Pedrosa storms to pole in Sepang
Repsol Honda RC212V rider Dani Pedrosa stormed to a brilliant pole position at Sepang this afternoon, triumphing at the end of a complex session which started out on a soaking wet track. This is his first pole with Bridgestone tires, which he used for the first time three races ago, at last month’s Indianapolis GP.
Thanks to some clever work from his crew, Pedrosa timed his final run to perfection, snatching pole in the final moments of the session when the track was dry enough for slicks but still damp in places. Heavy rainfall hit MotoGP’s only tropical venue shortly before lunch, earlier than usual. Riders started the session on rain tires, switching to wets with about 20 minutes remaining. From that point on, lap times started tumbling, with pole position sometimes changing twice in a minute.
Pedrosa’s step-by-step approach to race preparation had paid dividends this morning when the Spaniard cut almost a second from his best Friday time to complete the third practice session less than two tenths off the fastest time, which had been set by a rival using qualifying tires.
“It is fantastic to be on pole here, especially since this is my first pole with Bridgestone tires, so a big thank you to them and also to my team who have worked so hard for this. Track conditions were changing all the time this afternoon, so it was quite tricky. At the beginning it was wet, then little by little the track dried, so you had to be on the ball to understand when it was best to change tires. I was able to get in a good lap time in my final run, and I’m very happy to get this pole position. Pole is particularly important here because the lap times are all very close, so a good start will be crucial. We already know what race tires we are going to use and I feel that we are ready to race. Of course, everything depends on the weather, it usually rains here most days, so we will have to wait and see when tomorrow’s rain storm arrives. It could be wet, dry or mixed.”
A frenetic final five minutes saw numerous changes in the leadership of the session, as the riders brought their qualifying tires to the game in search of pole position. Casey Stoner, Andrea Dovizioso and Rossi had all seen their names at the head of the timesheet, although only the latter could keep a spot on the front row for the Malaysian showdown. Nearly the gamut of weather conditions were experienced on track after some heavy rainfall and intense humidity, with the track still not completely dry by the time Pedrosa earned his first pole position with Bridgestone tires.
Rossi will start from second on the grid, with Fiat Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo on the front row for the fifth consecutive race. The positions will be an important boost for all three, with the knowledge that every premier class winner in Malaysia since 1999 has come from the first line.
Second Repsol Honda rider Nicky Hayden will take off from the head of the second row, joined by Friday’s fastest man, Tech 3 Yamaha´s Colin Edwards. JiR Team Scot man Dovizioso completes the line, with 2007 victor Stoner relegated to row three alongside Loris Capirossi and Randy de Puniet.
1 D. PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team 2'01.548
2 V. ROSSI ITA Fiat Yamaha Team + 0.409
3 J. LORENZO SPA Fiat Yamaha Team + 0.623
4 N. HAYDEN USA Repsol Honda Team + 0.644
5 C. EDWARDS USA Tech 3 Yamaha + 0.697
6 A. DOVIZIOSO ITA JiR Team Scot MotoGP + 1.288
7 C. STONER AUS Ducati Marlboro Team + 1.405
8 L. CAPIROSSI ITA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP + 1.530
9 R. DE PUNIET FRA LCR Honda MotoGP + 1.562
10 J. HOPKINS USA Kawasaki Racing Team + 1.636
11 C. VERMEULEN AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP + 1.723
12 J. TOSELAND GBR Tech 3 Yamaha + 1.734
13 A. WEST AUS Kawasaki Racing Team + 1.844
14 M. MELANDRI ITA Ducati Marlboro Team + 2.287
15 S. NAKANO JPN San Carlo Honda Gresini + 2.453
16 S. GUINTOLI FRA Alice Team + 2.830
17 A. DE ANGELIS RSM San Carlo Honda Gresini + 3.131
18 N. AOKI JPN Rizla Suzuki MotoGP + 3.287
19 T. ELIAS SPA Alice Team + 3.572