Jorge Lorenzo continued his unbroken run as the only rider to consistently start from the front row this season, taking third on the grid for tomorrow’s Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya. The reigning world champion had only the last minutes of the brief qualifying heat to record a best time after a clutch issue forced him to pit shortly after the session started.
Having been the fastest rider yesterday Valentino Rossi continued his competitive pace into the third free practice this morning, ending in fourth but just 0.156 seconds from first. Having mastered race pace the nine-time champion turned to qualifying, allowing most of the field to leave the pits before venturing out to find some clean track.
Using the harder front and soft rear tyre option he delivered a best time of 1’41.959 to take seventh on the third row of the grid, less than four tenths from his team mate Lorenzo on the front row.
Jorge Lorenzo (3rd, Time - 1'41.566, 7 laps): “I’m very disappointed because today we had a problem with the clutch in a crucial moment and this lap time was the best I could do. I also had not so much confidence on the front to make a perfect lap. We hope for race distance we can remain constant and fight for the win. We will need to be strong and concentrate for the whole race; we don't know what can happen in the 20th lap.”
Valentino Rossi (7th, Time - 1'41.959, 8 laps): “We worked hard today; it’s not so bad but unfortunately we are not able to start from a better position on the grid. We tried everything but I still don't have the maximum feeling to improve a bit more. The race tomorrow is going to be very interesting because of the tyre choice and the rhythm.
There are four or five riders who are very fast and very constant so we hope to do a good start and good first laps to stay with the top guys and check our performance.”
Wilco Zeelenberg (Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager): “A strange day but overall we are in front row even when we had a problem with the first bike. The clutch was spinning when he went out which isn’t ideal because you miss a bit of time with your first tyre. He did well anyway with a 1’41.7s lap.
We had to stay out with the same bike, but he was able to make a 1’41.5s lap to qualify for the front row. I think that was the maximum for today, Dani with his 40.8 was unreachable. We have to sort out what went wrong with the clutch and dig into our set ups to prepare for tomorrow’s race.”
Massimo Meregalli (Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director): “We are quite satisfied with the pace we could run in the free practices but the qualifying didn't go as we expected. We have to try and close the gap as our competitors are quicker, especially in the hot conditions that we will probably have again tomorrow.
We will work to understand how to improve the total package and we will do our best to be as competitive as possible for tomorrow. The race is always different to the qualifying session. We know the tyres we are going to use, we have to try and make the rear last as long as possible. The race is going to be tough and difficult but we will be ready.”