Yamaha Factory Racing rider Jorge Lorenzo made it clear today he wasn’t ready to give up his record of dominance in Estoril. This afternoon’s qualifying for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Portugal saw the reigning World Champion place his YZR-M1 on pole position for an incredible fourth consecutive time.
The threat of rain again this afternoon saw all riders on the pace quickly, looking to score a fast lap before the weather changed. Lorenzo started the session the fastest rider, then spent some time duelling with team mate Spies for second and third before delivering a decisive 1’37.161 to secure pole. The achievement means Lorenzo now has the record for the Spanish rider with most pole position starts in all GP classes in the modern era with 43. This is also his 17th MotoGP pole position start, equalling Dani Pedrosa, a record for Spanish riders in the premier class.
Fellow Yamaha Factory rider Spies was also on full attack this afternoon. After a challenging start to his first dry sessions on the Estoril circuit yesterday, Spies made big steps forward in today’s qualifying. The Texan’s crew worked hard from the morning’s free practice session to deliver a competitive set up that gave Spies the opportunity to challenge the top riders for grid position. Having spent some time in the one hour heat contesting the second place spot with his team mate, Spies eventually settled for fifth at the end and a second row start for tomorrow’s race.
Jorge Lorenzo – Position 1st – Time 1.37.161 – Laps 29
“Today has been complicated; I’ve got it just by a tenth in the end, managing five good laps with the softer tyre. The most important thing is the race though, not that I have 43 pole position starts. This track is strange to ride on, quite old with lots of holes so you have to ride with care. I need a good start tomorrow, be focussed, intelligent and have good luck. The bike is improving, it’s much better in fast corners but we could be faster on the straight.”
Ben Spies – Position 5th – Time 1.37.866 – Laps 29
“It was a good session for us; we definitely made the bike better after we’ve been struggling a bit this weekend. I knew we were capable of it if we got the bike working with the right set up. We’re not 100% but I’m happy to be in the middle of the second row. Hopefully we can get a good start and put together a good race. I’m definitely feeling a lot better after qualifying than I did yesterday.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“The first pole of the season so of course we are very satisfied with it. We know Jorge is good here at Estoril but our mission is to be on the podium and keep our unbroken podium finish run alive. Of course to have pole is nice but tomorrow is the race, it will be a difficult one so it is important to start well.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“A good improvement today, Ben delivered an impressive qualifying session. Now we have a rider on first and second row which is a good starting point for the race. Here it is not easy to overtake people so it is very important that we have these positions. Jorge started yesterday determined and he finished qualifying today the same way with a really impressive result.”
Edwards and Crutchlow storm to third row in Estoril
Colin Edwards produced his best qualifying performance of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship in Estoril today, the American surging to a brilliant seventh position on the grid for tomorrow’s Portuguese Grand Prix.
And Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team-mate Cal Crutchlow equalled his best qualifying result of his outstanding rookie campaign after the British rider set the eighth quickest time in this afternoon’s session. With small damp patches still littering sections of the 2.599 miles circuit after torrential overnight rain, Edwards and Crutchlow expertly built up their speed to qualify within 0.109s of each other at the end of a typically captivating MotoGP qualifying session.
Edwards ended with a fastest time of 1.38.080 and once again the experienced Texan was the leading non-factory rider in the ultra-competitive MotoGP field. His time was only 0.007s away from the second row as he experimented with different front-end settings throughout the hour-long session to find better turning performance with his YZR-M1 machine.
Crutchlow caught the eye once again with his all-action style thrilling a sizeable Saturday crowd ahead of tomorrow’s 28-lap race. He was able to lap consistently inside the top ten throughout as forecast rain held off, despite dark clouds hanging menacingly over the track.
Just over a minute remained when Crutchlow stormed into sixth position with a lap of 1.38.190. But he was bumped back to the third row by a late burst of speed from factory Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso and Edwards. He managed to lap marginally quicker on his final lap to qualify eighth and for the third r ace in succession, the 2009 World Supersport champion will start in front of Italian Valentino Rossi.
Tomorrow’s race is the third round of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship following the recent postponement of the Japanese MotoGP race, scheduled to take place on April 24.
Colin Edwards – Position 7th – Time 1.38.080 – Laps 27
“That’s my best qualifying result of the season so far, so I’m happy about that when you consider how strong the field is this year. I gave it everything I had out there even though conditions weren’t perfect. There were still a couple of damp patches on the track, especially at the last corner, and I couldn’t take my normal line. It is the same for everybody but in a couple of places where I had to alter my line, it threw me out of my rhythm a little bit. Even with the track a bit patchy I was able to go fas ter than I managed yesterday, so thanks again to my guys in the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team. They did an awesome job and the bike feels good and in those conditions I don’t think we could have gone any faster. We made a couple of changes to the front in that session and we need to sit down and look at the data to see if I’ll run that set-up in the race. We might need to make another modification for the race because I’d still like the bike to turn into the corner a little better. To be right behind the factory bikes is all I can do and my team is doing a fantastic job to help get as close to the front as I am.”
Cal Crutchlow – Position 8th – Time 1.38.189 – Laps 25
“I don’t think I could have gone any faster or put in any extra effort than I did. And if I can keep coming to circuits that I’ve never seen and qualifying inside the top ten, I’m going to be really happy. At one point it look ed like I might get my first second row, but to be in between Colin and Valentino on the grid for my first race here, I’ve got to be really happy. I pretty much lost a session too because I only did a couple of laps in the wet this morning. It wasn’t worth taking any big risks and I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to finish last. It is not easy on this track and I’m finding it quite physical. I’m still having some issues with arm pump in my right arm and to compensate I’m using my left arm a lot and that is stressing the shoulder I had an operation on during the winter. There’s no real time to relax and when you’re braking from 200mph to 30mph, it is really physically demanding on the arms and shoulders. I’m really looking forward to the race now and hopefully I can reward the team with a good result after all their effort again this weekend. My aim for tomorrow will be to finish in the top ten and get some more experience of the bike under my belt.”
2011 MotoGP Portugal
1 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 1’37.161
2 Marco Simoncelli Honda ITA 1’37.294
3 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 1’37.324
4 Casey Stoner Honda AUS 1’37.384
5 Ben Spies Yamaha USA 1’37.866
6 Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 1’38.073
7 Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 1’38.080
8 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 1’38.189
9 Valentino Rossi Ducati ITA 1’38.271
10 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 1’38.363
11 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda JPN 1’38.497
12 Karel Abraham Ducati CZE 1’38.786
13 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 1’38.922
14 Loris Capirossi Ducati ITA 1’38.934
15 Alvaro Bautista Suzuki ESP 1’39.172
(Daniel Pedrosa, 1/1/2009)
Fastest Lap Ever:
(Jorge Lorenzo, 4/13/2008)
Last Years Winner: