Stoner sets maiden Jerez pole on harder front and softer rear slicks
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Medium, Hard. Rear: Soft, Medium
Casey Stoner continued his strong form this weekend to set his first pole position in the premier class at the Jerez circuit today, just ahead of Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa. Jorge Lorenzo will start tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix from third for the Yamaha Factory team, finishing just 0.003seconds adrift of Pedrosa.
Conditions for the hour-long qualifying session were good; much better than yesterday afternoon as the temperature was slightly cooler and the wind was much less strong. All riders favoured the harder option front Bridgestone slicks for the duration of the session, and towards the end the softer rear slicks were used for the extra grip they provide. Every rider set their best laps using the softer rear.
In the last ten minutes the times tumbled and the top three riders all set laptimes faster than last year’s pole position time. The top six riders also all lapped under the existing lap record, set by Pedrosa last year, and Stoner’s pole time was a full one second faster. Row two for tomorrow’s race consists of Yamaha’s Ben Spies, and the Hondas of Marco Simoncelli and Andrea Dovizioso.
The weather forecast tomorrow is still for rain, which would mean the first wet running of the 2011 season and not much time for the teams to decide upon their wet setups, although Jerez is a circuit at which every manufacturer has a lot of data from past tests and GPs. The 27-lap race gets underway at 1400hrs local time.
Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport
“I am impressed with the laptimes at the front during the qualifying session today. For the top six riders to be faster than the pole position time of last year shows our tyres are performing well here and also the improvements made by the teams since 2010. I am happy with tyre performance, especially from the harder option front and rear slicks as they are working well even in the cooler morning conditions.
“Conditions remained good today although it was more overcast than yesterday, and the latest forecasts for tomorrow still suggest rain is a distinct possibility for the race which will mean the teams and riders will have to quickly establish good wet settings with their new bikes. I hope the race will be dry though as I think with good conditions we can see a very exciting race as the pace is close, especially amongst the top group.”