even faster and closer to the lap times of our rivals. Hopefully, from our pace on race tyres not many riders can run at that. We have made another step and tomorrow I hope we take another one as we get closer and closer. I will be trying as hard as I normally do but now I am more confident, I feel fast and I believe in myself.

    James Ellison (14th 1'38.005, 28 laps);

    "We did pretty well. My aim today was to get into the '37 second bracket and I only missed out by less than a tenth of a second. Plus I'm well within range of Carlos so I'm happy. It should be good tomorrow because we have a good race tyre as Carlos and I have been doing laps on race tyres and we have a good setup and consistency. There's also been something found with the qualifying tyres and proves that Dunlop are always progressing and always looking for something better. We're improving bit by bit each weekend as we are learning and considering it is the first year for Dunlop with a team like this I think we are making pretty good progress now. The last few weeks have been great as since we have made the adjustments to the frame I can ride the bike like I want to. It makes it so much more enjoyable to ride and go out and have fun as well. Things are looking up all the time as morale has been boosted in the team by what is happening. We still need to progress but in a way the seas on started for us last weekend. Tomorrow I don't want to make any predictions as I just want to try my best, run a good race, be consistent with the times and stick with Carlos for the entire race. It should be good and I'm really looking forward to it.

    Herve Poncharal - Tech3 Yamaha Team Director;

    "This is by far the very best qualifying position we have had so far and together with Marco (Melandri) and Alex (Hoffman) we are on the third row of the grid.. We are very happy because we have a race tyre that is good on performance and durability. We also have found something interesting now with the qualifying tyres to get a good grid position. The result of James is also very good as this is his best qualifying position. It is also the best lap time he has done with a race tyre and is closer to the leading guys. We know this is going to be a tough race and we have some good points that we can grab. It's still only the early part of the championship and we are very happy with the progress we are now making. I definitely think we are now heading in the good direction we have been striving for and hopefully we can continue in this direction at Donington and beyond. We are very happy. Also, I want to say that I am very sorry to see what has happened to Valentino and the team and I wish him all the best for tomorrow's race.

    John Hopkins:

    "What can I say? I've had lots of front row starts and now I've finally got that pole position! I'm really happy about it. I am pleased with how the set-up has gone and I am enjoying the track and making the best of everything. My team is working really hard and Bridgestone have brought some great tyres for this weekend. We have got to try really hard tomorrow and go after that first podium. Colin Edwards is running a really fast pace so we know we will have to work hard in the race. It's a huge weight off our shoulders - getting this pole position out of the way - now we have to concentrate on the 26-laps tomorrow. I am feeling good about the whole situation. My thanks go to the crew, to Bridgestone for some awesome tyres and to Suzuki for improving their level so much, everything seems to be coming together and we are looking forward to tomorrow."

    Marco Melandri (7th - 1'37.332):

    "I am happy with my performance, just to be on the grid tomorrow is a success for me. Considering the situation, the seventh place tastes like a victory. Today I did not complete too many laps because I still have a lot of pain in my neck and both shoulders. The race will be very difficult and I don't know if I'll be able to manage 26 laps because i don't have enough strength, but I'll try to get a good start and see how we go. I want to thank the Clinica Mobile, and also the hospital in Catalunya who have showed great professionalism at every moment with me."

    Loris Capirossi, 15th fastest, 1m 38.060s;

    "This is really hard, much harder than I thought it would be before we came here. I can't breathe normally and every bump feels like the stab of a knife. I have been given mesotherapy pain treatment but even that's not enough to take away the pain from my injured chest. I'd like to thank all the guys at the Clinica Mobile because they're taking great care of me and we are so close that they also help me from a psychological point of view. This is a bad moment for me, without last Sunday's crash I could have arrived here leading the championship. It's a real pity I got hurt at the start of a run of three back-to-back races, but that's racing. Maybe my determination to never give up is what's getting me through this. I want to race tomorrow to score some points because you can win or lose a championship by a single point and there's still plenty of the season ahead of us."

    Dani Pedrosa: "Today was a little bit better than yesterday. Fifth is not ideal but it's ok really, especially compared to my position on the grid in the last race at Catalunya. The qualifying session today was not so bad, although I'm still struggling a little with getting the best from the qualifying tyres at some circuits. I just need to get more experience of this. On my final fast lap I had a little bit of traffic towards the end, but then it actually helped at the beginning of the lap, so I don't think that was the reason for my time. Anyway, tomorrow is the important day of course, as always; it's going be important to get a good start. After another day on the track I've become a little bit more used to the new layout here, but to me it's still not the same as the old Assen."

    Nicky Hayden: "I'm looking forward to this race - we'll try and get up there, have some fun and see what we can do. It would have been nice to be on the front row because it looks as though it's going to be hard to pass here, especially in the first section of the lap because there's only really one line around there. We're definitely going to have to plan on getting a good start tomorrow and get up front because some of the guys have got a really fast race pace and I haven't been able to get into the 1m 37s on race tyres this afternoon, which is a little frustrating. We're definitely going to have to make some changes tonight and see what we can do tomorrow. My qualifying lap wasn't real special and on my last run I made a couple of little mistakes and my splits were all fastest on different laps - it wasn't like I just put one really clean lap together - and that was down to the rider. Still, tomorrow's where it counts and we'll see what we can do."

