INDIANAPOLIS, IN, SEPT. 13 – History was made today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and fittingly it was the most prolific racer in the history of the series who made that history – Valentino Rossi. The Italian superstar scorched his way around the Indy road course in 1:40.776 on his Fiat Yamaha to earn the first-ever pole position for tomorrow’s inaugural race at one of the most famous race places in the world.
Rossi was at or near the top of the time sheets throughout the session and he was there when it mattered the most – right at the end, his lap time besting Marlboro Ducati’s Casey Stoner’s best by just .084 of a second. In the process, Rossi snapped Stoner’s run of seven straight pole positions.
“I was quite worried like all the other guys for this new track because is inside of an oval so sometimes is strange,” Rossi said. “But already from Thursday with the scooter is like the layout is good. [The track] Have a lot of corner by corner where is difficult find the right way, so is a technical circuit and I like. Yesterday the condition was very bad, but today with the sun is fun. Is good ride MotoGP inside here and this is so important. But especially I’m so happy for the work of today, because we find a quite good setting with the race tires and we change a bit the procedure for the qualify and I’m fast – especially with the last two tires, because at the beginning I did some mistake, but at the end I try for the 40 and is a 40.7. It is a good pole position and starting from first is good for the race of tomorrow.”
Stoner’s time came on his final lap and it put him second, .317 of a second better than Rossi’s teammate Jorge Lorenzo, with Lorenzo’s fast lap also coming right at the close of the session.
“Yeah, it was close, but we struggled a little today,” Stoner said. “We broke an engine in this morning’s session when the track was starting to become a little bit drier and you could actually get a bit of a feel for it. We had to spend the last, basically, 20 minutes in the box because we broke the engine. So, it’s a little bit disappointing. Coming into this afternoon’s session we were trying to do a lot of things in a short period of time and we just couldn’t get done what we needed to.”
Unfortunately, the last-lap fliers by Stoner and Lorenzo pushed Repsol Honda’s Nicky Hayden off the front row, the Kentuckian slipping back to fourth, though he is just .496 of a second off Rossi.
Rizla Suzuki’s Ben Spies was impressive in just his third MotoGP, qualifying fifth adn easily the best of the Suzukis. Spies was just .193 of a second behind Hayden. Then came LCR Honda’s Randy de Puniet, the Frenchman completing what will be the second row – with Hayden and Spies – for tomororow’s race.
Row three will be led by Andrea Dovizioso, the Italian riding his JiR Team Scot Honda to seventh ahead of Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, the Spaniard in his debut on Bridgestone tires.
Alice Ducati’s Toni Elias was ninth fastest ahead of the Tech 3 Yamaha’s of James Toseland and Colin Edwards.
The fourth American in the race, John Hopkins, rode his Kawasaki to the 16th fastest time. The final qualifier was Hopkins’ teammate Anthony West, the man who completely dominated yesterday’s wet sessions at Indy.
1. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:40.776
2. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1:40.860
3. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:41.177
4. Nicky Hayden (Honda) 1:41.271
5. Ben Spies (Suzuki) 1:41.464
6. Randy de Puniet (Honda) 1:41.492
7. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:41.744
8. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:41.754
9. Toni Elias (Ducati) 1:41.886
10. James Toseland (Yamaha) 1:41.897
11. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:41.934
12. Alex de Angelis (Honda) 1:41.969
13. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki) 1:42.305
14. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 1:42.405
15. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) 1:42.551
16. John Hopkins (Kawasaki) 1:42.673
17. Shinya Nakano (Honda) 1:42.732
18. Marco Melandri (Ducati) 1:43.807
19. Anthony West (Kawasaki) 1:43.931