Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards put themselves in the best possible starting positions for tomorrow's Grand Prix of Turkey with a one-two in today's Official Qualifying. Shaking off the mild set-up problems they had encountered on yesterday's dirty track, the pair worked steadily on fine-tuning their 800cc YZR-M1s throughout the majority of the hour-long session before posting the best flying laps on qualifying tyres to take the top two spots on the grid for tomorrow's 22-lap race. With the weather staying dry once again the grip on track was considerably better than yesterday and Rossi's eventual pole time of 1'52.795 was just inside the existing lap record, although still slightly slower than last year's pole time. The Italian moved into pole with eight minutes remaining after his first flying lap before consolidating his position with another even faster lap on his second qualifying tyre soon after. Rossi's second pole of the season and ninth consecutive front row start puts him in a strong position to challenge for a win at one of only three circuits on this year's calendar where he has yet to stand on top of the podium. Edwards' second qualifying lap of 1'52.944 was good enough for second position behind his team-mate and the American will start ahead of Dani Pedrosa, who mounted a strong challenge in the closing stages but finished 0.027 adrift of the American.
Valentino Rossi - Position: 1st Time: 1'52.795 Laps: 24;
"I'm very happy to have a pole position at this track, which has never been one of my favourites! I've had some bad moments here in the past but this year it feels like a different track for me and I'm having great fun! My M1 is very competitive, a lot more fun to ride here than in the past and the new modifications we have for our engine have made an important difference to our overall performance. The team has done a great job because we had some problems yesterday but they've found some good solutions and now Colin and I are first and second. My tyres are working well and we've found the right front for tomorrow. We need to make a final decision about the rear in the morning. With the qualifying tyre my bike really flew and I was able to do a very good lap; I started my first lap a few minutes earlier than the others and then I knew that I could improve a little bit more with the second qualifying tyre. Anyway all three of us are very close on the front row so I think it's going to be a tight battle tomorrow. Let's hope for good weather and see what happens."
Colin Edwards - Position: 2nd Time: 1'52.944 Laps: 21;
"Well after the problems we had yesterday I've got to say a massive thanks to my team. They looked at the issues, got out their protractors, did their maths and worked their magic like always! The Michelin qualifier really sticks like glue for us this year and I was able to really push it. I thought I was going to run into traffic at one point on my last lap but I just kept my head down and somehow came out the other side in front. It was definitely a mistake-free lap. As for tomorrow, we need to work a little bit on our race pace - two tenths would be good but three would be even better! I think we're losing it in T3 so we need to concentrate on that part of the track. We've moved onto a different front from the 'old faithful' we've been using so far this year because that one was a little bit too close to the limit here, but it's working really well so we just need to make a final decision on the rear. It's a great result for the team to have us both on the front row again so let's hope to make the most of it with a similar result tomorrow!"
Davide Brivio - Team Director;
"Of course this is a great qualifying result for us and it's really good to be starting tomorrow's race like this. This year our bike is working very well and both Valentino and Colin are able to enjoy the qualifying in a way that they weren't always able to last year. Our bike seems to be in great shape for qualifying this season as is shown by the results - Valentino has been on the front row in all three races and Colin twice. The team have done a great job as usual as they had a few problems to fix after yesterday, so well done to them. Our situation for tomorrow's race isn't so bad either but it's very important to be starting in front as it's going to be a hard battle. We have a few things to check with both riders in the warm-up tomorrow and some fine-tuning to do, but we can definitely be competitive and fight until the end."
Nicky Hayden - 1'53.613s, 43 laps 230 Km;
"That's the best I've qualified this year so it's nice to be starting up near the front. It would be good to get one the starts that I had at the last race in Jerez and get stuck in there, though my race pace hasn't been as fast as I'd like which means it could be a chore tomorrow.
we've made some changes to the bike to improve things and a big thanks goes to the team because they've definitely been working hard this weekend, changing a lot of things and working long hours. And the Michelin qualifier worked well today which helped me. We changed the transmission around on the bike to try to increase the top speed but it didn't really help and we're still giving up a lot. Still, we'll come here tomorrow and try to make a good start and fight with those guys at the front."
