Gran Premi Cinzano de Catalunya - Saturday 9th June - Report Day 22007-06-09 09:41
Rossi record takes pole in Catalunya
Valentino Rossi put in the fastest ever lap of the Circuit de Catalunya in today's MotoGP qualifying session, putting him on pole for the fourth time at the Spanish track. The Italian rode round in a lap of 1'41.840 to give himself a clear path down the long straight to the first corner tomorrow. Rossi has an excellent record at Catalunya, but the MotoGP class is currently on a long spell without a winner from pole stretching back to the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi last season. Can the five-time MotoGP World Champion end the drought and give Yamaha their 150th premier class victory at the Grand Premi Cinzano de Catalunya?
Rossi will line up alongside Randy de Puniet and Dani Pedrosa on the front row, with the fastest five in the hour long session all riding for different manufacturers. De Puniet was perhaps the outstanding rider of the day, suffering from a haematoma on his knee that meant he put in less laps than the majority of his rivals. In a planned move, the Frenchman went for his hot lap with 20 minutes remaining in the session, with the rest of the teams still in the process of changing to qualifying tyres. It was a gamble that paid off, as he was one of only two riders to break the 1'42 barrier.
Home rider Pedrosa improved considerably on his eleventh place start from 2006, relegating World Championship leader Casey Stoner to the second row alongside Suzuki's John Hopkins and Yamaha man Colin Edwards. The quartet all turned the timesheets around in the final minute of the session, setting their fastest laps one after the other.
World Champion Nicky Hayden was half a second off team-mate Pedrosa's time to put himself seventh on the grid, with an all-Honda third row completed by Toni Elias and Marco Melandri. Despite mechanical problems in the early stage of the session, a delighted Alex Hofmann had one of his best qualifying performances to date as he rounded off the top ten.
Olivier Jacque suffered a crash in the morning practice session, which sent him to hospital for routine tests on his neck. Although he was not present for the qualifying session, it remains to be seen if he will be permitted - or indeed be in condition- to race tomorrow.
In 250cc, Jorge Lorenzo took pole position number five of his title-defending season with a time nearly a second faster than his nearest rival. The Aprilia rider flew out of the starting blocks on a mission to add another Tissot watch to his collection, and improved considerably from yesterday's record-setting provisional pole lap which broke Dani Pedrosa's 2005 marker. He later described his outing as "the best lap of my life," understandable when considering that it was faster than Valentino Rossi's 500cc pole lap from 2001!
Lorenzo lines up alongside former team-mate and quarter-litre nemesis Hector Barbera on the front row, with the two Spaniards sure to be battling tooth and nail tomorrow in front of their home crowd. They are joined by Andrea Dovizioso - who took his first 250cc victory at the Circuit de Catalunya last season - and Aprilia wild card Alex Debon as they attempt to give further twists to tomorrow's race. Popular rider Debon has paid a key role in the development of Jorge Lorenzo's bike, and has only made one appearance for the Spain's No1 Aprilia team so far this year in a wild card capacity, but has been given free reign to show his skills in Barcelona this weekend. Of the four fastest riders, only Lorenzo and Debon were able to improve on their Friday times.
Thomas Luthi heads row two despite a succession of run-offs earlier in the day, with the Aspar duo of Alvaro Bautista and Alex de Angelis alongside him and accompanied by KTM rider and Barcelona resident Hiroshi Aoyama. Bautista has been under fire from a couple of riders for cutting them up with aggressive manoeuvres as of late, but it is hard to imagine him changing his style with the emotion of a home race running through his veins. One of his recent critics, Jorge Lorenzo, had his own coming together with ninth place qualifier Marco Simoncelli, although the Spaniard immediately held his hand up to apologise. Team Scot's Yuki Takahashi was tenth fastest.
Running three riders at their home race in 125cc, the Aspar team make up three quarters of the front row with all their riders having tasted victory this season. Gabor Talmacsi was the fastest of the trio, with a circuit best lap of 1'50.012 edging out the World Championship leader and only rider to win two races this season, Hector Faubel. Sergio Gadea joins his team-mates with a time under half a second slower than that of Talmacsi.
Completing the front row, Bradley Smith made a memorable return to his "home from home" to earn his best ever qualifying position. Having improved on his starting technique this season, and with the confidence of having taken his first podium, the young Briton will be expecting a strong showing at the track where he has competed many times in the Spanish Championship.
Row two consists of Lukas Pesek, yesterday's fastest rider in the 125cc class, alongside Raffaele de Rosa, Tomoyoshi Koyama and Mattia Pasini.
Source: Dorna Communications
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