Yamaha Factory Racing riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies managed to escape the threat of rain today and enjoy a third free practice and subsequent qualifying session under dry and sunny conditions. Lorenzo will start the Grand Prix of Catalunya tomorrow from the front row in third position on the grid, his team mate Spies taking fourth for a second row start.
Both riders made big steps forward from yesterday with the improved weather; the reigning World Champion Lorenzo finding over a second from day one to wrap up qualifying 0.315 seconds from pole. The improvement from Spies was even more impressive, the Texan finding nearly two seconds today and running as high as second place during qualifying. A front row start was looking possible until a concerted effort by his Mallorcan team mate relegated him to the second row at the end of the heat, just 0.014 seconds behind Lorenzo.
Jorge Lorenzo – Position 3rd Time 1.42.728 Laps 25
“It has been a tough session today. In the morning it was good but in the afternoon we struggled a little bit. I pushed as hard as I could for pole but it was not possible. The race will also be tough because we are still quite far from the front but not as far as yesterday. If we can take one or two tenths we can fight for something, but I think a win would be a miracle.”
Ben Spies - Position 4th Time 1.42.742 Laps 27
“It was a good session although we were missing a little bit of time out there. Looking at the ideal split times it would have put us on the front row. We’re in a good position in fourth all the way to the left of the grid so hopefully we can have a good start and have a good first couple of corners. The bike is working really well and we’ve been top five for most of the weekend. The weather’s looking like it might be ok for tomorrow now so I’m looking forward to the race. It’s been a while since we’ve been consistently quick so hopefully we can make the bike better, we’re going to try some set up changes in the morning and I’m feeling a lot happier on the bike.”
Wilco Zeelenberg - Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“Not the best qualifying we’ve had so far. This morning it went well and we made some adjustments after that. This afternoon they didn’t really work out, Jorge was missing some front end feeling so was pushing hard, we need to solve that for tomorrow. Anyway we are happy to be on the front row because that’s important but it’s more important now to solve our front end problem.”
Massimo Meregalli - Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“I’m satisfied with the results, Ben is feeling a lot more comfortable and has a better feeling on the bike, he rode very well in all the sessions and is clearly enjoying riding the bike. It’s very important to start the race from a good position which he has in fourth on the grid. The crew is working really well and Ben is happy with the behaviour of the bike; he is being smooth, fast and consistent which is a good signal for tomorrow. We completed a long run with good pace so now we have to decide which tyre to use tomorrow, other than that we are pretty much set. Jorge is starting from the front row which is very important for his race here at his home track. He will for sure fight for the best result possible.”
Top six for Crutchlow, successful surgery for Edwards
Cal Crutchlow will start tomorrow’s Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya from sixth position on the grid after the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider produced another outstanding qualifying performance this afternoon.
The 2009 World Supersport champion was a serious contender for the top six throughout today’s session, run in warmer conditions than expected as temperatures peaked at 25 degrees.
Crutchlow spent the majority of the session working to improve the side grip performance with his Bridgestone rear tyre options, the British rider soaring into fourth place on the timesheets when he posted a lap of 1.43.501 with just over 15 minutes left on the clock.
As the pace hotted up in the final few minutes, Crutchlow slipped down the rankings to sixth position. He kept his cool though and showed how quickly he’s mastered the technical Montmelo circuit by producing a stunning final lap of 1.43.202 to claim his second successive start from the second row of the grid. He finished just over 0.4s away from reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo, who qualified his factory Yamaha YZR-M1 machine in third spot on the front row for tomorrow’s 25-lap race.
Colin Edwards has already commenced his recovery from the broken right collarbone he suffered in a crash during the second free practice yesterday afternoon. The popular American underwent a successful operation on the damaged collarbone at the USP Institut Universitari Dexeus of Barcelona this morming. The procedure was carried out by specialist surgeons Dr Xavier Mir, Head of the Hand Surgery Unit of the Orthopaedics Department of the USP Institut Un iversitari Dexeus, and Dr Victor Marlet. A plate and seven screws was inserted to stabilise the injury.
Edwards will remain under observation in hospital for the next 24 to 48 hours, but the 37-year-old is already in good spirits and planning a return to his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team at the earliest opportunity. The collarbone injury ends the Texan’s proud record of starting 141 consecutive races since his MotoGP debut back in 2003.
Cal Crutchlow – Position 6th Time 1.43.202 Laps 22
“I’m happy enough to be on the second row of the grid again because this is another track I’ve come to with zero experience and I’ve shown my raw speed and proved a few people wrong. Ben (Spies) was fifth here last year and I was trying to get that one place higher up to equal it, but I can’t be disappointed with sixth on the grid. All cred it to the Team because they have done a fantastic job again. We’ve still got some work to do to improve the side grip but I’m confident we can make the set-up better for the race. As soon as I open the throttle I’m struggling for grip, so if we can improve in that area we should be on course for a strong result. As I get faster and faster I have to keep changing my riding style but I think I can have an interesting race if I can get away from the start. It’s a long run down to the first corner here so I need a good start to avoid getting bunched up at the beginning. It’s a shame Colin is not here because I can learn lot from him on the data that helps me out a lot, particularly with lines. I heard he sent the Team a text saying he wanted to see me ‘kick some ass’, so hopefully I can do that for him tomorrow.”
Herve Poncharal – Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team Manager
“Colin had his operation this morning in Barcelona and I am pleased to report that it was a routine procedure and everything went very well. Although he was in quite a lot of pain yesterday, the only positive is that the injury was a clean break without any complications, so we are confident the recovery will be a quick process and we will see Colin back on track very soon. We are still obviously very sorry for what happened to Colin but he is already back to being the Colin we know and love, laughing and joking with staff at the hospital, so we hope to see him back in the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 family very soon. Cal though is certainly doing his best to put the smile back on our faces. His performances on tracks he’s never seen before have been remarkable, and today he showed again he is a top level MotoGP rider. He looks more like a seasoned campaigner than a rookie and to qualify in the top six again against this competition is a fantastic achievement. We are looking forward to the race with a lot of confidence now and hopefully he can do Colin and the Team proud.”
2011 MotoGP Spain
1 Marco Simoncelli Honda ITA 1’42.413
2 Casey Stoner Honda AUS 1’42.429
3 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 1’42.728
4 Ben Spies Yamaha USA 1’42.742
5 Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 1’42.749
6 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 1’43.202
7 Valentino Rossi Ducati ITA 1’43.223
8 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 1’43.228
9 Alvaro Bautista Suzuki ESP 1’43.447
10 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 1’43.656
11 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda JPN 1’43.734
12 Randy De Puniet Ducati FRA 1’43.764
13 Loris Capirossi Ducati ITA 1’44.068
14 Toni Elias Honda ESP 1’44.510
15 Karel Abraham Ducati CZE 1’45.661
(Valentino Rossi, 1/1/2005)
Fastest Lap Ever:
(Casey Stoner, 6/8/2008)
Last Years Winner: