MotoGP - round 4 qualify

An incredible flying lap from Valentino Rossi saw the Fiat Yamaha Team rider take his third pole of the season in China this afternoon, the Italian bettering last year's pole time by more than half a second with a perfect lap around the 5.2km Shanghai International Circuit. For the third time this season Rossi is also joined on the front row by his team-mate Colin Edwards, who qualified third, with the Yamaha pair separated by Edwards' fellow American John Hopkins (Suzuki) who was the quickest rider on race tyres during this morning’s free practice session and for a large proportion of the qualifying session.

The promised rain once again failed to appear and the hour-long qualifying session was played out on a dry track with the clouds giving way to bright sunshine by the end. The first 45 minutes passed busily for the Yamaha duo, who were intent on using all the available time to fine-tune their set-up and gather information about tyres before concentrating on their qualifying laps in the final stages. Edwards' first run with a soft Michelin qualifying tyre moved him close to the top of the order but it was Rossi's first flying lap that left everyone amazed, the Italian completing a faultless lap right on the limit of his Yamaha's capabilities to put in an incredible time of 1'58.424. Edwards' second flying lap was good enough to move him into second but he was eventually pushed down one place by Hopkins. Although Rossi's lap proved well out of the striking distance of his rivals, he showed it was no fluke by going within 0.1 seconds of his own time on his second qualifying tyre just minutes later.

Valentino Rossi : "That was sincerely an incredibly exciting feeling for me; to ride my Yamaha M1 right on the limit and make such a perfect lap at 100%. When I saw the time on the television I was quite surprised because I didn't know it was that fast, but I had pushed the bike to the maximum and I knew that it was a good lap. I had great grip from my Michelin qualifying tyre and my Yamaha worked perfectly, so a big thank you to everyone involved. I was able to arrive at every corner very fast and to brake at the last possible moment; a couple of times I was worried I was too late but every time my bike responded perfectly and I had great grip. I felt a lot of adrenalin from this lap! Despite both of us being on the front row, maybe we're not favourites for tomorrow and the race is a very different story. Anyway we've all done very well today. We need to make a couple more small modifications to the setting and then we will just hope for good weather again, a good start and a good race."

John Hopkins : "I’m really happy with the way things have gone today. We’ve put in a lot of work already this weekend, to make sure we get the best set-up for the race tyres. Bridgestone has done a great job and the Suzuki GSV-R is working exceptionally well. We have been consistent throughout all the practices and have been really running hard to make sure everything is right. Now it’s time to translate that hard work into the race. It’s still a bit up in the air with the weather, but whatever comes we’ll be ready, and if it’s dry I’m certain we will be running near the front!"

Colin Edwards : "Well done to the team, once again they've done a really good job, worked their tails off and here we are again on the front row alongside Valentino. The qualifying tyres are working really well this year and with the extra grip they give us we can really push hard. As for the race setting, we've changed a few things with the geometry today and it seems to have improved things a fair bit, although we've still got to make a final decision with regards to the race tyre. It's always going to be a little bit of a gamble but hopefully we'll make the right choice. The bike feels very good and a podium is definitely a realistic aim, but it's going to be a very long and hard race. Starting from the front row will be pretty important here and hopefully we can make the most of this advantage, avoid any repeats of the first-lap pile-up in Turkey and try to better last year's podium!"

Nicky Hayden : "The day hasn’t gone quite as we’d hoped and we didn’t make much of an improvement over yesterday. We tried a few changes to get the bike turning better and improve the edge grip though we haven’t found what we needed so that’s not great. There are a lot of guys going fast and I’ll definitely be sitting down with the team tonight to see if I can come up with a few ideas to improve the machine for tomorrow. My qualifying runs didn’t go perfectly. My ideal time would have put me sixth but I was the next guy through after Vermeulen and Capirossi crashed."

Circuit Length - 5451
Temp - 24 and hazy sunshine

2007 MotoGP China - Shanghai 05/05/2007
Qualifying 1
1. Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 1'58.424
2. John Hopkins Suzuki USA 1'59.315
3. Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 1'59.406
4. Casey Stoner Ducati AUS 1'59.516
5. Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 1'59.602
6. Marco Melandri Honda ITA 1'59.863
7. Randy De Puniet Kawasaki FRA 1'59.985
8. Alex Barros Ducati BRA 2'0.052
9. Nicky Hayden Honda USA 2'0.087
10. Shinya Nakano Honda JPN 2'0.157
11. Alex Hofmann Ducati GER 2'0.175
12. Toni Elias Honda ESP 2'0.205
13. Carlos Checa Honda ESP 2'0.319
14. Loris Capirossi Ducati ITA 2'0.369
15. Chris Vermeulen Suzuki AUS 2'0.680
17. Sylvain Guintoli Yamaha FRA 2'1.157
18. Makoto Tamada Yamaha JPN 2'1.178

click here for other MotoGP 2007 news