Motegi : Repsol Honda - Day 2
Nicky Hayden and Dani Pedrosa will start from seventh and ninth places for the Grand Prix of Japan after a closely contested qualifying battle at the Motegi circuit today. Though starting from the third row, both Repsol Honda riders came close
to making the front row in the dying minutes of the one-hour session.
Championship leader Hayden was naturally a little disappointed not to be able to repeat his pole position from the last round in Australia.
With five minutes to go this afternoon the 25-year-old American ace looked to have secured a second row start but was pipped at the close by the Honda of Toni Elias. Hayden, who yesterday signed for a further two years with the Repsol Honda Team, put in a lap of 1m 46.489s, just 0.239s back from the front row.
Dani Pedrosa continued to climb the timesheets today, steadily improving his pace on race tyres. This afternoon, with his qualifying Michelin in place, the 21-year-old Spanish rookie clocked a time of 1m 46.576s and will join his team-mate on the third row of the grid for tomorrow's 24-lap race. Pole position today was set by Loris Capirossi on the Ducati with a new circuit record of 1m 45.724s.
Nicky Hayden : “Well I'm not thrilled about finishing seventh and being so far behind pole position, especially after being on pole last week. But hey, that's racing and the quality in MotoGP is deep. We'll see what happens tomorrow – we're going to have a big job on our hands. My qualifying lap definitely didn't feel too great – I was scared to look at the time because I knew it wasn't going to be real pretty. We've been a step behind these boys all weekend and I'm not sure where we're losing out exactly.
We've still got to make the final decision about what tyre I'm going to race and the boys are going to need a Red Bull tonight because we're going to be here a long time trying to see if we can find some improvements. I just don't have enough feel from the rear. But we've come back strong before and we'll put our heads together and give it all we've got tomorrow.”
Dani Pedrosa : “We improved our times from the morning session which is good, though we still have to find a few tenths because I'm losing a little bit everywhere. And unfortunately when we put the qualifying tyre on we lost out in the same places. My race tyre choice is still not 100 per cent clear so tomorrow in the warm-up we want to make a further test – providing the weather lets us. We'll have to see if it's a dry race and aim for a great start. The third row is not ideal but I have been able to come through from this kind of position before so it's not so bad. My knee is quite good now but the toe is still giving some discomfort – but we'll be ok for the race.”
Makoto Tanaka - Team Manager :
“Today we missed out on pole position – but Loris Capirossi was very strong here. At the start of the qualifying session Nicky improved his lap times on race tyres. Then he attacked with qualifying tyres but the times just ahead of him were very close and unfortunately Nicky wasn't able to squeeze onto the front two rows. Honestly this is little bit of a handicap for the race so he'll need a good start tomorrow to get away with the front group. Dani has a good set-up with race tyres and has good consistency too. His qualifying position wasn't quite as high as we'd hoped for but he still feels the effects of his injuries. He is close to the riders in front, so the result is not so bad. He'll need a good start as well - this is very important for both riders. It's going to be a fierce battle tomorrow and both riders will need a very positive frame of mind.”