Ahead of Brno battle
Fiat Yamaha Team riders Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards will start tomorrow's Czech Grand Prix from the outside of the second and third rows respectively, after claiming the sixth and ninth spots in today's Qualifying session in Brno.
temperatures much cooler this morning, Rossi ran into some unexpected problems and his team were forced to work hard to make some changes during the middle of the day to put him in better shape for this afternoon's qualifying session. Meanwhile Edwards, having struggled for grip yesterday, was encouraged when a small change to his set-up proved fruitful and he ended the morning practice in fourth position.
This afternoon saw both crews working hard on tyres and general set-up through the majority of the hour-long session before switching their concentration to the fight for grid spots towards the end. Rossi and Edwards' second run with qualifying tyres seemed to have put them comfortably into fifth and eighth on the grid, before a last minute fast lap from Randy de Puniet pushed them both down one spot.
Pole position was taken by Casey Stoner, although his time of 1'56.884 was still over half a second slower than Rossi's pole time from 2006, when the Italian finished second. Tomorrow's 22-lap race promises an exciting battle as Rossi aims to close the points-gap to Stoner when action commences at 1400 CET.
"This morning we had quite a lot of problems, especially with the tyres. It was quite cold and with the temperature like this we didn't have enough traction and we suffered quite a bit. On the exit of the corners I was spinning a lot and this meant I was really quite slow.
After this my engineers worked hard on the setting in order to find more traction for this afternoon, and actually we were able to improve the situation quite a bit so thanks to everyone for a good job. This afternoon, with the race tyres, I had quite a good rhythm and the feeling was a lot better. It's not perfect and we still need to understand more about the final setting for tomorrow, especially on the front, because at the moment it's pushing a little bit too much and we need to resolve this.”
"Regarding the qualifying tyres, unfortunately with the first one I made a mistake in braking and so lost that lap. Then the second time around I rode quite well but tyre was too soft on the right side and didn't last all the way to the end of the lap, so we lost some time in the last section. Also in T1 I had to pass four or five slower riders and so I lost one or two tenths there also. Anyway, the second row is not so bad and I think that sixth place is more or less what we expected this afternoon.”
"For tomorrow we haven't yet made a final decision about the tyres. If it's hot then we have a good tyre already decided, if it's cooler like this morning then we will have to choose something different. We have some more work to do on the setting in warm-up, but this year it's always quite difficult to work in warm-up because we have to use different tyres to the ones we are keeping for the race. Anyway, we will do our best to try to fin d a way to improve the situation with the front so I can ride at the maximum during the race, which of course is going to be necessary. We hope for a good temperature, like this afternoon, because our tyre works a lot better when it's hot. For sure it will be a hard race but our rhythm with the race tyre is quite good so I think it can be possible to fight for a good result."
"This morning we made a tiny change to our bike, just a couple of millimetres in front and a couple behind, and it completely turned things around, which just goes to show how finicky this sport is! It felt much better so I was pretty pleased after the first session. This afternoon we continued in the same way and I was riding as hard as I could but we couldn't do much better than low 59s. It seems that our bike works brilliantly at the smoother tracks like Donington and Assen but where it's a little bumpier, like here, it just gets a tiny bit ‘busy' in front and this is something I think we really need to work on for the future. It probably only costs two or three tenths a lap but with the times as close as they that's key. Anyway, we're on the third row, not too great but not the end of the world either and we'll be doing our best to get into the mix tomorrow and have a good race."
"Although Colin was in better shape this morning, Valentino ran into some problems and we had to work hard to modify the set-up of his bike in order to find more traction. The situation this afternoon was much better. Despite this we still need to make a step forward with both riders to make sure they're at the maximum for tomorrow. It looks like Stoner is very fast, but we are sure that tonight and tomorrow morning we will be able to improve the package for both riders even further. Neither rider is in a bad position, we still have some time available and, as usual, we will do our best in order to use it to our advantage."