Despite his morning fall, JORGE LORENZO/No.1 Yamaha Factory Racing has the Moto GP pole position for Sunday’s Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with a lap of 1:21.221. He dominated MotoGP qualifying Saturday afternoon and his time turned on his sixth lap held for forty-five minutes of the hour-long session, while the order behind him remained static most of that time – a regular parade.
Then, things heated up – literally and figuratively.The ambient temperature reached a high of 66 degrees F/19 C, while the track was 109-113 degrees F/43-45 C. While Lorenzo was briefly pipped by BEN SPIES/No.11 Yamaha Factory Racing, Lorenzo retook the top slot with nine minutes to go, and the pack positioning began in earnest. The last fifteen minutes were exciting.
Lorenzo said “I was thinking the race was over for me after the fall. To get pole position I didn’t think it could happen.”
Lorenzo has a sore right thigh after suffering contusions during his morning fall. Given a choice, it’s the lesser of evils to have the right leg sore at Laguna Seca. The 2.232 elevated road course has eight left turns, and four rights. The riders push on the footpegs to help steer the bikes, so he’ll be pushing most with his left foot to make the bike lean left.
When Lorenzo was not on course, he was being looked after solicitously by his team
Finishing a close second was CASEY STONER/No.27 Repsol Honda Team, just 0.072 seconds behind. He and Lorenzo were the only ones to beat Stoner’s previous qualifying track record of 1:21.376 set last year. They both ran harder front tires and softer rear tires.
HIROHIDE HAMASHIMA – Assistant to Director, Motorsport Tyre Development Division said “A key element of tomorrow’s race will be using our tyres most efficiently as although Laguna is only a short lap, the track temperature will be high like this afternoon and the tyres spend a lot of time leant over so don’t get much respite and time to cool.”
Third through fifth were DANI PEDROSA/No.26 Repsol Honda Team, BEN SPIES/No.11 Yamaha Factory Racing, and MARCO SIMONCELLI/No.58 San Carlo Honda Gresini.
Out of somewhere VALENTINO ROSSI came charging on his last lap to finish seventh, behind ANDREAS DOVIZIOSO/No.4 Repsol Honda Team.
Eighth through tenth were HECTOR BARBERA/No.8 Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP, NICKY HAYDEN/No.69 Ducati – who had been in seventh place for most of the session, and Top Rookie CAL CRUTCHLOW/No.35 Monster Yamaha Tech 3. Crutchlow’s teammate, COLIN EDWARDS/No.5, placed eleventh.
Wild Card rider, BEN BOSTROM/No.23 LCR Honda MotoGP placed eighteenth, but he continued to improve his laps every session.
There were several spills during the session, but no harm, no foul. Among those taking a ride on the wild side were RANDY de PUNIET/No.14 Pramac Racing Team, and ALVARO BAUTISTA/No.19 Rizla Suzuki MotoGP,
Two Americans fell big time, Hayden fell off in Turn Nine with sixteen minutes to go. He ran across the track and back to the pits and got on his backup GP11 (old) bike. Then Spies, with five minutes to go. Hayden had ridden the older Ducati because he felt the new bike wasn’t a clear improvement. That’s not to say Hayden didn’t like the GP12 – he did, – especially the gearbox, but he felt the GP11 would give him the best chance for the weekend.
No word yet if Hayden’s cross-track dash to the pits will get his wrist slapped.
Sunday’s race will start at 2 pm local time.