News Report 31 May 2008

2008 MotoGP Italy - Mugello

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5245 m
06 / 01 / 2008
Time to be confirmed

Rossi makes it 50 with sensational Mugello Pole


Valentino Rossi brought out the best for his home fans once again in Mugello this afternoon, taking a stunning pole position to ensure he will start tomorrow’s quest for a ninth Mugello victory in the best possible way. The Italian’s 50th career pole has been a long time in coming, his last one having been at Catalunya last season, almost one year ago. It is also his first for Bridgestone and Yamaha’s fifth from six races this season.

Rossi greeted his fans in slightly unusual fashion today as he unveiled his traditional one-off Mugello helmet, which this year carries a picture of his face on top of it. Joking aside however this morning’s practice was another disjointed session with the track drying throughout after yet another rain shower and Rossi finishing sixth. After his crew made some slight, but important modifications to his M1 over lunch it was a different story this afternoon, as Rossi dominated a hot and sunny qualifying session. He was consistently fast on race tyres and then improved with the first three of his four Bridgestone qualifying tyres, bettering the existing pole position lap by more than 0.8 seconds with the third.

Rossi’s team-mate Jorge Lorenzo struggled with the lack of dry track time after yesterday’s washout and was unable to find a perfect set-up for his M1, qualifying at the head of the second row in seventh. After two days of poor weather however the sun that finally came out this afternoon looks set to continue through tomorrow, when the 23-lap Italian Grand Prix gets underway at 1400 local time.

Valentino Rossi 1st 1'48.130; “This is a great, great qualifying because it’s been a long wait to be on pole position again, almost one year exactly! Now for sure we will try to win tomorrow. To be honest I was quite worried after practice this morning because we had a few problems with the set-up and I couldn’t find my rhythm, but I want to say thank you to all my team because they made a great job during lunch, we did some important modifications and then this afternoon I had the feeling and the speed that I wanted. We’re now fast on race tyres but we still need to make our final decision about which tyre to use and we will do this when we see the conditions tomorrow. It’s great to make my first pole with Bridgestone and I think 48.1 is a very fast time and it shows how good their qualifying tyres are now.
It’s good as well to have two Italians on the front row and now I hope we have a lot of people here tomorrow and that we can make a big party once again! I have to be honest about my helmet, it was Aldo Drudi’s idea this time but I think it’s one of the best ever! It’s not a drawing, it’s a real picture of my face at the braking at the end of the straight here and I think it’s very funny!”

Davide Brivio Team Manager; “It’s been a bit of wait to return to the front of the grid but it’s nice to do it for the first time with Bridgestone here in Mugello, it’s extra special for everyone! Congratulations are also due to the Yamaha engineers because this is their sixth pole of the season so it’s clear that they have built a fantastic bike. With the reduced time we’ve had here in the dry our engineers have done a great job to find such a good set-up and to enable Valentino to have such a strong pace, both on race tyres and on qualifiers. We’re in the best position for the race; hopefully it will be dry and we can continue our successful weekend.”
Fiat Yamaha Team rider Jorge Lorenzo will become the youngest rider ever to pass the 100 Grand Prix milestone tomorrow when he starts the Italian Grand Prix from seventh on the grid. It is the 21-year-old’s lowest qualifying position so far since his MotoGP debut but, with four podiums already under his belt and an impressive passing record in the last two races especially, he will be looking forward to making his way through the field tomorrow to challenge at the front.

The hoped-for dry session this morning did not materialise as more rain early on meant the track was still damp for first practice and Lorenzo struggled in the conditions, finishing 14th. This afternoon the sun finally came out and the Mallorcan and his crew worked hard to iron out the issues they were having with the M1, making some improvement but not enough to allow them to challenge for the top qualifying spots. They will now aim to make the most of tomorrow’s short warm-up session to finalise their choice of Michelin race tyre and make some last-minute adjustments to put them in better shape for the race.

Jorge Lorenzo 7th 1'48.905; “Of course I’m not happy with seventh because I always want to be at the front, it’s my worst position so far with Yamaha in MotoGP and I’m especially disappointed because I really like this track and I love the Italian fans, but now we just have to look forward to a good race! I still lack some power in my ankles but honestly I can’t blame my injuries this time, today it was a case of lacking time to find the right dry set-up and of me not riding as well as I might have done.
We need to work on the front especially because at the moment we are wheelying too much and we don’t have enough stability in the bumpy areas, but I have confidence in my team and in Yamaha and I know we will be able to improve for tomorrow. Anyway, we know our bike is working well here because Valentino is on pole! Tomorrow morning we will decide on the race tyre, together with Michelin, and then I will try to get a good start and pass as many people as possible.”

Daniele Romagnoli Team manager; “Today was a bit more difficult than we’ve been used to and we have some small problems, specifically with wheelies making the bike a little bit difficult to control and also in the bumpy areas where we need to work on the suspension to make the bike more stable and less nervous. Now our engineers are studying the data and we will find a good solution for tomorrow. Jorge has shown in the last two races how well he can pass people so we’re still looking forward to a great race tomorrow.”
Colin Edwards came within a whisker of handing the Tech 3 Yamaha team a fifth front row start in six races for tomorrow’s Italian MotoGP race in Mugello. Edwards ended today’s qualifying session in fifth place, but was only 0.070s off extending his remarkable front row starting record in 2008 with another impressive display on Michelin’s qualifying tyres.

Edwards seemed certain to be on the front row when he claimed third with only five seconds left on the clock in what was the first full dry session of a weather-hit weekend. Loris Capirossi and Casey Stoner though denied Edwards after he’d posted a 1.48.383. Edwards, who had led the way earlier after using his first Michelin qualifying tyre, is confident he can challenge for a second successive podium in tomorrow’s race, despite minimal time to find a good dry set-up due to the inclement weather conditions that dominated free practice.

James Toseland once again belied his lack of track experience to clock the eighth best time, just one place behind early title contender Jorge Lorenzo. Robbed of crucial dry track time to fine tune his YZR-M1 set-up, while also learning the challenging Mugello circuit, Toseland finished just 0.895s off pole position.
Colin Edwards 5th 1'48.383; “Missing the front row like that is a bit of a shame but I’ve got to be happy. It would have been nice to get on the front row but I still feel like I can be up with the guys tomorrow. I put my first qualifier in early just in case it rained and I did a 48.7 and told my team ‘we can do a 47.’ You are talking about finding another seven tenths but I’d made a few little mistakes. I thought we could do it but just missed out at the end. Hats off to my team and Yamaha because I’m feeling good as far as race set-up goes and I think we have got the right tyre from Michelin. Tyres are going to be more critical than ever and I think we’ve got to be a bit cautious in the beginning.
We’ll have to stay with the guys but I don’t think we can go too crazy with the tyres. We’ve got to do 23 laps and none of us have had chance to endurance test tyres so that just adds to the intrigue. Michelin have been doing a great job so I’m confident. I have never in my entire life been this happy at this track though. To have confidence is one thing, but then to come to a track that you have never done any good on and do well, that just amplifies the confidence feeling. You realise the tyres and the bike are working like a dream because every year I’ve been to this track I've had chatter, and now I don’t have chatter and the bike works unbelievably. Hopefully I can get away with the guys tomorrow because with that slipstream on the straight you can hang in there. I feel really happy with my gearing off the last corner and that is the most important corner on the whole track, because if you lose that slipstream its tough to get back in the group unless they start holding each other up."
James Toseland 8th 1'49.025; "To finish less than a second off pole when you consider all the time we have lost due to the weather is a great result for me. I’m relieved to be honest because when it started dry this morning, the dry set-up we had was quite a long way off. It was really hard to ride with that setting and we have changed the bike a lot and gone to a set-up close to what Colin is running. The bike feels a bit more stable now. I think for a tighter track the set-up I had wasn’t going to be too bad. But on a fast and flowing track like this it was a little bit nervous so we just changed the front a bit. Now we haven’t got a bad set-up, but I have only had 10 laps on a decent set-up. With the set-up and lack of knowledge of the track, to be a less than a second is not bad. Fair play to my team because we did a lot of work and fortunately for me the new set-up is a good direction to go in. This afternoon I only really had 30 minutes to work on the race set-up because you spend 30 minutes on the qualifiers. I made some mistakes because on all these new tracks, with the qualifiers you need to be so precise and I haven’t quite mastered exactly where you need to be on the track with them.
I’m still not getting the best out of the qualifiers. It is such a long lap and I kept coming out of a couple of corners going slightly wide and then you can forget about the lap time because a small mistake costs you corner speed at the next turn. I just suffer a bit of a lack of track knowledge but the bike and the tyres are working great. I just need to get a good start because the slipstream here can really help you get a good result.”