Valencia : Repsol Honda - Day Two
Nicky Hayden will start from the second row of the grid for the Grand Prix of Valencia after today's one-hour qualifying shoot-out.
With the huge grandstands already filling with fans ahead of the climax to this amazing MotoGP season,
the Repsol Honda ace went to the top of the timesheets with his first flying lap on Michelin qualifying tyres.
The 25-year-old American was then unlucky to meet traffic in the final corners of his fastest qualifying lap, losing over 0.4s and costing him a good chance of pole position. He finished with the fifth fastest time, 0.376s behind title rival Valentino Rossi who took pole.
Today's session confirmed Hayden as the fastest qualifier over the whole season, winning the MotoGP Best Qualifier award by a whopping 6.935s and netting the prize of a sportscar in the process. Though slightly frustrated to be off the front row, the American will be looking for a lightning start in the race as he fights to make up the eight point deficit to Rossi.
Hayden's Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa will start just behind him in sixth place after also showing good pace in both today's crucial sessions. He too wasn't able to fully maximise the potential from his Michelin qualifying tyres this afternoon but with a consistently good race pace he is well positioned to battle at the front tomorrow.
Pedrosa has already secured the Rookie of the Year title and is still within reach of third overall in his debut MotoGP season.
Tomorrow's decisive 30-lap race begins at 14.00 CET following a 20-minute warm-up session in the morning.
Nicky Hayden :
“We're starting on the second row and that means I need a lightning start tomorrow. We're definitely going all in for the win and it'll be interesting because there are some guys going really fast out there. I need fast guys - but I don't need them to be faster than me! I didn't get on the front row where I needed to be which makes it a bit harder for me – and I'm not thrilled about that. On my last qualifier I had a good lap going and then had a bit of an issue with traffic in the last split when I had to pass a guy who was starting a lap while I was still on a hot one. It kinda got me off line and I lost a lot of time in the last split but I don't want to make excuses. We need to tweak on it tonight and see if I can find a little more pace. Regardless I just need to focus on the race and finish the year strong – whatever happens happens.”
Dani Pedrosa :
“Today we had a good practice in the morning and made some more progress with the race set-up and tyre choice. We more-or-less have the set-up now although we still need to find a few tenths of a second because some riders improved their race pace in the afternoon. On the qualifying tyres this afternoon at first I was not so fast. I improved a little on my later runs and we finished in sixth place – which is not perfect because Rossi is on pole. From the second row I will need to do a great start tomorrow and get away with the leaders. It's going to be a big race in front of many, many fans so I'm really looking forward to it.”
Makoto Tanaka :
“The last minutes of qualifying saw a very hard battle for pole position. Unfortunately Nicky had traffic on his fast lap which meant he missed pole and the front row which is a shame for us. He had good consistency with race tyres though and so we're looking for him to get a good start and to lead the race. Dani didn't put in his best sector in T3 on his qualifying tyres and we need a little set-up work in the warm- up, but he also has a good pace on race tyres. Our target is very clear for tomorrow and the whole team will be concentrating 100 per cent to achieve it.”