Camel Yamaha rider Colin Edwards will start his home Grand Prix from the front row of the grid tomorrow, just missing out on pole position in a thrilling climax to this afternoon's qualifying practice. Held in sweltering conditions registering ...
Camel Yamaha rider Colin Edwards will start his home Grand Prix from the front row of the grid tomorrow, just missing out on pole position in a thrilling climax to this afternoon's qualifying practice. Held in sweltering conditions registering 38ºC, the decisive grid session saw Edwards put in his best lap in the final few seconds - the Texan dipping underneath the benchmark set moments earlier by eventual pole-setter Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) in each of the first three sections before conceding decisive tenths in the final series of turns after the Corkscrew.
With the Laguna Seca circuit clearly suffering from the extreme conditions and offering less grip than it had done in the cooler morning free practice, several riders struggled to improve their lap times in the afternoon - even on a qualifying tyre. Camel Yamaha Team rider Valentino Rossi was one of the unlucky few, the Italian's best effort briefly looking good enough for a spot on the second row of the grid before a late flurry saw him shuffled back two rows to tenth place - the same position from which he launched a successful charge to victory in Germany seven days ago.
COLIN EDWARDS (2nd; 1'23.321, 28 laps)
"It was seriously hot out there! I'm really happy with my starting position, it means a lot to me to be able to start from the front for my home race. We might still try some changes in the morning warm-up, just to refine the setting a bit. Our race pace is great until the corkscrew, but after that things aren't so good. The second half of the lap really doesn't feel great, although maybe it's not as bad as it feels. It's just so bumpy and it's hard to ride in a good rhythm. Anyway, we're starting at the front and I'm going to give it all I've got. I've got a special livery tomorrow on my bike to celebrate being back here in America and as a bit of a thank you to Yamaha US for all the work they've done to help improve the safety of the track. It's a stars and stripes theme so let's hope it's lucky for me!"
VALENTINO ROSSI (10th; 1'24.047, 26 laps)
"This year the practices have been so hard from me and every time we have to do a lot of work to get to a level so we can fight in the race. This morning we tried some new things and the bike was better, and faster, but I am quite worried because it's so hard to overtake here, even harder than Sachsenring. There are only a few places - after turn one in the first braking, turn five, and the last corner. Maybe the corkscrew, but I think this is an American secret - Colin passed me here last year but it's hard for me to understand how! Anyway from the telemetry I can see we're faster through this section than last year so maybe it's okay this time. I need to find the lines with the fewest bumps in order to understand where I can pass people. It's very hard in this heat and 33 laps will be very difficult. I know Hayden is fast, of course I want to finish in front of him, but as long as I am close to him with not too many points between us, this is the most important thing. We have some new things to try in the morning and we have to hope that we can make a big improvement on Sunday to the setting, like in Sachsenring."
DAVIDE BRIVIO - CAMEL YAMAHA TEAM DIRECTOR
"Colin did a great job today, we're really happy for him. He's got a great motivation, being here in front of his home fans, and this has given him the extra push to get on the front row. We still have some problems to solve, especially with Valentino. He now has to do another hard job, like last week and it's going to be a very difficult race for him. Anyway, we still have the warm-up so let's see what improvements we can make there. When Colin starts from the front he usually stays there, so let's hope that he can do this tomorrow, and that Valentino can fight his way forward like he usually does."