Bautista claims maiden pole
Alvara Bautista claimed his maiden MotoGP pole position for San Carlo Honda Gresini at Silverstone on Saturday, the team's first taste of success since the death of Marco Simoncelli.
With the team still struggling to come to terms with the loss of the Italian, who died after a crash at last year's Malaysian MotoGP, Saturday's pole position was a much deserved result for Gresini.
The track temperature a very cold 16'C and the wind gusty as qualifying for the British MotoGP got underway at the 5.9km Silverstone circuit with Jorge Lorenzo setting the early pace with 2:03.763. The Spaniards dominated the early running with Dani Pedrosa second ahead of Hector Barbera.
Valentino Rossi became the first crasher of the hour when, 15 minutes in, he went down heavily at Vale. Similar to an incident in final practice, the Italian just lost the bike with questions being raised about whether it was because of the new softer Bridgestone front tyre, which seems to give riders less grip.
But while in practice Rossi saved the bike, in his qualifying crash it was severely damaged. The Italian, though, was not hurt and made his way back to the pits.
Just before the halfway stage Ben Spies took over at the front, edging his Yamaha teammate Lorenzo by 0.354s.
Meanwhile, Casey Stoner was down in seventh place, six-tenths off the pace. The reigning World Champ went out for a second run but soon returned to his Honda garage having failed to improve his lap time.
His third run of the day finally yielded the improvement Stoner was seeking as the Australian jumped to second on the timesheets, just 0.014s slower than Spies. There was a charge at the very front when Bautista put in a fantastic lap to take the P1 slot with a 2:03.303.
Nicky Hayden repeated Rossi's accident at Turn 16 with the front end of his Ducati just dropping away from him. He appeared unhurt and he ran back to the pit lane for his second bike. That, though, wasn't needed as with eight minutes left the rain came down.
This prompted to the riders out on track to head back into the pits and guaranteed Bautista his first MotoGP pole position.
Spies will line-up second after his attempt to regain the top spot resulted in him running off the track while Stoner completed the front row ahead of a trio of Spaniards in Lorenzo, Pedrosa and Barbera.
Aleix Espargaro on his Power Electronics Aspar was the top CRT qualifier, 2.980s off the pace and 0.020s ahead of Randy de Puniet.
1. Alvaro Bautista ESP San Carlo Honda Gresini (RC213V) 2m 3.303s
2. Ben Spies USA Yamaha Factory Racing (YZR-M1) 2m 3.409s
3. Casey Stoner AUS Repsol Honda (RC213V) 2m 3.423s
4. Jorge Lorenzo ESP Yamaha Factory Racing (YZR-M1) 2m 3.763s
5. Dani Pedrosa ESP Repsol Honda (RC213V) 2m 3.835s
6. Hector Barbera ESP Pramac Racing (GP12) 2m 3.876s
7. Nicky Hayden USA Ducati Team (GP12) 2m 4.162s
8. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Monster Yamaha Tech3 (YZR-M1) 2m 4.304s
9. Stefan Bradl GER LCR Honda MotoGP (RC213V) 2m 5.035s
10. Valentino Rossi ITA Ducati Team (GP12) 2m 5.416s
11. Aleix Espargaro ESP Power Electronics Aspar (ART CRT) 2m 6.283s
12. Randy De Puniet FRA Power Electronics Aspar (ART CRT) 2m 6.303s
13. Yonny Hernandez COL Avintia Blusens (FTR-Kawasaki CRT) 2m 6.814s
14. Michele Pirro ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini (FTR-Honda CRT) 2m 7.016s
15. Colin Edwards USA NGM Forward Racing (Suter-BMW CRT) 2m 7.376s
16. Mattia Pasini ITA Speed Master (ART CRT) 2m 7.511s
17. James Ellison GBR Paul Bird Motorsport (ART CRT) 2m 8.228s
18. Danilo Petrucci ITA Came IodaRacing (Ioda-Aprilia CRT) 2m 8.686s
19. Ivan Silva ESP Avintia Blusens (FTR-Kawasaki CRT) 2m 10.092s