By: Gordon Hatch, MotoGP Correspondent
- Stoner puts down record breaking lap time
- Simoncelli again shows his Honda speed
- Lorenzo on front row for Yamaha
Fourth Pole Position this year for Stoner and Repsol Honda – new pole record set
I love this track and I love this part of the UK and I'm really happy to be here!
Casey Stoner heads into tomorrow’s AirAsia British Grand Prix at Silverstone on pole position and while making it four pole positions out of six starts for the 2007 MotoGP champion. He also set a new pole position record in the hour-long session. The first three positions remain the same as set in Free Practice with Stoner being hunted by Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini) and reigning series champion Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing).
Stoner’s record pole position time of 2m 2.020s is over one second faster than last year’s pole time set by Lorenzo, but this year the Spaniard could only manage third place with a 2m 2.237s behind that of the ever-improving Simoncelli who worked hard once again to grab second position with a best time of 2m 2.208s
Stoner has had a perfect weekend so far and is confident that despite varying weather conditions he is ready for whatever th race throws at him, “Everything has gone really well this weekend. We were lucky it stayed dry for qualifying, but it doesn't look so good for tomorrow. We've been competitive in each session and in various weathers, so I hope we have prepared ourselves for the race, whatever the conditions,” Stoner said while talking about his set-up, “We haven't changed too much from the set-up we had in Barcelona, and this afternoon was important for us to see what we could get from the hard tyre, what our pace is and if we can find some more edge grip, and we definitely found some more traction so I'm very happy with how everything is working at the moment.
“For pole position we changed the set-up and balance of the bike a little and on my best lap I lost the front a few times and wasn't so confident with the balance, so I feel lucky to have got the pole, but for sure it's the best way to start a Grand Prix. We'll see what the weather does tomorrow, but I love this track and I love this part of the UK and I'm really happy to be here!” said a very satisfied Stoner.
Reflecting on his first ever pole position in the MotoGP class and comparing it to today’s performance Simoncelli said, “I am decidedly happier with second place here at Silverstone than with pole position in Barcelona. I had a good lap in Spain, but wasn’t as fast in general as I am this weekend. I managed to go round in the high 2’00’s today on the hard tyre. Now we have to find out what the weather will do tomorrow, but I feel ready to fight for the podium and even the win in wet or dry conditions. I am confident and hope to acheive one of my main goals for the season.”
Lorenzo was content with his qualifying hour and after making some changes to his bike’s set-up he is ready to take on Stoner in tomorrow’s race. “I am very happy because tomorrow we will start from the first row and today we got a lot closer to the Hondas,” said Lorenzo while continuing, “I rode at a very high level today and I’m ready and focused for the race. I will do my best to make a good start tomorrow and fight for the front. At this moment our weapon is consistency.
“You try many things some days and some days you find a solution like today. I don’t know if it is enough to fight for victory but we will give our best. I’m very proud of my crew, they really worked hard to deliver a great package for qualifying!” the current championship leader added.
The top three were followed by Ben Spies on his Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 on a best lap of 2m 2.677s and the Texan looking a lot happier at the British track as he was in previous races. Spies was the last of the riders in the 2m 2s bracket with fifth place man Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) setting a time of 2m 3.212s – a different time zone compared to that of the top four.
Starting tomorrow’s race in sixth position will be MotoGP rookie Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) who, despite crashing in the session, managed a best time of 2m 4.151s and giving him the bragging rights of being the fastest Ducati rider with the Cech Republic man sitting ahead of Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro) behind him in seventh with a best time of 2m 4.304s while Hayden’s teammate Valentino Rossi (2m 5.781s) sitting in an uncharacteristic 13th position with the Italian unable to improve throughout the session.
While Rossi surprised everyone with not qualifying in the top ten, even more of a surprise was Colin Edwards who grabbed an eight place start for his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 despite the Texan’s collarbone being broken multiple times at the last round in Catalunya. Edwards’ time of 2m 4.508s was enough to slot in just ahead of Rizla Suzuki rider Alvaro Bautista who managed a best time of 2m 4.520s.
The fourth row will be headed up by Frenchman Randy de Puniet (Pramac Racing Team) with his time of 2m 4.589s while 11th place was claimed by Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini) on his best time of 2m 4.919s while 13th was secured by Hecor Barbera (Mapfre Aspar) who will also be boosted by starting ahead of Rossi in tomorrow’s race.
Sitting behind Rossi in 14th is Toni Elias (LCR Honda MotoGP) who managed a best time of 2m 5.862s to sit in front of Loris Capirossi (Pramac Racing Team) who set a best time of 2m 6.256s. ‘Capirex’ will be the last man on the grid tomorrow after British rider Cal Crutchlow, despite registering a time of 2m 7.911s for his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 squad, will not start tomorrow after crashing during qualifying and breaking his left collarbone.