Rossi takes pole in Turkey
Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session for the third race in the 2007 MotoGP World Championship took place at Istanbul Park under clear, sunny skies in comfortable temperatures, with Valentino Rossi taking pole for tomorrow’s race.
With virtually no wind or humidity and the track completely dried out after some slippery conditions yesterday, The Doctor secured his second pole of the season with a 1’52.795 lap - a second and a half quicker than his best time in free practice and just 0.461s off Sete Gibernau’s circuit best lap, set on 990cc machinery in 2005.
As he attempts to win back the title he lost last year to Nicky Hayden, Rossi will be looking to extend his current points lead at the top of the World Championship with a win in Sunday’s race on one of the few MotoGP tracks where he has not yet tasted victory.
The five-time former World Champion’s team-mate Colin Edwards was just 0.149s behind the Italian to give Fiat Yamaha an impressive one-two at the head of the grid. The Yamaha team clearly found a good set-up after another inconsistent Friday for the Texan Tornado.
Only 0.027s slower than Edwards and 0.176s off Rossi’s pace was Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa, the Spaniard apparently inadvertently blocked by Rizla Suzuki’s John Hopkins as he pushed for quicker time at the end of the session.
Casey Stoner was disappointed to qualify in fourth, with traffic on track and cold tires at a critical moment hindering him slightly after he looked in such good shape in practice. The Ducati rider was still the fastest rider on Bridgestone tires today, but the Michelin qualifiers did the job for the front three.
Qualifying tires aside the likeable Aussie will hope his race compounds allow him to push Rossi as hard as he can when tomorrow’s action gets underway on a track where he got his first podium with a second placed finish last year.
Stoner’s Ducati Marlboro team-mate Loris Capirossi will be just behind him on the grid, the Italian veteran’s mind clearly much more focused on competing at this Grand Prix following the birth of his first child recently.
A much improved showing from Pedrosa’s Repsol Honda teammate Hayden saw the MotoGP title holder knock nearly two seconds off his previous best time of the weekend as he finally found some pace to secure a second row start – his sixth place on the grid his best showing so far in 2007.
After a frustrating start to the season Hayden would probably be happy to finish tomorrow’s race on the podium in third as he has done at this circuit for the last two years.
The third row of the starting grid will feature Suzuki pair Hopkins (7th) and Chris Vermeulen (9th) either side of Kawasaki’s Randy de Puniet, while the top ten is completed by Honda Gresini’s Spanish rider Toni Elias – who slipped back following a good showing in practice earlier in the day.
Elias’ Italian colleague Marco Melandri will not be a happy man after qualifying 14th as the two time Grand Prix of Turkey winner’s miserable weekend and disappointing World Championship Campaign continues.
Pos Rider Bike Time Behind
1. Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1:52.795
2. Colin Edwards Yamaha 1:52.944 + 0.149
3. Dani Pedrosa Honda 1:52.971 + 0.176
4. Casey Stoner Ducati 1:53.375 + 0.580
5. Loris Capirossi Ducati 1:53.559 + 0.764
6. Nicky Hayden Honda 1:53.613 + 0.818
7. John Hopkins Suzuki 1:53.637 + 0.842
8. Randy de Puniet Kawasaki 1:53.706 + 0.911
9. Chris Vermeulen Suzuki 1:53.771 + 0.976
10. Toni Elias Honda 1:53.835 + 1.040
11. Olivier Jacque Kawasaki 1:53.847 + 1.052
12. Shinya Nakano Honda 1:53.988 + 1.193
13. Alex Barros Ducati 1:54.082 + 1.287
14. Marco Melandri Honda 1:54.143 + 1.348
15. Makoto Tamada Yamaha 1:54.206 + 1.411
16. Carlos Checa Honda 1:54.221 + 1.426
17. Alex Hofmann Ducati 1:54.421 + 1.626
18. Kenny Roberts Jr KR 1:54.527 + 1.732
19. Sylvain Guintoli Yamaha 1:54.845 + 2.050