Lorenzo Pole, Rossi Fourth in Italy

Henny Ray Abrams | May 30, 2009

Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo stole the spotlight from teammate Valentino Rossi by swooping to the pole position, while Rossi slipped off the front row at Mugello for the first time since 1999 by qualifying fourth in pursuit of his eighth consecutive victory in the Italian Grand Prix.For Lorenzo, it was his second pole of the season in the most important race on Rossi’s calendar. Lorenzo wasted his first pole-in Jerez-by crashing in front of his first home grand prix, but he believes he has the pace to stay near the front on Sunday. He also said he might have been faster but not for problems near the end of the lap.”I’m really happy about this because it’s a great pole position and I’m really excited to be starting from the front at Mugello,” he said. “During the session we had some problems in T4 and we still need to try to improve a bit in that section, but I am fast with both types of tire and in the end I was able to do one very fast lap. My race pace is good and I think that I have the possibility to fight with Valentino (Rossi) tomorrow; in my mind he is still the favorite here. My target is to get a good start and then try to stay with Valentino and Casey (Stoner), and then I am sure I can be a part of the race. I am very excited and I hope for a great battle.”Rossi made no attempt to hide his disappointment.”Sincerely I am quite disappointed to miss out on the first row,” he said. “Usually I don’t mind so much, but here, in Mugello, it’s special, so I am sorry for this.”It was a great fight today and we had good potential for the pole position, but in the end we lost the front row to Loris (Capirossi), who did a great lap. Our setting is good, we have some small details to check but our race pace with the harder tire is very good, so I am not too worried. Of course starting from the second row makes life a little more difficult but we don’t think about this.”The weather situation is very important because if it’s like this then we know we are fast, but if it changes, which seems possible from the forecast, then it will be a bit more difficult.”Rossi and Lorenzo had dominated the session, with Yamahas running 1-2-3 when Colin Edwards (Monster Energy Yamaha Tech 3) slotted into third before the halfway point.The order began to change ten minutes later when Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi put in a surprising lap to take third from Edwards. Capirossi would continue to fight for the front row right to the end.As would Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner, who went to the top late in the 18th minute dropping Rossi to second and Lorenzo to third. On the next lap, Rossi improved his time but not his position and remained .069 back of the Australian.Edwards’ big lap came in the fourteenth minute when his time of 1:49.547 dropped Lorenzo to fourth and off the front row. But the 21-year-old Spaniard got it back with just over eight minutes to go when he jumped up to second.Not more than 16 secs. later Rossi was again the leader and now by a gap of .143 to Stoner, with Lorenzo, Edwards, and Capirossi trailing.Most of the riders pitted in the seventh minute and with 5:30 to go Rossi, Capirossi, and Stoner all rolled out for their final runs.Capirossi made the most of it by leapfrogging four riders to take the top by .027 on Rossi. But it would be predictably short-lived.With 15 secs. on the clock Lorenzo lapped at 1:48.987 mins. and still had one more lap to go. He didn’t improve and his team had to watch as Rossi had one final run. But, surprisingly, the Italian didn’t improve his time and will have to start from the second row if he’s going to keep his streak alive.Stoner went to second after time, dropping Capirossi to third and his first front row start of the season.”I try really hard in the end for try to have best split everywhere,” Capirossi said. “I do for sure a really great lap.”Capirossi thanked his team because the day before the Suzuki “was terrible and we’re working all night for to find a good solution for setting and today I say already from this morning working quite well the bike and I am really happy.”I know the situation for tomorrow is not really easy, but I think I can keep low ‘50 rhythm and we will see tomorrow what’s happened.”The top four were covered by .161 secs.Randy De Puniet (LCR Honda) took top Honda honors in fifth just in front of Edwards, who landed in sixth.The Repsol Hondas of Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa lead off row three in front of San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Toni Elias.Nicky Hayden continued his struggles on the Ducati Marlboro GP09. The Kentuckian spent the session last or near last and finished one off the bottom in 16th place.MotoGP Qualifying:

1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:49.170

2. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1:49.008

3. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki) 1:49.121

4. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:49.148

5. Randy De Puniet (Honda) 1:49.499

6. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:49.547

7. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:49.648

8. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:50.073

9. Toni Elias (Honda) 1:50.078

10. Yuki Takahashi (Honda) 1:50.305


16. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:50.923

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.