    Alex Hofmann, 9th fastest, 1m 37.399s;

    "Considering the limited time I've had on the bike and these tyres I'm happy. The team has done a great job and I'd like to thank everyone for giving me this chance. This afternoon was my first time on qualifying tyres with this package, so my goal was to be within one second of pole position and we managed that. I'm on the third row and the times are really close, so I'm not far off the best guys. We focused on tyres, rather than doing too much on set-up. I tried a different rear and a harder front at the start of this afternoon's session but they weren't my style, so they didn't do my confidence any good. After that we went back to the tyres I already knew and I began to pick up my pace, feeling quite comfortable on the bike. I think I can do 38s on race tyres. I'm pretty sure the race will be really good because I will get to know the bike and tyres better, so I'll find the bit of confidence I'm missing and my rhythm should be faster."

    Chris Vermeulen:

    "It's been a good day. The new-look Assen circuit seems like it will be quite difficult to pass on, so the aim was to get a start from somewhere on the front two rows, and we have achieved that with sixth place. The team worked very well in this afternoon's session and we made a lot of progress with the bike. We tried a few more race tyres and we have got a good direction which way to go with them. In qualifying I got held up by Ivan Silva on what looked like it would have been my best lap - but that's racing and I hope he doesn't do it to anyone else. Congratulations to John, I know he has been working on that pole position and it's good to see him there, but I'll be giving him a run for his money tomorrow!"

    Shinya Nakano: 2nd - 1'36.424;

    "Everything came together for us today. The bike and tyres were working well, especially the qualifiers from Bridgestone, so I knew that pole position was a possibility. In the end I lost out by the smallest amount, but the important thing is that I will start the race from the front row. As soon as practice started on Thursday it was obvious that there aren't many places to overtake on this new circuit, so a front row start is important if you are to avoid a difficult fight through the field. So, we achieved today what we set out to do, and now I need to make sure I get away cleanly from the line tomorrow, so I can take maximum advantage of starting with a clear track in front of me. On race tyres today I was able to lap consistently to stay in the top five on the timesheet, so our original aim for the weekend of securing our best result of the season so far is looking to be a very realistic possibility."

    Randy de Puniet: 11th - 1'37.556;

    "This afternoon was disappointing; I was actually quicker during this morning's free practice session. The problem is the first section of the track, I just can't seem to find the right line, especially through the long, right-hand Ossebroeken turn. Even when I was behind Colin Edwards through this section, I just didn't seem to be able to follow the same lines as he was taking, and I still lost time. It's frustrating, because my times through the remaining sectors are good, but the new section loses me too much time on every lap. The only thing I can do is to try some variations to my line through Ossebroeken tomorrow during warm up, and I hope we can find some improvement before the race. Starting from the fourth row of the grid doesn't make my job any easier in tomorrow's race but, as always, I'll be pushing as hard as I can to get the best result possible."

    Makoto Tamada - Konica Minolta Honda Rider (13° - 1'37.676");

    "Today afternoon I had some difficulties to make the best use of the qualifying tyres. During the previous sessions instead, the performance in race setting was good. When we start using the qualifying tyres, the feeling with the RC211V changes completely. It becomes too much under steering and this leads me to exit from the ideal line. I'm happy about the improvement we got using the new 16 inches tyre and I hope this will help me in recovering positions during the race."

    Jose Luid Cardoso #30 (16th - 1'39.406):

    "The things went better today than during the other races, our distance from the first riders is now a bit lower. We worked for the race and our rhythm is now more regular; there are improvements and we only need to verify the real duration of our tyres during the races. At the end of today's qualifying session, I used two qualifying tyres but I committed some errors and that's why I couldn't exploit them to the maximum. Tomorrow, we will see what will happen, I will give my maximum and I would really like to gain other points after the ones I obtained in the Catalunya GP".

    Ivan Silva #22 (17th - 1'39.496):

    "The situation is very positive, we worked in a good way, there were no crashes and I can say I am satisfied. It's a pity I had no time to put the second qualifying tyre on as I was hoping to lower my best laptime ; I knew the places where I could improve. As a first experience, I'm really happy to be on the grid at three seconds from the first riders, especially because I didn't have much time to adapt myself to this new experience. I want to thank LUIS D'ANTIN and the Team, PRAMAC and all our sponsors to have me given this opportunity. Tomorrow I will give the maximum and we will see what will happen during the race".


  9. 1. J. Hopkins, Suzuki (USA) 1' 36.411
  10. 2. S. Nakano, Kawasaki (JPN) 1' 36.424
  11. 3. C. Edwards, Yamaha (USA) 1' 36.755
  12. 4. N. Hayden, Honda (USA) 1' 36.758
  13. 5. D. Pedrosa, Honda (ESP) 1' 36.993
  14. 6. C. Vermeulen, Suzuki (AUS) 1' 37.077
  15. 7. M. Melandri, Honda (ITA) 1' 37.332
  16. 8. C. Checa, Yamaha (ESP) 1' 37.378
  17. 9. A. Hofmann, Ducati (GER) 1' 37.399
  18. 10. K. Roberts, Team Roberts KR (USA) 1' 37.528
  19. 11. R. De Puniet, Kawasaki (FRA) 1' 37.556
  20. 12. C. Stoner, Honda (AUS) 1' 37.660
  21. 13. M. Tamada, Honda (JPN) 1' 37.676
  22. 14. J. Ellison, Yamaha (GBR) 1' 38.055
  23. 15. L. Capirossi, Ducati (ITA) 1' 38.060
  24. 16. J. Cardoso, Ducati (ESP) 1' 39.406
  25. 18. V. Rossi, Yamaha (ITA) 1' 40.298