Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo celebrated his 26th birthday in style today, taking pole position in qualifying for tomorrow’s Gran Premio bwin de España at the Jerez de la Frontera Circuit in Southern Spain.
The time remained unbeaten until Lorenzo came out on his second tyre and delivered a stunning 1’38.673 on his sixth lap to secure the number one slot on the grid in front of his home crowd. Valentino Rossi was one of several riders to fall victim to front end crashes in the hot qualifying session.
The Italian was unable to save his M1 on his right knee on the fast right hand turn 11, resulting in a dramatic crash with just two minutes of qualifying remaining.
Luckily Rossi was uninjured and was back smiling in the pit garage shortly afterwards. His quickest lap of the session was 1 ’39.00, putting him on the second row of the grid in fifth, 0.627 seconds from his teammate on pole.
Jorge Lorenzo (1st, Time - 1'38.673): “I’m happy with this pole position, it’s a good present for my birthday! I knew the track was not perfect, it’s very warm and there were a lot of crashes in the previous qualifying. I just tried to make the perfect lap, unfortunately I couldn’t, I made a mistake in two braking zones and went wide and lost some tenths.
Anyway, in the other corners I was really quick and at the limit so it was enough to make it. It’s going to be tough tomorrow, normally the lap time you make for qualifying you cant repeat in another time because the tyre drops.
We hope to improve the bike a little bit to get more comfortable with pace. Anyway I think we can fight for the win or at least for the podium tomorrow.”
Valentino Rossi (5th, Time -1'39.300): “Today the practices were not so bad. The position is the best qualifying for us this year. The second row is quite good, we can do also do better. Unfortunately at the end I had a crash but I’m ok, I don't have any problems so we are more or less ready for tomorrow.
The bigger issue for tomorrow is how high the rhythm will be with the used tyre. Especially with the hot conditions the rear tyre slides a lot so it is important to see how high the rhythm is after seven or eight laps. Now we try to make the best setting and we will see tomorrow.”
Wilco Zeelenberg - Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager: “It's a good birthday present to get pole, of course we are happy with that. More important is tomorrow, everybody is struggling quite a bit, as we saw in qualifying with many crashes. The conditions are very hot and the tyre life is limited so we need to find the best balance as possible for the race.
This means that the race can go any way, the guy who has less problems will win but I don’t think the fastest guy in the beginning will be able to win. It's a very long race, its difficult to judge which bike is going to be better over long distance as we’re not riding 24 laps under the same conditions with the same tyre.”
Massimo Meregalli - Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director: “A super pole position, Jorge did a really great lap as usual. Unfortunately Vale crashed during his best lap. Anyway, we are pretty satisfied with the speed we have.
The main issue will be the race distance as we have seen over the last two days that the tyre life could create some problems, but it looks like everybody has the same issue.
We are still working to improve this aspect and we are pretty optimistic for tomorrow. So far everything has gone very well.”