Valentino Rossi ended his pre-season preparations in fine style today after taking top honours in the traditional 40-minute ‘Qualifying’ Practice session at Jerez, smashing last year’s pole time and becoming the fastest man ever round the Spanish circuit in the process. There was double satisfaction for Yamaha as Rossi’s team-mate Colin Edwards, who took this same accolade in treacherously wet conditions at Catalunya last year, finished the session third.

After a one-two in this morning’s free practice, Rossi and Edwards were feeling confident for this afternoon’s timed shoot-out and with several qualifying tyres each to try during the session, had plenty of chances to see what their 800cc Yamahas could do under pressure. Loris Capirossi (Ducati) took an early lead before Dani Pedrosa (Honda) took control with just over half the session gone. Rossi soon joined him at the top and an exciting battle ensued between the Italian and the Spaniard as they swapped the lead several times over the last twenty minutes, with Edwards remaining in close contention throughout. In the closing stages of the session Rossi produced a perfect lap to set an outstanding time of 1’38.394, almost seven-tenths of a second faster than Capirossi’s pole time from 2006. Pedrosa was unable to find an answer despite crossing the line seconds before the chequered flag and mounting a last-gasp effort to usurp Rossi from the top spot. Today’s result marks the end of a long but satisfying pre-season testing campaign for the Yamaha Factory Team, who leave Jerez in good shape and high spirits ahead of the first race of the season in Qatar on 10th March.

VALENTINO ROSSI (1st, 1’38.394, 17 Laps)
“After this morning, when my Yamaha worked very well, I knew that I had a chance to try to win this competition. However I knew it was going to be a hard fight as well and I definitely expected Pedrosa to be as strong as he was. It was a fun battle with him, the first real one of the year! Anyway with every qualifying tyre I tried it felt better and better and I was able to go faster; in the end my time was fantastic and my Yamaha really flew! The most important thing about this is that it shows what great work we’ve done over the winter, everyone has tried so hard and this is a nice way to say thank you to them all. This new bike is working really well with the new tyres, both with race and qualifying tyres, so this is very important too and I would like to say thank you to Michelin. It was fun to see just how far I can push this new bike and it has answered me brilliantly, I felt very confident in my Yamaha today and I was able to ride it on the limit. Colin was also very fast so this once again shows how well our bike is working. Of course this isn’t even the first race and now we have to wait until Qatar, but we’re definitely in good shape and I am excited about the season ahead!”


COLIN EDWARDS (3rd, 1’39.300, 16 Laps)
“That was good fun today! This morning everything really came together for both Valentino and I and we knew that we were going to be able to push hard this afternoon. The Michelin qualifiers worked great and, after some of the problems we had last year, that’s a massive relief for us. I had a few more issues than Valentino in the timed session, nothing serious but our setting wasn’t quite the same as his and I wasn’t able to match his pace, but we know what we need to work on and anyway we were still in the top three and pretty fast. Honestly both Valentino and I are just so happy with everything, it all seems to work and it seems all the effort over the winter has paid off this time! It’s good to have finally finished testing and to be leaving here on such a high note; it gives everyone that extra kick for the first race. I can’t wait to finally get to Qatar now and start racing!”

DAVIDE BRIVIO – Team Director
“This is only an appetiser before the real racing begins, but anyway it’s always nice to win this competition for the third time in four years and it gives everyone real confidence for the first race. The fact that Valentino was on top and Colin third is really great and it’s especially important that it’s happened here at Jerez, where we struggled quite a bit last year. This is very satisfying for everyone and it shows we’ve worked very well in the right direction throughout winter testing. Of course the race is a different story, so now we will focus on Qatar and hope it goes well for us there too.”
Lap Times
1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Yamaha 1’38.394
2. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Honda 1’38.527
3. Colin Edwards (USA) Yamaha 1’39.300
4. Nicky Hayden (USA) Honda 1’39.556
5. Randy de Puniet (FRA) Kawasaki 1’39.832
6. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati 1’39.873
7. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Ducati 1’39.887
8. Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Suzuki 1’40.043
9. Kenny Roberts (USA) Team KR 1’40.083
10. Carlos Checa (SPA) Honda 1’40.100
11. Toni Elias (SPA) Honda 1’40.202
12. Shinya Nakano (JPN) Honda 1’40.242
13. Makoto Tamada (JPN) Yamaha 1’40.307
14. Marco Melandri (ITA) Honda 1’40.396
15. Olivier Jacque (FRA) Kawasaki 1’40.551
16. Alex Hofmann (GER) Ducati 1’40.681
17. Alex Barros (BRA) Ducati 1’41.038
18. Kousuke Akiyoshi (JPN) Suzuki 1’41.805
19. Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Yamaha 1’42.215
20. Vittoriano Guareschi (ITA) Ducati 1’43.008
21. Andrew Pitt (AUS) Ilmor 1’43.026
22. Shinichi Ito (JPN) Ducati 1’43.073
23. Jeremy McWilliams (IRE) Ilmor 1’43.202
Jerez Lap Record (990cc): Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 2005 – 1’40.596
Jerez Best Lap (800cc): Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 2007 – 1’38.394


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