Gordon Hatch, MotoGP Correspondent
Championship leader tops qualifying with lap record pace
Jorge Lorenzo was untouchable in this afternoon’s qualifying session ahead of tomorrow’s bwin Grand Prix České republiky and the Yamaha Factory Racing rider was followed into second position by Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow and despite a fall midway through the session, the British rider was able to stay ahead of Dani Pedrosa in third for the Repsol Honda team with the Spaniard also suffering a small crash.
I just wanted to stay out on the track and just keep riding and riding to improve the lap time.
Lorenzo was on blistering form throughout the hour-long session with Pedrosa also setting very fast times but following his crash he wasn’t’ able to top his countryman’s pole position time of 1m 55.799s and had to settle for a best time of 1m 56.327s. With Casey Stoner not competing due to injury there was a better chance for others to secure a front row start and Crutchlow took full advantage to grab second with a time of 1m 55.995s.
Ben Spies was also fast from the off today and the American wasn’t far off the front row with his best lap of 1m 56.331s securing 4th place in front of Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso (1m 56.559s) who starts just ahead of Ducati Racing rider Valentino Rossi who managed his best qualifying position of the season so far with a 6th place start with a lap time of 1m 56.735s. Locking out the second row is Stefan Bradl and his LCR Honda RC213V with a best lap of 1m 56.827s.
Starting from eight place tomorrow will be San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Alvaro Bautista who set a best time of 1m 57.068s with Karel Abraham close behind for the Cardion AB Motoracing team (1m 57.773s). The battle for best CRT qualifying went to Randy De Puniet for the Power Electronics Aspar outfit with a best time of 1m 57.844s and their second rider, Aleix Espargaro also did well to secure an 11th place start (1m 58.153s). Avintia Blusen’s rider Yonny Hernandez starts from 12th tomorrow with the Columbian rider setting a best time of 1m 59.087s with Toni Elias in 13th (1m 59.120s) for the Pramac Racing team who are without regular Hector Barbera due to his back injuries.
Michele Pirro also crashed in the afternoon on his San Carlo Honda Gresini CRT machine and will start from 14th with his best time of 1m 59.387s. NGM Forward Racing rider Colin Edwards ended the day in 15th spot with a best lap time of 1m 59.863s with Speed Master rider Mattia Pasini in 16th (1m 59.865s) ahead of James Ellison on the Paul Bird Motorsport machine setting a best time of 2m 0.316s. Ivan Silva starts from 18th for the Avintia Blusens squad on a time of 2m 0.329s and Danilo Petrucci starting in 19th setting a best time of 2m 0.854s.
Not making much progress in this morning’s third free practice session, Lorenzo found a better setting in the afternoon that enabled him to storm to pole while setting a new lap record. Lorenzo said, “We were struggling so much to find the way to set up the bike this morning, we were very lost. Then we went back to the setting we used the first time we tried the 1000 here in Brno last year and it was great. I really enjoyed riding the bike, sliding more as well with less electronics. I just wanted to stay out on the track and just keep riding and riding to improve the lap time.”
Crutchlow was delighted with his best ever qualifying position and is looking to carry over his pace from today to tomorrow’s race. “I am really happy to have scored my best ever qualifying result in MotoGP and the timing couldn't be better after I signed a new contract with the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 earlier today,” said Crutchlow who continued, “This was the perfect way to immediately repay the faith shown in me by Tech 3, Yamaha and Monster. Once again today we demonstrated what a competitive package we have and that is one of the big reasons why I committed my future to the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team. Yesterday in practice we did a good job to be in contention for the top three and I was confident that we could be very fast and competitive this afternoon.
Unfortunately I made a silly mistake about halfway through the session and crashed. I think I hit the only bump on the whole track but it meant I had to finish the session on my spare bike. The crashed bike had my preferred set-up but I quickly adapted and went back out and improved my times by a good margin. I am second on the grid and close to Jorge so I am looking forward to the race tomorrow. It is going to be tough but I am confident we can have a strong result and be fighting for a top five,” Crutchlow added.
Pedrosa wasn’t happy having to use his second bike for most of the session following his crash. He said, “I had a small crash at the beginning of the session and unfortunately we were unable to use that bike anymore and had to switch to the second bike. Normally the bikes are very similar and I don't know why, but this time the second bike was much more rigid and I had more chatter, especially in the front. We tried to fix it but we weren't able to so in the end I tried to get my best out of it and finally on the last lap I was able to take a front row spot, which is always important. Anyway the bike is working well, I just hope tomorrow we can use our preferred bike, as this morning it felt very good, and have a good race.”