For desert challenge
Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards carried on from where they left off yesterday on day two of the season-opening Grand Prix of Qatar, topping the time sheets again in this morning's free practice before taking first and third in a gripping Qualifying
session this afternoon.
Rossi will start from pole for the 46th time in his Grand Prix career with his team mate two places away from him, the pair separated only by the Ducati of Casey Stoner who was just five-thousandths of a second slower than the Italian.
With the new tyre restrictions meaning the Yamaha duo had only two qualifying tyres to work with in the session, the first forty minutes were focused on perfecting the set-ups of their 800cc M1s and both continued to show a consistently strong pace on race tyres. Already holding the top spot after a string of fast laps inside the last twenty minutes, Edwards' first qualifying tyre saw him consolidate first place with ten minutes to go, his team-mate moving into second place behind him a few minutes later.
The last five minutes saw a flurry of activity with Rossi, Edwards, Stoner, Toni Elias and Dani Pedrosa (both Honda) all putting in quick flying laps in a tense finale. All five riders lapped under last year's pole time but it was Rossi who took the honours with a lap of 1'55.002, over half a second faster than the existing record.
Valentino Rossi :
“It's great to have my first pole of the season at the very first race and it's extra special for me because it's pole number 46 of my career! I hope this is a good omen for tomorrow.
I'm really happy for this pole position because everyone has worked so hard; all my mechanics, engineers, Michelin…everyone involved. Yamaha has built us a great bike. Anyway tomorrow is another day and the real race, but we're starting from first and also Colin is on the front row too so I hope we can put in a good Yamaha show! We have a couple of things to check in morning practice but we're more or less ready. I really like this track, the grip is great, it's fast and technical and it's possible to have a lot of fun with the new Yamaha. It's also quite quiet here, with not too many people and this is a nice atmosphere in which to start the season as I can focus completely on racing without too many other distractions! I think tomorrow there are three or four riders who can fight at the top with Colin and me, but we're feeling confident in our garage.”
Colin Edwards :
“Yamaha, Michelin, Valentino and I have all worked so hard and it's really exciting to be up there together on the front row...although of course I would like to try to reverse the order tomorrow! Our bike is going so well so far this year, everywhere we go we've got a plan and it seems to work and the lap times are just amazing. It's a great feeling. I love this track and the set-up we have seems to be spot-on, really we don't have anything left to do tomorrow morning except double-check everything and make our final tyre choice. I've got a choice of two but honestly I'm not too worried, they both work well and I don't think either will be the difference between winning and losing – Michelin seem to have it all under control for us! It's going to be a matter of getting a good start and seeing how it goes. I think there's a few that can run with us but our race pace is pretty good so I am confident I can be up there fighting!”
Davide Brivio :
“It's a very good start for us and we're very happy! The weekend so far has been very good for us and both riders are working in a very smooth, confident way. Tomorrow is the important test and it will be the final proof of where we are, but we feel that we're ready to race and I hope we'll be able to enjoy a great result together with both Colin and Valentino.”