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Lorenzo continues front-row run; second row for Rossi in dramatic Brno qualifying

Lorenzo in third and Valentino Rossi in fifth for tomorrow’s Czech Grand Prix. The Fiat Yamaha riders were luckily unhurt despite both crashing out within moments of one another on their final flying laps.

Heavy storms overnight had changed the nature of the track and Lorenzo was not feeling quite as comfortable with his front-end set-up as he would have liked this afternoon, losing time in the latter half of the circuit. Despite this he was still sitting in second position when he headed out for his final run, with his sights set on a tenth front row of the season. He looked on course to improve his time when he made a small mistake at turn eleven and was sent flying across the gravel trap, luckily getting up straight away unhurt. The championship leader had done a good enough job to hold on to third on the grid and he will line up next to fellow Yamaha rider Ben Spies tomorrow, who took his first front-row in MotoGP, with Dani Pedrosa on pole.

At his third race back after injury, World Champion Rossi was looking to return to the front row for the first time and he looked like he might do just that as he steadily improved his times over the course of the session, feeling good with the set-up of his M1. On the first flying lap of his final run he was just a fraction off provisional pole time and pushing hard when he made a small mistake at turn 13 and lost the front end, sliding harmlessly off track and luckily doing no further damage to either his leg or shoulder. The Italian was disappointed to remain on the second row but he is confident of a strong showing tomorrow when the race gets underway at 1400 CET.

jorge Lorenzo – Position: 3rdTime: 1’56.865Laps: 20
“This wasn’t the best practice session of the year for us. We made some modifications that didn’t work and it was especially a problem in the front, which was closing on me a lot. I wasn’t fast and I was having to take too many risks. Then I made a mistake and the bike went flying! I really hope the engine is okay for tomorrow, luckily I am not hurt and I was able to get up straight away. We are still on the front row and we can’t always be on top! I think tomorrow will be a tough race but we will see how we can improve our setting and see what happens.”

Valentino Rossi – Position: 5thTime: 1’57.059Laps: 23
“I’m okay and I haven’t made any of my injuries worse, so this is the most important thing. I was pushing hard and trying to make my best flying lap and I just lost the front, so maybe we’re still missing a bit of grip. I was really angry when I crashed because I think it was possible to get second or even the pole position! Apart from the mistake though I’m very happy because I feel confident on the bike and I enjoyed riding today; I think for tomorrow I can be competitive. Warm-up is going to be important because we need to try to slightly improve my feeling with the front. We also need to wait to see what the weather does!”

Wilco Zeelenberg – Team Manager
“We’ve had better qualifying sessions but it’s not too bad, this track always changes a lot after it rains and we just need to adjust things a bit more. At the beginning Jorge was looking okay and his speed was good but he didn’t feel the same as he’d felt yesterday with the bike; he had less grip in the front and we made some adjustments but things weren’t perfect. The crash was unlucky; he lost the front although it wasn’t totally clear what happened. Anyway he is okay so we’re not worried and now we will try to improve his confidence in the front tomorrow.”

Davide Brivio – Team Manager
“It was a good session until the crash! It’s a pity because he was fast and he was going to improve his time and now we’re only in fifth. But we’ve worked well and our setting is at a good level – we have room for some small improvements before the race but we feel like we’re in good shape and Valentino didn’t hurt himself, so we’re looking forward to racing.”

Super Spies storms to maiden front row start in Brno

Ben Spies stormed to his maiden MotoGP front row start in Brno today, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider coming within seconds of claiming a stunning pole position at the end of a dramatic qualifying session.

The Texan needed less than a quarter of the session to establish himself in the top six as he continued to make significant progress with the set-up of his YZR-M1 machine in preparation for tomorrow’s 22-lap race.

Spies began to demonstrate his fast pace shortly after the halfway stage when he moved into fourth position. His challenge for a landmark career first pole position began to gather serious momentum though when he surged into second place with a lap of 1.57.166 that put him just 0.005s behind Spaniard Dani Pedrosa.

He first moved to the top of the timesheets with 16 minutes remaining, an impressive lap of 1.57.140 on the softer compound Bridgestone rear tyre moving him 0.021s clear of the field.

