US GP: Gresini Racing qualifying report

ELIAS MAINTAINS IMPRESSIVE FORM TO QUALIFY ON SECOND ROW FOR US GP San Carlo Honda Gresini team rider Toni Elias will start from a sixth place on the grid at the US Grand Prix tomorrow after maintaining his impressive free practice pace in...

ELIAS MAINTAINS IMPRESSIVE FORM TO QUALIFY ON SECOND ROW FOR US GP

San Carlo Honda Gresini team rider Toni Elias will start from a sixth place on the grid at the US Grand Prix tomorrow after maintaining his impressive free practice pace in this afternoon's qualifying session at Laguna Seca. Following on from his impressive start yesterday, when he lapped fifth fastest, Elias was immediately back on the pace in this morning's final free practice session, moving to the top of the time sheets on his fifth lap and staying in touch with the frontrunners throughout as he finished fourth fastest. In the afternoon he maintained a consistently high rhythm and looked to have repeated fourth place in the grid shootout, only to be relegated to the outside of the second row by two fellow factory Honda riders in the final moments.

Whilst Toni is hopeful of his best showing of the season so far in tomorrow's race, his team-mate Alex de Angelis is confident of a positive outcome after lapping eleventh. A good start from the fourth row would give the San Marinese every opportunity to exploit his impressive pace on race tyres and put into practice some valuable lessons learnt in the last race at Assen.

Toni Elias (6th 1'22.367): "To be perfectly honest that was probably the toughest session of the weekend so far but in the end we met our objective, which was to secure a place on one of the front two rows for the race tomorrow. Sixth place gives us a good chance, my pace is decent so I hope to get a good enough start to be able to follow Rossi and Stoner because I think we have the potential to stay with them. They're really quick but we have to give it a shot. I truly think we have the chance to give them a race tomorrow and we can't afford to let opportunities like this pass us by. We have worked hard so far this season without much reward so hopefully this weekend will be the turning point for us. We've made good progress but now we have to back it up."

Alex De Angelis (11th; 1'23.368): "Our grid position is not great but our race pace looks good and I'm pleased with the progress we've made so far this weekend. We've improved the performance of the bike under braking and solved the front-end stability issues that we struggled so much with at Assen. We tried the harder compound front tyre today but it gave us a bit of a chattering problem. We believe and we hope that it is only the tyre that caused the problem and by switching back to the softer compound we'll resolve it. It is only a small thing and it didn't affect our race pace too much, but I'm confident we can still find a little more speed for tomorrow."

Fausto Gresini - Team Manager: "First of all I have to offer my compliments to Toni, who has been working hard and riding well all weekend. We feel as though his bike is set-up well for the race and we're hopeful of a good performance. It is important for the whole team, not just the rider, to be competing at the right end of the grid again. Alex has a good pace and every reason to look forward to an exciting race tomorrow and I think for both our riders it could be the best one of the season so far. Let's hope so!"

-credit: gresini racing

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