Estoril : MotoGP qualifying
The fourteenth race of the 2007 MotoGP World Championship will see Nicky Hayden start on pole for the first time this season following Saturday afternoon's dramatic qualifying session at Estoril.
The Kentucky Kid, who could see his World
title official pass over to champion-elect Casey Stoner this weekend at the bwin.com Grande Premio de Portugal, left it late in the qualifying run to take his first pole since Phillip Island in 2006.
With twelve minutes left at the scene of such heartbreak for the likeable American last season, Hayden saw Ducati Marlboro's Stoner take a second off the best previous effort by his Repsol Honda colleague Dani Pedrosa – the Spaniard having been at the head of the timesheet for a significant period.
Fiat Yamaha's Valentino Rossi then briefly went in front of the Australian on the timesheet, but Stoner replied with a second hot lap, only for Hayden to snatch pole from his rivals at the death by a margin of 0.040s.
Stoner and Rossi's times were good enough to keep them second and third respectively, but an amazing late run from Makoto Tamada of Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3 saw him shoot into fourth place, relegating Pedrosa to fifth.
Rossi's Yamaha team-mate Colin Edwards will start at the back of the second row, while Honda Gresini pair Marco Melandri (seventh) and Toni Elias (ninth) sandwich Tech 3's Sylvain Guintoli on row three – with Rizla Suzuki's John Hopkins completing the top ten.