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Front row for Lorenzo and Rossi improves to qualify fourth for final race

World Champion Jorge Lorenzo secured his seventeenth front-row start of the season in Valencia this afternoon, qualifying second behind Casey Stoner for the eighteenth and final round of the season. His Fiat Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi has struggled in all four sessions but the nine-time champion made a drastic improvement in the final stages of the session to qualify fourth for his final Yamaha appearance tomorrow.

Lorenzo, wearing a one-off crystal-encrusted helmet for his home race, was third in this morning’s practice session and then spent the first half of qualifying second in the standings as he made some final set-up tweaks to his M1. Half-way through he moved into first and then put in a run of stunningly consistent fast laps, improving his time several times over. Stoner was even quicker today though and with six minutes left on the clock the Australian moved ahead of the Mallorcan and, despite Lorenzo pulling out all the stops in the final moments, pole was not to be today and he finished 0.331 seconds off Stoner in second. Lorenzo is nonetheless the season’s best qualifier and will receive his prize of a new car this afternoon to add to his tally of plaudits from the year.

After yesterday’s difficulties a major set-up change this morning did little for Rossi’s feeling on the bike and the Italian was 10th in free practice. The early part of qualifying yielded no improvement and with five minutes to go he was still outside the top ten. A final alteration however left him feeling more confident on the bike and on his final lap the front row looked a not inconceivable target, as he was on course for second at the third split before dropping a couple of tenths in the final sector and coming home in fourth, 0.086 seconds off Marco Simoncelli.

Jorge Lorenzo – Position: 2ndTime: 1’32.130Laps: 18
“I’m really excited and proud to be on the front row in front of the Spanish crowd, at this home race. Especially racing here; the last race is always special and everyone wants to do well. I tried my best to make the pole position today but Casey was really very quick today, I couldn’t beat him. Let’s see if we can keep in contact with him tomorrow in the race, if we can stay with him we can challenge. We will try the maximum as always. X-Lite has honoured me with this special helmet and I am so proud of it, it looks like diamonds in the sunshine! Thanks to everyone and I hope to make a good race in it tomorrow.”

Valentino Rossi – Position: 4thTime: 1’32.330Laps: 23
“It was a difficult day but luckily we were able to improve the setting right at the end of the session, giving me a bit more grip and allowing me to push for a fast time at the end. We’re fourth and considering how the practices have been this really isn’t too bad. We will have to see tomorrow, it’s going to be very hard and we’re still in a bit of trouble, while the others are very fast, but if we can improve a bit more then we can try to challenge. It’s not particularly difficult to overtake at this race so the second row isn’t a big problem if we have a good pace. Stoner is very fast here, it looked like he was in a different sport today, but it’s my last race for Yamaha and I will do everything I can to be on the podium.”

Wilco Zeelenberg – Team Manager
“We are happy with second because it was clear Casey had something different here today. Jorge feels fine with no problems; good pace, good lap times and good consistency. We need to decide which tyre we’re going to use for the race as both options are possible for the rear so we’re waiting for the weather tomorrow. It’s a temperature issue, if it’s hot we’ll use one, if it’s cooler we’ll use the other. The bike feels great, an improvement on this morning’s session so we are happy with the situation.”

Davide Brivio – Team Manager
“This morning we tried some different geometries and settings and then in the afternoon we continued in just one way, but it’s clear that we still have some work to do and we have some problems with grip. In the end we stopped a little bit early to consider the situation, and now we will look closely at the data to find the right way forward for tomorrow so that we can give Valentino a bike to allow him to ride how he wants here.”

Spies and Edwards eye podium fight in Valencia finale

Ben Spies and Colin Edwards will start the final round of the 2010 MotoGP world championship in Valencia tomorrow from sixth and seventh on the grid respectively, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team duo confident they can battle for a podium finish.

Spies produced another heroic performance in this afternoon’s sun-drenched qualifying session, the Texan shrugging off constant discomfort from the dislocated left ankle he suffered less than a week ago in Estoril to claim sixth with a best time of 1.32.566.

