“Let's hope we can keep it rolling”
Nicky Hayden took a scintillating pole position for tomorrow's Grand Prix of Portugal as the Repsol Honda rider blitzed the MotoGP field in the final seconds of this afternoon's qualifying session at Estoril.
Once again displaying
his brilliance on sticky Michelin qualifying tyres, the World Champion edged out Casey Stoner by just 0.040s to secure his first pole position since last year's Australian Grand Prix. The 26-year-old American was naturally delighted with his debut pole of the 2007 season – the fifth of his MotoGP career – while also declaring that he and his crew still have some work to do to finalise the machine set-up and tyre choice for 28-lap race.
Hayden's Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa also looked in with a good chance of pole position having dominated the afternoon session until the final runs on qualifying tyres. Heading the time sheets for much of the hour while lapping on race tyres, Pedrosa put together a series of fast laps that bode will for his pace in tomorrow's race.
The 21-year-old Spaniard was therefore slightly disappointed to finish the one-hour qualifying session in fifth place after his two qualifying runs. Still, with a good start from the middle of the second row Pedrosa should be a real threat when the race begins at 15.00hrs on Sunday.
“Obviously this year's been tough so it's really nice to be on pole position again and just have something to be happy about. The Michelin qualifying tyres worked really well this afternoon – I've never had so much grip – and it's a big thanks to all the boys in my team because they've worked really hard all weekend. We've improved by half a second in each session and as much as I'd like to say it was all down to me, really the team has made some good adjustments to the machine. The harder this year's got the harder they've worked for me so I'm really happy to give them something to smile about. We've still got to improve a lot on race tyres but we're in a good position. The qualifying laps were pretty good and I improved by half a second from the first to the second which is what you've got to do if you want to get up front so I'm happy with how today has gone. Let's hope we can keep it rolling tomorrow.”
“As a practice session this afternoon went pretty well and we were able to find quite a good set up and maintain a fast pace on race tyres. The lap times were reasonably consistent and the endurance of the tyres looks okay at this stage too. Unfortunately on qualifiers I was not so strong today and I had some vibration as I went for my quick laps so I'm not totally happy with the qualifying part of the session. To start fifth is by no means a disaster but I was hoping for more. However, with a good start tomorrow we have a chance to fight at the front.
It's a 28-lap race and there are other riders with good pace too so I will be taking nothing for granted. It should be very interesting tomorrow and I hope to have a good race for myself and the team.”
“Congratulations to Nicky! He did a very good job today to secure his first pole position since last year. The team still has some work to do to improve his race pace and we must carefully consider the set-up and tyre choice because this will be crucial. Nicky's ability in the race is always strong though and I hope he can show what he's capable of tomorrow. Dani has good pace on race tyres and was able to do a long consistent run today with his tyres in quite a good condition at the end. It's a little bit of a shame about his qualifying position but if we can steer clear of the kind of trouble we had at the last race in Misano, we have a good chance tomorrow.”