Toseland 13th on grid for Qatar opener
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Colin Edwards will start the opening MotoGP race of 2009 in Qatar from the second row of the grid after an impressive qualifying performance tonight.
A best lap of 1.56.149 left the Texan less than
0.5s off claiming a second successive front row start at the floodlit Losail International Circuit, Edwards adapting well to the first running of a new qualifying format.
Tonight's session was the first time that riders have not used super soft qualifying tyres to decide grid places, with qualifiers no longer required under the new single tyre rule.
Qualifying was still an exciting affair though with Edwards figuring prominently during the 45-minute session. He was consistently in the top three and only two minutes remained when he held fourth place as Edwards posted his best time on the last of three soft Bridgestone tyres he saved from his allocation of six available.
“I'm reasonably happy with the second row but I thought I had a shot at being in the top three. But even though I'm a veteran I'm still learning. I came here with a bike set-up different than what I've been running in the winter to cure some movement issues with the front when I push harder. The new setting is better but I've still got some of those issues and it is a little confusing”, he said. “Valentino (Rossi) is going fast and he doesn't have any issues, and Jorge (Lorenzo) is the same. So I've got to figure something out. I've made progress and I feel like I can go faster, but I'm having to anticipate the movement and that is not helping the lap time. I've got to figure out whether I need to go softer or harder with the front forks. I just wish I were an engineer because right now I'm not sure which direction I need to take. The new qualifying format was still exciting. I kept three softer tyres back and did two laps on each, and each time I got faster, but not quite fast enough for the front row. I'm looking forward to the race now and I feel ready. The guys in front of me are within touching distance though Casey (Stoner) is on another planet. Hats off to him, but I'm ready for the battle.”
British rider James Toseland had a frustrating evening, the 28-year-old qualifying down in 13th place on the timesheets with a best time of 1.57.510. Toseland opted to use two soft rear tyres but it was a small problem with a hard compound front tyre that prevented him from ending the session with a deserved top ten.
Toseland though is confident that he can mount an attack for a top six finish in tomorrow's 22-lap race having been consistently able to run in the top ten throughout the weekend.
“I started on a used front tyre that had done thirteen laps and I was straight into the low 58s and I thought great. I put a new hard front tyre in with my first soft rear tyre and the front never seemed to get to temperature.
And when I put in my second soft rear the front wasn't so stable mid-corner. Now you can't just throw another tyre in with the new rules, so I'm really frustrated because the rear tyre was working pretty good”, he explained. “To do a 57 with the problems I had I'm actually pleased with that because I picked the bike up on my knee twice and I still did a reasonable lap time. I'm a bit disappointed because the bike was feeling good and I'm sure I could have got around the top six, but there was nothing I could do with the small issue with the front. I've got to take it on the chin and build on the progress I've made prior to the end of that session. If everything had gone to plan then I'd have qualified in the top ten and been looking at fighting for the top six. I'm going to need a good start and get my head down but I'm riding well and looking forward to it.”