Circuit de Catalunya
Simoncelli secures maiden MotoGP pole position in Catalunya
Marco Simoncelli has shown great pace this season and after qualifying second for the last two races, today he snatched his first premier class pole position from Casey Stoner with just 40 seconds of the session remaining.
Stoner has been the pacesetter in every free practice session this weekend and was sitting in provisional pole until Simoncelli put in a scorching penultimate lap using the harder front and softer rear Bridgestone slicks to usurp the Australian by 0.016seconds. Jorge Lorenzo completes tomorrow’s front row, with Ben Spies, Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow making up row two. The times at the front were very close and just 0.03seconds separated the top five.
Conditions today remained dry for both MotoGP sessions but after rain yesterday and overnight, track conditions have not been ideal. Simoncelli’s lap was less than 0.1seconds from the existing lap record, but the temperature is lower than in previous years and circuit grip is quite low.
Consequently, almost all riders favoured the harder front tyre for its better stability under braking and the softer rear tyre, which this year in Catalunya is the medium compound asymmetric slick, for its added rear grip. Race tyre choice tomorrow is likely to be more varied however as all options have been used to good effect this weekend.
The circuit generally seems to be more slippery this year, with a few possible contributing factors. The intermittent rain yesterday and overnight has not helped in cleaning the track, each time making it dirtier. The track temperature is 18 degrees Celsius lower than last year, and also the tarmac itself is not in the best condition.
Hirohide Hamashima – Assistant to Director, Motorsport Tyre Development Division
“Firstly I must congratulate Marco and the San Carlo Honda Gresini team for their performance today, and after proving his speed this season it is good to see him achieve his first pole. It was quite a tricky session for the riders as I can say now after two sessions of running without interruption from rain that the grip level this weekend seems quite low. Still the times at the front are fast and close to the lap record, but the track is not in perfect condition.
“I am pleased that both front tyre compounds are working well as shown by the fact that after yesterday’s practices almost all riders chose one of each option in their final front tyre allocation, whereas normally we see that most riders have a clear favourite from Friday. The softer rear tyre was the preferred option in these conditions today, and I am very satisfied that we revised our tyre compound selection before this race to bring this medium compound rear as last year we didn’t have this tyre here in Catalunya.”