It was business as usual in the MotoGP paddock today, as the bad weather that has become the norm this season disrupted this afternoon's Qualifying session ahead of tomorrow's Dutch TT. After a dry session this morning, when Fiat Yamaha Team riders Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards were first and fourth fastest respectively, it was once again time for the riders to put on their rain-suits and do battle with the elements in the fight for grid slots.
It was a less than perfect afternoon for the Yamaha pair as they both struggled to match their fast dry pace on the soaking circuit. Both spent most of the session in the bottom half of the order as they searched for the right set-up and tyre combination for the difficult conditions, although Edwards managed to improve things considerably at the end and put in an excellent final lap to move up to sixth, on the outside of the second row. Rossi meanwhile was unable to make such a drastic jump and could only manage 11th, which will see him start from the middle of the fourth row. With better weather promised tomorrow however and both riders boasting a strong race pace in the dry, the pair are confident of being in the mix tomorrow when the 26-lap race gets underway at 1400 local time.
Colin Edwards - 6th, 1'49.691;
"This afternoon was quite difficult, which I think was pretty obvious, but we were able to salvage something at the end! I can't say I'm thrilled with my grid position after how strong we've been recently in qualifying but it could have been worse. We used pretty much the same setting we had for the rain in Donington, where things were working good, and once we'd made some small changes and put a softer tyre in we were okay. I saw I had one lap left at the end and I was behind a couple of other riders so I rolled off a little to give myself some space and then just thought "whatever, let's give it a try!" I took a few risks, put my head down and managed to make it round without any problems. Obviously I would prefer it to be dry tomorrow, in fact the drier and hotter the better! Our race pace in the dry is quite fast so if we have the right conditions then I'm feeling confident about a good race. No mistakes this year!"
Valentino Rossi - 11th, 1'50.392;
"For sure today in the wet we had some problems and the fourth row is not great! Of course in order to fight for the victory here I would prefer to be nearer the front, as to win from the fourth row is quite hard! We've given ourselves a difficult job to do and now I will need to do a perfect race, with no mistakes from start to finish, in order to come back towards the front. I'm quite sad about the weather because I think from the front row I would definitely have been in a position to try to win tomorrow. As we've proved before however, we know that it's not impossible to make a good race from the fourth row! We need to make the right tyre choice and we need to make a good start, because it's not so easy to pass people here. Our pace in the dry this morning was good and luckily we're expecting better weather. We'll do our best and see how we go."
Davide Brivio - Team Director;
"So, neither of our riders is in pole position, which is the first good thing because it seems at the moment it's impossible to win from pole! Also Valentino is in much better shape than last year, when he had to start from last position with his injury. It is not a disaster; in Mugello we started from the front row and then we were in eighth on lap one! Of course Valentino has a hard job to do from the fourth row but he has the pace in the dry and we know he'll try as hard as possible to get back up to the front and fight for the podium. Colin did very well at the end of the session today in very difficult conditions and he deserves to be up on the second row like this. He too has a good pace in the dry and I think we can expect a great race from him tomorrow. Let's hope we've had the last of the rain and we'll be fighting tomorrow, we're certainly not going to give up before the start!"
"I'm very happy to be in pole position and again it's another good result for Rizla Suzuki! It was a strong performance by both of us and a shame that John missed out on the front row right at the end. This was our first wet session of the weekend and that made it pretty difficult to get the bike set-up right, and also qualify, in just the hour. The team did a great job and the bike felt really good. It was easily capable of doing those lap-times in those conditions - if not a bit quicker! In the dry this morning we made a lot of improvements and I feel confident now in any weather! We now have to wait and see what the weather does; it needs to be wet or dry because if it is in between here it will be awful!"
