Catalunya : Repsol Honda Day Two
Repsol Honda ace Dani Pedrosa today secured a valuable front row start for his home Grand Prix, finishing Saturday's one-hour qualifying session in third place, just 0.162s back from pole position.
Having been fastest yesterday,
the 21-year-old was fifth in the morning's third free practice session while displaying a promising pace on race tyres and lapping consistently in the 1m 43s bracket. With his second super-grippy qualifying Michelin in place the Spaniard secured the all-important front row start for Sunday's 25-lap race where he will be cheered on by a passionate sell-out home crowd.
World Champion Nicky Hayden immediately upped his pace in Saturday's morning session and continued to make progress in the afternoon, improving his best lap time on race tyres to a competitive 1m 43.586s. Using a new exhaust system for the first time this weekend, the 25-year-old American just missed out on the front two rows and will be looking for a fast start from seventh on the grid. Valentino Rossi took pole position today, followed by Randy de Puniet.
I'm happy because it's been quite a long time since I've been on the front row so it's nice to be back. The practice sessions have gone pretty well and my set-up and race tyres look OK so I'm hopeful for tomorrow. There are quite a few riders with a good pace from practice though, and this means the race could be very close and difficult for sure. Also it looks as though it's going to be very hot which will make it tough for the tyres and also the riders. I'm enjoying being at my home Grand Prix with so many supporters and I'm happy to be starting on the front row because this could prove to be important. We saw last year that anything can happen at the first corner here but hopefully there will be no problems and we can have a great race and get the result we want. Finally, I'd like to thank my mechanics because they worked very late last night after my crash.
I was definitely hoping to be on the front two rows today and I just missed out on that. Nevertheless, thanks to the guys in my team because they've done a good job and had a few really useful ideas this weekend. As the weekend's progressed we've moved up a couple of tenths on race tyres in every session and also moved up a couple of positions in each session. It's still not as close to the front as we'd like and there hasn't been a big step forward but we've definitely made some progress in a few areas for this track. Tyre choice is going to be really critical so we'll be looking at that tonight. I know it's going to be a big job tomorrow and I'll have to eat my Wheaties! Hopefully I can find a few more tenths and try to get a decent start and hang with the boys as best I can tomorrow.
Dani is on the front row for his home Grand Prix which is pleasing, though it's a slight shame he's not on pole position because I think he was capable of this today. I think our qualifying tyres were a little too soft for these conditions, but still he came very close. Again the temperature changed a lot between sessions and this tips the balance between which tyres work best. The Michelins seem to be very good in the hotter afternoon conditions so this should mean we're ok for the race tomorrow. Nicky too could have been quicker in qualifying but he's moved forward again today and with a little more set-up work tomorrow and a good start he has a chance of a strong race. I think Sunday will be very exciting, especially as it is Dani's home race.