Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa scorched to his third pole position in consecutive races on Saturday as qualifying took place for the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang. The 22-year-old Spaniard claimed top spot by just 0.041s in the dying seconds of the hour-long session with a lap of 2m 01.877s on his super-grippy Michelin qualifying tires. It was Pedrosa’s fourth pole position of the 2007 season and means a Repsol Honda has been at the front of the grid for the last four Grands Prix – a sequence which began with Nicky Hayden’s pole position in Portugal in September.
On a dry track there were several riders in contention for the top spot, as the provisional pole changed hands on numerous occasions, but ultimately it was the 22 year-old former 125cc and 250cc World Champion who put his Michelin equipped RC212V at the front of the grid – in front of four Bridgestone riders in the top five.
After lapping ninth quickest in FP3 this morning the diminutive Honda man upped his game with a time of 2’01.877s to beat second fastest participant Casey Stoner (Ducati Marlboro) by 0.041s.
Behind the Catalan and the Australian on the front row is Italian Marco Melandri (Honda Gresini) who was just 0.067s off pole. The second row comprises Kawasaki pair Randy de Puniet and Ant West, fourth and fifth respectively, in front of 2006 World Champion Nicky Hayden who qualified 0.348s slower than his Honda team-mate.
Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen was the third quickest Australian qualifier in seventh place, with Honda Gresini’s Toni Elias just behind him. Valentino Rossi’s uncomfortable weekend continued onboard his Fiat Yamaha M1 as he ended up in ninth position – just over half a second off the pace.
John Hopkins’ (Rizla Suzuki) relatively poor recent qualifying results continued as he concluded the session completing the top-10.
(Note: Pedrosa, who rides with race number 26, has now amassed 26 pole positions, 26 wins and 26 fastest laps in all classes of Grand Prix racing – 125cc, 250cc and MotoGP.)
Dani Pedrosa: Pole Position 2m 01.877s “It’s great to have three pole positions in a row and gives us a good chance for the start tomorrow, but of course the only important thing is the race result because there are no points for pole position. The qualifying laps went quite well and I improved by 0.8s on my second fast lap which was just enough to take pole position This afternoon the conditions were quite different to those we had yesterday and this morning – it was much hotter which made the surface a little bit more slippery. We’ve been testing more tire options today and we still have to decide which ones we’ll race with. It depends on the weather and especially the temperature we expect for tomorrow afternoon. We also need to do some more work on the set-up based on the data from today’s two sessions.”
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