Repsol Honda PR:
Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso will start tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Catalunya from fourth on the grid after an impressive day’s riding at the Montmelo circuit near Barcelona. The Italian made his intent clear at the start of the day, recording the second fastest time of the morning session and clocking an improvement of 1.1s over his best lap from yesterday. As the air temperature soared to a wilting 38 degrees and track temperature hit 52 degrees in the afternoon, Dovizioso recorded a lap of 1m 42.594s in qualifying – which put him within just 0.168s of a front row start and gives him a good chance in tomorrow’s race.
His team-mate and crowd favourite Dani Pedrosa was also immediately on the pace today, dismissing the doubts over his fitness by quickly going to the top of the timesheets in the morning practice – a position he held for the first half of the hour-long session before slipping to fourth. Pedrosa received a pain-killing injection prior to riding this morning, but chose not to have a second injection before qualifying, and this made his performance this afternoon all the more remarkable. In spite of a slow speed fall when he ran off the track in the crucial final moments of the session, Pedrosa qualified in eight place, giving him the opportunity of getting away with the leaders if he pulls off one of his trademark fast starts.
With similar baking temperatures expected for tomorrow, round six of the MotoGP World Championship looks set to be a test of endurance as well as speed. The 25-lap Grand Prix of Catalunya will start at 14.00.
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO – 4th 1m 42.594s
“I’m very happy with this 4th position, even though of course my target was to be on the first row. I like this racetrack – you do a lot of sliding the bike and I really enjoy this kind of riding. We made progress with the machine this morning, then we made a modification to the setting this afternoon that didn’t have the results we expected, so tomorrow we will go back to this morning’s set up. Today it was very hot and conditions were very demanding for the tyres – all the riders seemed to have less grip at the rear. Still, I’m quite satisfied. We have improved our race pace and tomorrow I will fight hard for the podium. We were fast today and I think we can get closer to the frontrunners’ race pace in the low 1m 43s, although consistency is still their advantage.”
DANI PEDROSA – 8th 1m 43.207s
“I’m reasonably satisfied with my pace today, especially considering how things felt yesterday. We’ve qualified for the race and, although I’d have preferred to be on the front two rows, this position is OK. In fact, I think I could have been a row further forward had I not had the crash in the last few minutes of qualifying – that’s the period when the best times are usually set. I went into the corner a little bit too fast and wide and had to run straight on. Then I saw the air fence and decided it was best to get off the bike. This morning I had an injection for the pain which worked quite well so I didn’t have another one for the afternoon, though it was becoming more uncomfortable by then. Tomorrow I’ll have another injection and we’ll try to take the best result possible in the race. It’s going to be extra hard work because of the heat, but there are a lot of my fans out there so I’ll be riding my hardest for them.”
KAZUHIKO YAMANO – REPSOL HONDA TEAM MANAGER
“Both riders did a good job today in very hot and demanding conditions. Andrea has made consistent progress this weekend and with further final modifications to his machine set-up he could be very competitive in the race. Dani’s performance was very encouraging and, considering his condition, it’s very impressive. Tomorrow looks like being hot again but I know both Andrea and Dani have huge determination to do well tomorrow – as does the whole team.”