"I surprised myself"
This crucial timed session of MotoGP qualifying provided all the action usually associated with this raw, coastal track.
In sunny 17-degree temperature with the track at a manageable 25-degrees, this final hour got underway with Randy de Puniet (Kawasaki)
heading the timesheets.
But it ended with last year's pole-setter Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC211V) on top again here with another Kawasaki rider Shinya Nakano lining up next to him and with Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) completing the front row.
Kenny Roberts (Roberts KR211V) just missed out on what would have been his fourth front row start of the season.
Kenny Roberts Jnr, KR Honda: 4th:
I really didn't think I had a lap in me like that, to get so close to the front row. We've been struggling for rear grip, and we made a few changes since this morning. On my second qualifier I thought I could follow Nicky (Hayden) ... but he wanted to follow me. I surprised myself. I had a really steady lap, pretty smooth. I think I could have gone quicker if I had somebody to gauge off. But it's only qualifying, and anywhere in the top three rows for me would have been good. Fourth is a bonus.
We tried a slightly steeper steering head this afternoon, and that seemed to pick us up some time and a better feeling. It's similar to what Barcelona was, though you wouldn't think of the two tracks together. We'll try that in the second bike tomorrow, and a shock setting that we tried to begin with that seemed to give us a little bit better grip.
Qualifying is kind of insignificant, because (Loris) Capirossi and Sete (Gibernau) are way down, but they're ultra fast on race tyres. It's going to be a weird race.
Kenny Roberts Senior team owner:
The secret is to follow Nicky, and not let Nicky follow us. It's nice around here to get a bit of a tow, because it breaks the wind. I was quite impressed by Kenny's lap, on his own. I'm still not super-confident in race trim, though this race-track should favour us a little more than the last one. We need to start doing better in the races before I'll have much confidence.
Source Honda Racing