Working tirelessly with his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew to improve rear stability, Spies was just over 0.3s away from the front row in a closel y contested session. The 26-year-old is confident that planned overnight set-up changes will improve his YZR-M1 machine even further as he prepares for an exciting fight for sixth place in the final standings with fellow American Nicky Hayden.

It was at the Valencia circuit 12 months ago that Spies made a scintillating Yamaha YZR-M1 debut, his stunning seventh place giving MotoGP fans a taste of the all-action performances that he’s produced throughout a brilliant 2010.

And it is likely there will be more of the same tomorrow with Spies and Hayden tied on 163-points going into tomorrow’s 30-lap race, with Spies finishing just 0.144s behind the 2006 world champion this afternoon.

Just one place and 0.013s further back on the grid is Edwards, who continued his excellent form this afternoon. More modifications to the radical set-up he first experimented with yesterday furth er improved turning performance for the 36-year-old and he occupied a place in the top three in the second half of the session.

He clocked a best time of 1.32.579 to finish seventh and the Texan is confident the new set-up will help him fight for the rostrum in what promises to be a thrilling conclusion to the season. 

Ben Spies – Position: 6thTime: 1’32.566Laps: 24
“I’m not super happy because I’d like the bike to be working better but to be close to the fight for the podium is pretty good. This track doesn’t have a lot of rear grip and I’ve had some stability problems. I need the rear to be more stable for the race and I think we can achieve that. Yamaha and my Tech 3 guys will get together tonight and come up with some ideas and I know they’ll give me a good bike tomorrow. The ankle isn’t fantastic but I don’t think it’s losing me time. I’m not 100 per cen t but I can’t say I’m losing half-a-second because of it. I can’t move around on the bike as much as I’d like but the race is only 45 minutes and I’ll get through it. I definitely want to move up in the championship and claim that sixth spot but I’m going out to treat it like another race and try to beat Nicky. There’s a bit of pride at stake but I’d want to beat anybody for the top six, so it makes no difference that the fight is with Nicky.”

Colin Edwards – Postiton 7th Time: 1’32.579 Laps: 23
“I’ve felt good all weekend with this new setting and I want to thank my guys at Monster Yamaha Tech 3 because as always they’ve done an awesome job. The changes we have made have really helped my confidence with the rear of the bike. I can turn much better, I don’t run wide and the new setting seems to give me better rear grip but is also good for tyre life too. I was comfortable on the hard tyre bu t I hadn’t used the soft tyre since yesterday morning, so I didn’t really know the potential of it. On the first tyre I was almost a second quicker, put the second tyre in and it didn’t give the same confidence for some reason. On the last one I felt better and I’m happy with the lap time but it is so tight at the top that just a couple of tenths costs you a lot of places. Seventh is not where I want to be but everybody is going fast. I think anybody from third to ninth will be thinking they can get on the podium and I’m one of them. We’ve seen though on this track that the field can spread out pretty quick and if it does I hope to be at the sharp end.”

Circuit Length: 4005

Lap Record: 1’33.043 (Marco Melandri, 01/01/2005)
Fastest Lap Ever: 1’31.002 (Valentino Rossi, 29/10/2006)
Last Years Winner: Daniel Pedrosa

2010 MotoGP Spain – Valencia 06/11/2010

Qualifying 1
Pos. Rider Manu. Nat. Total Time
1 Casey Stoner Ducati AUS 1’31.799
2 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 1’32.130
3 Marco Simoncelli Honda ITA 1’32.244
4 Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 1’32.330
5 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 1’32.422
6 Ben Spies Yamaha USA 1’32.566
7 Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 1’32.579
8 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 1’32.603
9 Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 1’32.886
10 Marco Melandri Honda ITA 1’32.917
11 Randy De Puniet Honda FRA 1’32.925
12 Aleix Espargaro Ducati ESP 1’33.085
13 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 1’33.170
14 Loris Capirossi Suzuki ITA 1’33.339
15 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda JPN 1’33.343