Rossi takes first Bridgestone pole of season, Capirossi claims front row Fiat Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi has secured his and Bridgestone's first pole position of the 2008 season after an action-packed qualifying session in Mugello ...
Rossi takes first Bridgestone pole of season, Capirossi claims front row
Fiat Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi has secured his and Bridgestone's first pole position of the 2008 season after an action-packed qualifying session in Mugello this afternoon. Rossi's time of 1m48.130s represents an eight-tenths-of-a-second improvement over the existing Mugello pole position record, set by Sete Gibernau on Bridgestone tyres back in 2006. It becomes the third consecutive pole position for a Bridgestone-shod rider at Mugello after Gibernau and Casey Stoner, who took pole in the rain-hit qualifying last year.
Suzuki's Loris Capirossi continues his excellent form around Mugello taking his first front row of the season after an excellent run to third place. Casey Stoner was unfortunate to miss out on a third consecutive front row slot of 2008, but he still lines up in a competitive fourth place, having qualified his Ducati just 0.062s from Capirossi's time and 0.245s from pole. The Honda Gresini duo of Shinya Nakano and Alex de Angelis both took their first top ten grid positions of the season with ninth and tenth positions respectively.
Bridgestone's latest and updated specification qualifying tyres have shown good improvements with most teams. Evaluation of race tyres has continued to be hampered by the inclement weather. After Friday's wash-out, this morning's practice was also hit by a rain shower, preventing Bridgestone from concluding its intended slick race tyre preparations.
Tyre Talk with Tohru Ubukata - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager, Motorcycle Race Tyre Development
The first Bridgestone pole position of the season and three riders on the front two rows, are you pleased?
"I am very pleased with the performance of our qualifying tyres this afternoon. It is a relief to score our first pole of the season after a great lap from Valentino. Loris and Casey were both also able to set competitive qualifying times, just two-tenths from pole, and helped to make it three Bridgestone riders in the top four on tomorrow's grid. We brought updated construction qualifying tyres here this weekend and I am really satisfied with the results."
How has the rain affected Bridgestone's race preparations?
"The rain from yesterday left a lot of work to do today. In this morning's free practice, we began our slick tyre comparison work but a rain shower restricted the number of laps that could be achieved and affected our programme yet again. We therefore had to carry over some work into this afternoon's qualifying session. We focussed mainly on harder specification tyres with the warmer track conditions and the results were pleasing. We saw good grip levels and encouraging initial performance. Unfortunately the backlog of work, and the need to complete qualifying runs, meant that we had no time to assess the durability of the race tyres, so we do not have a clear idea of the performance over the full race distance tomorrow afternoon. Nevertheless, there were some really promising lap times in race trim from Valentino, Casey, Loris and also the Gresini riders which certainly gives us cause for optimism tomorrow."
Weather: Dry - Air 21C, Track 40C (Bridgestone measurement)