Archive - Jul 12, 2008
After the damp morning practice, during which Dani Pedrosa finally pipped Casey Stoner to the post setting the fastest time in the dying seconds of the session, the big question in the afternoon was whether the Pedrosa could repeat this during qualifying, or whether Stoner would dominate as he had on Friday. It was a question Stoner seemed determined to answer in a hurry. He went straight to the top of the timesheets on his 2nd lap, and by lap 4, he was close to the previous pole record pace, with a time of 1'22.082, less than 7 minutes into the session.
Under normal circumstances, that time would have stood for most of qualifying, while the riders worked on their race setup, before breaking out the soft qualifiying rubber. But the possibility of showers disrupting practice meant that a number of riders took a very early qualifier, gambling that such a move could pay off if the rain started to fall for real. Alex de Angelis, Randy de Puniet and Colin Edwards all took a very early qualifier, with Edwards taking provisional pole well before the halfway mark, with a lap of 1'21.794.
Worryingly for Edwards, that time was only 0.2 seconds faster than the 1'21.996 set by Casey Stoner, in the middle of a long run on race tires. Qualifiers can generally be relied on to take close to a second off of your best time, so Edwards' 0.2 second advantage was looking more like a 0.8 second deficit, once Stoner got serious.
That Marco Melandri is unlikely to sit out the 2nd year of his contract with Ducati in 2009 was an open secret. But now, that open secret has become something akin to a public announcement. Alberto Vergani, Melandri's manager, told GPOne.com's Alberto Cani that Melandri will not be with Ducati for 2009. The Italian's contract with Ducati allows the contract to be dissolved by mutual consent with no financial penalty, despite rumors to the contrary. And with Melandri in his current form, there can be no doubt that the consent will be very much mutual.
Vergani had other interesting things to say to Cani. When asked about Melandri's future, Vergani stated that the most likely option for the Italian is a return to Fausto Gresini's satellite Honda squad, where Gresini continues to be a great admirer of Melandri. He confirmed that Kawasaki has also expressed an interest in Melandri, but denied that Melandri could end up on a Kawasaki before the 2008 season is over.
On the question of whether Melandri could quit Ducati before the season is out, Vergani was clear: "Our intention remains to finish the season with Ducati. Marco wants to tackle the problems he's been having, it's a question of saving his honor," Melandri's manager said. This does not mean that Melandri will not leave before the season is out: "That is, if Ducati doesn't have other ideas."
|Pos.||No.||Rider||Manufacturer||Fast Lap||Diff||Diff Previous|
|4||15||Alex DE ANGELIS||HONDA||1'23.065||0.722||0.130|
|7||14||Randy DE PUNIET||HONDA||1'23.604||1.261||0.048|