Rossi Takes Pole at Donington Park

Cycle News Staff | July 25, 2009

Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi will start Sunday’s last ever British Grand Prix at Donington Park from the pole position after a series of blistering laps in the final stages of qualifying at the flowing circuit in the British East Midlands.Rossi discovered early in the session that his pace on the harder of the two rear Bridgestones wasn’t as quick as he would have liked. But when he fitted the softer option, near the end of the session, he went straight to the top. His lap of 1:28.116 mins. edged out Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) by a tenth of a second, with Rossi’s teammate Jorge Lorenzo (1:28.402) filling out the front row.Rossi will be trying to end a drought at Donington Park that stretches back to 2005 in the final running. Next year the British GP moves to Silverstone, which hosted the race until 1987 when it moved to Donington. Rossi has five premier class wins; two in 500 and three in MotoGP, plus one win each in 125 and 250.”For me, is a surprise, because unfortunately we don’t try the harder tire this morning, but we expect looking at the performance of the other guys to have a good grip this afternoon,” Rossi, who has a 14 point championship lead over Lorenzo, said. “But when I put the harder tire on we were in trouble and I don’t have enough grip for push a lot and my lap time was quite bad.”So start in the box, we modify a little bit the bike. We improve a little bit on the hard, but it was anyway not  fantastic. So we have to work on the setting. But after we make another modify, put the soft and with the soft tire, great grip. My bike turns and flowing good in the fast part, so we did a good job with the team and so happy about this pole position, because it’s a surprise. So for tomorrow we wait for the weather condition, but anyway we start from the front.”The fast-starting Pedrosa led practice after Friday and Saturday and was happy to be in the middle of the front row in second place.”Well, in the practice it was good,” Pedrosa said. “We did a good job. At the end on the last tire I was not fully concentrated. I had some riders and a I lose a little bit of concentration. But still front row, so this is important more than pole position.”And then I think we did a good job in the practice, so we just have to check a little bit how is everything and try to improve a little bit more, but tomorrow the race can be, I don’t know, the weather may be changing or maybe it’s good, so we will try to set up for each condition and if it’s raining I’d like to improve my riding, so I hope we can do a great race.”Lorenzo was at the top for much of the session while on the hard race tire, but unable to improve at the end. His best lap came with 13 minutes remaining and he wasn’t able to improve on the softer option.”Yes we are prepared with the race tire. We have done an amazing pace,” he said. “Unfortunately, with the soft one we didn’t expect these problems. But anyway I think for tomorrow the race we will exit with the hard one, so for sure we are prepared.”Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner crashed twice on Saturday, once in practice and again about halfway through final qualifying in Maclean’s Corner. He was only .042 secs. slower than Lorenzo, but still back on the row two pole. Next to him are Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso and Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards, who often goes well at Donington Park. Two of his four second place finishes have come at Donington Park.Hayate Racing’s Marco Melandri shares row three with San Carlo Gresini Honda’s Toni Elias and James Toseland, the Brit on the second Monster Yamaha Tech 3 bike.Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden struggled for the hour, finishing 15th of 17. His best lap came on the 19th of his 30 laps.

MotoGP Qualifying:

1. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:28.116

2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:28.211

3. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:28.402

4. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1:28.446

5. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:28.778

6. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:28.865

7. Marco Melandri (Kawasaki) 1:29.065

8. Toni Elias (Honda) 1:29.715

9. James Toseland (Yamaha) 1:29.270

10. Randy De Puniet (Honda) 1:29.434


15. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:30.268