MotoGP Laguna Seca USA Saturday qualifying results

Lorenzo scorches to pole position over Stoner, Dovisioso; Spies fifth, Hayden seventh, Edwards eighth

Jorge Lorenzo, Fiat Yamaha MotoGP, Red Bull U.S.G.P.

2010/07/23 - mgp - Round09 - Laguna Seca - MotoGP - Andrea Dovizioso - Repsol Honda - RC212V - ActionAndrew Northcott
2010/07/23 - mgp - Round09 - Laguna Seca - MotoGP - Roger Lee Hayden - LCR Honda - RC212V - ActionAndrew Northcott

Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo pulled another amazing qualifying performance out of his bag of tricks when he waited until the final minute to answer Casey Stoner’s similarly incredible lap set with about five minutes left in the session. Stoner powered his Ducati to a 1:21.189 lap—just .489 seconds off his qualifying record from 2008 when ultra-soft qualifying tires were still in use—to solidify his position at the top of the timesheets, and it looked like the Australian might have the pole locked up. But just before Stoner set his quickest lap, Lorenzo left his pitbox to make a final attempt at grabbing his fifth consecutive pole position. The result was an astonishing 1:20.978 lap, making the Spanish rider the only one to dip into the 1:20 range, and his fifth pole position of the season. Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovisioso made a late surge to move past his teammate (and ’09 Red Bull USGP winner) Dani Pedrosa into the final front row spot.

"Pole position isn't the race but it does help so I'm really happy to have got this fifth pole,” said Lorenzo. “Everyone is working very well and this shows it once again. I didn't think it would be possible today because Casey was so fast but I decided to give it a try and pushed as hard as I could and here we are. I don't know what to expect tomorrow, it will be a hard race for sure because Dani and Casey are very strong, but we will do the best we can to fight to the end and at least make the podium. I'm excited because it's always a special race here with a great atmosphere."

“We’re closer to the front than last week but we still need to improve the bike before tomorrow,” complained Stoner. “I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t make full use of the session this afternoon and ended up going back to the setting we had this morning. We tried a few different things that weren’t really working and unfortunately one of the settings took a long time to change so we wasted time there. To be honest I was happy to post the time I did—I thought we could have gone a bit quicker today considering how good the bike felt from yesterday to this morning but we just didn’t take that extra step. Hopefully we can take it in the warm-up and have our most competitive race of the season tomorrow.”

“I’m very happy about this session because this is my first front row of the season and qualifying was an area that we had to improve,” explained Dovisioso. “We were fast from the beginning today and I have to thank the team because they’ve done a good job this weekend. Yesterday and also today I have been losing some time in T4, but for the final qualifying lap I pushed at 100% and did my best final sector time—which gave me my fastest lap time and a place on the front row. I have a good race pace but we still need to improve a little because Stoner and Lorenzo are very fast. There is still a gap but we are not too far away. I think the race pace tomorrow will be between the high 1:21s and 1:22 dead, and I’m confident I can fight with the others. For the tire choice we will probably go with the soft option rear. Our machine balance is good and we have a positive feeling on this track so I’m confident for tomorrow.”

Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Ben Spies made use of a software upgrade to his M1 that Yamaha installed (responding from a request from teammate Colin Edwards to the Yamaha Racing senior management) to steadily drop his times, and the Texan was in the top three for a good part of the session. Although he dropped back to fifth as the qualifying heated up, Spies was on his way to a front row position when Mika Kallio crashed in the Corkscrew, bringing out yellow flags and forcing Spies to back off just enough to lose that crucial few tenths of a second. Nevertheless, his time was good enough to qualify in fifth spot, just ahead of Valentino Rossi.

