Motegi pole for Stoner with new outright lap record
Round 15: Japanese GP – Qualifying
Twin Ring Motegi, Saturday 1 October 2011
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium, Hard. Rear (asymmetric): Soft, Medium
Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner secured his fourth consecutive pole position at Motegi today with a stunning penultimate lap to set a new outright circuit record, beating the previous best of 1m 45.543s by almost 0.3seconds.
The new tarmac around part of the circuit continues to get faster this weekend and the soft compound rear slicks, brought to Japan for the first time this year, also contributed to the pole time being 1.8seconds faster than last year.
Jorge Lorenzo will start tomorrow’s race from second on the grid after he took the provisional pole for a time, also beating his own pole record set back in 2008 when sticky qualifying tyres that provided huge amounts of grip for just a handful of laps were used. Completing the front row is last year’s pole-sitter Andrea Dovizioso ahead of Dani Pedrosa, Ben Spies and Marco Simoncelli on the second row.
Of the 18 races on the MotoGP calendar this season, new outright qualifying records have now been set on the control Bridgestone race tyres at nine of them since the cessation of qualifying tyres at the start of 2009.
The preferred tyre choice this afternoon was the harder option front tyre, the same as was used here at Motegi last year, and the soft compound rear which is a new option for the Japanese GP this year. The soft compound slick uses Bridgestone’s extra soft compound in the lesser-used left shoulder and was chosen this weekend primarily to provide better warm-up performance and safety in the opening laps, but is clearly demonstrating a high level of grip too. Conditions today were markedly cooler than yesterday and are forecast to be cooler still tomorrow, meaning that this soft compound is also a viable option for race-distance.
Hirohide Hamashima – Assistant to Director, Motorsport Tyre Development Division “I am very satisfied with the laptimes at the front today – we expected the pace to be faster this year but I didn’t think we would see the pole time 1.8seconds faster than last year. This is very impressive, and I think is due mostly to the new surface here at Motegi, but also in part to machine development over the last 12 months and the fact we have our soft compound rear slicks here this year, as they provide better warm-up performance, initial grip and rider confidence than the medium compound rears everyone qualified on in 2010. Today was cooler than yesterday which helped performance of the soft slicks, and as the conditions forecast for tomorrow are cooler again I think we will see many riders using this tyre for the race. This soft compound rear is a new tyre that we developed towards the end of last season and I think the performance today, both in terms of outright grip and warm-up performance, shows we are headed in a good direction with our MotoGP tyre development.”