MotoGP Estoril Quali Results & Report: Lorenzo Wins Pole, Simoncelli to Start 2nd Despite Crash

What Happens When Binning It Can Keep One From a 1st Pole Position

10:12am EST — Jorge Lorenzo won pole for the 2011 Portuguese Grand Prix in a session that started under threatening clouds, but was marked instead by Marco Simoncelli’s dominance. The Italian, who will start Sunday’s race second, spent two thirds of the session leading by well over a half second. Lorenzo fought back in the closing minutes and took provisional pole, solidifying his position as Simoncelli lost the front end whilst on a hot lap with just a couple minutes to go. Dani Pedrosa took the final front row starting position after the flag, leaving teammate Casey Stoner to head the second row. Ben Spies and third Repsol Honda teammate Andrea Dovizioso complete that row. Despite quicker times during practices, the factory Ducati team continues to drift back, with Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden qualifying only ninth and thirteenth, respectively.

Simoncelli led both dry Friday practice sessions, ahead of Stoner, Pedrosa, Lorenzo, and Rossi as the top five in the morning, then Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Rossi, and Stoner in the afternoon. Saturday morning was a wet/dry session, with intermittent rain in Portugal. Capirossi was quickest in the slower conditions, followed by Lorenzo, Hayden, Rossi, and Stoner as the fastest five. Alvaro Bautista did ride during the Friday sessions, about a month and a half after shattering his femur, and planned to race. The Stoner/Rossi anger continued from Jerez, with Stoner still cheeky, but Rossi regaining some of his usual verve after quick sessions and a stronger shoulder on Friday.

Most of the riders were out quickly with the threatening rain, hoping to set a quick time early in the session. Lorenzo was the very early leader with a 1:41.986, five minutes into the hour long session, followed by Cal Crutchlow, Toni Elias and Pedrosa, all on their first flying laps. Of course, times quickly dropped as riders circulated more, though the track still had damp patches after rain during the morning practice. Ten minutes into the session, Simoncelli (1:38.647) led Stoner, Lorenzo, Crutchlow, Spies, Pedrosa, Dovizioso, Hector Barbera, Colin Edwards, Karel Abraham, and Rossi eleventh.

Pedrosa was quickest next, only to have Simoncelli retake the provisional pole by .008s. Meanwhile, the still-recovering Bautista was fourteenth, nearly 1.7 seconds faster than slowest rider Loris Capirossi. Simoncelli led Pedrosa, Lorenzo, Dovizioso, and Edwards twenty minutes in, with Stoner taking a hard position on Hayden and giving the (possibly the wrong) Ducati no room. Simoncelli continued to improve his time, soon extending his gap over Pedrosa to nearly three tenths as the halfway point of the session approached.

At the halfway point of the session, Simoncelli (137.944) still led Pedrosa, Lorenzo, Dovizioso, and Stoner as the top five, with Edwards, Spies, Abraham, Rossi, and Crutchlow the top ten. Hayden was eleventh fastest, with Bautista still fourteenth. Stoner looked to be on a very hot lap, but lost quite a bit of time in the final sector and only improved to third. He was soon dropped back down as Spies picked up a quick lap and went third fastest, just .002s slower than Pedrosa and .005s faster than his teammate. The American was soon second fastest, followed by Lorenzo, then Pedrosa and Stoner as the top five.

Rossi also moved up, to seventh, as Lorenzo took second from Spies with more than twenty minutes left and the track still dry. Soon, though, it was Simoncelli going even quicker, as the Italian dropped his lap time to 1:37.327, nearly seven tenths faster than Lorenzo, and the fastest lap of the weekend. It was still Simoncelli leading with twenty minutes to go and Lorenzo, Spies, Pedrosa, Stoner, Dovizioso, Rossi, Edwards, Crutchlow, and Abraham the top ten.

Simoncelli continued his run to pole, dropping his lap time again as the minutes ticked away and clouds got darker. Following him, Rossi kept dropping his own times but remaining in seventh. Edwards made up time, jumping to sixth, with sixteen minutes remaining. The circuit became busier as time drained away, with everyone but Rossi, Capirossi, and Aoyama the only riders in the garage. Stoner, on a charge around Abraham and Hayden, went second fastest, only to have Lorenzo take the position back. With ten minutes remaining, Simoncelli was back out and still leading, as Lorenzo returned to the garage for a moment in second. Stoner, Spies, Pedrosa, Edwards, Dovizioso, Rossi, Abraham, and Crutchlow were the top ten.

Spies looked to be moving forward and up to second, only to have a major wobble onto the straight. He recovered on the next lap and took second fastest from his teammate. Rossi also moved up to sixth, just ahead of the American on the track. Lorenzo quickly took second back, as they fought over the only position left to a rider not named Simoncelli. Lorenzo’s new time, however, was just. .113s slower than Simoncelli’s time with six minutes to go. Lorenzo took pole on his next lap, going over a tenth faster than Simoncelli. The Italian went down whilst a third of a second up on his own fastest lap, losing the front end. When just two minutes remained,

Pedrosa moved up to take third from Spies, only to have Stoner take third himself. Everyone was going faster in the first two sectors in the final minute, only to lose their times in the third sector. In the end, only Pedrosa was able to improve his time significantly. Lorenzo won pole position, with Simoncelli and Pedrosa joining him on the front row. Stoner, Spies, and Dovizioso completed the second row. Bautista, in his return to racing, completed twenty-seven laps and was the last man to cross the line during qualifying.

Provisional Starting Grid for the 2011 Portuguese Grand Prix:

Pos. # Rider Team Time Gap
1. 1 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Factory 1:37.161
2. 58 Marco Simoncelli San Carlo Gresini Honda 1:37.294 +0.133
3. 26 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda 1:37.324 +0.163
4. 27 Casey Stoner Repsol Honda 1:37.384 +0.223
5. 11 Ben Spies Yamaha Factory 1:37.866 +0.705
6. 4 Andrea Dovizioso Repsol Honda 1:38.073 +0.912
7. 5 Colin Edwards Tech 3 Yamaha 1:38.080 +0.919
8. 35 Cal Crutchlow Tech 3 Yamaha 1:38.189 +1.028
9. 46 Valentino Rossi Ducati 1:38.271 +1.110
10. 8 Hector Barbera Mapfre Aspar Ducati 1:38.363 +1.202
11. 7 Hiroshi Aoyama San Carlo Gresini Honda 1:38.497 +1.336
12. 17 Karel Abraham Cardio AB Motoracing Ducati 1:38.786 +1.625
13. 69 Nicky Hayden Ducati 1:38.922 +1.761
14. 65 Loris Capirossi Pramac Ducati 1:38.934 +1.773
15. 19 Alvaro Bautista Rizla Suzuki 1:39.172 +2.011
16. 14 Randy de Puniet Pramac Ducati 1:39.378 +2.217
17. 24 Toni Elias LCR Honda 1:39.894 +2.733

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