Casey Stoner, 2nd fastest, 1m 48.572s;
"I made a few mistakes early on, I couldn't really see the edge of the track because my screen was fogged up. That slide didn't feel as bad as it looked - it went, I backed it off and felt it hooking up again, just waited for it to come back. I had a couple of those moments but other than that the grip was fine, more predictable than Donington. After that we were just slowly building and getting faster, I think if I'd stayed out I could've gone a second and a half or two seconds quicker if the rain hadn't come down again. The soft tyres are working quite well for us, they look like they'll go the distance. This morning we came up with a really good dry setting, so we're also looking strong if it's dry. I think we're starting to get more and more confident with the bike. We found a big settings change at Catalunya and since then we've been very fast, wet or dry. We had to change something because Mugello was difficult, and we were really struggling in some areas at a couple of other tracks, like Shanghai. We've improved the front end, making it turn on long corners. Since then we've been able to find the settings more easily. It's not always perfect but we're able to get a reasonably good setting. From there we just make sure we get the right race tyre, and it seems like the harder the tyre, the better we go. We're having a nice time of it at the moment."
Loris Capirossi, 10th fastest, 1m 50.169s;
"I did my best time on hard tyres, then when it started raining very hard with ten minutes to go we should have switched to softer compounds. There wasn't much time left and we thought it would be very difficult for anyone to improve their times but they did, so I dropped from sixth to tenth. It was my mistake, I didn't evaluate the situation so well, because this track is very grippy in the wet and it drains very well, so as soon as the rain eased off several riders were able to move up the grid. It's a shame, because I was riding well, in the wet and notthe -so-wet conditions, but at least that makes me feel confident, even though I'll be starting from the fourth row of the grid. This morning in the dry we made a few small settings changes, so we are in quite good shape, whatever the weather brings tomorrow."
"The bike and the tyres were great in the wet today. I was happy with the all-round performance, but I'm disappointed to be just off the front row. The conditions were pretty bad at the end and it didn't really feel safe to go any quicker than I had done, but a couple of guys hung it out there and just managed to beat my time. Having said that, the middle of the second row is a good place to start and we made big steps with the dry set-up this morning. This afternoon has also given me a lot of confidence and I know that if it's wet or dry I'll be trying my hardest to get the Rizla Suzuki on the podium again!"
Marco Melandri (4th, 1' 49"679):
"We've done a great job with the team to improve the feeling of the bike in the wet and it allowed me to set a good pace. We are in good shape for a wet race but we still have some work to do in the dry so hopefully we get chance to do it in the warm-up. The weather forecast isn't clear but just in case we don't manage to sort the bike out for the dry then given the choice right now I'd prefer rain."
Nicky Hayden - 1'50.581s, 56 laps 255 Km;
"All weekend I haven't been below third in any session and then the skies opened up for us - it was really wet out there. Thirteenth is not a good result for us obviously.
I got going at a decent pace mid-session but then at the end I tried a different tyre and it really didn't give me a good feeling and that's when the track was probably at its best. I had no feel on the straights and it was just spinning a lot there. It really sucks because we've got a pretty good dry race set-up and to start thirteenth is going to make things tough. So I really hope it doesn't rain tomorrow and that I can get a great start and see what happens."
Dani Pedrosa - 1'50.132s, 52 laps 237 Km;
"We couldn't get the position we wanted in qualifying today so a good start tomorrow is going to be essential. This morning when it was dry we were working on set-up and tyre choice but I wasn't particularly comfortable with the changes and I wasn't able to go quicker than I did yesterday, so our settings are not perfect yet.
Then in the afternoon the conditions were changing a lot. I could go quite quickly at first but we struggled to find a tyre and settings that worked well in the wet. So we'll have to focus on what we learned today, try to improve the bike in the warm-up tomorrow morning and see what the weather throws at us in the afternoon."
Alex Barros (1'50.402 - 21 laps):
"My time isn't really good, but at the same time I'm satisfied because the bike is very good and I have the right feeling both with wet and dry set-up. I think I was unlucky because when I went out on track it started to rain a lot and I could not drive with full confidence, then when I went back into the box, the rain reduced. I could have profited from these conditions, but I was unfortunately not able to get back out on track immediately. Despite my position on the starting grid, I'm convinced that we have a good possibility to perform well in all kind of weather conditions tomorrow."
