MotoGP: Sunshine & Qualifying at Brno

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After a soggy Free Practice 3, the sun in Brno came out and helped dry the Czech circuit in-time for MotoGP’s qualifying session. In a day that saw a plethora of crashes, both in the wet and in the dry, no one was more devastatingly affected that John Hopkins, as the Anglo-American broke three fingers in his right hand, meaning the wild card rider would have to sit out the Czech GP. On the other spectrum of fortunes, Dani Pedrosa resided on a different level from the rest of the MotoGP field, having been lightning quick all week.

With eyes on Pedrosa going into qualifying, questions began to rise as to how the Spaniard would factor into the Championship standings. Out of contention for the title, Pedrosa can still play a large determining role as to whom, Casey Stoner or Jorge Lorenzo, will be the 2011 MotoGP World Champion. Also still technically in title contention is Repsol Honda’s third rider, Andrea Dovizioso, and though a long-shot for the Championship, is well within striking distance for second place. With Brno the 11th stop of this 18 round season, riders are looking to wrap-up the loose ends of the Championship this weekend. Find out how they qualified after the jump.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Dani Pedrosa found himself in the pole position at the end of today’s MotoGP qualifying. While Pedrosa had been strong all week, the number one spot did not come easy for the Spaniard, as both Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo put down strong laps during the hour-long session. With Lorenzo and Stoner finishing second and third, respectively, and only all three riders on the front row getting into the 1:56’s during qualifying, tomorrow’s front line is comprised of three riders who could easily walk away with the race victory in Brno.

“It’s my first pole of the year and also after a long time, so I’m very happy for that,” exclaimed Pedrosa. “The weekend has been pretty good for us so far, the bike is working well and I’m feeling good physically as well. We made only a few small changes on the bike and this allowed me to concentrate more on my riding, so let’s hope we are able to keep the pace tomorrow and fight for a good result.”

“This is the most important thing and we need to keep our feet on the ground because the rivals are close. I think we can still improve the bike a little, especially on the chassis side to have better grip, even though I guess that the rain this morning affected the conditions on track which made it more slippery.”

Starting the second row will be American Ben Spies, who despite having a pinched nerve proved to have some speed at the Czech track. If he can get a good start, and hang with the front group, he should be a factor for tomorrow’s race as well.

“Today honestly went a lot better than expected, we’re at least in a good starting position for tomorrow,” said Spies. “I’m not 100% confident about the race and what we can do but we’ve shown we’ve got the speed and the bike is good enough for top five. We’ll do the best we can, I’m not going to make any promises but I know I’ve got at least half a good race in me.”

“If we get some good rest tonight then hopefully we’ll get lucky and catch a break and be good for it. We’re optimistic, the bike is working well and the speed is there, I just hope I can be there too. I need to say a big thank you to all the guys at Clinica Mobile who are working hard this weekend to keep me in the game.”

On the other side of the coin were the Ducati riders Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden, who despite making some progress over the week, are respectively sixth and ninth on tomorrow’s grid. With front-end feeling still being the problem of the day, Hayden also had to contend with the rear wheel spinning through the corners, though the American and his team found some progress on that problem towards the end of the qualifying session.

In a similarly disappointing position, local favorite Karel Abraham (read his track notes on Brno here) will start from the last position. The Czech rider crashed in the last remaining minutes of qualifying session, and despite rushing back to the pits for a quick last few laps, was unable to improve on his spot for tomorrow’s GP.

Qualifying Results from the Indianapolis GP at Indy:

Pos. No. Rider Nation Team Time Diff.
1 27 Casey STONER AUS Repsol Honda Team 1’38.850
2 11 Ben SPIES USA Yamaha Factory Racing 1’39.373 0.523
3 1 Jorge LORENZO SPA Yamaha Factory Racing 1’39.629 0.779
4 26 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team 1’39.947 1.097
5 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Repsol Honda Team 1’40.024 1.174
6 5 Colin EDWARDS USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1’40.098 1.248
7 58 Marco SIMONCELLI ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini 1’40.204 1.354
8 69 Nicky HAYDEN USA Ducati Team 1’40.244 1.394
9 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1’40.333 1.483
10 8 Hector BARBERA SPA Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP 1’40.360 1.510
11 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1’40.620 1.770
12 14 Randy DE PUNIET FRA Pramac Racing Team 1’40.815 1.965
13 7 Hiroshi AOYAMA JPN San Carlo Honda Gresini 1’40.925 2.075
14 46 Valentino ROSSI ITA Ducati Team 1’40.975 2.125
15 24 Toni ELIAS SPA LCR Honda MotoGP 1’41.030 2.180
16 17 Karel ABRAHAM CZE Cardion AB Motoracing 1’41.085 2.235
17 65 Loris CAPIROSSI ITA Pramac Racing Team 1’41.092 2.242

Source: MotoGP