Repsol Honda riders Nicky Hayden and Dani Pedrosa qualified sixth and eighth fastest in tonight's floodlit qualifying session at Losail to put them on the second and third rows of the grid for tomorrow night's season-opening Qatar GP.
Hayden, who is running
2007 spec RC212Vs here, rode an excellent fastest lap on qualifiers to secure the last spot on row two. Pedrosa, who is using 2008 bikes with revised chassis, is riding in some pain after aggravating his right-hand injury in a fall during Friday practice. The Spaniard has steadily improved machine setup but is concerned about his fitness over full-race distance.
Tomorrow night's Qatar Grand Prix will make history as the first World Championship event in almost 60 years to be run under floodlights. The race starts at 11pm.
“We improved a lot this afternoon… heck, it's the middle of the night! My first two runs on race tyres I improved quite a bit and in the end I was able to get a respectable lap on qualifies, nothing great, but I was able to give ourselves a decent chance. The big thing around here for us is the straightaway, we're losing quite a bit of time, the bike I'm using is what I had at Valencia. I'm really excited to be going racing. I'd like to have a better race pace and all that but it is what it is and it's time to line up and go for it. I'm enjoying riding at night, I think it's cool, I hope some more tracks decide to get some lighting systems going. A big thanks to my team and to HRC, these guys have worked so hard, it's silly how hard they have worked over the last week to get more bikes here, get more options for us, build a different chassis for Dani's bike which seems to be a good step so I'm sure the next time I get on the 08 I'll try one of those.
“We struggled with qualifying tyres and we couldn't improve my times so much, so we will start from the third row. We haven't tested so much with qualifying tyres so we need more testing to improve our qualifying setup. I'm not happy about my grid position but I'm better off than I was during last week's tests here. I am happy about how the bike has improved in such a short time. Now we have another 20 minutes during warm-up to further improve it. As for race pace, we are not at the level of the fastest riders but we have improved. And if we consider the fact that we didn't so much testing during the winter, that I've had a bad hand injury and that we had problems in testing here, I think the situation isn't so bad. After yesterday's crash the hand was very painful. I've had some treatment on the hand and we will work some more on it tomorrow morning. I'm looking forward to the race, the only problem could be the strength of my right arm over full-race distance.”