De Puniet steals stunning second in sunny Spain Kawasaki's Randy de Puniet excelled in this afternoon's qualifying session taking a sensational second place just 0.061s from Valentino Rossi's pole position time. The result becomes the...
De Puniet steals stunning second in sunny Spain
Kawasaki's Randy de Puniet excelled in this afternoon's qualifying session taking a sensational second place just 0.061s from Valentino Rossi's pole position time. The result becomes the Frenchman's best ever premier class qualifying result and first front row in MotoGP, making full use of his Bridgestone qualifiers this afternoon also to equal the best ever grid position for the Kawasaki team.
Seven Bridgestone-shod riders will start tomorrow afternoon's Catalan GP from the front four rows of the grid with De Puniet's qualifying masterclass heading a very competitive field with less than one second separating Rossi on pole from Suzuki's Chris Vermeulen in 11th.
Championship leader Casey Stoner starts from the second row in fourth place, the same position from where he took victory in Turkey and China. Alongside him will be Suzuki's John Hopkins who has shown encouraging race pace this weekend. The Honda Gresini duo of Toni Elias and Marco Melandri will line up in eighth and ninth just 0.016s apart while Alex Hofmann rounds out the top ten with his first top ten grid slot of the season so far.
Ambient temperatures again rose to 33C with the Circuit de Catalunya asphalt reaching 45C some 15 degrees higher than the morning practice session. Casey Stoner has shown strong pace on race tyres throughout the weekend and was quickest in the morning session, setting a best lap 0.5s quicker than the record lap from last year's GP. Encouragingly, lap times have been quite consistent and competitive in both practice sessions today leaving Bridgestone in cautiously confident mood ahead of tomorrow's gruelling 25-lap Catalan GP.
Tyre Talk with Junichi Kawajiri - Bridgestone Motorsport -Manager, Motorcycle Race Tyre Development
It was another competitive qualifying session, is Bridgestone satisfied with the final results?
"Randy de Puniet performed very well in this afternoon's qualifying session and full credit should go to him and the Kawasaki Racing Team for a great second place, so close to the pole position time. We had harder qualifying tyres to normal because of the aggressive nature of this circuit but all five of our teams have secured at least one bike in the top ten which shows that the overall performance was quite competitive. Qualifying is not as important here as it is at other circuits but starting from further up the grid will certainly be advantageous in the decisive opening laps."
Has Bridgestone been able to verify the race tyre performance today?
"We carried out some more race length long runs this morning and could see that the performance of the tyres was reasonably competitive and consistent. In the afternoon's qualifying practice we saw similar results in much hotter conditions which is extremely pleasing because we should be relatively confident whatever track conditions we experience tomorrow afternoon. This Catalan track is always technically demanding and tough of tyres, so edge grip will be critical in the closing stages of the race, but I think we have prepared ourselves as well as we can and can expect a good race tomorrow."
Riding Perspective - Randy de Puniet - Kawasaki Racing Team - 2nd Position
"I am extremely happy with this second place result, my first ever front row in MotoGP. It is a testament to the work of the Kawasaki team and to Bridgestone, so I must thank all of them. The bike has been working well this weekend and the tyres have also been competitive. I was second in this morning's practice hour and second again this afternoon, so it has been a good day. The weekend has been tough for me from a physical point of view because I am suffering from the injuries I picked up in Mugello last weekend. My knee is still very swollen so I am very pleased to have secured my best ever MotoGP qualifying result in spite of this disadvantage."