"It's a little frustrating to be so close to my first front row but I'm still really happy with fifth position," said Spies. "The last stint was good and I was actually on a front row lap for sure at the end. I was a tenth quicker and then Kallio unfortunately crashed at the Corkscrew. I saw a big dust cloud and yellow flags were being waved. I wanted to play it safe and I lost a tenth there for sure and that definitely kept me off the front row.
"I'm happy being in the middle of row two and besides Casey and Lorenzo, I'm in the battle for the podium and that's where I want to be. I couldn't be happier with that and if I get a good start and stay out of trouble then I have the pace to fight for the podium. For the win, those guys are going way too fast now. You never give up but they are on another level right now from everybody. It's been great to come home and see lots of support and hopefully I can give them something to cheer tomorrow."

"We didn't go too badly today but we need to improve our setting a little bit to get closer to the leaders,” Rossi said. “Lorenzo and Stoner are very fast but after that there are a few riders quite close together, including me, so it's not too bad. I think it's going to be very difficult tomorrow because this track is a lot harder for me than Sachsenring, but I hope I can have a good race. There are a few corners where we know we can be a bit faster so tomorrow morning we will try to make some small changes to the setting to allow that, then I need to get a good start. My leg feels better than yesterday, which is good, the problem today is the shoulder because my left one isn't strong enough to compensate completely for the lack of power in my right one and now I have some pain in both! My hope for tomorrow is to be able to finish the race without too much pain and to do the best we can in the circumstances."

Nicky Hayden came next in seventh, and wasn’t that happy with his performance, especially at a track where he’s won twice. “To qualify seventh with such a big gap to Jorge isn’t good enough here at my home race so I’m obviously disappointed but we’re not going home yet. We’ll be back tomorrow ready to step our game up and get in there. The team did a good job from the morning to the afternoon today, which was the first real step we’ve made this weekend, and really we’re only three tenths from the front row so it’s not too bad in that regard. It’s my home race so I want to get amongst them, have some fun and put on a good show.”

Edwards was a bit frustrated to be stuck in eighth, although it did put the three American MotoGP regulars in the best overall qualifying position of the season at their first home event. “I've been riding really hard all weekend and giving it my all for the home fans, but I seem to be stuck around seventh and eighth position,” lamented Edwards. “I'm not sure what else I can do because I'm putting in my maximum effort and feel good on the bike. The goal is to try and get away with the bunch from Dovizioso down because the top two are way ahead of the rest of us. I need to find some speed in the final section where I lose a bit too much time and now we've got to figure out which rear tire to use in the race. I was convinced yesterday that I'd run the hard option front and rear. But now I'm considering the soft rear. There's quite a big difference in lap time but I'm wondering how good the soft tire will be at the end of the race.”

Fill-in rider Roger Lee Hayden qualified in 17th spot, making steady progress as he learned the ins and outs of the LCR Honda RC212V. He did run off the track twice during qualifying, but still managed to keep the field well within sight. “Today was much better,” said the youngest of the Hayden brothers. “We went almost two seconds faster than yesterday and it was a nice feeling because the team have been working hard to improve the bike for me. Even though we are the last bike on the grid we are improving every lap and with the changes that we’ll make for the warm up I am confident we can make a good race. I’m pretty happy with the way qualifying went; all I’m missing is time on the bike. It is such a good feeling to race at my home GP with all my family and friends supporting me and I want to say a massive thank you to the team for this opportunity and for the way they are making the bike work for me”.

MotoGP Laguna Seca USA Saturday qualifying results:
1. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Yamaha 1:20.978
2. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati 1:21.189
3. Andrea Dovisioso (ITA) Honda 1:21.617
4. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Honda 1:21.655
5. Ben Spies (USA) Yamaha 1:21.679
6. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Yamaha 1:21.688
7. Nicky Hayden (USA) Yamaha 1:21.920
8. Colin Edwards (USA) Yamaha 1:22.217
9. Marco Simoncelli (ITA) Honda 1:22.300
10. Hector Barbera (SPA) Ducati 1:22.366
17. Roger Lee Hayden (USA) Honda 1:23.764