These just in from Motegi:
Lorenzo Masters Wet Motegi for Perfect Pole
Motegi (Japan), 26th October 2013
Yamaha Factory Racing's Jorge Lorenzo delivered a stunning performance in this afternoon's extended MotoGP qualifying session to take pole position for tomorrow's Grand Prix of Japan.
Following yesterday's cancellation of practice sessions due to weather conditions, the premier class were today given a special 75-minute qualifying heat, allowing the drama of the Japanese round to finally move to the track.
Defending world champion Lorenzo made full use of the extended session, getting straight out onto the wet circuit to start working on his race set up. Having initially swapped the top spot with rival Marc Marquez early in the session he dropped down the timesheets. After some work on the set up he was back, rising quickly to 2nd after a third of the time had gone, 0.1seconds from Marquez in top. The top positions continued to change until with 15 minutes to go, when Lorenzo put the hammer down and delivered a perfect 1'53.965 to go over half a second clear at the top. Whilst his rivals were able to improve, so was he, dropping even further to a 1'53.471 in the final seconds to secure pole 0.65 ahead of Marquez.
Teammate Valentino Rossi was also looking comfortable around the Motegi circuit. The nine-time world champion was one of the few who climbed to the top of the timesheets early in the session with a 1'59.304. He continued to be a key protagonist, regularly swapping positions in the top four places with his rivals. With 30 minutes remaining Rossi had taken provisional second on the grid, just 0.12 seconds from Pedrosa on pole. The last minutes as usual saw a flurry of activity as his teammate took a stunning pole position. Rossi eventually took fifth on the second row at the end of the session with a 1'54.732 second lap.
1st / 1'53.471 / 25 laps
"I'm really happy, it was not so simple because my last memory of the rain was Assen. At the beginning I was a little bit scared and didn't want to crash. We were lucky to have the extended qualifying time to get used to the track. Little by little I got confidence and finally I felt really good with the bike and the grip of the track, especially under braking. It doesn't matter if it's wet or dry tomorrow, it's not my problem to think about it, I have to ride in whatever conditions we have. A wet race would be better for the championship though!"
99 Valentino Rossi
5th / 1'54.732 / 29 laps
"The result is not so bad, I hoped to arrive on the front row, I'm not so far but I am behind. I was in a better shape when it was full wet and felt better with the bike. When there was less water on the track and some places were quite dry I was able to improve my time a little but not enough for the front row. Tomorrow will be a surprise because if it is dry we will have to make the best set up in the morning warm up and try to arrive competitively for the race!"
Yamaha Factory Racing Wilco Zeelenberg
"A very special weekend so far with only one qualifying practice in two days, but pole position! Jorge has a very good feeling with the bike in the wet conditions after his dramatic wet crash in Assen, it was important for Jorge to recover his confidence in such conditions. Tomorrow's race seems to be dry, looking at the weather forecast; last year we finished second behind Dani with a good pace but at that time we were leading the championship and we did not risk anything. Tomorrow we need to make the difference and there is just one option for us, which is to beat Marc. The team is ready if tomorrow's practice are dry; we have found a good base set up during the last two races so we are greatly motivated and ready for all circumstances."
Yamaha Factory Racing Massimo Meregalli
"It was once again a difficult day but luckily we were able to make the most of the qualification session. We approached the heat in the best way. We knew we had to do a pole position, and we succeeded. It was important to do a few laps, even in wet conditions. Tomorrow probably the track will be dry but we gathered some good data and that's what counts. Jorge's attitude was the right one; he started slowly and eventually hit the target. Valentino also made quite an effort, even if in the end he missed the best finish. We did a great job and tomorrow we will try to do the same thing. We want a good result and we are ready to fight!"
Crutchlow and Smith battle adverse weather in Japan
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team riders Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith finally kicked off their preparations for the Japanese Grand Prix today after more bad weather severely disrupted the practice and qualifying schedule at the Twin Ring Motegi track.
After both practice sessions were cancelled in wet and foggy conditions yesterday, FP3 and FP4 were also unable to take place earlier today, with torrential rain creating several large patches of standing water around the 4.801 km circuit.
Mist in the vicinity of the track also prevented the essential air ambulance from departing in the event of an emergency evacuation, though fortunately for the entire paddock and thousands of patient Japanese fans, conditions improved sufficiently enough for an extended qualifying session to be staged this afternoon.
Crutchlow and Smith battled for grid positions over an extended 75-minute session on a full wet track, though the earlier heavy rain stopped and track conditions improved throughout.
British rider Crutchlow will start from 11th position on the grid as the 27-year-old was unable to repeat his usually strong qualifying performance in the treacherous conditions. Crutchlow battled front grip issues in the closing stages and for only the second time in 17 starts in 2013, he will not line-up on the first two rows of the grid.
The intervention of the weather made Smith's MotoGP debut in Yamaha's all-important home round a tricky challenge, but the impressive 22-year-old acquitted himself superbly and gradually built up his confidence to challenge for the top 10 throughout.
He was confident he could challenge for a place on the third row until a small front brake problem meant his best time of 1.57.114 left him in 13th position.
