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Fiat Yamaha to start from the front row after Estoril qualifying washout

Severe weather at Estoril today forced the cancellation of the MotoGP qualifying session, with torrential rain flooding the circuit and making any on-track action impossible in the afternoon. As a result the starting grid has been taken from the combined free practice times, leaving Fiat Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo on pole and his team-mate Valentino Rossi in third. It was a proud moment for Lorenzo, whose 42nd pole puts him equal with Jorge Martinez Aspar as the most successful Spanish pole-man of all time.

This morning’s practice was run in wet conditions and the slippery track caught several riders out, including Lorenzo who high-sided in the last corner late in the session. Luckily the World Champion was unhurt and he still managed to top the standings once again. Rossi had a good morning’s work and finished as runner-up, just over half a second off his team-mate. The top six fastest times were all set yesterday however which left Lorenzo on pole but Rossi in third, with Nicky Hayden splitting up the Yamaha pair for the season’s penultimate race. Tomorrow’s race, weather permitting, is due to get underway at 1300 local time, which is 1400 CET.

Jorge Lorenzo – Position: 1stTime: 1’48.522Laps: 39
“It was a pity about this today because we needed a bit more time in the very wet conditions to try to improve our setting more, but there was no way we could have ridden this afternoon. This morning I felt quite good but at the end I was pushing too hard, I thought the other riders were closer to my time and I just went a step too far and crashed. I was lucky, my airbag inflated and I didn’t hurt myself. Now we have to wait and see how the weather is and we especially hope that warm-up is the same conditions as the race, it will be very, very difficult if not. Today I became the Spanish rider with the most poles of all time, joint with Aspar, and this is a great honour for me, I feel very proud.”

Valentino Rossi – Position: 3rdTime: 1’48.883Laps: 46
“It’s a real disappointment about today because we had some things we wanted to try, but in the end the rain was just too much and it was too dangerous. It really was impossible to ride this afternoon! In the wet I have a good setting, even if we could have improved a bit this afternoon, but I am happy about the balance of my bike. Now we just have to wait for the conditions tomorrow. We are prepared for the wet; if it’s dry it could be interesting! If it’s dry from the morning and it’s possible to have the warm-up in the dry then it will be okay to have a dry race, but if warm-up is wet and then the race is dry….honestly it’s better not like this! We will just have to wait and see and at least we’re on the front row.”

Wilco Zeelenberg – Team Manager
“Our seventh pole of the season, but without actually qualifying! Jorge had quite a big crash this morning when he was pushing quite hard and lost the rear, but he is fine and this is all that matters. We wanted to improve our pace in the wet conditions a bit more; when it’s drying up we’re okay but when it’s really wet we’re struggling a bit with the rear feeling, so we need to work on this tomorrow morning if possible. Of course we don’t know how the weather will be so we will just have to wait and see.”

Davide Brivio – Team Manager
“A strange weekend and a difficult one with the weather. So far, in the two sessions we’ve had, we’ve been quite good and it seems our wet setting is okay. It’s a pity because we had some things to check today to try to improve a bit but it was impossible. We will have to wait for tomorrow. If the race is wet we are prepared, if it’s dry it’s going to be a big gamble.”

Spies and Edwards frustrated at storm-hit Estoril
Monsoon conditions that battered the Estoril track forced this afternoon’s MotoGP qualifying session to be abandoned, leaving Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team riders Ben Spies and Colin Edwards fifth and ninth on the grid for the Grand Prix of Portugal.

After a rain-hit morning practice session, conditions started to deteriorate shortly after midday as strong winds and heavy rain lashed the circuit located close to the Atlantic coast. The MotoGP session was delayed by 35 minutes and Race Direction declared track conditions unfit for any action to take place at 2.30pm. Yesterday morning’s first MotoGP practice was also a victim of atrocious conditions but tod ay’s qualifying session was the first to be abandoned since a storm hit the Twin Ring Motegi in Japan last season. As a result of today’s severe disruption, grid positions for tomorrow’s races were decided on combined practice times, leaving Spies on the second row in fifth after he clocked a best lap of 1.49.721 in yesterday afternoon’s practice.

The Texan was frustrated that conditions worsened this afternoon having been confident planned radical changes to the wet set-up of his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 machine would improve his pace. Edwards will start from ninth, his best time of 1.50.313 from this morning’s third practice session counting. Fifth fastest in wet but rideable conditions this morning, Edwards is confident of a strong penultimate race to the 2010 season.

Ben Spies – Positon: 5th Time: 1’49.721
“There was no way we could have ridden this afternoon. There is nothing we could have done about it but it is frustrating for me having missed the first session too because of the weather when I need to be doing laps to get more accustomed to the track. It’s a shame too this afternoon because we were looking to make big strides with the bike. I don’t have a lot of time on this bike in the rain so we’ve basically been running a softer version of my dry setting. But I’ve been told there’s quite a radical change that Yamaha think would really help me and I didn’t get chance to try it. That’s a bit unfortunate because I was told the bike would feel better and I was already pretty confident in the rain. That said I’ve still a good starting position in fifth, so learning the track quickly yesterday helped me out a lot. We can’t do anything about the weather so we’ll wake up tomorrow, see what the skies have for us and go for it wet or dr y. I don’t feel like we’ll be miles off even if it is dry and I’ve never ridden in full dry conditions at this track.”

Colin Edwards – Position: 9th Time: 1’50.313
“It is a little bit annoying to be on the third row of the grid because I was looking good yesterday before the crash and this morning I was fifth quickest. I missed out yesterday when the track conditions were better than at any other stage this weekend because of the crash and I’m sure I could have been much higher up the grid. But there was no way we could have gone out in those conditions. It was impossible so I’m not going to get too upset about it and just look forward to the race. I feel if it is wet tomorrow that I’m going to be really strong because the rain setting is working really good. If it is dry I’m confident and I’m sure I will be able to come through the field and get a good result. I guess the worst case scena rio is if it is a wet warm-up and then a dry race but I feel ready rain or shine.”

Circuit Length: 4182
Weather: Very Wet

Lap Record: 1’36.937 (Daniel Pedrosa, 01/01/2009)
Fastest Lap Ever: 1’35.715 (Jorge Lorenzo, 13/04/2008)
Last Years Winner: Jorge Lorenzo

2010 MotoGP Portugal – Estoril 30/10/2010

Qualifying 1
Pos. Rider Manu. Nat. Total Time
1 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 1’48.522
2 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 1’48.657
3 Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 1’48.883
4 Casey Stoner Ducati AUS 1’49.061
5 Ben Spies Yamaha USA 1’49.721
6 Marco Melandri Honda ITA 1’49.784
7 Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 1’50.007
8 Randy De Puniet Honda FRA 1’50.043
9 Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 1’50.313
10 Marco Simoncelli Honda ITA 1’50.500
11 Aleix Espargaro Ducati ESP 1’50.787
12 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 1’50.824
13 Loris Capirossi Suzuki ITA 1’51.518
14 Alvaro Bautista Suzuki ESP 1’52.734
15 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 1’53.131