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Lorenzo and Spies take front row at Philip Island, Rossi unlucky in eight

Jorge Lorenzo secured his 15th front row start of the season at Phillip Island today, in a qualifying session made difficult by cold temperatures and windy conditions at the cliff-top track. His Fiat Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi came in for some bad luck in the final stages of the session and could only manage to qualify eighth.

After yesterday’s downpours today was largely sunny, but strong winds and biting cold made it another testing day on track for the riders. Lorenzo and his crew spent the session focusing on improving their time in the fourth split, where they found they were losing time this morning, and were able to make some improvements although there is still more to be done. The new World Champion spent a brief sojourn at the top of the time sheets before being ousted by Casey Stoner and he was unable to come any closer to the Australian’s time, settling for second place and the middle of the front row.

Rossi has been searching for a comfortable set-up all weekend and he made some improvements today but was still lacking race pace in comparison to his rivals. He was hopeful of making a challenge for the front row but luck was not on his side today as all three of his planned qualifying laps, when he was using the softer Bridgestone tyres, were interrupted. He was hampered first by another rider, then a crashed bike on track and then the weather, as it started to spit with rain with three minutes to go. The Italian will start tomorrow from eighth on the grid, in the middle of the third row.

Jorge Lorenzo – Position: 2ndTime: 1’30.775Laps: 25
“These conditions were really risky because it was so cold and also incredibly windy. It was hard to stay on the bike sometimes! I’m happy with my race pace which is unusual for me here because I’ve never been so strong in MotoGP at this track, but I think we’ve done a good job. I wanted pole today but the weather and Casey stopped me – he is so quick here. We have the second best time so it is okay and I am feeling very calm after last weekend. We hope the weather is like this or better tomorrow, with no rain, and then we will go for it and see what happens in the race. I am ready for the race; I just want to enjoy it.”

Valentino Rossi – Position: 8thTime: 1’31.627Laps: 27
“I was really unlucky today because with each of the softer tyres, when I think I could have improved a bit, I had problems. First it was Espargaro, then Hayden’s bike on the track and then it began to rain, so I couldn’t use any of the tyres how I wanted in the end. We start from the third row, which will be very hard, especially because our race pace isn’t that strong and we don’t have the right set-up yet. We need to work hard tonight and tomorrow morning to try to improve. The conditions aren’t good and it’s a great pity because this is a fantastic track but you can’t enjoy it in this cold, because it takes so long for the tyres to get to the right temperature. Tomorrow will be hard, but we will see what we can do.”

Wilco Zeelenberg – Team Manager
The conditions are very difficult but of course it’s the same for everyone. We decided to concentrate on improving the final split because this is where we were losing the most time this morning and in the end we were able to improve quite a lot, but we know we can still do more. We have some ideas, which we need to sit down and discuss now. Second on the grid is good, the rain stopped us at the end but I don’t think we could have got pole anyway today as Casey was very fast. We definitely need to find a few more tenths but anything can happen tomorrow.”

Davide Brivio – Team Manager
“Unfortunately we weren’t really able to try for a good qualifying lap today because Valentino was unlucky with each of his soft tyres today. These issues aside however we are still not set for the race and we need to try to improve our bike more. The starting position is not helpful but if we can fix the bike then we can try, so we will see what we can do in tomorrow morning’s warm-up.”

Spies eyes Rookie prize, Edwards seeks season best
Ben Spies will launch his bid to clinch the prestigious Rookie of the Year title from the front row of the grid in tomorrow’s Australian MotoGP race, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider producing another excellent qualifying performance at a blustery Phillip Island.

Spies’ confidence ahead of qualifying was sky high after he claimed a place in the top three in this morning’s second practice session. And the former World Superbike champion was always a major threat to record his third front row of an amazing debut season after a terrific start to this afternoon’s session.

Spies made further tweaks to the suspension set- up on his YZR-M1 machine this afternoon to gain crucial rear grip at the technical and spectacular 4.448km track. The modifications paid immediate dividends with Spies never outside of the top three once a lap of 1.31.387 put him on top of the timesheets with just 19-minutes completed.

