SECOND ROW FOR DE PUNIET IN SPAIN2007-11-03 09:28
Qualifying practice for the final Grand Prix of the year took place at
Valencia today, with Kawasaki's Randy de Puniet and Anthony West
claiming fourth and 16th positions on tomorrow's grid, respectively.
De Puniet's impressive second row spot was secured by his best time of
1'31.963, with the Frenchman missing out on a front row start by a mere
0.060 to Nicky Hayden. Furthermore, he is less than half a second off
pole position man, Dani Pedrosa, and he set the fastest time of the
day, at 300.8kmh.
After two days' worth of practice and preparation, and having found an
excellent Bridgestone tyre combination in the process, he is confident
he can put in a good performance tomorrow: his race set up giving him
the confidence to consistently display superb lap times even without
the benefits of a qualifying tyre. Lapping in the low, one minute,
33-second region, it all bodes well for Sunday's event.
Anthony West, meanwhile, has continued to improve his times throughout
the weekend, and today recorded a stunning, fourth-fastest, top speed
of 296.9kmh, but remains uneasy after a disappointing session. Having
struggled with grip on Friday, the 26-year-old Australian succumbed to
the gravel today in a lowside at turn two but, undeterred, made his way
back to pit lane to continue on his second bike.
He was not the only one who suffered in a session which saw a number of
riders getting out of shape, including seven times world champion,
Valentino Rossi. However, West will tomorrow grit his teeth and give it
his all when the race begins. Slow progress for the 26-year-old during
practice sessions has, in the past, failed to deter him from the task
of taking his 800cc Ninja ZX-RR around any track with the utmost
All in all, it looks as if tomorrow's 30-lap race at the 4km Ricardo
Tormo circuit will be a heated affair, with the front ten qualifiers
recording times within a second of Pedrosa. What's more, judging by the
large amount of spectators present around the track already, and with a
Spaniard on pole, it's going to be an atmospheric one at that.
Randy de Puniet: #14 - 4th - Best Lap 1'31.963
"I was hoping for the first row for my last race for Kawasaki but
still, my position is pretty good because it's very difficult to
overtake here. We've improved the race set up hugely on the bike today
and I managed to do good, consistent times during the sessions. I had a
big slide on my final qualifier, just before I had to brake for a
corner, so I lost a couple of tenths and, because of that, narrowly
missed out on the front row. I hope to continue to improve during
tomorrow's warm up but I'm feeling really good."
Anthony West: #13 - 16th - Best Lap 1'33.231
"I haven't been able to find my pace so far and have struggled a bit to
find a good set up for tomorrow. I thought I'd show more improvement
today than I have but I'm finding it harder at Valencia on the MotoGP
bike than on the smaller capacity machines I've ridden here. I'm more
angry than injured after my small crash, and I don't have the same
confidence I had in, say, Sepang, but now I will look towards the race
and do everything I can to do my best."
Christophe Bourguignon: De Puniet's Crew Chief
"At the beginning of the afternoon, we evaluated the race tyre choices
for tomorrow and I think we've found a good option for us to use. Randy
managed to do some fast times on that race tyre which means he'll be
able to run at a good pace on Sunday. Our goal today was to be on the
front row but Randy missed out by such a small margin; I'm really
pleased with the way he's been riding today and during the weekend as a
whole. He suffered quite a bit of movement on the bike but it got a lot
better when the track temperature rose this afternoon and, if it's like
this tomorrow, I think we can expect a good result in the race."
1. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 1'31.517; 2. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro Team +0.086; 3. Nicky Hayden (USA) Repsol Honda Team +0.386; 4. Randy De Puniet (FRA) Kawasaki Racing Team +0.446; 5. Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Tech 3 Yamaha +0.557; 6. Makoto Tamada (JPN) Tech 3 Yamaha +0.634; 7. John Hopkins (USA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP +0.648; 8. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Ducati Marlboro Team +0.744; 9. Carlos Checa (SPA) Honda LCR +0.756; 10. Marco Melandri (ITA) Honda Gresini +0.850; 16. Anthony West (AUS) Kawasaki Racing Team +1.714
Source: Kawasaki Racing Team Press Office
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