Rossi in pole position for title bid at Valencia

29.10.2006: Rossi in pole position for title bid at Valencia

QUALIFYING 1 REPORT 28/10/2006

Camel Yamaha Team rider Valentino Rossi will launch his bid for the MotoGP World Championship title in the best possible circumstances tomorrow after sealing pole position for the final race of the season in today's qualifying session at Valencia. The Italian repeatedly smashed the pole record here to make sure of the top spot, eventually clocking a best lap of 1'31.002 to hold off the twin challenge of Troy Bayliss and Loris Capirossi (Ducati), who join him on the front row. Tomorrow, in front of an expected crowd of over 120,000 fans, the five-time MotoGP World Champion will defend an eight-point advantage over Nicky Hayden (Honda) as he aims to secure his sixth consecutive title.

Hayden, the only man with a mathematical chance of denying Rossi, starts from the second row after qualifying fifth fastest, meaning there are three riders between the championship contenders on the grid. Unfortunately Rossi's Camel Yamaha team-mate Colin Edwards is not one of those, having struggled to significantly improve his lap times on a qualifying tyre this afternoon. Nevertheless, the in-form Texan has set an impressive pace throughout the day on race rubber. In the morning free practice, when Rossi also topped the time sheets, Edwards was fourth fastest and in the afternoon he lapped consistently inside the circuit record before being forced to settle for tenth place on the grid.

Valentino Rossi (1st - 1'31.002; 30 laps)

"We knew we had great potential with the qualifying tyre because we tried it this morning in the free practice and then this afternoon I did three very good laps, each one better and better and then the final lap was very fast. To do a 1'31.0 was really incredible. This pole position is crucial for me because it is an important part of my race tactics to start from the front. The session couldn't have gone much better for us because we have a couple of other riders between myself and Nicky. It is a shame Colin is not one of them but he has a good race pace so hopefully he can help me out like he did at Estoril. The team has done a great job this weekend, especially with the balance of the bike. Now we need to make one or two small changes for tomorrow and then we'll just wait and see. I hope the weather will be like this - for the riders and for the fans because it looks like there will be a great crowd! Now we have the most important thirty laps of the season left to complete our target."

Colin Edwards (10th - 1'31.711; 28 laps)

"I'm really pleased with the race setting although we could still make a little more time up in the second sector so that is something we will look at in the warm-up tomorrow. I'm also having a slight problem under braking into turn one but it's good to know that even with those small setbacks we are still right up there in terms of the pace we can expect to see at the front tomorrow. The bike is a lot better than yesterday - we were confident that the changes we had in mind would work and they did, so I have to give my thanks to the team for that. They've done a great job on the bike and we're all set to give a good showing in the last race. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get it done on the qualifying tyre today so the starting position is a little further back than we would like but I know this circuit really well and hopefully I can use that knowledge to make as many passes as possible at the start of the race, get up there and help Valentino win this championship."

Davide Brivio - Camel Yamaha Team Director

"We couldn't have asked for a better starting position for the most important race of the season but the main thing is that Valentino's general feeling with the bike is good and he is comfortable going into such a big day tomorrow. Of course, anything can still happen but we feel ready for this last battle and happy in the knowledge that our bike will be competitive enough to go out and race. Unfortunately Colin wasn't able to take advantage of the qualifying tyre today but we're pleased with his pace on race rubber and we expect a big effort from him tomorrow. If he can get a good start then I'm sure he can stay with the lead group and help out Valentino, just like he did at Estoril. We are ready for D-Day!"

 

Tech3 Yamaha confident of strong race at Valencia

Two hours of practice and qualifying for tomorrow's final MotoGP of the year at the Grand Prix of Valencia have placed the Tech 3 Yamaha Team in an encouraging frame of mind for a good performance in what is the final race with the team for both Carlos Checa and James Ellison.

Carlos and James finished the critical one hour qualifying session in 16th and 19th positions respectively but these places are deceptive as on race tyres the Tech 3 Yamaha Team is right in the hunt. Carlos's lap times especially are similar to those of pole sitter and fellow Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi and, encouragingly, just over a second off the fastest pole time of the defending world champion.

