Jerez : Fiat Yamaha – Day Two
Valentino Rossi will start from second position for tomorrow's Grand Prix of Spain in Jerez after an exciting and extremely close qualifying battle today, while his team-mate Colin Edwards will be just behind him in fourth having lost out on
third position in the dying moments of the session.
It is Rossi's eighth consecutive top-three start for Yamaha, the Italian having started from the front row in the final six races of 2006 and at this season's opener in Qatar.
After struggling for grip once again this morning and finishing free practice way down the order in 18th position, it was clear from the start this afternoon that warmer temperatures and the latest changes made to the setting of his M1 had improved Rossi's package and he quickly posted his fastest time of the weekend so far.
Edwards and his crew had made drastic changes to his bike setting overnight and he too showed a marked improvement to his race pace both this morning and again this afternoon, as he and Rossi used the improved track conditions in their quest to find the right tyre package ahead of tomorrow's 27-lap race. With eight minutes to go Rossi moved into pole position with the first of his two Michelin qualifying tyres, only to be ousted by his team-mate less than a minute later as the Texan set his first flying lap.
The last five minutes saw the usual flurry of quick laps and position-changing amongst the leading protagonists before Rossi took the top slot once again with a lap of 1'39.453, before being pushed into second by Spaniard Dani Pedrosa (Honda), who set the eventual pole time of 1'39.402. Edwards' final lap seemed sure to give him a front-row slot alongside his team-mate but he fell victim to another local favourite as Carlos Checa (Honda) claimed third in the last seconds of the session.
Valentino Rossi :
« It's been an up and down weekend for us so it's good that we've achieved our number one goal of getting onto the front row. It's going to be very important for tomorrow's race I think. It was a good qualifying session and my lap was quite good, but we know it's possible to be a lot quicker because last month at the test I was more than one second faster! We knew it would be difficult to match the 1'38.394 I did then however, because then we had four qualifying tyres and with the new tyre restrictions now we only have two. With the race tyre we were struggling quite a bit yesterday and this morning it was even worse, so we were a bit worried, but we looked at the situation together with Michelin and found a good solution and this afternoon we were in much better shape. I think tyres are going to be the biggest issue tomorrow and the last ten laps especially are going to be very hard and difficult for everyone. I think it's going to be an exciting race for the fans!”
Colin Edwards :
"I'm pretty annoyed to have missed out on the front row by so little! I didn't have quite enough speed into turn one with my last qualifying tyre and so lost a little bit of time in the first section and that proved to be the difference that mattered. Anyway, you live and learn! We were a bit worried last night but my team turned the bike upside down overnight and it felt much better this morning. Then this afternoon we used the tyre we're planning to use for the race and things improved again, so I'm feeling quite happy about my race pace now. We've still got a few things to tweak and a couple of decisions to make before tomorrow afternoon but we're more or less there so hopefully we're going to be able to get a good start and run a good race. It was pretty close today and everyone's really stepped up their game, I think it's going to be one hell of a race tomorrow! Finally I want to say thank you again to my team for working so hard last night to come up with a good setting - they did a great job."
Davide Brivio :
“Well things are much better when it's warmer! This afternoon we could really work properly and get some proper testing done. In fact Colin was much better this morning and again this afternoon, he seems happy with his tyre choice now so I think he can do a good race tomorrow. Valentino had some troubles this morning but we found a good solution and this afternoon the situation was more normal. It was a shame Checa pushed Colin off the front row and we missed having them both there, like in Qatar, but anyway second and fourth is not so bad and I think they both have the pace to fight at the front now. We're in a good position for the race."