Just seven days after his superb pole position at last weekend's Japanese Grand Prix, Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V) scored another front-row start at Sepang today. The 24-year-old Italian challenged for pole throughout the session, ...
Just seven days after his superb pole position at last weekend's Japanese Grand Prix, Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V) scored another front-row start at Sepang today.
The 24-year-old Italian challenged for pole throughout the session, running as high as second fastest, finally completing the hour-long outing third quickest, just 0.292 seconds behind pole-sitter Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha). Middle man on the front row is Nicky Hayden (Ducati).
Tomorrow's Malaysian Grand Prix MotoGP race gets underway later than usual, with a 4pm start, local time. Most people in the Sepang paddock are hoping that the usual afternoon rain storm also arrives later than usual, allowing the MotoGP race to run on a dry track.
In this afternoon's typically tropical conditions, Dovizioso and his sweltering crew continued the good work they had done at Motegi last weekend, honing the electronics of the RC212V to extract maximum performance around this challenging, high-speed circuit. With team-mate Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) absent with the collarbone injury he sustained during Motegi practice, Dovizioso flew the Repsol Honda flag in brilliant style
Team-mates Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) and Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) ran well in the earlier stages of qualifying but later in the session both men struggled to get maximum performance out of their softer tyres, which put them tenth and 11th at the end of the session. Simoncelli went particularly well on harder race tyres during free practice, completing the two sessions in fifth place, just half a second off fastest man Lorenzo.
Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda RC212V) ended the day 13th quickest, below his usual qualifying performance. The Frenchman spent most of qualifying trying to improve front and rear grip. This morning he had been a promising seventh fastest, following useful overnight suspension tweaks, but those improvements didn't translate into faster lap times this afternoon.
Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda MotoGP RC212V) ended up 14th on the grid, hoping for more from his favourite track at which he has already won two GP victories. But after losing time with technical problems yesterday, the reigning 250 World Champion struggled with front-end feel during qualifying, which made it hard for him to attack at 100 per cent.
Julian Simon (Mapfre Aspar Team, Suter) rode to his third Moto2 pole position this afternoon at Sepang, outpacing his closest challenger by almost two tenths of a second. In the frantically tight Moto2 series that's quite an advantage! Simon hopes today's pole position -- which follows previous poles at Indianapolis and at Motegi last weekend -- will lead to his first victory in the class tomorrow. Simon has had a strong run of results in Moto2 -- with four runner-up finishes from the past four races -- so he is very keen to go one better. His race pace today certainly suggests he is in with a real chance of victory.
Of course, the action at the front of a Moto2 race can get very hectic, so there's little doubt that Simon will have to fight with his fellow front row starters: Alex De Angelis (JIR Moto2, Motobi), Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Moriwaki Moto2, Moriwaki) and Toni Elias (Gresini Racing Moto2, Moriwaki) who all showed real speed today.
Second fastest De Angelis is in ultra-determined mood. The San Marino rider has had a topsy-turvy year, with two changes of team, and has yet to score his first podium in Moto2. Taking advantage of chassis upgrades to his Motobi machine, De Angelis is confident he can address that problem tomorrow.
Podium regulars Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Moriwaki Moto2, Moriwaki) and Elias completed the front row in third and fourth, both men hoping that they can make some overnight set-up improvements to give them an extra few tenths of a second for the race. Luthi will be going for his sixth Moto2 podium while Elias is out to seal the World Championship. If Simon wins, Elias needs to finish second to secure the title with three races to go. But the Spaniard insists he isn't thinking about the championship. Like all great champions, he is focusing on winning the race, which will bring the title to him anyway.
Marcel Schrotter (Interwetten Honda 125 Team) qualified 18th fastest for tomorrow's 125 race, which gets the Malaysian GP underway at 13.00 hours. Pole position was claimed by Marc Marquez (Derbi).
HONDA MotoGP RIDER QUOTES
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V): 3rd, 2m 01.829s "It's always important to be on the front row -- and this was actually more satisfying than the pole position in Japan because the conditions were so extreme today. The level of riders and bikes in MotoGP is so high and so the front row also means we have done a really good job so far this weekend. We have moved things on from where we were in Japan and improved our electronics set-up again -- we've found a good direction, which is really positive. I want to say thank you to my team and to HRC for working hard to achieve this. It's going to be a tough race because it's so hot here, but I'm looking forward to it. For tomorrow it's difficult to understand how the race will pan out -- we'll have to study the lap times from today to get a feeling for our rivals' performance; qualifying doesn't always give you the real picture of what everyone's race pace will be. In terms of tyre choice, I think it will be the hard option for us."
Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V): 10th, 2m 02.624s "I think we did a good job with the race setting this afternoon but we always struggle on a soft tyre and the problems weren't as bad as usual this afternoon, so I am confident for tomorrow. I still think we can make improvements to our race setting and I feel much more optimistic about the race than I have been doing recently. The race will be tough on the tyres and the riders because it is hard to breathe after three laps. We'll also have to keep an eye on the weather because the rain is always a threat here."
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V): 11th, 2m 02.690s "I am a little bit disappointed today because after practice this morning I thought I was capable of much more and the afternoon session started really well. Unfortunately when we started to work with the softer tyre I lost a little feeling with the bike and couldn't improve my lap time. That's a shame but the positive thing is that in race trim we are quite fast. Starting from the fourth row won't make it easy tomorrow but I am confident of a good performance."
Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda RC212V): 13th, 2m 02.775s "Honestly, I am very disappointed because we made a very good job in the first two sessions and I was confident for qualifying. But since the beginning of the session I had a bad feeling on the harder front tyre. So we moved back on the softer option which we used this morning and for a few laps I was back on my pace but then the front started to move again and I almost crashed a couple of times in the last two runs. In these conditions I could not push more. I hope we can find a solution in tomorrow's warm up session."
Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda MotoGP RC212V): 14th, 2m 02.778s "We had massive problems with front-end feeling during the qualifying session. I was able to improve my lap time, but it was not as I had promised myself. This morning we tried the bike we were not able to use yesterday and it was better, so we used it, but we lost a whole session yesterday and that's not good for us. Tomorrow in warm-up we will try some more things, but we don't have much time left."
MOTO2 RIDER QUOTES
Julian Simon (Mapfre Aspar Team, Suter), pole position, 2m 08.562s "I'm very happy with this pole position -- my second in a row after Motegi and my third in this class. I've been able to find a very good rhythm here, because the bike is working very well, even better than it was at Motegi last weekend. Of course, I really want to win my first race in Moto2 so I will be trying very hard tomorrow. My first objective is to get a good start, then I will push as hard as I can and if possible win the race."
Alex De Angelis (JIR Moto2, Motobi), 2nd, 2m 08.754s "I'm very happy with second place today. We have some new chassis parts here, so the bike is working very well, which means that we are very fast. Today I pushed a lot for many, many laps and for sure the bike will work well tomorrow. I need to make a good start, push hard and fight for a podium, because that is what I want."
Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Moriwaki Moto2, Moriwaki), 3rd, 2m 08.860s "It will be a hot race, for sure! We are already sliding a lot, so the race will be hard and it will be tough for the tyres. We've done a good job all weekend so far. I think we are quite well set up for the race, so I am feeling quite relaxed now. Of course, we will have a think about what else we can improve for tomorrow; maybe we can find some more rear grip, but the rest looks quite good so I think I can fight for the podium."
Toni Elias (Gresini Racing Moto2, Moriwaki): 4th, 2m 08.863a "The most important thing is that we achieved the objective we talked about yesterday -- being on the front row. But anyway, I am not happy. We know the direction in which we need to work, we know what we have to do, so we will continue thinking about this tonight. For sure we need something more for tomorrow, maybe two or three tenths, and then we can fight. We are not thinking about the championship. Everybody else is talking about the championship, but that is not my way. I am just concentrating on doing my job with the team. Tomorrow we will work like we do at any other race -- trying to win -- and then we will see what happens."
HONDA 125 RIDER QUOTE
Marcel Schrotter (Interwetten Honda 125 Team), 18th, 2m 16.268s "Today didn't really go well. I expected more from qualifying because things were much better in practice yesterday and this morning. Then I thought if I could repeat the lap time I had in the morning I could start from 14th or even 13th. Unfortunately I could not make this happen and I realised that I was not as easy going this afternoon as I was in the morning. I tried to have a last fast lap, but couldn't make it."