Dani Pedrosa - 1'52.971s, 45 laps 240 Km;
"I think everybody had quite a lot of traffic at the end of the session because there were many riders going for a fast lap, so it wasn't just a problem for me.
I slowed up and tried to get some free space for my lap but Hopkins came in front of me and and I was with him for the whole lap. Without this I think I could have been a little faster, but I'm on the front row which is the important thing for the start of the race tomorrow. Also, I'm in a much better position than last year when I was right at the back. Hopefully I can make a great start and get away well because the first corner here is very difficult. Our bike set-up is quite good and the Michelin tyres too, so I hope I can have a good race tomorrow."
Casey Stoner, 4th fastest, 1m 53.375s;
"We are very confident on race set-up. We are reasonably sure of what set-up and what tyres we're going to use for the race so we didn't have to do too much testing this afternoon and I think we can look forward to a good battle up front. I was in the pits for a while before my qualifying runs just because we had already tested all the tyres we needed to and we know what we're going to use, so there was no real point doing more laps to wear myself out and risk things. The first qualifier didn't go too well, I wasn't very confident with it, I ran wide and didn't do the best effort. The second qualifier would've been a lot better but unfortunately I couldn't get rid of a few riders before the lap, they were tailing me, waiting for me to go. I suppose I slowed down too much trying to get rid of them, the tyres got too cold and when I started the lap the tyres were moving around a lot. As the lap went on I got a bit better and a bit better but it was just my fault for taking it too easy on the out lap."
Loris Capirossi, 5th fastest, 1m 53.559s;
"This afternoon we made some changes for maybe less rear grip but more front-end stability. As soon as I got out of the pits I was able to lap do 1m 54s, so our race pace is good. We had two qualifiers: a new tyre and a more standard tyre. I tried the new one first and it was good, it's got a lot of potential. I felt so good with that tyre that in one corner in the second split I got third gear half an hour earlier than usual, but I was too fast, went onto the kerb and almost crashed. Maybe I lost seven tenths right there. When I got back to the pit I only had one tyre left which isn't one of my favourites but I gave 110 per cent and finally I got fifth. The second row isn't so bad. What makes me very happy is that I really enjoyed riding today and I feel at ease in race trim. Bridgestone have made a really good job, they've solved a lot of problems we had last year here and tomorrow we will be able to fight at the front. I don't want to make predictions, I just want to enjoy myself again and we will see what happens."
"It's not exactly where I wanted to start the Turkish Grand Prix, but I think from the front of the third row I can get a pretty good start. Throughout the sessions today we worked really hard on race set-up. I had a bit of a tumble this morning, but was able to quickly bounce back from that. We have found a good set-up for tomorrow's race and I think we'll be able to run at the front! It will be a case of getting a good start as it will be a bit difficult to pass here as it's so slippery off-line. There are a couple of good braking spots where you might be able to get past, but it will be tough. I need to put my head down, run at the front and go for the podium!"
"It was a much better qualifying than the previous two races - we've made a big step forward, not only in qualifying but in race set-up as well. The whole bike has improved over the weekend and I approached this GP a little differently, and from that we seem to have been well inside the top 10 on both days. The bike is working well and the team have done a great job with it. We've done a lot of laps on both front and rear Bridgestone tyres and they seem to stay very consistent so we hope they will continue to do that tomorrow. Starting from the third row will make my job a bit easier, but I still need to get through quickly and onto the front group if I want to get on that podium!"
Alex Hofmann (1'54.742 with race tyres - 1'54.421 with qualifying tyres):
"What I can say? I don't know! Today was a bad day for me. Yesterday I was satisfied and confident with my results and now, when it is very important to be at least in the top ten, I'm too far behind to start my race well.
The real problem was the qualifying tyres, with the race ones I have good feeling and I can be fast, but with qualifiers we are so far from the right solution. The only thing I'm happy about today, is my bike set-up. I felt good with it. I think that tomorrow will be very hard for us, but I'll undertake to do the best I can. One thing is sure, for the next race we have to choose the right tyre if we want achieve our aim".
