Colin Edwards took his second MotoGP career pole at Donington Park today with team-mate Valentino Rossi in second place, meaning that between them the Fiat Yamaha riders have now filled the top grid spot for six out of eight races this season. Edwards, who also took his first ever MotoGP podium here in 2004, put in a perfect lap of 1'28.531, 0.146 seconds ahead of Rossi, with Dani Pedrosa filling the final front-row slot.
Following yesterday's rain, the British weather perked up a little today and this morning the riders were rewarded with their first dry track session. The pair finished the morning in seventh and eighth places with Edwards generally pleased about his initial dry set-up, although Rossi had a slight incident when he ran off into the grass at turn one after exiting from pit lane. This afternoon the track had significantly more grip and times began to fall from the start as the hour-long qualifying session commenced. Rossi's first qualifying lap was good enough to put him on pole and, despite valiant efforts from Casey Stoner, Nicky Hayden and Pedrosa, he held onto the top spot until the very end, when Edwards' second lap saw him edge his team-mate into second place. Tomorrow's race gets underway at 1300 local time and, with showers forecast, the weather could once again play a part in what promises to be another tense MotoGP battle.
Colin Edwards - Position: 1st Time: 1'28.531 Laps: 29;
"I'm really happy so far this weekend. We made big steps with our rain set-up yesterday and then today Michelin brought the tyres I wanted and things were looking good in the dry too. With the qualifying tyre things felt really great once again and I'm seriously happy to be on pole here. This track is known for the left turn down Craner, it's one of the only lefts on the track and you need to have a lot of confidence in that side of the tyre to really attack it. With my second soft tyre I got the left side really warmed up on my out lap and then just gave it everything I had. If you really want pole you have to risk it a little bit; that's what I did today and it paid off! My race pace feels pretty good and it was fairly consistent this afternoon, I need to study the data with my guys now to really know exactly where we are but we're definitely in good shape for tomorrow. Thanks a lot to Michelin and to all my team, they've done a great job so far."
Valentino Rossi - Position: 2nd Time: 1'28.677 Laps: 29;
"When the bike and tyres are feeling good this is a fantastic track to ride and now with these new 800s you can use all the best lines, so it's a great feeling. Unfortunately I got a little bit blocked by another rider on my lap and I lost a bit of time, but anyway Colin and I are one and two so this is the most important thing and I want to say well done to Colin. This morning was not brilliant for us but this afternoon things were a lot better and my bike felt very good. Thanks to Michelin because they've brought some good tyres here and they seem to be working well with our bike; we have two good race tyres to choose from for tomorrow. Now let's hope that it stays dry like this for the race!"
Davide Brivio - Team Director;
"It's been a very good day for us! Luckily it's stayed dry all day and so we had some time to work on our dry set-up this morning. Colin this morning was not bad although Valentino had some problems. Then this afternoon things improved a lot for us and Valentino recovered to be able to fight for the front row with Colin. It's great for us to have our riders in the top two positions and now we're aiming for the same tomorrow."
Casey Stoner, 5th fastest, 1m 29.061s;
"On race tyres we're pretty well safe and looking pretty good, and we should be able to make a couple more improvements before the race if we get a dry warm-up session. Qualifying was unbelievably disappointing, the electronics were playing up, every time the tyre would spin just a little bit the engine cuts would start, so I couldn't get on the gas and I was losing tenths on the exit of every corner. So I decided to do two laps on that qualifying tyre and the second lap wasn't too bad because I had learned how to ride around the cuts. Then going into the last turn the bike hit neutral, so I had no engine braking, so I was entering the corner too quick. I got it back into first but unfortunately I just had to push it in there too hard to try and make the corner and nearly lost it, but I've got a pretty good feeling with the tyres because the Bridgestones actually give me feeling so it's a little bit easier to save. We tried the 16 inch rear this morning but we're going to stick with what I know and just make sure I make everything right. We have got a good race pace so we've got to look at that now since qualifying was kind of a disappointment. It doesn't really matter if the race is wet or dry because we're also pretty quick in the wet but it would probably be a lot safer having a dry race. One or the other, wet or dry, is okay, we'd just rather it wasn't something in between."