Also during qualifying, Carlos did almost an entire Grand Prix distance on race tyres to boost his confidence for his final race with the Tech 3 Yamaha Team while teammate James had his session interrupted with a crash as he was pushing hard following Carlos in an effort to move up the grid. Although he had a small hiccup with the low-side crash, the Englishman still lowered his lap times from yesterday to set him in the mood for a good performance.

Carlos Checa (16th, 1'32.747, 31 laps)

"I am not too disappointed with the session, although of course we would like to be closer to the front, but I did a race pace on a new tyre selection so we hope we can do the same times and be able to do the entire distance. We are quite satisfied with the job we did as on the last lap we did a flat 34. Our main problem is the consistency and to be able to race all laps in the 33s will be quite difficult. Unfortunately, with qualifying tyres we had a lot of chattering and couldn't improve too much. I thought I may be able to do one more lap but this was not possible. We are not in the best place on the grid as we are a bit further back than we would've liked but I am confident after doing the lap times today on race tyres that if we can get a good start we may be able to push our way through a few positions to get closer to the front but we have to remember that this is a very hard place to pass so we must aim for the best of starts. Also, as it is my last race with the team I want to have a good result to say thanks for all the hard work they have put in this year. At the beginning of the year we knew this would be a very difficult season but for everything that has happened I must say that it is one of the most personally satisfying years I have had in my career."

 

James Ellison (19th, 1'33.953, 25 laps)

"The session was ok at first and I really thought we may pull out a half decent qualifying position but we are still hitting a barrier that we can't push through, as once we start pushing through it we are having heaps of chattering problems on the right side. It starts to chatter then you try and ride through it and sometimes you get away with it and it stops chattering and sometimes it doesn't and that's what happened when I lost the front through the second right-hander. I can follow Carlos on exactly the same line and speed but when we look at the telemetry we see how different each bike is performing but it seems to have been the case all year. We have a pretty good idea for a race setup as I can run around in the 34 second bracket quite comfortably so I am fairly confident that we can run a good pace tomorrow and finish off a difficult year in the points.

Herve Poncharal - Tech 3 Yamaha Team Director

"First up congratulations to Valentino as this could be the most important pole position of his career. Saying that, it was a not so bad day for us today although the time sheets may show different. We look quite good on race tyres as we did 20 laps with Carlos earlier in the session and the lap times was very consistent with the entire block in the 1 minute 33 second bracket which after two days appears to be what the race pace will be and this is quite promising. Unfortunately we didn't qualify as well as we could've done and the starting position is not what we would've have liked but we saw Carlos at Estoril start from quite far behind after an incident at the first corner and he came back to a very decent position after the first few laps. We hope tomorrow that he will be able to make his way through the field for a similar result. As it is Carlos' last race for the team in Spain front of his home crowd we would like him to do well so we will all be trying our best. James was riding quite well also until he fell when pushing. We are happy to see him pushing hard and although he didn't improve after he crashed, he was very aggressive and this is what we like him to do and tomorrow we hope that he can do the same thing and finish his time with the team with a satisfactory result."

Circuit Length: 4005
Temp: 31
Weather: Dry

 

2006 MotoGP Valencia 28/10/2006 Qualifying 1 Results

1 Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 1'31.002
2 Troy Bayliss Ducati AUS 1'31.210
3 Loris Capirossi Ducati ITA 1'31.307
4 Shinya Nakano Kawasaki JPN 1'31.341
5 Nicky Hayden Honda USA 1'31.378
6 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 1'31.385
7 Casey Stoner Honda AUS 1'31.470
8 Chris Vermeulen Suzuki AUS 1'31.606
9 John Hopkins Suzuki USA 1'31.663
10 Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 1'31.711
11 Randy De Puniet Kawasaki FRA 1'31.892
12 Marco Melandri Honda ITA 1'32.062
13 Toni Elias Honda ESP 1'32.144
14 Kenny Roberts Team Robert KR USA 1'32.358
15 Makato Tamada Honda JPN 1'32.467
16 Carlos Checa Yamaha ESP 1'32.747
19 James Ellison Yamaha GBR 1'33.953 
 

- Yamaha Racing Communications, Amsterdam -

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29.10.2006 / MaP

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