Toni Elias (10th,1'53"835):
"Tenth place is a real handicap for the race but I'll just try and get a good start, stay calm and make up as many positions as I can. I'm quite happy because I set a good pace and this is the important thing. I'll try and make the most of the hard-braking areas to pass people and I'm confident I can do it. The team is working well and we have a clear idea about tyre choice. I'm just disappointed I couldn't make better use of the qualifying tyre."
Marco Melandri (14th, 1'54"082):
"It's been a difficult day because I haven't managed to find the right feeling with the bike. I'm not confident enough to push hard and get the best out of the bike. We've done a lot of laps and the tyres are holding out well but we tried a few different solutions with the bike set-up and didn't find the improvement we need. The team is working really well though and in the warm up we'll try going back to the set-up we had on Friday before the two crashes."
Randy de Puniet; 8th - 46 Laps - Best Lap - 1.53.706;
"My heel is still sore but the hip is even more painful but I had to put up with it and did the best I could. This morning we did many little adjustments in the bike and worked for the whole session with the same front and rear tyre, which was the soft option that I liked yesterday. It went pretty well but in the afternoon it was sliding a lot due to the increase of the track temperature. This is the reason why we tried a harder one but it was sliding a little so we are not sure which one we will use tomorrow. My first qualifying worked quite well but I had problems with the other two. I don't know what happened, we need to check but the engine drop down and the front end was suddenly moving a lot. Anyway, I am confident because my feeling on the bike is quite good as is my race pace."
Oliver Jacque; 11th - 48 Laps - Best Lap, 1.53.847;
"I was expecting a better result at the qualifying session but the qualifying tyres didn't offer as much improvement in side grip over the race tyre as we were expecting, and there was some confusion as well at the end with lots of riders waiting for the Ducatis so they could follow them. The wind didn't help to find the right line and the balance of the bike. We did some suspension adjustments this morning, and tried two different tyres but the choice will depend on tomorrow's weather. I am sure that if we do a good start we will be able to get the aimed top ten positions."
Carlos Checa: 16th - 1'54.221;
"For sure from 16th position on the grid the main thing I can do is overtake some riders! Overall today was positive but qualifying was disappointing. I am very satisfied with my race set-up and tyre choice, but the big handicap is starting so far behind. However I have a lot of confidence that I can recover many positions, I'm confident of my braking points for overtaking. On my final qualifying run I lost a few tenths of a second behind Kenny Roberts. Normally Kenny takes care of the riders behind, but today he was in the middle of the track and this cost me some time."
Shinya Nakano - Rider, KONICA MINOLTA Honda (43 laps - 1' 53.988" - 12th position);
"We changed so much in the morning, adjusting the suspension settings, springs and spring rates as well as the tyres. Try as we might we couldn't get a very good feeling from the bike until this afternoon when things began to feel more positive. It's not perfect, but it has improved a lot. Tomorrow we will change a few things for morning warm-up, not great big steps, but hopefully we can find some small improvements. I still can't carry the corner-speed I want which is our problem at the moment, but we will be trying 100% and I'm hoping to get into the top 10 at least by the chequered flag."
- 1. Valentino Rossi, Yamaha (ITA) 1'52.795
- 2. Colin Edwards, Yamaha (USA) 1'52.944
- 3. Daniel Pedrosa, Honda (ESP) 1'52.971
- 4. Casey Stoner, Ducati (AUS) 1'53.375
- 5. Loris Capirossi, Ducati (ITA) 1'53.559
- 6. Nicky Hayden, Honda (USA( 1'53.613
- 7. John Hopkins, Suzuki (USA) 1'53.637
- 8. Randy De Puniet, Kawasaki (FRA) 1'53.706
- 9. Chris Vermeulen, Suzuki (AUS) 1'53.771
- 10. Toni Elias, Honda (ESP) 1'53.835
- 11. Olivier Jacque, Kawasaki (FRA) 1'53.847
- 12. Shinya Nakano, Honda (JPN) 1'53.988
- 13. Alex Barros, Ducati (BRA) 1'54.082
- 14. Marco Melandri, Honda (ITA) 1'54.143
- 15. Makoto Tamada, Yamaha (JPN) 1'54.206