Nicky Hayden - 1'29.025s, 64 laps 257 Km;
"The session went pretty well and fourth is definitely my best qualifying position for a while so I've got to be happy with that. It felt good to be fastest this morning too, although I didn't really improve a lot this afternoon and I'd have liked to have gone a little bit quicker.
Also I only improved by two tenths on my second qualifying tyre and you've got to do more than that to get on the front row. Regardless, this has been the closest we've been for a while and I'm really looking forward to tomorrow's race. With a decent start I can at least get in there at the front, see what I've been missing and learn some stuff from the boys. So far every race this season they've just disappeared after the first corner and I haven't really learned much, but hopefully tomorrow I can go to school and stick right with them. I've felt pretty good straight away this weekend. The chassis changes really have not made a huge amount of difference - we just tried a lot of different stuff in the two days of testing after Barcelona, and not just settings. We took away some of the traction control and now the bike's working well and seems to suit me better so that I can control it more with th e throttle. A really big thanks to the guys on my team for working so hard and making a few changes on the bike to give me a better feeling."
Dani Pedrosa - 1'28.863s, 60 laps, 241 Km;
"Today went pretty well and I'm very pleased to be on the front row for the race because this is always important. The practice sessions were ok and stayed dry which meant we could find a good set-up and work up to a fairly consistent race pace, though
I had a big moment this morning when the temperature was colder. The qualifying laps at the end of the afternoon session were a little difficult for me and I made a few little mistakes with both qualifiers which may have cost me a shot at pole position. With my second qualifier I tried to do a second fast lap and the time was quite good until the last split when the tyre began to go off - but this was not a big surprise because they're only designed to do one lap. I hope it stays dry tomorrow but we've had the chance to practice in both wet and dry conditions so we should be ready whatever happens with the weather. There are a few riders with a good pace here so it will be an interesting race. I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
Loris Capirossi, 13th fastest, 1m 29.900s;
"When I saw Casey had done two laps with a qualifying tyre I decided to do the same. But on the first lap I almost lost the bike twice, so I slowed down a little, then when I crossed the line I got the chequered flag, so I missed the chance to do another lap. Anyway, I'm quite happy because my race rhythm isn't so bad. Today I made a different choice to Casey - I used the new 16 inch rear, which seems to give me better traction. I did 27 laps with the tyre and it performed well throughout, so I think I'll use it in the race, weather permitting, because the forecast isn't good. Today we understood a lot on bike set-up, we changed the engine settings slightly and all the changes we've made have given me a better feeling with the bike, both in the wet and the dry. That makes me confident, even if qualifying didn't go so well."
"It was a good day today and exactly what we wanted. We needed a dry day so we could get some work done with the set-up of the bike. The track surface needed to get some rubber on it to improve grip, because at the start of the day it was still very slippery. It got better as the sessions progressed, but it is still not quite perfect! As far as race set-up goes we are almost there, we will make a couple of changes in the warm-up, but for the most part the Bridgestone tyres and the Suzuki GSV-R are working well again. As far as qualifying goes I made a big mistake coming onto my last lap and that cost me a few tenths. I lost the rear really bad and I rode like a sissy just after it happened! We could have had the front row, but now the plan is to get a good start and make sure we are in contention straight away!"
Marco Melandri (9th, 1'29.498):
"Today we worked on the dry setting but the forecast is for more rain tomorrow so I don't really know what to expect for the race. In the fast sections I can let the bikes run and I am fast but we're still struggling to set the bike up for the long braking. It's a problem we've had since the start of the season and it doesn't allow me to ride as I like. It will be a tough race tomorrow - even more so if it rains, because the track here is very slippery."
