World Champion Jorge Lorenzo made a sensational comeback from a high speed crash this morning to utterly dominate qualifying and take pole position for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of U.S.A, his first of the 2011 season. The high side crash at the end of the morning’s practice left some wondering if the Yamaha Factory rider would make it through the whole qualifying session. Fears proved to be unfounded as the Mallorcan took to the track like a man possessed, breaking under the 1.22 mark on his first flying lap. A string of consistent laps saw him keep the top spot for the entire session barring a brief challenge by his team mate Ben Spies. Lorenzo reclaimed pole quickly and kept it to the end of the session, breaking the lap record in the process. Spies spent the early part of the session refining his set up, then having settled into a consistent pace put in a blistering lap to take provisional pole position from his team mate with a 1’21.578. Lorenzo was quick to take first position back but Spies was still threatening to secure a front row start until a mistake on the brakes in turn three ended his qualifying session. As a result he will start from the second row of the grid tomorrow in fourth position, just 0.376 seconds from pole.
Position 1st – Time 1.21.202 – Laps 35
“This pole position was unexpected for us after this morning, but thankfully I feel more pain walking than I do riding the bike. Of course I’m not in perfect condition on the bike and for sure I have to put more pressure on my arms and will get more tired. I think I was very lucky this morning that I had no big injuries. I think this pole position is for us an impressive result.”
Position 4th – Time 1.21.578 – Laps 25
“It wasn’t a bad qualifying session, we tried a couple of things and the race set up is not so bad. We got in qualifying mode and got some pretty good laps in. I made a mistake and locked the front up on the brakes going in to turn three trying super hard to get on the front row. The Yamaha boss said to me last night that he wanted me on the front row so I was doing everything I could. Joking aside I was trying everything and just made a small mistake. I banged my hand up quite a bit but it will be fine and ready for the race tomorrow. I think we’ll find a couple of things with the bike in the morning and hopefully it’ll be a good day.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“I’m a very happy team manager today! We had an unbelievable qualifying session. It’s the first one this year! After the crash nobody really thought about having pole but just seeing how we are for tomorrow’s race. His second lap was a 21.9, I thank that was a thank you to his mechanics because he used the bike that he crashed with this morning. It was pretty smashed up after the crash so they worked hard to make it ready. I think the consistent lap times show he is ready to rock and roll tomorrow.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“Jorge has an impressive pace, he got a really good pole position; he really has all he needs to be the front guy tomorrow. Unfortunately Ben crashed during his last lap. We improved the bike a lot from yesterday in set up and I think we could have got the first row. Second row is ok, just a three tenth gap which is not so bad, I think tomorrow he can be there too. We are going to check the data according to Ben’s comments and decide which rear tyre to use tomorrow.”
Crutchlow and Edwards aim for strong results in Laguna Seca
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team riders Cal Crutchlow and Colin Edwards will start alongside each other on the fourth row of the grid for tomorrow’s US Grand Prix.
Crutchlow will start from 10th position after posting a fastest time of 1.22.385 in a sun-drenched qualifying session, the British rider gaining vital knowledge of the Laguna Seca track while also working on the set-up of his YZR-M1 machine to improve rear grip.
The 25-year-old put in 31-laps to help him get a clear understanding of whether he will race the soft or hard compound Bridgestone rear tyre in tomorrow’s 32-lap encounter, and he finished just 1.183s away from pole position.
Crutchlow’s performance today lifted his confidence levels and he is determined to challenge for his first top 10 finish since he was a brilliant seventh in the Catalunya round near Barcelona in early June.
Starting from one place further back on the grid will be Edwards, who has been overwhelmed by the support he’s received from the American fans this weekend.
The popular Texan worked tirelessly throughout today on his YZR-M1 settings and like Crutchlow, he dedicated the majority of his efforts on improving rear grip. The final result on the timesheets though was not what Edwards was expecting and his time of 1.22.520 left him 11th quickest.
Edwards is still fired up and determined to fight for a top result tomorrow having finished seventh at the California track for the last two years.
Position 10th – Time 1.22.385 – Laps 31
“I’m pretty happy to be in the top ten and I managed to pull something out of the bag when I needed it right at the end of the session. My race pace is only a couple of tenths off running in the top eight, so I need to get a good start. I’m still not sure what tyre to run. Lorenzo can run the hard tyre because he is so smooth, but we’re torn at the moment which one to choose. I think I’ll probably go for the hard tyre but we’ll check the setting and make sure we can be consistent. It is a long race here so the soft might not be the best option over race distance. The track today seemed to be in much better condition. Yesterday I was doing 24s but now I’m doing low 22s but that’s also because I’m gaining more experience of the track. I still need to change my style a little but on a track you don’t know it is difficult to do that. Hopefully when we get to Brno that I know, I’ll feel more comfortable to be able to work on my technique because some things I do on the bike don’t help in the hot conditions. The goal tomorrow will be to finish in the top ten and get out of here with some experience and some solid points under my belt. It would also be good to have a battle with some guys as well because that helps you learn and pick up experience.”
Position 11th – Time 1.22.520 – Laps 31
“It just wasn’t happening out there today at all and I’m not really sure why. The last thing I want is to be outside of the top ten on the grid for my home race, but I put in my maximum effort and I was still finding it really hard. I’m not where I am through a lack of trying but I just don’t have the rear grip I need. It is spinning a lot and we made some changes to the bike for this afternoon but it didn’t improve the situation. We know the bike is better than what we had last year but I couldn’t even match my qualifying time from last year. And that is what makes it really strange to understand. The rear is still too nervous and twitching around and it isn’t a lot of fun out there at the moment. The bike as it is set-up right now is not working, so we’ll have a sit down tonight and go back to the drawing board and come up with a plan for the race tomorrow. I can assure the American fans I’ll be going out there and giving it 100 per cent and pushing as hard as I can to get a good result for them because their support has been amazing so far this weekend.”
2011 MotoGP United States
Laguna Seca 24/07/2011
1 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 1’21.202
2 Casey Stoner Honda AUS 1’21.274
3 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 1’21.385
4 Ben Spies Yamaha USA 1’21.578
5 Marco Simoncelli Honda ITA 1’21.696
6 Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 1’21.731
7 Valentino Rossi Ducati ITA 1’22.235
8 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 1’22.238
9 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 1’22.271
10 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 1’22.385
11 Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 1’22.520
12 Alvaro Bautista Suzuki ESP 1’22.669
13 Karel Abraham Ducati CZE 1’22.893
14 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda JPN 1’22.937
15 Randy De Puniet Ducati FRA 1’22.961
(Casey Stoner, 01/01/2010)
Fastest Lap Ever:
(Casey Stoner, 20/07/2008)
Last Years Winner: