News Report 18 October 2008

2008 MotoGP Malaysia - Sepang

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5543 m
10 / 19 / 2008
Time to be confirmed

Rossi gets it right in tricky qualifying to take tenth front-row


Valentino Rossi secured his tenth front row start of the season in Sepang today in a tricky qualifying session which saw the track conditions changing constantly after a heavy downpour. His Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo made it two Yamahas on the front row, leaving the pair in prime position for a double-podium assault tomorrow.

Following a strong opening day yesterday, Rossi continued in the same vein in the dry this morning and was fourth fastest. Torrential rain throughout the 125cc qualifying session left the track soaking as the MotoGP qualifying got underway, but as the sun came out the track began to dry rapidly, meaning conditions were changing for the riders on every lap. The teams were faced with delicate tyre decisions as they tried to keep abreast of the rapidly drying track but Rossi, his crew and his Bridgestone tyre technician got it right each time and the Italian remained close to the top throughout the session. As the hour closed out it looked like a Fiat Yamaha one-two, with Rossi on pole, but a final effort from Dani Pedrosa was even faster and he edged the world champion off the top spot for tomorrow’s 21-lap race.

Valentino Rossi - Position: 2nd Time: 1'01.957 Laps: 21
“The conditions were incredible today and this practice was as much about strategy as it was about qualifying tyres and set-up, because you had to judge the right moment to go out with the right tyre. We worked very well in our garage and managed to make the right decisions every time, so I was at the top or near to it for most of the session and able to constantly make big improvements. When I saw that I’d done a 2’01.9 I thought that I might have the pole, but Dani was even faster so congratulations to him today. Anyway it’s good to be back on the front row because we have been off it for two races, and now we’re in a good place to start our challenge tomorrow. I am really looking forward to the race because I love this track and my M1 is really flying here. However I hope the weather is ok because for sure it will be more fun in the dry!”

Davide Brivio - Team Manager
“We came out very well from a tricky situation today. It was a delicate job to correctly follow the conditions, which were changing so quickly, but we managed it very well and this front row is just reward for some good work from the team. This was an important front row because there are a lot of riders here looking very competitive, but also the information from this session might be useful tomorrow if we have the same conditions. Let’s hope not, but anyway we will be prepared.”

Five in a row for Lorenzo as he claims another front-row

Jorge Lorenzo and his Fiat Yamaha crew got their strategy right to secure an important front row start during a complicated qualifying session in Sepang today, the rookie’s eighth of the season and fifth in a row. Lorenzo will start from third with team-mate Valentino Rossi beside him in second and Dani Pedrosa on pole.

A dry morning session gave the leading rookie time to make further improvements to his race-setting and he finished in third, but by late morning the weather had turned and an hour of heavy rain left the track soaking for the start of the MotoGP practice. Once the sun came out the track began to dry rapidly and conditions were changing by the minute, but the Spaniard and his crew did a good job of choosing the right Michelin tyre for the right moment and he was competitive throughout. A fast final lap left him in second behind Rossi but Dani Pedrosa had the edge and pushed the pair down to second and third, nonetheless leaving Lorenzo in a good position to launch his podium challenge in tomorrow’s 21-lap race.
Jorge Lorenzo - Position: 3rd Time: 2'02.171 Laps: 19
“It was a strange session today but as the track began to get more and more dry I thought that it would be possible to try for the pole position. I made some good laps but I think in the end, and after so many laps in the wet, I wasn’t quite at the maximum in the dry and I didn’t do the fastest possible lap I could have. Anyway this front row is very important because I am determined to be back on the podium tomorrow and now we are in good shape to fight for that. I hope that the weather is better tomorrow and that we can have a dry race, our bike is working so well here and I am looking forward to the battle.”

Daniele Romagnoli - Team Manager
“This was a very different kind of qualifying session because the track changed so much, but it was great fun and very exciting! The team worked very well and we chose the best tyre for the right conditions each time, so this helped us to be competitive throughout. This morning’s session was also very encouraging because we improved a lot from yesterday and our race pace is now very good. We’re starting from the front row and we’re in good shape so we are expecting an exciting race tomorrow.”

Colin Edwards fifth, James Toseland 12th after exciting qualifying

Colin Edwards and James Toseland both led an eventful and exciting Malaysian MotoGP qualifying session in Sepang today before the Tech 3 Yamaha pairing had to settle for fifth and 12th on the grid respectively.

Edwards and Toseland topped the timesheets in the final ten minutes of a session that started on a wet track after torrential late morning rain had battered the 5.548km circuit. In typically hot and humid conditions at Sepang, the track dried rapidly and shortly before the halfway stage, Edwards and Toseland were able to switch to slick race tyres and qualifiers.

Having encountered some issues in the drying conditions on his full wet tyres, American Edwards quickly rediscovered his form on Michelin’s impressive slick rubber in tricky conditions, with parts of the circuit still littered with damp patches. Edwards, who was quickest in yesterday’s dry conditions, started his charge in the final third of the session, jumping into the top three with 18 minutes remaining. With lap times dropping dramatically as conditions improved, only six minutes remained when the 33-year moved to the top of the timesheets.

His best lap of 2.02.245 on his last flying lap moved him back into second behind world champion Valentino Rossi, but with a sixth front row start of the season beckoning, he was bumped down three places in a frantic final few seconds. Today’s performance though secured Edwards his best grid position since the German MotoGP race in mid-July as he missed the front row by just 0.07s.

Edwards though has been able to consistently post some of the most competitive lap times in the dry this weekend, raising hopes of a podium challenge in tomorrow’s 21-lap race.

The mixed conditions also made it an action-packed session for 28-year-old Toseland. Initially running full wet and then intermediate tyres to build up his confidence, once he’d fitted his Tech 3 Yamaha YZR-M1 with slick rubber he jumped into the top three with 17 minutes remaining. He then moved into first place with just nine minutes left on the clock before a time of 2.02.282 on his final qualifying tyre put him on the second row. As lap times continued to plummet, Toseland unfortunately slipped down to 12th, though he’s confident of a strong performance in his Malaysia MotoGP debut tomorrow.
Colin Edwards - Position: 5th Time: 2'02.245 Laps: 17
“That was a pretty eventful session to say the least. I was last, first, tenth and ended up fifth and that’s how it can be on a drying track. You have tyres that are right for one moment, and then a minute later that’s not the right tyre and six or more guys go faster. At the start when it was already drying up pretty quickly, I just couldn’t get the tyres to work at all in those mixed conditions. I went out on one of the hardest tyres I had and it just wasn’t lasting, so I decided to sit in the pits for a bit hoping it would get to a point where it would be dry enough for slicks. It was drying really quickly, but I was worried it was going to rain again and I was going to be in big trouble because I think I was last at one point. I think I was the first guy to go on slicks in the front and rear and I got to some decent times for the conditions, just using a soft race tyre to get some confidence for the qualifiers. I wanted to put the slicks on as soon as I could just to try and put in a decent time and improve my position in case it rained again. I only used two qualifiers and my first one was just to understand how much grip there was. The grip was pretty good although there were still a couple of little damp patches you had to watch for. It only slowed us down by a second from last year’s pole but you just had to stay on line. You couldn’t really venture off line too far. On my last qualifier I did a good job but I made a small mistake and that might have cost me the front row. But with the way the session started and the problems I was having with the rain tyres on a drying track, I’ll definitely take a place on the second row. I feel good for tomorrow’s race. I’ve been going well all weekend in the dry and we played with the rear shock today, making the spring a bit softer and the bike feels even better. I’ve just got to convert it into a result now.”
James Toseland - Position: 12th Time: 2'03.282 Laps: 20
“Today was all about timing and judging when to jump on the bike with slick tyres on to make the most of the drying track. But unfortunately I just missed out. The track was just drying at the point when I’d run out of time to put in another qualifier, but I’m sure I could have got in the 2.02s and that’s a second row, so it is a bit frustrating. Early on when it was full wet I was trying not to take any risks because I could see it was going to dry quickly. There were still a few puddles in some places and going through them on slicks pretty much means an instant loss of traction for a split second. At times I was top three, then out of the top ten, and then leading, so that shows how up and down it was when the track was dry. I also didn’t get the most out of my last qualifier because I thought I might have the chance to come in for the fourth one. So I pushed hard on the warm-up lap and to be honest I went too quick and it was sliding around a lot. And as it happens I wouldn’t have had time to use the fourth one anyway. We have still got some work to do for the race tomorrow as well. This morning in the dry we moved in the right direction and I was about a second off. If I can improve the setting to run in high 2.02s, then there is no reason why I can’t be fighting for the top six.”