Rossi Splashes to Pole

Henny Ray Abrams | July 18, 2009

Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi stole the pole position from teammate Jorge Lorenzo with a blistering final lap on a rain-sodden Sachsenring that claimed a number of riders, including all three on the second row.Rossi trailed Lorenzo by .143 of a second when he began his final lap in torrential rains on the predominantly left-turning track in the former East Germany. The Italian was ahead at every split and when he crossed the line, with a lap of 1:32.250 after the hour had expired, he was .640 faster than Lorenzo. It was also .783 of a second faster than he’d previously gone.The pole was Rossi’s third of the year and first in Germany.”I’m so happy because I already do more pole positions than last year,” Rossi said. “And is an important pole position especially for the race of tomorrow, because here is difficult overtake, so is important start on the front.”I’m so happy for me and my team, because we work well on the bike during the practice and we make some modifieds that give me some more feeling. And at the end was difficult, very difficult, because are at the limit. Have a lot, a lot of water in two or three points of the track. Have deep river that slide the bike.So last lap, I had a good potential and I try to go more on the last lap and was a great lap, so I’m happy for the pole position, but especially I hope like everybody that tomorrow will be dry.”Lorenzo was consistent throughout the session and his was a strong second and .6 of a second in front of third fastest Casey Stoner on the Marlboro Ducati. Lorenzo wasn’t fully fit after separating his collarbone two weeks ago at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, but the Spaniard felt better than he had on Friday.Lorenzo said braking was difficult on Friday, but “today a little bit better. I can brake much later than yesterday. Yesterday the feeling was a little bit strange. So I’m happy of the day of today, because also in the morning I’ve been fast and here with the rain, that normally I am struggling, I also get a good pace. So, you know, was very easy to crash, so I push quite a lot, but not too much, you know, and the second place is fine.”Stoner was fastest for much of the session before Rossi and Lorenzo went to the top with about 15 minutes to go. But the conditions convinced Stoner to stay in the pits at the end of the hour , which left him with no chance of taking the Yamahas. Still, he would start on the first row.”I mean, we didn’t have enough time to make any more settings to the bike and it really started to get too dangerous out there,” Stoner said. “I lost the front a couple times going down the hill, not really where everybody else was going down, and I just thought, ‘it’s not worth the risk for a qualifying lap.’ The race is tomorrow, we can make some changes and see if we can improve the setting.”The bike felt reasonably good. We can still definitely improve it. And I could have gone quite a bit faster at one point in the session and maybe even at the end, but it would have been too much of a risk to me and it was better to start the race in one piece than start it injured. As you saw, a lot of riders going down. It was very, very difficult conditions.”Stoner’s teammate Nicky Hayden survived a harrowing and bizarre accident in turn eight to record his best starting position of the season. Hayden highsided entering the downhill left and was catapulted into Pramac Racing’s Niccolo Canepa, physically knocking the Italian off his Ducati. Canepa was taken away on a stretcher, but wasn’t injured. Hayden, after checking on Canepa’s condition, walked away on his own. Hayden’s previous best qualifying position was fifth at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix.Hayden had also improved his dry pace, finishing the two free practice sessions fourth fastest.San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alex De Angelis and LCR Honda’s Randy De Puniet, who will start tomorrow’s race next to Hayden on row two, also crashed in turn eight, though neither was hurt. De Angelis fell off his Honda RC212V, which then ghost rode to a ghastly end in the air fence, dislodging the safety barrier and soaking anyone within distance. About six minutes earlier his teammate Toni Elias had done the same thing in the same corner. Elias highsided, landed on the bike on his back, then fell off and watched as his Honda rammed the air fence. He qualified 17th.Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards stayed upright to qualify seventh fastest in front of USGP winner Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) and Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi, who crashed near the end of the session.Pramac Racing’s Mika Kallio (Duc) shares row four with Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso and Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen.Hayate Racing’s Marco Melandri, another of the riders claimed by turn eight, starts 13th next to Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s James Toseland and Canepa.The back row is Scot Honda’s Gabor Talmacsi, in his first MotoGP ride in the streaming wet, and Elias.

MotoGP Qualifying:

1. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:32.520

2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:33.160

3. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1:33.759

4. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:34.404

5. Alex De Angelis (Honda) 1:34.490

6. Randy De Puniet (Honda) 1:34.564

7. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:34.607

8. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:34.725

9. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki) 1:34.741

10. Mika Kallio (Ducati) 1:34.771

11. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:34.892

12. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) 1:34.937

13. Marco Melandri (Kawasaki) 1:34.938

14. James Toseland (Yamaha) 1:35.005

15. Niccolo Canepa (Ducati) 1:36.012

16. Gabor Talmacsi (Honda) 1:36.055

17. Toni Elias (Honda) 1:36.531

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.