Stoner and Vermeulen on the front row at Laguna Seca Casey Stoner laid claim to his third pole position of the season at the Laguna Seca raceway in California this afternoon in an action-packed qualifying session which was delayed after a crash...
Stoner and Vermeulen on the front row at Laguna Seca
Casey Stoner laid claim to his third pole position of the season at the Laguna Seca raceway in California this afternoon in an action-packed qualifying session which was delayed after a crash involving Honda Gresini rider Marco Melandri. The Italian thankfully avoided serious injury and was able to rejoin the session to take an eventual tenth position on the grid having been one of the most consistently competitive riders around Laguna Seca all weekend.
Suzuki's Chris Vermeulen, pole setter in the Dutch TT last month, once again demonstrated his expertise around the tricky 3.610km Laguna Seca track by taking an impressive third place for his third front row grid slot of the year so far. Vermeulen's best time was even more remarkable given it was set on Bridgestone race rubber rather than the softer qualifying tyres.
Ducati's Loris Capirossi will start the demanding 32-lap US Grand Prix from sixth on the grid, ahead of Suzuki's John Hopkins who will line up in seventh place, setting his best time on the third lap of his final qualifying run. Only 1.8 seconds separated the entire 20-man line-up masking some performances lower down the order with wildcard rider Roger Lee Hayden for Kawasaki, and replacement riders Miguel Duhamel and Chaz Davies for Honda Gresini and Pramac d'Antin respectively all performing solidly on their debut with Bridgestone qualifiers.
Tyre Talk with Junichi Kawajiri - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager, Motorcycle Race Tyre Development
How would you assess the performance of Bridgestone tyres today?
"We have been particularly pleased with the competitive pace shown by our range of race tyres throughout the day. The qualifying tyres did not result in such an increase in lap time and most of our riders were able to extract just a few tenths of a second extra. Chris Vermeulen was able to qualify in third place with a time set on race tyres, quite an amazing achievement in such a tightly fought field. Anthony West also set his best time on race tyres just 0.8s from the pole time. Casey's final run consisted of two laps on a qualifying tyre and both times were good enough for pole by a comfortable margin. We were also pleased to see Marco quickly back on the bike after his accident early on in the session. He has been one of the quickest men all weekend and has shown the Honda Gresini-Bridgestone package to be very competitive here."
How confident is Bridgestone with the performance and durability of the race tyres?
"The consistency and durability of the race tyres has been good in the conditions we have faced today. We conducted some longer runs with our riders this morning and were able to verify the performance in race trim. Similarly, the pace of the race tyres this afternoon was quite strong. We have been able to fix the direction for our teams ahead of tomorrow's race, but we will carry out some final preparations in the morning warm-up session."
Riding Perspective - Casey Stoner - Ducati Corse - Pole Position
"We basically did at least race distance this morning, and then we were pretty much using all the old tyres we had to get a better set-up for the last part of the race. We were still doing high 1m22s on tyres with 32 or 33 laps on them, which isn't too bad, so I am feeling pretty confident for tomorrow. In qualifying, I made a mistake on my first lap and I wasn't feeling too confident because I had a couple of front tucks on the run before, but we managed to pull it off. The qualifying tyre was good for two laps and I'm really happy with the result."