Jerez : Repsol Honda Day Two
Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa took a brilliant pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix as a thrilling qualifying session played out in front of a packed Jerez circuit in southern Spain on Saturday.
In a repeat of the head-to-head seen
in at the IRTA test at the 4.423km (2.747 miles) track in February it was Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi who battled for top spot. But this time the positions were reversed, with Pedrosa edging out the Italian to take pole position by just 0.051s. It was the 21-year-old Spaniard's fifth MotoGP pole position and the first for the new 800cc Honda RC212V.
Before his final charge on qualifiers, Pedrosa had set the fastest time of the session on race tyres a lap of 1m 40.899s. With such positive omens, a huge crowd is certain to pack into the Jerez circuit from the early hours of Sunday morning hoping to see Pedrosa go one better than last year's second position and take victory in the 27-lap race.
World Champion Nicky Hayden was unfortunate to slip to 11th at the end of the day despite finishing a mere 0.432s behind Pedrosa's time in the closest qualifying session in the history of the top class of Grand Prix racing.
With the top ten split by a mere 0.325s and the top fifteen within one second of each other, Hayden was further down the grid than he wished. But reporting a positive feeling from his RC212V on the Michelin race tyres the 25-year-old American remained hopeful of a having a good race on Sunday.
With Rossi in second place and Spaniard Carlos Checa joining Pedrosa on the front row, tomorrow's 27-lap race which starts at 14.
00hrs CET looks certain to thrill the sell-out Jerez crowd.
Nicky Hayden 11th 1m 39.834s
We've made some improvements with the bike today and the feeling is pretty good. I wasn't totally satisfied with my qualifying laps and of course I'm definitely a little disappointed with my grid position 0.4s doesn't sound like a long way off but right now in this league at this track it's a lot. It's frustrating to be this far back especially knowing how tight it could be on the first lap you've got to be smart in turn one, but you can't go in there tip-toeing either. Nonetheless I'll be trying to get an awesome start and ride hard for 27 laps and try to move forward. I'm due a good start so I'll be banking on that tomorrow.
Dani Pedrosa Pole Position 1m 39.402s
I think we did a good job and I'm very happy to have qualified on pole position of course, though the really important thing is to be on the front row that was our main aim today. The race set-up we have for the bike is quite good and the tyre choice looks ok as well so we'll have to see how their performance continues over the race distance. I don't think there's any extra pressure that comes from being on pole position but the times are very close so a good start will be very important tomorrow. The crowd was amazing today. On the last lap coming into the pits I was more relaxed and I could actually notice how many people there were. It's great for the Spanish riders and the others to have so much support and I think the atmosphere tomorrow will be very special. I hope I can make a great start and fight for the win.
Makoto Tanaka - Team Manager
It's very good to see Dani on pole position and he did a very good job today so I'd like to say congratulations to him, plus it's also the first pole position for the new generation Honda RC212V. The morning session went well for Nicky too but the times for the top riders were so close which meant Nicky lost out. However his pace with race tyres has improved and we know he can fight well during the race so it's important that he gets a good start tomorrow. I think it's going to be an exciting race. With Carlos Checa starting from third on the front row with Dani I think the Spanish crowd will be very excited!