Rossi takes front row in Portugal qualifying Valentino Rossi took an excellent third place in this afternoon's qualifying session to score his and Bridgestone's first front row qualifying result of the season so far. Rossi's lap was...
Rossi takes front row in Portugal qualifying
Valentino Rossi took an excellent third place in this afternoon's qualifying session to score his and Bridgestone's first front row qualifying result of the season so far. Rossi's lap was the fastest ever qualifying lap for a rider using Bridgestone tyres at Estoril and was one-tenth-of-a-second quicker than last year's pole time set by Nicky Hayden.
Bridgestone's other riders fared less well with only two additional riders securing top ten grid slots for tomorrow afternoon's 28-lap Portuguese Grand Prix. Ducati's Casey Stoner will start in ninth place just ahead of Kawasaki's John Hopkins who rounded out the top ten this afternoon. Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo took a dominant pole position, his third of the season, ahead of Honda's Dani Pedrosa.
Track temperatures were higher this afternoon and more representative of what is predicted tomorrow afternoon, allowing riders to carry out useful evaluation of the preferred race tyre options. Some riders were able to lap regularly under the 1m38s barrier on race tyres this afternoon, including Rossi and Suzuki's Loris Capirossi, but tyre performance over the complete race distance remains something of an unknown factor.
Tyre Talk with Tohru Ubukata - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager, Motorcycle Race Tyre Development
Did Bridgestone expect any more from this afternoon's qualifying session? "Valentino and his Yamaha team have done an outstanding job to get third place using our qualifying tyres this afternoon. This is our first front row result of the season so far, but looking at the timesheets, we can see that we need to advance our rate of qualifying tyre development. Casey and John were the only other riders on our tyres to get top ten results today, so we have to work harder. On Monday, during the post-race test here in Estoril, we have a range of new rear qualifying compounds and constructions to test which we hope will bring some of the desired improvements."
Were you able to see any improvements in race tyre performance compared to yesterday? "This afternoon's track conditions were much better than what we experienced yesterday and the asphalt temperature reached a more respectable level. The higher temperatures resulted in better grip and surface condition - which was our biggest issue on Friday and in this morning's practice session - and we were able to go a step harder on both front and rear tyres. The teams have also been working hard on adapting the bike settings to get the best performance from our tyres and some improvements have been seen with Valentino and Loris both able to set lap times in the 1m37s this afternoon. The front row riders have shown quick and consistent pace, but it will be a long and tough race tomorrow at a venue that continues to be a difficult one for Bridgestone."