As Michelin fill front row
In hot and humid conditions at Motegi, Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa earned his second pole of the 2007 World Championship on Saturday at the A-Style Grand Prix of Japan, while Casey Stoner qualified in his worst grid position of the year in ninth.
Having confirmed a two year contract extension yesterday Pedrosa gave the HRC management further reason to be pleased with their 21 year-old Catalan star as he notched a time of 1'45.864s on the 26th of his 27 laps at the circuit where he took victory as a 250cc rider in 2004. It is Pedrosa's first pole since Jerez in March.
Fiat Yamaha's Valentino Rossi briefly held pole position before the end of the session but was eventually outdone by Pedrosa by 0.391s, although it was still a great result for the Italian after the ‘disaster' of Friday's proceedings.
Even though World Champion Nicky Hayden was 0.711s slower than his young Repsol Honda colleague's pole time he nonetheless earned a fourth front row start in succession in third place, as Michelin produced the goods at Bridgestone's test track – the French tyre giants continuing their good performance after last week's ‘comeback' at Estoril.
The fastest Bridgestone rider was Kawasaki's Randy de Puniet who repeated his Misano result of fourth, while the incredible Toni Elias continued his superb comeback from injury to finish fifth – the Honda Gresini man in a Kawasaki sandwich on row two just ahead of Anthony West who in sixth position got his best qualifying result to date.
Fiat Yamaha's Colin Edwards heads a strong third row ahead of Ducati Marlboro pair Loris Capirossi – winner in Japan for the last two years – and Stoner, who will be looking to get off to a good start to finish ahead of Rossi if he is to clinch the title this weekend.
Marco Melandri (Honda Gresini) was tenth, while Rizla Suzuki's John Hopkins got his worst qualifying result of the current campaign in 11th, having also struggled for a decent grid position last weekend in Portugal.
Of the Japanese contingent at their home Grand Prix Konica Minolta Honda's Shinya Nakano was the best qualifier in 12th place.
DORNA / CAPSIS International