Yamaha Factory rider Ben Spies made it count this afternoon in difficult weather conditions to take third on the grid for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Valencia. The Texan completed his fastest lap on a used set of tyres having patiently circled waiting for a gap in the changing weather to put in a qualifying time.
Katsuyuki Nakasuga faced yet another treacherous day of unpredictable weather as he learnt his way around the twisty Valencia circuit. A fresh rear tyre towards the end of the qualifying session saw him exit the pits in confident mood to set a qualifying time however the drops of rain on the track meant he was unable to improve on 15th position.
Position 3rd – Time 1.33.057 – Laps 22
“Qualifying was really hectic today for all the riders. There was a sprinkling of rain all the way through which makes you very nervous about how much to push. I have to say thank you Yamaha for a great bike. It’s working great here so we just need to pray for some dry time for the race. We’re going to get some rest tonight and try to make sure we end the season on a high tomorrow.”
Position 15th – Time 1.35.999 – Laps 25
“Today was quite difficult with the different weather conditions. I did feel that I understood the track a little bit better. This afternoon in qualifying we changed to a new tyre and I felt good with it but unfortunately was not able to make a better time as I was unsure how much to push with some rain falling. Tomorrow I will do my best for Yamaha; the experience will also help me in the future as a test rider!”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“It’s been a very challenging weekend for Nakasuga-san to learn a complicated track in difficult weather conditions. Yesterday was pretty wet and this afternoon in qualifying there were spots of rain throughout. There’s been no clear run in one weather condition for him which has added to the complexity of the task. Under the circumstances we’re happy with his progress. It’s going to be a tough race tomorrow but we are all behind him.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“I think Ben really proved what he could do this afternoon, he didn’t surprise me, I was confident for him. I was a little worried about the weather but he did a great job despite the tricky conditions. To start from the front row considering all the problems we’ve had recently shows he is a tough rider. Unfortunately Nakasuga-san didn’t find the best conditions to learn a new track, Valencia looks simple but it isn’t. He knows what he has to do so I’m sure he’ll deliver the best result possible tomorrow.”
Crutchlow and Hayes ready for season finale
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Cal Crutchlow will start his quest to win the coveted MotoGP Rookie of the Year title in tomorrow’s GP Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana from 11th position on the grid.
The British rider set a best time of 1.34.329s in cool and windy conditions at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit this afternoon to finish less than 0.2s away from claiming a spot on the third row of the grid for tomorrow’s season ending 30-lap race.
This afternoon’s qualifying session took place on a dry track, despite spots of rain falling intermittently during the session as threatening grey clouds hung over the 2.489 miles circuit.
Crutchlow is looking forward to a strong battle with Karel Abraham in the final race of the 800cc era tomorrow as the fight to be crowned 2011 MotoGP Rookie of the Year goes down to the wire.
The Czech Republic rider will start one place higher up on the grid but Crutchlow is confident he can end his first year with the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team on a high note by claiming the Rookie of the Year prize for the second successive season for the French-based squad.
Josh Hayes, who is replacing injured American Colin Edwards, got his first chance to experience the true potential of the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 machine today.
Both practice sessions yesterday took place in wet conditions, but today the 36-year-old got his first taste of carbon brakes and Bridgestone’s slick tyres with the third practice and qualifying taking place on a dry track.
Despite learning about the potential of the YZR-M1 machine while also continuing to gain knowledge of the Ricardo Tormo Circuit, which he only experienced for the first time yesterday, the double American Superbike Champion produced an exceptional display to post a best lap of 1.36.042 and he will start from 16th position.
Position 11th – Time 1.34.329 – Laps 25
“Today wasn’t the easiest day and I’d have liked to have qualified inside the top 10. Finding a good set-up with the bike has been quite difficult and the weather conditions haven’t made it any easier with such little dry track time. The problems are similar to what I’ve been experiencing in the last few races. It is hard for me to stop and turn the bike but I’m still confident I can have a strong race tomorrow. We’ll analyse the data tonight and see what we can come up with to improve my feeling with the bike. I’m sure it will be a good battle with Karel tomorrow. We have been so close on the timesheets all weekend, so it could be an exciting battle for the Rookie of the Year award. I’d love to win it for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team after Ben Spies won it last year.”
Position 16th – Time 1.36.256 – Laps 25
“Having got the chance to ride the Yamaha YZR-M1 machine in the dry, all I can say is it is an incredible machine. The power and acceleration compared to the superbike I race in America is incredible. The carbon brakes are impressive too and the chassis works much differently in these conditions than I expected. It is definitely not easy adapting to this bike and the big thing is that I just need more time to understand it. This afternoon’s session started off on rain tyres, but the track was completel y dry and three times during the session you would ride around and big rain spots would start to hit you. I am not sure how the Bridgestone tyres work with some moisture on the track. And I didn’t want to push too hard and crash because that would cost me precious time I need to understand the bike and learn the track. All in all I am happy with the job I’ve done for the Team but obviously as a racer you always want more and I’d like to be a bit closer to the regular guys. But I’ve had two wet sessions, one dry and one session where conditions were a bit dodgy, so the weather hasn’t helped my preparations much. I’m really looking forward to the race though and it will be great to be part of the last 800cc race.”
2011 MotoGP Spain
1 Casey Stoner Honda AUS 1’31.861
2 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 1’32.875
3 Ben Spies Yamaha USA 1’33.057
4 Randy De Puniet Ducati FRA 1’33.118
5 Alvaro Bautista Suzuki ESP 1’33.443
6 Valentino Rossi Ducati ITA 1’33.478
7 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 1’33.656
8 Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 1’33.824
9 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 1’34.186
10 Karel Abraham Ducati CZE 1’34.265
11 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 1’34.329
12 Loris Capirossi Ducati ITA 1’34.671
13 Toni Elias Honda ESP 1’34.680
14 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda JPN 1’34.838
15 Katsuyuki Nakasuga Yamaha JPN 1’35.999
16 Josh Hayes Yamaha USA 1’36.042
(Marco Melandri, 1/1/2005)
Fastest Lap Ever:
(Valentino Rossi, 10/29/2006)
Last Years Winner: