MotorcycleDaily.com – Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Rossi Powers to Phenomenal Pole in Mugello

Movistar Yamaha_052116
Riding with a special helmet design to mark his first home race of the season, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi brought massive cheers to the Autodromo del Mugello circuit today as he took a sensational pole position in the qualifying session ahead of tomorrow’s Gran Premio d’Italia. Teammate Jorge Lorenzo also pushed hard during the tense 15-minute qualifying heat and secured fifth place on the grid.

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi set a hot pace at the Autodromo del Mugello track today to score a brilliant pole position for tomorrow’s Gran Premio d’Italia. Teammate Jorge Lorenzo also put in a solid performance in the tight qualifying session, securing fifth place.

Rossi arrived at the box with a special helmet that symbolizes how the hills around the Mugello track turn yellow when thousands of his fans come to support him during the Italian GP weekend. He took his time to leave the pit lane as qualifying got underway, allowing most of the other riders to depart before he headed out. The local hero put in a 1’48.433s on his first flying lap to slot into tenth place, before moving up to eighth place with a 1’47.593s on his second attempt.

Unable to improve his time on lap three, the Doctor quickly returned to the pits with less than five minutes on the clock for a new rear tyre. Back on the track, he dug deep and squeezed out all that his YZR-M1 has to offer on his fourth hot lap and set an incredible 1’46.504s to take over first place. The last minute of the session saw a flurry of activity but the Italian’s amazing time was left unchallenged, resulting in his second pole position of the season, 0.094s ahead of his closest rival.

Teammate Lorenzo was the first rider to make his way out on the circuit for the start of the 15-minute qualifying heat, ensuring him some clear track space. He immediately put the hammer down on his first flying lap of 1’47.116s to take provisional third place, before returning to the pits for fresh rubber with ten minutes remaining.

A minute later he was back on the track for more qualifying action. Having been relegated to fourth, the Mallorcan pushed hard to shave a little off his time. He clocked a second hot lap of 1’47.005s but remained in the same position and decided to make a second pit stop to fit a new front tyre.

With two minutes remaining the current MotoGP championship leader started his third and final stint. He waited until the very end of the session to drop a 1’46.882s on his final lap and claim fifth on the grid, 0.378s from pole.

Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director

“What an impressive result by Valentino today! He had been working hard all weekend and really outdid himself this afternoon in qualifying. He showed us some very clever riding to set an incredible lap of 1’46s for his second pole of the season, eight years after his last one here at Mugello! Starting in front is especially crucial here at Mugello, which is a track where overtaking is definitely not easy. Jorge’s qualifying position doesn’t reflect his race pace, which is competitive. He is still looking to make a small step to improve the bike under braking, after that he will be ready for the race. The forecast for tomorrow is good, so we are looking forward to putting on a good show in front of the Italian spectators who will be cheering us on.”

Valentino Rossi
1st / 1’46.504 / 8 laps

“I’m very, very happy because it has been a long time since I last had pole here in Mugello, in the last years I was always struggling a lot. From Free Practice this afternoon we made a good step with the bike and I had a good pace. Qualifying is always difficult, but we followed the right strategy in the right moment of qualifying and I am very happy to start from first position, first of all for all the fans, but especially here it’s so important that I ride in front.”

Jorge Lorenzo
5th / 1’46.882 / 8 laps

“In all the practice sessions, for some reason, we couldn’t take advantage of using a new tyre like the other riders and in qualifying I did my best over three laps but there is still something that’s not good on the bike that we need to discover for tomorrow, especially on braking. I think that our pace is better than our position today suggests and tomorrow’s race will be open with many riders having the possibility to win.”

Confident Smith clinches top satellite position in Mugello qualifying

Monster Yamaha Tech3 team rider Bradley Smith will begin his challenge to score a strong result in Italy from the middle of the third row of the grid after a thorough effort in the highly competitive qualifying session today. The 25-year-old delivered a strong performance in the morning and posted a lap time that was almost 1.7 seconds quicker than his best from yesterday, which saw him seal 7th in FP3. This allowed him to instantly progress through to QP2 and here, he immediately launched into gear. The young Briton eventually posted a personal best on his last lap, which saw him claim the top satellite position and his time was just half a second from the head of the second row. Tomorrow he will aim to repeat his performance of 5th from last year and finish as close as possible to the factory MotoGP riders.

Meanwhile, Pol Espargaro gave his all today at Mugello but suffered bad luck after falling in Q1 and will start tomorrow’s round six battle from the fifth row. The young Spaniard got straight to work as soon as FP3 began, yet, he unfortunately fell half way through the session. Espargaro determinedly remounted, however, despite his best efforts on his second bike, he could not reach the top ten and therefore had to contest in QP1. Here, he shot to a highly impressive time of 1’47.159 only five minutes into the session, which was his quickest lap of the weekend. The 25-year-old embarked on cutting his time further but whilst running a pace that was 0.4 of a second quicker than before, he fell at turn 10. His top time from Q1 would have placed him sixth in the second qualifying shootout but nevertheless, he remains fully determined about powering to a solid finish in tomorrow’s GP.

Bradley Smith
8th / 1’47.247 / 9 laps

“I am really pleased to clinch the top independent position today and we’re on for a good race tomorrow if we keep our heads down. We certainly took advantage of the situation even though it was very competitive because some of the top riders ended up in QP1 and didn’t get out of it. Therefore, I’m happy that we got through to qualifying two via a good performance in FP3. I have to be satisfied with the end result because so far in 2016, it’s been challenging in both the qualifying and in the race. Yet, in Le Mans I feel that the team and I improved quite a lot but unfortunately I made a mistake in the race there. However, we’ve learnt from our mistakes and it worked here. We played around with tyres a bit too much in FP4 so initially in QP2 I wasn’t as quick as I should have been, but we made the right choice for the final run. There are plenty of positives but I want to be in the top independent position in 24 hours time. We know that tomorrow will be hot and as I was able to test all of the tyres today, I have quite a clear plan about which compound to use. There are still a few small refinements to make, but the plan for the race is to get a good start and then try to remain with the factory guys for as long as possible, and then we will see what happens at the end of the GP.”

Pol Espargaro
14th / 1’47.159 / 4 laps

“It has been quite a tricky day for us and although we couldn’t reap the rewards of our labour, I remain upbeat for tomorrow’s race. This morning I was experimenting with the three different front compounds and with one particular tyre, I didn’t feel too comfortable and I ended up falling. During the free practice we were trying a different tyre and for some reason, it was sliding a lot. However, we found out during qualifying, when we used the same compound, that this tyre was a single case as the other one worked really well. With this, the bike was back to it’s normal behaviour and I felt comfortable again. Regarding the result, this may sound strange, but even though we didn’t pass through to QP2, I am pleased because our performance was strong and our race pace is solid. The crash in qualifying one was completely my fault and there are no excuses, but at least I had the pace. Of course, we can’t change the situation now, but to know that I would have been on the second row with my time from QP1 fills me with confidence for tomorrow’s race.”