Bridgestone riders certainly made their presence felt in today's qualifying session at Circuit Ricardo Tormo with the Ducatis of Troy Bayliss and Loris Capirossi taking front row seats for what promises to be an exhilarating Valencia Grand Prix on...
Bridgestone riders certainly made their presence felt in today's qualifying session at Circuit Ricardo Tormo with the Ducatis of Troy Bayliss and Loris Capirossi taking front row seats for what promises to be an exhilarating Valencia Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon.
Bayliss, making his return to the Ducati squad, rewrote the script by storming to second place in his first qualifying session on Bridgestone tyres, finishing the day just 0.2s from current championship leader Valentino Rossi. Capirossi's performance this weekend sets him up for a thrilling chase for third in the riders' championship as he set the quickest time of the day on race tyres and third quickest qualifying time of the afternoon.
Shinya Nakano was only 0.04s behind triple 2006 race winner Capirossi to line up fourth for tomorrow's 30-lap race after a faultless qualifying session in which the Japanese rider had threatened to take his fifth front row slot of the season.
Three-tenths-of-a-second further back, Suzuki's Chris Vermeulen claimed his sixth top ten qualifying result of the year with a fine ninth place, just nudging his team-mate John Hopkins into the final top ten position by 0.06s. With only a second separating pole from twelfth place, Randy de Puniet was unlucky to miss out on the top ten, the Frenchman forced to settle for a close 11th place.
The final qualifying session of the 2006 brings to an end the MotoGP Qualifier of the Year award, the end results of which combine the qualifying times in each GP of the year together with the riders' best time from the pre-season test session in Catalunya. In a season which has seen significant increase in Bridgestone tyre performance both in qualifying and in races, it is fitting that five Bridgestone riders are represented in the top ten of the Best Qualifier classification with Shinya Nakano in third, John Hopkins in fifth, Loris Capirossi sixth, Chris Vermeulen eighth and Randy de Puniet tenth.
Hiroshi Yamada - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager Motorcycle Racing "It was a very strong day of running for Bridgestone at the Valencia circuit today and I am pleased to see such strong qualifying performances as well as some notable runs on race tyres from each of our teams. Troy Bayliss was particularly impressive on his return to Ducati and his debut weekend on Bridgestone tyres. Loris also performed exceptionally well throughout the day and his third place really bolsters Ducati's potential around Valencia in tomorrow's race. Shinya was competitive and his fourth place on the grid is well deserved and indicative of his qualifying pace all season. We are still keeping the 30 lap race distance in mind, but Loris conducted a substantial long run this morning in which he was able to lap consistently in the 1m33 bracket. His run on race tyres at the top of the qualifying hour was incredible with four out of his five laps on that tyre under 1m33s and one lap in 1m32.2 which is almost one second quicker than last year's race best. The track temperature was seven degrees higher than this morning which could account for the improvement, but it was similar to last year's race so we hope for similar conditions tomorrow afternoon."
Troy Bayliss - Ducati Corse - 2nd on Grid "It's been a great weekend so far, now I'd just like to finish it off with a good result. We expected quite a bit before we came here even though I hadn't been on this year's bike or on Bridgestone tyres. We didn't put any pressure on ourselves, we've just taken it step by step and every session we've got better. The bike and tyres are obviously working pretty good, though we will be looking for a little more in the morning because you've never got a perfect bike. To be on the front row is so important here. Now I hope to get a good start and be part of the race."