Alex Hofmann (1'49.927 - 22 laps):
"I'm very satisfied because I have a really good feeling with my bike. The Bridgestone tyres and the bike have both worked very well today and since the beginning I have had a good feeling. For this reason, I made a lot of fast laps, then during the last laps of qualifying, there was a lot of traffic on the track as all riders tried to better his lap time, so I had to back off and I also made a mistake, which lost me four positions on the grid. The third row is not so bad to start the race, but I am sure I could have reached the front row today, so I am a bit disappointed. Anyway, I'm confident for tomorrow and I hope to do good race."
Randy de Puniet, #14 ? 3rd - Best Lap 1'49.579;
"I'm very happy and feeling a bit lucky! I found a tyre I really liked but then the weather changed for the worse and it was impossible to improve. However, I hung on, waiting for the conditions to get better and they did, just at the right moment. I thought I would be starting from the fifth row, and from there it's hard to do well in the race, so I'm really pleased. It's very important to get this third position on the grid. Today's conditions were not the best but I managed a good lap time and the bike and engine worked very well, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
Anthony West, #13 ? 7th - Best Lap 1'49.807;
"I'm not so happy, really. I was going well at the beginning but I lost that feeling and don't believe we've managed to find a good set up. The bike didn't feel stable, it was moving around a lot and not giving me confidence, so I didn't feel I was able to ride as I'd like to in the rain. I was quite surprised the last lap was that much faster as it didn't feel it, particularly. Still, I'm ten places further up the grid than I was at Donington, so that's not too bad, and ideally I'd like to stay within the top ten tomorrow. It looks like it might be dry so this grid position will help me at the start of the race. I've still got a long way to go though, just trying to catch up."
"I'm better although I didn't sleep much last night because they had to wake me every two hours to administer medicine. But I don't feel too bad and I just can't wait to get home to Barcelona and start my rehabilitation as soon as possible. I want to say thanks to Doctor Costa and all the Clinica Mobile staff for their continuing support."
Carlos Checa: 16th - 1'53.271;
"I was hoping for a dry day but like at Donington last week I have zero feeling in the rain, especially at the rear, I cannot lean the bike in the turns and it is difficult to open the throttle. There is a gap to the leading group so clearly I'm hoping for a dry race in the hope we can make some progress in normal conditions. In these conditions it is not possible to push for a faster time."
Shinya Nakano - Rider, KONICA MINOLTA Honda (55 laps - 1' 51.827");
"The weather conditions are like England again! We changed front and rear suspension settings this morning in the dry and my rhythm and consistency was getting better and the feeling with the bike was improving but the conditions worsened for this afternoon and we had a wet qualifying session. During the first part of qualifying things were not so not bad as I was inside the top 10, but then it stopped raining and it began to dry again and in these changing conditions I found it hard to push hard and the rear was spinning up a lot. When the rain came once more I couldn't improve on my lap-time and other people had gone faster in the drying conditions. I hope it's a dry race tomorrow and I'll need a very good start from 15th as it's difficult to overtake at Assen."
- 1. Chris Vermeulen, Suzuki (AUS) 1'48.555
- 2. Casey Stoner, Ducati (AUS) 1'58.572
- 3. Randy De Puniet, Kawasaki (FRA) 1'49.579
- 4. Marco Melandri, Honda (ITA) 1'49.679
- 5. John Hopkins, Suzuki (USA) 1'49.684
- 6. Colin Edwards, Yamaha (USA) 1'49.691
- 7. Anthony West, Kawasaki (AUS) 1'49.807
- 8. Alex Hofmann, Ducati (GER) 1'49.927
- 9. Daniel Pedrosa, Honda (ESP) 1'50.132
- 10. Loris Capirossi, Ducati (ITA) 1'50.169
- 11. Valentino Rossi, Yamaha (ITA) 1'50.392
- 12. Alex Barros, Ducati (BRA) 1'50.402
- 13. Nicky Hayden, Honda (USA) 1'50.581
- 14. Kurtis Roberts, KR212V (USA) 1'51.259
- 15. Shinya Nakano, Honda (JPN) 1'51.827
- 17. Sylvain Guintoli, Yamaha (FRA) 1'54.259
- 18. Makoto Tamada, Yamaha (JPN) 1'57.525