In sunny but cool and breezy conditions that saw air temperatures marginally higher than yesterday at 12 degrees, the 26-year-old then posted a lap of 1.31.386 to consolidate his place in the top three.

His bid to try and challenge for a repeat of his incredible Indianapolis pole position though was foiled when light rain spots began to fall on the picturesque Phillip Island circuit.

Each time Spies commenced a fast lap on the softer compound Bridgestone rear tyre, he noticed rain spots on his visor. Sensibly avoiding taking unnecessary risks, he backed off but his earlier time still secure d him a brilliant front row start for the 27-lap race.

Colin Edwards had a productive day too, the 36-year-old in terrific form this morning to register the second fastest time behind home crowd favourite Casey Stoner. Edwards was able to comfortably lap inside the top ten during qualifying before modifications to improve turning performance enabled him to drastically drop his lap times.

The changes saw Edwards immediately go 0.5s faster, a 1.31.521 moving him from eighth to fourth with eight minutes remaining. He knocked a further tenth off on his next lap and looked like claiming his best qualifying result of the season until Marco Simoncelli dropped him back to fifth in the closing minutes. His best time of 1.31.415 was less than 0.1s behind Spies. 

Ben Spies – Position: 3rd Time: 1’31.386 Laps: 23
“I’m really happy to be on the front row again but a little bit surprised. I was really happy with my pace and the lap times earlier in the session but each time I tried to go quicker in the last part I’d have spots of rain on my visor. I’d warm up the tyres and see nothing but as soon as I’d push going into the first corner to start a fast lap, I was getting a lot of rain on my visor. I didn’t want to take a big risk when I knew I was already pretty close to the front row. My qualifying time is a pace that I can run in the race, so I’m happy with that. I’m confident because I haven’t finished a session thinking I put in a great session. So if we can put everything together and ride really well and the bike is working good, maybe I can fight for the podium. I’ve got the lap time to make the podium but I just want to make the bike better for the last ten laps of the race. It would be nice to clinch the Rookie of the Year title tomorrow. It would be another box ticked in what has been a really po sitive season so far.” 

Colin Edwards – Position: 5th Time: 1’31.415 Laps: 26
“It was almost my best qualifying result of the season but I’m happy with fifth and being so close to Ben on the front row gives me a lot of confidence for the race. I have felt really good on the bike today and finishing second this morning gave me a lot of confidence. I had a fairly good set-up this morning with the bike but I was just missing a little bit of turning performance. We left the bike for the start of qualifying and I was basically doing the same lap times as this morning. So we made some changes to the front for my last rear tyre and immediately I was able to go half-a-second faster. It just felt easy and I gained so much confidence that I could put the bike where I wanted it to be on the track. I’m happy with my race pace and I’m ready, so hopefully I can get my best result of the year. We’ll ha ve to see what the weather throws at us but I’m ready for anything.”

Lap Record: 1’30.332 (Marco Melandri, 01/01/2005)
Fastest Lap Ever: 1’28.665 (Casey Stoner, 05/10/2008)
Last Years Winner: Casey Stoner

2010 MotoGP Australia – Phillip Island 16/10/2010

Qualifying 1
Pos. Rider Manu. Nat. Total Time
1 Casey Stoner Ducati AUS 1’30.107
2 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 1’30.775
3 Ben Spies Yamaha USA 1’31.386
4 Marco Simoncelli Honda ITA 1’31.402
5 Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 1’31.415
6 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 1’31.530
7 Randy De Puniet Honda FRA 1’31.554
8 Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 1’31.627
9 Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 1’32.018
10 Marco Melandri Honda ITA 1’32.367
11 Aleix Espargaro Ducati ESP 1’32.542
12 Mika Kallio Ducati FIN 1’32.816
13 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda JPN 1’33.190
14 Alvaro Bautista Suzuki ESP 1’33.224
15 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 1’33.384
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