Toni Elias (10th, 1'29.711):
"We tried to make the most of the two hours we had on a dry track to prepare as best as possible for a dry race. We struggled a bit this morning because we couldn't get the tyres up to optimum temperature. In the afternoon the situation improved and we're quite ready if it is dry tomorrow. Unfortunately we had a technical problem at the end and only got chance to use only one qualifying tyre, which means I was unable to set a good lap. I'm disappointed by that but I'm hoping for a dry race tomorrow."
"We now have the bike set-up for both wet and dry conditions and made a lot of improvements this afternoon, because I lost a bit of time this morning due to a crash down Craner Curves. I'm still a bit stiff and sore from that. The guys did a great job rebuilding my bike in the short time between sessions - even some of John's crew helped so I am thankful to them for that. My last qualifying lap was looking good, but I made a mistake in the Melbourne Loop and ran wide. It's not perfect starting from the fourth row, but if I can get a good start and push hard throughout the race I know I can be competitive!"
Carlos Checa: 7th - 1'29.281;
"I believe I can be competitive in the race here because like Jerez top speed is not as critical and I have a very good feeling in the dry conditions. I did not get the best from my qualifying tyre, and my fastest time was only 0.2s quicker than on race tyres, which is very positive for tomorrow. Yesterday I had no feeling but today I'm back in the top ten after switching to our base setting that we know works on this bike."
Alex Barros (1'30.071 on race tyres - 23 laps);
"Putting to one side my position on the starting grid, I must say I'm quite satisfied with my race set-up. Today we worked a lot on race configuration and the results are not so bad: I have some difficulties under braking, but in general I have a good feeling and my race pace is satisfactory. Unfortunately, because of some technical difficulties that we haven't still identified, I wasn't able to exploit the qualifying session fully. However, I'm not really worried about this and I will rely on a good start that will hopefully help me to contest a competitive race. Tomorrow morning, I hope we can use the warm-up because we have a small modification to try that could help us to improve further; nevertheless, we are following the right direction."
Alex Hofmann (1'29.911 on qualifying tyres - 29 laps);
"I'm not really satisfied because I haven't found the right feeling to ride the bike. In the first two sectors of the lap, we are quite good, but in the chicane I'm not as fast as I want to be and I lost too much time this afternoon. We need to study closely all the data at our disposal to really know what it is that is not working as well and to be able to make set-up modifications. For me, it is very important to have greater confidence and, in this way, I could be faster, especially in the last two turns, and to make up some lost ground during the race. The last track session tomorrow morning will be a very important point and if we succeed to perform then we have more possibilities to get important results in the race. I hope that tomorrow's track conditions will be dry, so that during the warm-up we will can try further setting solutions.
- 1. Colin Edwards, Yamaha (USA) 1'28.531
- 2. Valentino Rossi, Yamaha (ITA) 1'28.677
- 3. Daniel Pedrosa, Honda (ESP) 1'28.863
- 4. Nicky Hayden, Honda (USA) 1'29.025
- 5. Casey Stoner, Ducati (AUS) 1'29.061
- 6. John Hopkins, Suzuki (USA) 1'29.073
- 7. Carlos Checa, Honda (ESP) 1'29.281
- 8. Randy De Puniet, Kawasaki (FRA) 1'29.415
- 9. Marco Melandri, Honda (ITA) 1'29.498
- 10. Toni Elias, Honda (ESP) 1'29.711
- 11. Shinya Nakano, Honda (JPN) 1'29.718
- 12. Chris Vermeulen, Suzuki (AUS) 1'29.793
- 13. Loris Capirossi, Ducati (ITA) 1'29.900
- 14. Alex Hofmann, Ducati (GER) 1'29.911
- 15. Alex Barros, Ducati (BRA) 1'30.071
- 16. Sylvain Guintoli, Yamaha (FRA) 1'30.271
- 18. Makoto Tamada, Yamaha (JPN) 1'30.800