Rossi wins BMW
Valentino Rossi struck a crucial early psychological blow against his MotoGP rivals this afternoon with an incredible Jerez display that won him a new BMW Z4 Coupe.
In what is surely a sign of things to come in the 2007 world championship, the factory Yamaha rider came out on top in a brilliant scrap against the clock with Spaniard Dani Pedrosa.
The seven-times world champion clocked a superb time of 1.38.394 to win the BMW in today’s special 40-minute qualifying session, his best time smashing Loris Capirossi’s 2006 990cc pole position by 0.7s. It also smashed his morning qualifying tyre time by a second, as he tested a soft tyre earlier in the day. His best time of 1.39.363 was fastest this morning.
Using his fourth super-soft Michelin qualifying tyre, Rossi made his decisive move late in the session with his lap moving him a massive 0.522s clear of Repsol Honda rider Pedrosa in front a huge testing crowd of 29,163. Rossi celebrated with a stand-up wheelie but it seemed premature as Pedrosa just managed to get in one last flying lap seconds before the chequered flag came out to end the session.
The triple world champion gave it all in on his last chance to defeat Rossi and through the first two-timed sections he was just 0.090s slower than the Italian. After the third split he was just 0.062s but eventually he crossed the line and missed out by just 0.133s to claim second.
Rossi said: “It’s great. It’s not important for the championship but this is the first battle and it was good to win. My M1 is a lot more competitive than last year and I could go very fast everywhere. This test has been fantastic. I have a good pace on race tyres and this is a good point to start the year.”
Today’s session though confirmed expectations that this year’s first 800cc world title will be decided between Rossi and Pedrosa. The pair have amassed ten world titles between them and they finished a massive 0.9s ahead of third fastest Colin Edwards in what was a dramatic curtain-raiser to the start of the new season in Qatar on March 10.
Factory Ducati rider Loris Capirossi set the early pace, clocking a 1.40.193 on only his second lap, though he eventually slipped down to seventh.
Pedrosa was the first rider to break into the 1.39s when he logged an impressive 1.39.495 on his fifth lap that moved him 0.6s clear of the field.
Rossi assumed control at the halfway stage with a best of 1.39.438 on his eighth lap, but just 30 seconds later Pedrosa regained top spot when he clocked the first lap in the 1.38 bracket before the late drama.
Reigning world champion Nicky Hayden ended the session fourth fastest but he was a massive 1.162s slower than Rossi. The American was as high as third after 25 minutes and he clocked his best of 1.39.556 on his 14th lap, which he couldn’t better in four more attempts.
Michelin’s winter development has also clearly seen the French factory take a big step with its qualifying tyre as it claimed the top four fastest times.
Best Bridgestone rider was Kawasaki’s Randy de Puniet, who was fifth ahead of Aussie Casey Stoner.