Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa today came within 0.095s of taking pole position for the British Grand Prix in a tightly contested qualifying session at Donington Park.
The Spaniard, who won the 2006 race here in his debut MotoGP season, was quick in both today's dry sessions.
He finished the morning practice with the fastest time - a lap of 1m 28.787s - and lowered that to a 1m 28.211s in the qualifying shoot-out. Pedrosa was just pipped to pole position by Valentino Rossi and so will the start the 30-lap race nicely poised in the middle of the front row. Pedrosa's qualifying lap record of 1m 27.676s set on the 990cc Honda RC211V on his way to pole position in 2006 remained intact.
“We did a good job in both sessions today and I'm happy to qualify on the front row because, in reality, that's more important than taking pole position”, he said. “On my last run at the end of the qualifying session I found some traffic on the circuit which caused me to lose my concentration and rhythm slightly, so I think I could have gone a little quicker. But still, the middle of the front row is OK. Our dry set-up is nearly there so we'll aim to make just a few little improvements before the race. The weather is looking changeable for tomorrow, though at least we've had some practice time in the wet yesterday. If it's raining I'd like to improve my riding and my pace a bit but the weather is out of our control so we'll have to see. It's the last MotoGP race at Donington tomorrow and of course I'd like a good result to sign off with - preferably a win.”
Tomorrow, at the tender age of 23, Pedrosa could become the Spanish rider who has scored the most points ever in Grand Prix racing. Having accumulated 2006 points in his nine seasons so far, if Pedrosa finishes in ninth position or above tomorrow he will overtake the totals of fellow Spaniards Alex Criville (2012 points) and Angel Nieto (2008 points). The result would put Pedrosa in sixth place in the overall Grand Prix point scorers table behind Valentino Rossi in first place, Loris Capirossi, Max Biaggi, Mick Doohan and Alex Barros.
His Repsol Honda team-mate, Andrea Dovizioso, also put on a competitive showing in qualifying today and will start the race directly behind Pedrosa in the middle of the second row, having qualified in fifth with a lap just 0.662s from pole.
The 23-year-old Italian still feels there are some set-up improvements to be made ahead of the race tomorrow and will work in the warm-up to improve traction and his feeling on the way into corners. Dovizioso likes the Donington Park circuit and has strong previous form here, having won the 125cc race in 2004 and the 250cc clash in 2007.
“Starting from the second row is not a bad place to be and gives us a chance to get away at the head of the field so I'm satisfied with that. A fast start tomorrow should give us a good opportunity to have a strong race”, he said. “Having said that, I really like this track and I was hoping to be in a slightly better situation going into tomorrow both in terms of grid position and race pace. We still need to improve our speed and consistency and there is some work to do to take us closer to the frontrunners and be fully competitive. We need to improve on the entry to the corner and also to work on traction, so we'll look at the data we collected today and I'm confident my team can help me to make these improvements. It could rain tomorrow too, so we'll come in ready for anything.”
As seems to be typical for the British Grand Prix, the weather threatens to play a part tomorrow with rain promised by the forecasters. The Repsol Honda Team will be ready for whatever the skies have in mind for the race, which begins later than usual at 15.30 in order to avoid a TV clash with the Formula One race in Hungary.