Qatar : Repsol Honda – Day Two
Repsol Honda riders Dani Pedrosa and Nicky Hayden will start tomorrow's season-opening Grand Prix of Qatar from the second and third rows after today's qualifying session at the 5.380km (3.343 miles) Losail circuit.
In a repeat of his
grid position from last year's race, Pedrosa will start from fifth on the grid having clocked a time of 1m 55.361s on his Michelin qualifiers this afternoon. The 21-year-old Spaniard was inside last year's pole position record of 1m55.683s, set by Casey Stoner on the superceded 990cc Honda RC211V, and Pedrosa was just 0.359s from today's pole position, set by Valentino Rossi.
During the morning's free practice session, new World Champion Nicky Hayden continued to up his pace on race tyres, setting a best lap time of 1m56.981s, nearly a second quicker than his fastest time from yesterday. The work continued in the afternoon's one-hour qualifying period with the 25-year-old American looking to improve the feeling from the front of his 800cc RC212V to allow him to attack Losail's fast corners. On his two runs on Michelin's sticky qualifying rubber Hayden moved up to ninth and believed he could have placed higher but for a slight mistake in the fourth sector of the lap.
The eagerly awaited 2007 MotoGP World Championship gets under way tomorrow with the 22-lap race beginning at 15.00hrs local time (13.00 CET), following a 20-minute warm-up session in the morning.
Nicky Hayden 9th – 1m 56.
“My last Michelin qualifier felt really good and my first three splits were not bad, but in the last split I didn't quite put it together and I actually went a little bit slower in that split. Up until that point I had a pretty decent lap going. The third row isn't really where I hoped to be starting the first race of the year and we're just trying to get the front end right so that I'm able to roll around these corners and not have to do so much stop-and-go riding. We've got a few little issues with some chatter but the bottom line is that I've got to come in here tomorrow, do my part and get the most out of the bike. The team's working hard and I've got faith in the boys in my corner. It's going to be a big day tomorrow. We'll bring all we've got, try to get a smokin' start and not get pinched down there on the inside of the third row. I'm definitely looking forward to going racing again.”
Dani Pedrosa 5th – 1m 55.361s
“Starting from fifth position is ok – obviously I would have preferred to be on the front row. We continued to work on the set-up of the bike in both sessions and I was able to improve my speed from yesterday. The set-up for the race is just about there, though we still have to make the final decision on the race tyre, so we'll use the warm-up tomorrow morning for this. My qualifying runs went quite well – the first one was calm and not so quick and on the second one I was pushing more and improved the time quite a lot. For the race I hope to be fighting at the front, though some of the other riders are looking pretty fast so it may be difficult. I'm on the middle of the second row so the track may be a little bit dirty there – still, I'll be aiming to get a good start in the race tomorrow.”
Makoto Tanaka - Team Manager
“Both riders have improved their speed from yesterday though unfortunately the other teams are going faster too. Dani is in fairly good shape and it's a little bit of a shame that he was not quite able to challenge for pole position, especially since he was fastest here on qualifying tyres at the test in February. The race is a different matter though and I think he has the chance to ride near the front. Nicky did a good job to improve things in qualifying, though he is of course not totally satisfied to be in ninth. He has shown his fighting race spirit many times before so I hope that he can do this again tomorrow.”