After the weekend's weather disruption, Crutchlow and Smith will take part in 50-minute practice session at 9:40am local time tomorrow morning, which takes the place of the regular 20-minute warm-up ahead of a 24-lap race that is expected to take place in the best conditions of the weekend.
Cal Crutchlow 11th 1.56.058 - 25 laps :Cal Crutchlow
"I am normally really strong in qualifying, so to be outside of the top 10 for the first time this season is obviously not where I expected to be. I was confident I could be in the top six because I am usually very fast in the wet and I was second in the rain at Le Mans earlier in the season. But on my last front tyre when the track was drying out, I couldn't stop the bike for some reason. I pushed hard to improve but three times in the last two laps I ran off into the gravel and it is a shame because on one lap I was going to make a big improvement and gain a few places. It is going to be a very tough race from 11th on the grid but it looks like it could be a dry race, so hopefully it will be dry in the morning practice and we are not going into the race having never tried a dry set-up or slick tyres. At least it was good to finally go out after all the problems with the weather and hopefully after their patience the Japanese crowd will get to see an exciting battle."
Bradley Smith 13th 1.57.114 - 23 laps :Bradley Smith
"In my first run I felt surprisingly comfortable on the Bridgestone rain tyres because I don't have that much experience on them. The grip in the wet on this track is unbelievable and you can see that when Lorenzo is only eight seconds off the dry lap record. I was up to seventh and feeling optimistic that I could stay around that position but at the end of the session I had a small front brake issue and it was hard to stop the bike. With six really hard braking points here that cost me a lot of time and I think my pace was much quicker. It will be a difficult race starting from 13th and it looks like it will be dry tomorrow, so hopefully our base setting will work because we only have 50 minutes in practice to work on the race package. It has been a difficult weekend for everybody concerned but the Japanese fans have been incredible in waiting to see us on track. Tomorrow is a huge race for Yamaha in Japan and I will be giving it my all to get a positive result."
Front row start for Marquez with Pedrosa in fourth
After yesterday was completely cancelled, due to visibility problems grounding the medical helicopters, weather in Motegi had not improved by this morning. The sessions were once again cancelled, this time due to track conditions, and the entire paddock was forced to wait patiently.
Finally at 12h50 race direction deemed the track safe and the Moto3 class took to the Japanese circuit. Conditions slowly improved, although there was still a lot of standing water on track when the MotoGP class session began at 13h55. Race direction declared this session as an extended qualifying session with a time allowance of 75 minutes.
Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa took to the track immediately to begin work on their setup for tomorrow's race, as well as aiming to record a fast qualifying time for optimum grid position. Championship le ader Marc took second spot on the grid with a lap time of 1'54.129 on lap 26 of 27 - his twelfth front row start of the season. Teammate Dani Pedrosa had a slight problem on his final run and only managed fourth on the grid with a time of 1'54.542 recorded on lap 20 of 28.
The new weekend schedule, as dictated by race direction, now accommodates a 50 minute free practice session tomorrow morning from 09h40 to 10h30 (in place of the usual 20-minute warm-up), with the race remaining at 14h00.
Marc Marquez 2nd 1'54.129
"Today was a different kind of qualifying session, like those from the past with a lot of track time, as we had an hour and fifteen minutes. It is the first time that I've ridden here in MotoGP at Motegi and in addition it was wet and I didn't have time to set the bike up, but nevertheless I think we had a good session. We achieved our aim of a spot on the front row. Tomorrow's race is forecast to be dry, and it will be interesting as nobody has had time to find a good setup"
Dani Pedrosa 4th 1'54.542
"It was a long wait, but in the end we were finally able to put some laps in and I tried to get the best out of this wet session. We led the timesheet for a long time, but in the final ten minutes we had some problems with the tyres I used. I wasn't able to ride as well as I wanted and we eventually took fourth. Tomorrow we will try to get a good start and we will see if the warmup is dry beforehand, in order to try out everything possible with the bike and tyres"
BRADL TAKES STRONG 8TH SPOT ON THE MOTEGI GP GRID
Motegi, 26 October: low visibility and pouring rain affected the second day of practices at Motegi circuit causing the cancellation of the three classes free sessions in the morning. With the weather slightly improving in the afternoon, the MotoGP riders took the track for a 115-minute unusual Qualifying session which saw LCR Honda's Stefan Bradl placing his RCV on the 8th spot of the grid (1'55.610) ahead tomorrow's 24-lap race. The German, who is still recovering from the fracture of the right ankle suffered in Malaysia, bravely completed 28 laps giving a good account of himself at the Japanese track.
