Qualifying practice / GAULOISES YAMAHA RIDERS READY FOR BRNO BATTLE
The eleventh round of the MotoGP World Championship looks set to be one of the most exciting yet after a dramatically close qualifying session at the Brno circuit in the Czech Republic this afternoon. Gauloises Yamaha Team riders Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards will start from the second and third rows of the grid respectively with less than two seconds covering the top sixteen riders.
Rossi qualified fourth fastest after launching a late pole attack that saw him dip almost a full second inside his own previous pole record from 2003 with a best lap of 1’57.875. The Italian’s effort was just 0.371 seconds short of the eventual pole time set by Sete Gibernau (Honda) but it wasn’t quite enough to dislodge Nicky Hayden (Honda) or Loris Capirossi (Ducati) from the front row. Rossi’s Gauloises Yamaha team-mate Colin Edwards made another encouraging start to the day as he lapped third fastest in the morning free practice but the American again struggled to convert his good race pace to a top qualifying time as he lapped ninth fastest.
VALENTINO ROSSI (4th – 1’57.875; 24 laps)
“Today we have done a good job with the set-up of the bike, especially on race tyres, and I am quite happy with the pace. I thought a 1’57.8 would be enough for the front row but Loris Capirossi put in a very fast lap at the end and I am fourth. Gibernau and Hayden are also strong and I think tomorrow will be a very close race because it is so difficult to escape here - it could be like Mugello earlier in the season. I hope so because I won that race! I have great rivals and the men on the front row tomorrow are strong, but I never, never give up until the finish. The championship is definitely not over yet and my only thought now is to try and win the race tomorrow.”
COLIN EDWARDS (9th – 1’58.323; 24 laps)
“We made another good start to the day and I’m really happy with the way the bike is working on race tyres. Unfortunately when we put the qualifying tyre in, the front end started to hop around a little and I wasn’t comfortable enough to push for the time I think I was capable of. We’ve also got a little bit of work to do to make the right side of the race tyre a little happier after ten laps. If I can still be doing 59.5s or 59.6s in the second half of the race then we’ve got a chance of a good result. I’d love to say I’m going to go out and destroy everybody tomorrow but that’s not looking like the case at the moment. We’ll have a chat within the team tonight and see what we can come up with for the warm-up tomorrow.”
DAVIDE BRIVIO – GAULOISES YAMAHA TEAM DIRECTOR
“Valentino has a good pace for tomorrow but he is not alone in that aspect and it looks like it’s going to be very close. I think several riders are going to be in the middle of it and I expect it will be a good battle. Even so, I don’t think it will be just about the guys at the front of the grid because there are riders further back who can join in and make it close – hopefully Colin will be one of them. He still has some problems to solve but I have confidence they can be ironed out. Neither rider is starting from the front but that is not a problem because they will still fight a great battle for the best possible finish!”