The reigning World Superbike champion though wasn’t finished and he produced another blistering lap in the final five minutes of 1.56.846 to put him back ahead of Pedrosa by a margin of just 0.013s.

But with a remarkable first pole position beckoning, Pedrosa produced a decisive late attack, the triple world champion clocking a best of 1.56.508 with just 40 seconds remaining to drop Spies into second spot.

Spies though was thrilled after securing his first front row start and is brimming with confidence that he can mount a serious challenge for a second pod ium finish in what has so far been a fantastic first full season in MotoGP for the 26-year-old.

Fellow American Colin Edwards also had something to cheer this afternoon as he enjoyed his second best qualifying session of the campaign.

The experienced Texan had joined Spies in the top three earlier in the session as he lapped comfortably in the low 1.58 bracket in full race trim.

Profiting from the improved turning performance created by a revised front-end geometry setting, Edwards looked destined to secure a place on the second row for only the second time in 2010.

But despite his best efforts, he was unable to utilise the performance of his final two soft compound rear Bridgestone tyres and had to settle for seventh place. His best time of 1.57.222 was just 0.105s away from the second row and Edwards is confident he can score h is first ever top six finish at Brno tomorrow.

Ben Spies – Position: 2nd Time: 1’56.846Laps: 24 laps
“My goal was to be on the second row and I didn’t think the front row was possible, let alone a pole position, so I’m really happy. From the start of the weekend every change we have made to the bike has been better and that doesn’t usually happen. I had a decent pace so I was confident I could have a good qualifying. When we put the second soft tyre in I got into first position and I thought people would go faster. I did a really good time at the end but when I saw I was still up there I thought, ‘I could do this.’ Dani did a good job and I didn’t have those last three tenths anyway and the time I set was a good time for me. It would have been nice to have a pole position but at this point just being on the middle of the front row is a great result for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 T eam and myself. I’ll try and get a good start and if I can latch onto those guys for the first six or seven laps I can put together a good race. I’ve struggled in the first few laps in some races but here I’ve been able to get into a fast rhythm pretty quick, so I’m looking forward to it. This is just qualifying but it gives you confidence for the race. I’ve had a podium in my first full season and a front row is another box ticked and that’s very satisfying for me.”

Colin Edwards – Position: 7th Time: 1’57.222 Laps: 24 laps
“That’s my best qualifying for a few races and it was looking really good for a while when I got myself into the top three after I used the first soft tyre. Unfortunately I just couldn’t quite get the best out of the last two soft tyres I had at the end of the session. You have to push so hard to get a good time that you wear the front tyre a lot. It is only a small dro p because the Bridgestone front is awesome, but it was enough to make the bike not feel as balanced and I struggled to get the bike turned. I just didn’t have the confidence to push as hard as I wanted with a new rear tyre and used front. But I know when the grip is the same on the front and the rear that we’ve got a really competitive package. I’m really happy with the bike and the new front-end geometry setting is helping me a lot. I can just ride with more confidence and comfort and the bike turns much better with more weight on the front. We’ve finally got the chassis working pretty good and I’m riding good, so I’ll hopefully get my first top six at this track. It has been a bogey track for me in the past but I’m confident I can get my best result here. Congratulations to Ben too for his first front row. He’s been riding awesome and it is great for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team.”

Circuit Length: 5403

Lap Record: 1’58.787 (Valentino Rossi, 01/01/2005)
Fastest Lap Ever: 1’56.145 (Valentino Rossi, 16/08/2009)
Last Years Winner: Valentino Rossi

2010 MotoGP Czech Republic – Brno 14/08/2010

Qualifying 1
Pos. Rider Manu. Nat. Total Time
1 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 1’56.508
2 Ben Spies Yamaha USA 1’56.846
3 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 1’56.865
4 Casey Stoner Ducati AUS 1’56.868
5 Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 1’57.059
6 Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 1’57.117
7 Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 1’57.222
8 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 1’57.635
9 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 1’57.960
10 Loris Capirossi Suzuki ITA 1’57.981
11 Randy De Puniet Honda FRA 1’58.089
12 Marco Simoncelli Honda ITA 1’58.169
13 Mika Kallio Ducati FIN 1’58.182
14 Marco Melandri Honda ITA 1’58.430
15 Alex De Angelis Honda SMR 1’58.522