Jorge Lorenzo took his first pole position since Laguna Seca back in June at Estoril this afternoon, the Mallorcan sealing his fifth pole of the season with a strong performance ahead of tomorrow’s Portuguese Grand Prix. His Fiat Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi meanwhile took his eleventh front row of the season and will start tomorrow’s race from second, with Casey Stoner taking the final front-row slot.
Having topped both practice sessions this weekend, Lorenzo was the clear favourite for pole this afternoon and the 22-year-old looked smooth and comfortable out on track as he made a few last-minute setting changes before the fight for grid spots. With twenty minutes remaining he took the lead and didn’t surrender it for the rest of the session, improving his time several times and never looking in much danger from his rivals.
Rossi had a few problems yesterday but was in better shape today, having improved the balance of his M1 in the hard braking zones. His penultimate lap was good enough to put him second although he was unable to quite match his team-mate’s pace on the softer Bridgestone tyre today. The championship leader is planning a few overnight improvements in order to ensure he is at the maximum for the race.
Tomorrow’s 28-lap race gets underway at the slightly earlier time than usual of 1300 local time, which is 1400 CET.
Jorge Lorenzo – Position: 1st Time: 1’36.214 Laps: 29
“It’s been quite a few races since I’ve had a pole! I was getting a bit worried because doing one fast lap has always been one of my strong points but lately we haven’t been able to be quite competitive enough with the soft tyre. This weekend however everything is working really well and the setting with both tyres is great, so I was able to go out and do some very fast laps. Tomorrow is another day and we know that everyone will be strong, so we will just try and push to the limit and see what happens.”
Valentino Rossi – Position: 2nd Time: 1’36.474 Laps: 28
“We improved the setting a lot this afternoon from yesterday and managed to fix a lot of the problems we had in the braking, so today was not so bad. We still need more traction on the exits from the slow corners however and we are also losing some time in the tight hairpin. We are not so far but we need to study the data and find a way to improve things a bit more for the race. It will be quite a strong fight tomorrow I think and 28 laps in this heat is going to be hard, but we will be ready.”
Daniele Romagnoli – Team Manager
“It’s very good to be back on pole position after what has been quite a long time. Jorge was today able to do some very fast laps with the softer tyre, which has allowed us to get back on pole, but he also has a good and consistent race pace and so we feel confident for the race. We still have a little work to do on some rear grip issues in order to be a bit faster in the last section of the track, so we will use tomorrow’s warm-up to do that and then we will be ready for an exciting race.”
Davide Brivio – Team Manager
“We’ve done a good job to have improved our setting and this has allowed Valentino to be on the front row today. However we still have some work to do to make another step and get to what will probably be tomorrow’s race pace – it looks like we’re a little bit slower at the moment. Tomorrow’s warm-up will be important and we will use the time as best we can in order to be ready to fight.