As Toseland and Edwards storm front row
James Toseland and Colin Edwards produced inspired qualifying performances in Qatar tonight to claim front row places for tomorrow's historic first floodlit MotoGP race.
Toseland and Edwards ended a thrilling first qualifying
session of 2008 with the second and third fastest times to help Yamaha and Michelin claim a clean sweep of the front row of the grid for tomorrow's 22-lap race.
Toseland was in contention to claim a stunning pole position on his MotoGP debut throughout the session. He first climbed to the top of the timesheets after 19 minutes, when a lap of 1.54.562 moved him 0.1s clear of reigning world champion Casey Stoner.
He briefly lost top spot to fellow Yamaha newcomer Jorge Lorenzo, only to seize the advantage back with 20 minutes left on the clock. His best lap of 1.54.182 was just 0.037s clear of Lorenzo, but 0.9s inside of Valentino Rossi's 2007 pole position. Excelling on the extra grip of Michelin's dominant qualifying tyres, Toseland came within two minutes of becoming the first rider to claim a debut MotoGP pole position since Max Biaggi in 1998.
In what was a carbon copy of the finale to last week's IRTA test, Toseland was denied in the closing stages by Lorenzo, who posted a best lap of 1.53.927 to beat the British rider by just 0.255s.
American Edwards capped a great night for the Tech 3 team when his best lap of 1.54.499 secured third. He moved into third with 17 minutes remaining with his first Michelin qualifier, and improved his time with both of his last two qualifying tyres.
James Toseland 2nd 1.54.182 21 laps
I didn't think I'd be in this position tonight. But why not do it again tomorrow? The team has been brilliant to teach me how to ride a MotoGP bike so fast in such a short space of time. It has been awesome. I had seven years of a great life and a great career in World Superbikes and to become champion twice was amazing. Fortunately I made the gamble to come to MotoGP from that comfort zone and I wanted this success.
But I know it can't come without a great team behind you. The Tech 3 team has had a coupe of difficult years, but definitely not because of the team principal and mechanics. They are a great team and to have Colin also on the front row shows what quality we have. I just want to thank Herve Poncharal and all the boys, and also Yamaha. This is my first time working with this manufacturer and they have showed what effort they are putting into MotoGP. Michelin had a difficult year last season but they have worked really hard through the winter to get this success. I had three qualifying tyres and used one quite early. I didn't know whether the humidity would get to a stage where there was a bit of moisture on the track like we had in the test last week. I wanted to make sure we got a decent lap in. On my fastest lap unfortunately I caught a couple of riders in a difficult part of the track in the last split and did a 54.1. I knew on a perfect lap there was a 1.53 in there but with one minute to go I could still see my number 52 at the top of the scoreboard. Credit to Jorge though for actually doing that 1.53. I'm looking forward to tomorrow and I will give it out best shot.
Colin Edwards 3rd 1.54.499 22 laps
It has been great this winter. We have been working really hard. That's everybody in the Tech 3 team, Yamaha and Michelin. People ask me how I keep motivated for an old guy but when you have people around working hard for you and with you it is easy. We have all worked hard and this is a great start. I couldn't be more pleased for the Tech 3 team and I have to say thanks to Herve Poncharal. He has got a fantastic team. He struggled through a couple of difficult years and its testament of how good the team is for us to get this result. But we can't get carried away. We are still going to have to ride hard tomorrow. It is no secret we have a little speed deficit on the straight and we can't take any prisoners tomorrow. It will be a hard race and we will have to take a few chances and see what happens. But it will be a great spectacle. I love riding under the lights. It reminds of being a kid out on the motocross track.