Yamaha Factory Racing riders Ben Spies and Jorge Lorenzo scored the first double Yamaha front row of the year today in qualifying for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Local hero Spies continued to impress with the strong form in evidence from the beginning of the weekend. The qualifying session saw him quickly up to impressive speed. Despite repeatedly breaking under the pole time for the first two splits Spies was unable to topple Casey Stoner from the top spot so will start from second place for the race.
Reigning World Champion Lorenzo finally made a breakthrough mid-qualifying after struggling for the first three sessions to find a competitive set up on the newly surfaced Indianapolis track. A big set up change to his YZR-M1 with less than half the session to go changed his fortunes, allowing him to climb quickly up to third behind his team mate with two quick laps in succession. Lorenzo will now use the valuable warm up time tomorrow morning to test the consistency of the set up before the race.
Position 2nd – Time 1.39.373 – Laps 25
“It was good today, we didn’t have a fast lap in the end but we got on the front row. We did over 30 laps on a set of tyres and went quite quick at the end, still able to do 39s which is good. The last couple of laps we tried our hardest to catch Casey but with five minutes to go I think I ripped my tank spacer off that holds me back on the bike which didn’t help. I wasn’t disappointed as I knew we had a gap to fourth so we’d be on the front row. It wasn’t the perfect session and Casey was just too fast. I think the race will be different; the tyres will be pretty greasy after ten laps but my bike’s working really well on used tyres so we’ll see what happens.”
Position 3rd – Time 1.39.629 – Laps 26
“Qualifying was much better than the other three practices so far this weekend. I improved a lot and had a lot more confidence with the front, we changed one bike completely which worked. We are much more confident for tomorrow now. I would like to be closer to Casey, but seven tenths is better than one second and a half. It’s going to be a very tough race for everybody. The front tyre, especially on the left side is graining from the fourth lap so it’s going to be a complicated ride. Let’s see what happens.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“Well I can say one thing, we finally found the right direction to go in which is where we struggled until half way through qualifying. With the bike adjustment we improved a lot, we fitted a qualifying tyre and Jorge pushed for two laps. The bike was stable and we were quite pleased with the result. Ben has been spot on the whole weekend and I think he will be a big contender for the victory for tomorrow. We need to find consistency now and see if we can improve a little bit more for the race.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“The overall result is pretty good today, both riders are on the front row and there is no better way to start the race. Ben’s rhythm is very good so I am positive; we have done a really good job so far. Jorge improved every session and is now up there so I am expecting a really good battle tomorrow.”
Edwards primed for top six challenge in Indianapolis
Colin Edwards will start his bid for a top six finish in front of his home fans at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway tomorrow from the second row of the grid after he equalled his best qualifying performance of 2011 this afternoon.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider was able to transfer his stunning practice form into the 60-minute qualifying session and he will start tomorrow’s 28-lap race from sixth position on the grid.
Throughout the three practice sessions, Edwards was consistently running inside the top six and a fastest lap of 1.40.098 in a sun-drenched qualifying session saw him finish just over 0.1s away from claiming fourth spot on the grid.
With the new infield tarmac offering vastly improved levels of grip with more rubber laid down on the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway today, Edwards was able to lap 1.2s faster than his best time in qualifying for last year’s race.
The 37-year-old Texan is now optimistic that he can battle for a third top six result of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship to strengthen his bid to finish the campaign as the leading non-factory rider.
British rider Cal Crutchlow had a frustrating end to an otherwise encouraging qualifying session and he will start the 12th round of this year’s World Championship from 11th position on the grid.
The 25-year-old has dedicated the majority of his time this weekend working hard with his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team crew to make progress in finding a comfortable front-end setting with his YZR-M1 machine.
His commitment and determination looked like being rewarded with a top 10 place on the grid, but as he pushed to improve his best lap time of 1.40.620, Crutchlow came across Loris Capirossi riding slowly on the racing line at Turn 13 in the final two minutes.
Crutchlow had to quickly take evasive action to avoid a collision with the Ducati rider and he ran into the gravel trap, preventing him from making any further improvement to his lap time.
Despite missing out on his ninth top 10 grid position of the season, Crutchlow is confident he can battle with factory riders Nicky Hayden and Alvaro Bautista in tomorrow’s race.
Position 6th – Time 1.40.098 – Laps 26
“The weekend has been great so far and now I’m really looking forward to the race tomorrow. I haven’t been out of the top six in every session and everything has been working fantastic. I feel great on the bike, my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team have been working tirelessly again to give me a competitive package, and I’m sure a realistic goal is to finish in the top six. That would be a great result and I’m hoping to put on a good show for the Indy crowd tomorrow. The new pavement was a million times better today. Yesterday it was greasy and I was sliding around all over the place, but to finish third in that first practice session gave me a lot of confidence immediately and we have just built on that. Right at the end on one of the soft tyres I knew I had to take a risk on the first lap. Normally I’m not the guy that pushes on the first lap, but I knew here that the soft tyre needed to be hammered right out of the pitlane when it had a lot better grip than the second lap. The bike has felt the best it has for a few races and now I’m excited for the race. I need a good start but I’ll be looking to have a good fight wi th Dovizioso and Simoncelli. In this heat it is going to be a long and tough race, but I’ll be giving it my all for the American fans.”
Position 11th – Time 1.40.620 – Laps 24
“I’m pretty disappointed with Loris today. He is the most experienced rider on track and he should no better than anybody that riding slowly at the end of a qualifying session when everybody is going to be pushing hard for a decent grid position isn’t the right thing to do. The worst thing was he looked behind twice and saw me coming but he stayed on the racing line when he knew I was on a fast lap. I had to swerve really quick to avoid hitting him and that is disappointing. I’m not saying I was going to jump into the top five, but I’m sure without that I might have qualified inside the top 10. That would have been a good result because I’m struggling with the fro nt-end again. I keep losing the front and it is proving quite difficult at the moment to find an improvement. I’m working really hard, and so are my guys, to find a solution. But we haven’t quite made me as comfortable on the bike as I’d like. My pace is still not that bad and I’m sure I can be fighting in a group with Nicky and Alvaro tomorrow. If I can get a good start, I’m hopeful I can stay with them and have a good scrap.”
2011 MotoGP United States
1 Casey Stoner Honda AUS 1’38.850
2 Ben Spies Yamaha USA 1’39.373
3 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 1’39.629
4 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 1’39.947
5 Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 1’40.024
6 Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 1’40.098
7 Marco Simoncelli Honda ITA 1’40.204
8 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 1’40.244
9 Alvaro Bautista Suzuki ESP 1’40.333
10 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 1’40.360
11 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 1’40.620
12 Randy De Puniet Ducati FRA 1’40.815
13 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda JPN 1’40.925
14 Valentino Rossi Ducati ITA 1’40.975
15 Toni Elias Honda ESP 1’41.030
Fastest Lap Ever:
(Casey Stoner, 8/28/2011)
Last Years Winner: