Estoril : Repsol Honda - Day Two
Repsol Honda's Nicky Hayden secured a crucial front row start today in the dying seconds of qualifying for the Portuguese Grand Prix.
Hayden, who leads the World Championship by 12-points going into tomorrow's race, put in an excellent
final lap under big pressure after being forced to abort his second qualifying lap when he ran off the track.
Though the 25-year-old American believed he could have gone quicker still, his time of 1m 36.549s claimed third on the grid and the Kentucky rider is confident for tomorrow's race, which looks set to be a thriller.
Hayden's team-mate, Dani Pedrosa, had an eventful qualifying. The 21-year-old Spaniard spent a good portion of this afternoon's one-hour session in second place, displaying impressive pace on race tyres.
He was quick on the Michelin qualifiers too but was unfortunate to be slowed by traffic at critical moments. On his final qualifying lap Pedrosa, while lying fourth, looked set for a front row start before being baulked by a slowing Casey Stoner.
After the session Stoner sportingly apologised to Pedrosa for the mix up and the pair shook hands.
Tomorrow's 28-lap Grand Prix of Portugal begins at 13.00 local time (14.00 CET) with Valentino Rossi starting from pole position and Colin Edwards second on the grid.
Nicky Hayden :
On my second qualifier I had a good lap going that Michelin was a little bit softer and it felt pretty good, but I got into turn six a little deep and went straight on. So on my last qualifying lap I felt a bit of heat because I knew I couldn't afford to just completely let it hang out I had to get in a good solid lap to try to get on the front row. For that lap I went back to the tyre I knew, which was a medium qualifier, and it felt good I got in a decent lap.
I'd hoped to have gone a little bit faster but this is definitely the best my bike has felt for a few races and I'm enjoying riding more this weekend than I have in a while. Tomorrow's race is going to be a shoot-out and I think all the fans at home should get ready for it and take the phones off the hook because it's gonna be a good one.
Dani Pedrosa :
We did another good practice today and we were able to put in some quick lap times on race tyres. After qualifying we are at the front of the second row and this is a pretty good position to be in. I had some traffic in qualifying which meant I couldn't set my fastest lap, but this is normal sometimes. I think the last time I had traffic in qualifying was at Barcelona so I can't complain about it. I appreciate that Casey came to the garage to say that he made a mistake and to apologise to me, so everything is fine. The race is very long so we'll have to take care with the tyre choice we still have to make the final decision. I'll be looking for a good start tomorrow and to fight at the front.
We've had a very fruitful two days of practice and have made some good progress. It's a bit of a pity that Nicky wasn't able to take pole position but he was very fast today and he did a very good job to recover and get onto the front row. We are very close to making the decision for the race tyres we'll make some final checks in warm-up tomorrow and make the choice. Dani had some bad luck with the traffic in qualifying when Casey took the line, but compared to the last few races Dani's position and riding condition is very good. I'm looking forward to watching both riders' fighting spirit tomorrow.