MotoGP: Mixed Weather for Qualifying at Jerez

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With rain in all three of MotoGP’s Free Practice Sessions at Jerez, qualifying for the Spanish GP was unsurprisingly shaped by the weather. Getting a dry track with damp sections, riders were able to go out initially on slicks, though mid-way through it looked like rain could cut short the chance for lap-time improvements. The weather more or less cooperated though, only interrupting the qualifying briefly, though it did help make for some interesting results, with more than a few riders caught sliding along the asphalt.

The highlight of qualifying was surely the closing minutes, as Spaniards Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa traded lap times back and forth for the pole position. With Lorenzo just edging out Pedrosa in the last two laps, the Spanish duo will be set to continue their battle with each other tomorrow. A second back from the pace of the factory Yamaha and factory Honda, Nicky Hayden rode an impressive session on his factory Ducati, and just squeaked ahead of British rider Cal Crutchlow, who looked to be a contender for the pole spot for most of the session.

Getting a front row start at the Qatar GP, Crutchlow has been shining star in Yamaha, and once again has bested factory rider Ben Spies, as well as teammate Andrea Dovizioso. With Spies’s spot on the factory Yamaha MotoGP team coming under serious question with the latest results, the American has to improve his position in the Yamaha ranks if he wants to keep his seat come contract renewal time. With Crutchlow looking to move out of the satellite unit, and Dovi moving to Tech 3 expressly to make an audition for the factory team, the inter-Yamaha rivalry is heating up nicely.

Making an embarrassment out of the Ducatis of Karel Abraham, Hector Barbera, and Valentino Rossi, the CRT effort of Randy de Puniet on the Aprilia ART made a Top 10 qualifying position. Decimating Colin Edwards on the BMW/Suter, de Puniet will be the CRT rider to watch on Sunday, with the question being how many prototype bike scalps he can collect in the process.

One of the scalps that is certainly up for grabbing is surprisingly, or perhaps unsurprisingly, Valentino Rossi’s, who excelled with the Ducati in wet conditions, but continues to flounder during dry ones. Unable to ride the GP12 the way he wants to, Rossi’s pace has brought about some talk as to whether the Italian is sandbagging his results in order to push Ducati in a direction that will see the Italian factory incorporate features the Italian rider has requested — one of which is an engine with a more usable power band (the GP12 is widely regarded as having the most aggressive engine in the paddock).

How much of that talk is grounded in truth is left to speculation, but The Doctor’s results certainly are not impressive, especially considering the pace of his teammate and satellite rivals. With more rain expected for Sunday’s race though, VR46 fans may still have some hope in salvaging the race weekend.

Qualifying Results from the Spanish GP at Jerez, Spain:

Pos. Rider Nation Team Bike KM/H Time Diff.
1 Jorge LORENZO SPA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha 282.1 1’39.532
2 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 283.5 1’39.667 0.135
3 Nicky HAYDEN USA Ducati Team Ducati 282.3 1’40.563 1.031
4 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 281.7 1’40.570 1.038
5 Casey STONER AUS Repsol Honda Team Honda 285.9 1’40.577 1.045
6 Ben SPIES USA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha 280.9 1’41.090 1.558
7 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 284.0 1’41.180 1.648
8 Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda 286.9 1’41.447 1.915
9 Stefan BRADL GER LCR Honda MotoGP Honda 287.3 1’41.550 2.018
10 Randy DE PUNIET FRA Power Electronics Aspar ART 265.6 1’41.700 2.168
11 Karel ABRAHAM CZE Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati 284.2 1’41.724 2.192
12 Hector BARBERA SPA Pramac Racing Team Ducati 288.8 1’41.871 2.339
13 Valentino ROSSI ITA Ducati Team Ducati 282.3 1’42.961 3.429
14 Aleix ESPARGARO SPA Power Electronics Aspar ART 267.7 1’43.135 3.603
15 Michele PIRRO ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR 268.2 1’43.363 3.831
16 Mattia PASINI ITA Speed Master ART 266.5 1’44.308 4.776
17 Yonny HERNANDEZ COL Avintia Blusens BQR 269.5 1’44.467 4.935
18 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Came IodaRacing Project Ioda 257.4 1’44.645 5.113
19 Ivan SILVA SPA Avintia Blusens BQR 261.4 1’44.717 5.185
20 James ELLISON GBR Paul Bird Motorsport ART 264.8 1’45.724 6.192
21 Colin EDWARDS USA NGM Mobile Forward Racing Suter 264.5 1’46.200 6.668

Source: MotoGP; Photo: © 2012 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved