Ahead of Catalan challenge
Tomorrow's Grand Prix of Catalunya will see Fiat Yamaha Team rider Valentino Rossi start from pole position for the fourth time this season, after he put in another exemplary qualifying performance at Montmelo this afternoon.
who is seeking a ninth victory at this circuit, will also be aiming to break the current MotoGP pole position jinx to become the first rider to win from the front of the grid since Motegi last year. Team-mate Colin Edwards was only 0.4 seconds slower than Rossi in a close qualifying battle and will start from sixth for tomorrow's 25-lap race.
This morning's free practice saw both Rossi and Edwards continue to make steady improvements to the set-up of their M1s and they finished the session fourth and ninth respectively. Temperatures then climbed steadily to reach a high of 33 degrees during Qualifying and , with similar conditions expected tomorrow, the pair spent the early part of the session perfecting their race settings under the scorching Spanish sun. With eight minutes remaining Rossi's first run with a Michelin qualifying tyre saw him put in the eventual pole time of 1'41.840 and also made him the only rider to dip under the previous pole record, which he set here last year. Edwards second effort saw him move as high as third at one point but some last minute fast times pushed him down to sixth and he will start from the outside of the front row tomorrow when the lights go out at 1400 local time.
"I'm really happy to have another pole position, this season our bike is working brilliantly with our Michelin qualifying tyres and at every race I have great fun during qualifying! Along with Mugello this is one of my favourite tracks and really I find it hard to decide which I like best! It's fun to have two great races together like this even if it's hard work without a rest in between.
As usual it's going to be very important to start from the front tomorrow, but I think it's going to be a really hard battle anyway, especially in this heat. Pedrosa and Stoner look very strong and also Hopkins has a good pace, so I think we can expect a great fight for the fans to watch! Anyway we're starting in the best position, my M1 feels very good and we will be looking for another victory."
"Once again things felt pretty good on the qualifying tyres, although I didn't make the most of my first one so I had to rely on improving things second time around. My lap time was actually pretty good but everyone else was fast today too! Anyway, after the disaster of last week I'm happy enough with the second row! As for our race pace, we've made a few improvements but honestly we have three different types of tyres and I'm doing the same time on all of them - which is unfortunately a little off the pace. I think tomorrow morning we're going to try something we tried briefly yesterday with regards to tyres, it was the same then but we've made some improvements to the bike since and we think that it might work. Anyway, here's hoping!"
"Another pole position - this year we're gathering quite a few! As always it's nice to start from pole position and it gives us some confidence for the race. Also to have Colin on the second row is good after last week and hopefully we can finish the day with both riders at the top. Valentino seems to be in good shape with his race pace as well but he needs to be very strong because it's going to be very competitive, with three or four riders looking very fast. Colin will push from the start too and hopefully he can stay with the rest of the group. Let's see what happens but we're expecting an exciting race!"