Lorenzo delivers front row at Jerez, Spies just behind him in fourth
This afternoons qualifying session for tomorrows Grand Prix of Spain at Jerez witnessed improved performances from both Yamaha Factory Racing riders following a challenging start to the weekend. Jorge Lorenzo had put his best time of the weekend in during the mornings free practice with a 139.682, then worked hard with his crew to find even more grip and feel in his M1 for the afternoon qualifying. The Mallorcan led the qualifying heat from the start, only dropping to third in the last few minutes and ending the session less than two tenths of a second from pole; one of only three riders to break into the 138s. He will start tomorrows race on the front row of the grid in third.
Ben Spies made dramatic improvements after a slow start to the weekend. The Texan had been struggling to be comfortable on his Factory Yamaha which had held him back from contesting for faster times and a good grid position in the practice sessions. Qualifying saw the crew deliver a new set up offering much greater front end feel which was evident as Spies moved quickly up the time sheets. An unfortunate moment where he lost the front end going too hot into a corner meant a premature end to qualifying. The crash left him just behind his team mate in fourth for a second row grid start.
Jorge Lorenzo - 3rd
I pushed the maximum from the first lap and improved my lap time from this morning. We were one of the few to improve with the tougher conditions when the track was worse. When we put the soft tyres in we managed to make a 138.9 lap which is a good time and we were only some milliseconds from Dani and less than two tenths from Casey. We are confident for tomorrow and we are pushing for a podium, if the opportunity arises then we will go for a victory.
Ben Spies - 4th
Thats definitely the best session weve had so far. Ive got to take my hat off to my crew because it has been a hard weekend. Every practice session weve had two different bikes while weve been searching for the right set up. Theyve been doing an excellent job getting me more comfortable, I wouldnt say Im 100% there yet but from Friday its a big improvement. In qualifying I had to do my part and step up to get closer to the front on the grid and it all worked out. Its definitely a team effort, I asked a lot from the guys and they came through. I had a small crash, one of those crashes where I knew going into the corner that Id made a mistake and was trying to slow it down but lost the front.
Wilco Zeelenberg - Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
Im very pleased with the qualifying; the bike improved a lot from yesterday and has a lot more feeling. Corner entry and turnability have also improved and within a safety margin so Jorge can be faster and more consistent now. Third on the grid is good, he missed a T4 split by 0.3 seconds so he might even have been on pole. Well go for points tomorrow and are happy weve made a step forward today.
Massimo Meregalli - Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
A good qualifying today, both riders had more confidence with better set ups which showed in their performances. The front row is a great way to start the race for Jorge, and for Ben, starting in fourth is a comfortable position. We managed to find a setting that increased the feeling in the front for him which helped a lot. Unfortunately he fell towards the end when he out-braked himself but we are optimistic for the race. The weather forecast for tomorrow is quite critical, I would prefer a dry race but if its going to be wet then so be it.