Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
In a nail-biting end to the hour-long qualifying session, Jorge Lorenzo claimed pole position for tomorrow’s United States Grand Prix at Laguna Seca just 0.072seconds ahead of Casey Stoner. Both riders used a harder front and softer rear slick to post their best efforts on their last lap, and were the only two riders to beat the existing lap record.
Dani Pedrosa completes the front row, setting his time also using the softer option rear slick, and the second row comprises Ben Spies who held provisional pole for a while, ahead of Marco Simoncelli and Andrea Dovizioso.
This morning the track was much cooler than at the same time yesterday because of a thicker marine layer that took longer to burn off and for the sun to break through but still the laptimes were already faster than from FP2 as the track condition improved after the first day of running.
By the afternoon the track had reached 45 degrees Celsius and, whilst many riders started on the harder option rear slicks, most of the fastest times at the end of the session came on the softer variant which worked well even with the high temperature. Whilst the hard compound front tyre is most likely to be favoured for the race, the softer rear remains a viable option for some bike and rider packages.
Of course, with the softer rear tyre compound choices at Laguna this year, warm-up performance especially in the morning sessions has been improved but tyre management will be a very important aspect for the riders over race distance tomorrow.
Hirohide Hamashima – Assistant to Director, Motorsport Tyre Development Division
“Jorge was very impressive today, especially to come back so strongly after his crash this morning. I am pleased with the performance of our softer rears – even with such a high track temperature they worked very well over qualifying attack laps at the end of the session and Jorge was 0.17seconds faster than the lap record set by Casey last year. Jorge was also lapping consistently in the mid-to-high 1m 21s bracket over his longer runs, indicating he has very good race pace for tomorrow. A key element of tomorrow’s race will be using our tyres most efficiently as although Laguna is only a short lap, the track temperature will be high like this afternoon and the tyres spend a lot of time leant over so don’t get much respite and time to cool. Especially as we have softer options here, as part of our ongoing bid to listen to rider comments and improve warm-up performance, those bike, rider and tyre packages that use our tyres best will be rewarded with better race-distance durability and consistency.”