“For sure, it's going to be tough”
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) once again proved his mettle with a second consecutive front row start here at Estoril. His rival Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo took pole while Valentino Rossi (both Yamaha) qualified third to complete the front
The early stage pace-setter was Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda RC212V) who launched into a 1m 37.540s lap with Dani Pedrosa holding a provisional second fastest time with Yamaha riders Colin Edwards and James Toseland the next quickest men on the track.
De Puniet had more to give and with 40 minutes left on the clock the Frenchman shaved his time down to 1m 37.358s with Valentino Rossi now hauling himself up the lap ladder to second fastest while Jorge Lorenzo began his march to get into the frame for the top places.
At the halfway point Lorenzo took the top spot with de Puniet and Pedrosa in close pursuit. But Toseland showed the way as the session timed down to take the number one position with 23-minutes left on the clock.
Colin Edwards (Yamaha) then cut a 1m 36.678s lap to make the running as Honda man Pedrosa kept in contention as the second fastest rider out on track. But Lorenzo was ready to take the fight to all-comers and notched a 1m 36.273s time to hold pole again.
Then with ten minutes left to run of this one-hour stint for the front of the grid Lorenzo bettered his own time with 1m 36.127s effort that showed he had more than the measure of this demanding 4.182km circuit.
The big push then began with qualifying rubber fitted and riders gunning for the front row as the clock ticked down with six minutes remaining.
Reigning World Champion Casey Stoner (Ducati) showed strongly before Lorenzo fired in a pulsating lap of 1m 35.715s to blow the rest of the field apart and clinch his third consecutive pole of the season.
Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC212V) diligently worked through his routine to climb to fourth as the stint ended while Dani finished this final session just 0.233 seconds adrift of Lorenzo's time. Stoner ended up ninth.
Andrea Dovizioso (JiR Scot Honda RC212V) continued his rapid mastery of the potent RC212V with a seventh spot on the grid while de Puniet managed eighth for a third row start in tomorrow's third Grand Prix of this 18-race season.
Shinya Nakano (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) will launch from the fourth row of the grid as 11th fastest qualifier while his team-mate Alex de Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) qualified in 16th position.
Dani Pedrosa, second fastest man out there, said:
"Our target was always to start from the front row and we achieved it. Our race pace was good today, but we still want to try and improve the bike a little bit more, working on the chassis settings. Also, we haven't chosen which tyres we will use tomorrow because the weather conditions are so changeable here, so we will have wait a bit more. The big question is what the weather will do tomorrow afternoon. I'm looking forward to the race. I expect it to be very close at the front tomorrow because there's a lot of riders going fast here, for sure it's going to be tough."
Nicky Hayden, fourth fastest man on track, said:
"We're right there, but just missing that last little bit. Everything went relatively smooth today, though I definitely thought we were capable of being on the front row - bike, tyres, even the rider - but we just didn't get it done. Race pace I don't think we're a long way off but definitely we could do with a bit more. The Michelin tyres are working well, the bike's good, we just need to get it better in the slow changes of direction. My ideal time had me third. On one of my fast laps I had to follow Toseland, when he wasn't on a fast lap, through turn five and into six, which kinda ruined that lap. At the time I was pretty fired up about it. He was man enough to come and apologise, but at the time I didn't want to hear sorry."
Randy de Puniet, who starts from eighth, said:
"It's been pretty hard today because this morning I crashed and the guys had to work hard to prepare the bike for this afternoon's session. I want to thank them for their great job. My feeling on race tyres in the morning free session was OK both on the front and the rear and I was confident to improve my pace in the qualifying session. We had a minor technical issue and I was not able to get the same rhythm after that. I spent more track time to fix the problem but I'm not very satisfied. Anyway we will make some adjustments in tomorrow's warm up session and we will see how the bike reacts.”
Shinya Nakano qualified 11th and said:
"Yesterday was good even in the wet and changing conditions. Today was not so good I am having a lot of problems with traction and getting the bike to turn. We have tried many things today with chassis and suspension but we are still not 100%. We have a few little adjustments to try in the warm up but the biggest problem is the temperature we need higher track temperatures to get the tyres to work. But my confidence grows with this bike at every race."
Alex De Angelis, 16th fastest, said:
"I felt a lot better today after I had treatment at the Clinica Mobile. My temperature was down to 38 degrees and I could breath more easily, that makes riding much more comfortable. Feeling the way I did yesterday it was not easy and I was very slow. Today I had a lot of problems with rear-end grip -- every time I got on the gas the rear end slid around quite badly and I couldn't get good drive off the corners. Down the front straight I'm second slowest. Under heavy braking the bike is very stable and I can enter the corners fast enough. Tomorrow I will have an IV drip at the Clinica and I'm sure I'll be OK."
Honda Motor Sports