"It was a good qualifying for us and I am happy about the mobility of my ankle and the rehabilitation programme we had in the last week helped me a lot. We must be happy with our result today considering my physical condition. Obviously I had a painkiller injection before the session and I have tried to improve my pace lap by lap. In the last part of the qualifying the track started to dry up and I could not improve my lap time on a rain tyre. Until now it has been a weird weekend but now I am quite happy because I could test my ankle on tricky conditions. It looks like the weather is going to be sunny tomorrow so it will be important to adjust the bike in the warm up session"
Lorenzo emerges from the clouds to take pole position at Motegi
Round 17: Japanese MotoGP? - Qualifying Practice
Motegi, Saturday 26 October 2013
Bridgestone slick compounds: Front: Soft & Medium. Rear: Super-soft, Soft (Asymmetric) & Extra-soft (Symmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds: Soft (Main) & Hard (Alternative)
Weather: QP - Wet. Ambient 14-15°C; Track 16-17°C (Bridgestone measurement)
After yesterday's and this morning's Free Practice sessions at Motegi were cancelled due to poor weather, Yamaha Factory Racing's Jorge Lorenzo adapted best to the revised qualifying format and the wet track, setting a time of 1'53.471 to claim the top spot on the grid for tomorrow's Japanese Grand Prix.
Lorenzo's best effort put him 0.658 of his closest challenger, Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez who was the second best qualifier with a time of 1'54.129. Ducati's Nicky Hayden had his best qualifying result of the season, rounding out the front row in third place by clocking a time of 1'54.539 on his twenty-sixth lap of the session. The highest placed CRT rider on the grid tomorrow will be Power Electronics Aspar's Aleix Espargaro, the newly-crowned CRT class champion was ninth quickest with a time of 1'55.719.
The track for today's extended Qualifying Practice session was wet, although the rainfall stopped during the session resulting in parts of the track beginning to dry slightly towards the end of the session. In addition to the rain, ambient and track temperatures were low with a peak tarmac temperature of just 17°C recorded. All riders in the qualifying session used the main wet tyre specification for Motegi, the soft compound wet tyre to ensure maximum grip in the tricky conditions. Each rider this weekend can select up to two front and two rear wet tyres in the alternative, hard compound, should they wish to run this option if conditions are wet again tomorrow.
The next MotoGP? session on the revised Japanese Grand Prix schedule is an extended Warm Up session from 0940-1030 local time (GMT +9) tomorrow, while the twenty-four lap race is set to start at 1400.
Hiroshi Yamada - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
"After one and a half days of poor weather which prevented any activity on track, it was great to see the riders finally get out on their bikes this afternoon. Having to go out without any previous track time and learn the track conditions, work on setup and set a qualifying time in one session must have been a real challenge to the riders but they all handled the situation very well. There are many MotoGP fans here at Motegi and they've had to brave the extreme conditions, so I hope they are rewarded tomorrow with an exciting race in what are hopefully, dry conditions."
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
"Conditions today were cold and wet which meant all riders preferred to run the soft compound wet tyre during qualifying, with no one trying out the alternative, hard compound wet tyre. The performance of our wet tyres today was very good, with very quick lap times and the riders were able to get up to speed quickly thanks to the warm-up performance of the soft option wets. This year at Motegi we've shifted our rear slick compounds one step softer, including adding a new super-soft rear slick just for the CRT riders, and I hope we have dry conditions tomorrow so the riders get to try out this new slick allocation for the Japanese Grand Prix."
First row for Hayden in Japanese GP qualifying, Dovizioso on row 2
After a day and a half of delays due to poor visibility and dreadful weather conditions, track action at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit finally got underway early this afternoon with a single, extended wet qualifying session for tomorrow's Japanese Grand Prix, the penultimate round of the 2013 MotoGP Championship.
Both Ducati Team riders, Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso, made the best of the 75 minutes available for qualifying, the American in particular showing superb wet-weather prowess to head up the timesheets on two separate occasions during the session. He eventually ended up third, equalling Dovizioso's best qualifying performances of the year at Le Mans and Mugello.
The Italian took a bit more time to find his rhythm on the drying track, but he gradually moved into sixth position near the end of the session. Afterward, Dovizioso expressed satisfaction with his performance, which put him on the second row for tomorrow's GP.
With a relatively rain-free forecast for Sunday, the schedule now has a 50 minute free practice session in the morning and a race start at the normal 2 p.m. time slot.
Nicky Hayden - Ducati Team, 3rd (1:54.539)
"We know our GP13 works well in the wet, and it's nice to be on the front row here in Japan. If I'm honest, I'm a bit disappointed because at times in the session I was very fast and really had good feeling; I thought even pole position was a possibility, but in the last part of the session, the other guys really stepped it up, and as the track dried out, I wasn't able to improve. Maybe I should've put on a new front tyre for the last exit, but it's nice to be able to smile, and the important thing is to try to take advantage of the front row in the race. We know it's going to be much more difficult if it's dry, but I'll try to get a good start and put up a fight for as long as I can. Thanks to the team for being pros and continuing to give me their best."
Andrea Dovizioso - Ducati Team, 9th (1:55.036)
"It was sort of a strange qualifying session. The grip was very good but I had no feeling in the beginning, partly because I wasn't really focused after a day and a half with no action, and in part because the setup wasn't right initially. Fortunately, we had an hour and a quarter, so we were able to make changes and the bike improved a lot. Then the track began to dry and everything got easier. I'm pleased with my last lap, even though I found my rhythm a bit too late. Still, I did my best lap by myself, which is always good. It's great to start from the second row tomorrow, and I'm really happy."