Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) was in the thick of the fight for pole position at Misano this afternoon, finally ending qualifying second quickest, just 0.222 seconds off pole. The Spaniard went fastest with seconds remaining but was bettered moments later by local hero Valentino Rossi (Yamaha). Nevertheless, Pedrosa believes he can have a strong race tomorrow.
Toni Elias (San Carlo Honda Gresini) also showed strongly on the eve of his team’s home race, going fourth fastest, a tantalisingly close 0.099 seconds off the front row. Team-mate and San Marino rider Alex De Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini) was seventh, less than a tenth off the second row and just ahead of Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) and Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda).
Conditions were slightly cooler than yesterday – when ambient temperature reached 35 degrees – with the seaside circuit cooled somewhat by a sea breeze.
Pedrosa was determined to score his fourth front-row start in as many races because Misano’s first few corners are tight and tricky, so it’s essential to get a good start here. He made it with a heroic effort in the final minutes of the session, and though he has more work to do on his race set- but he believes he should have the pace to challenge for the win here. Pedrosa took pole at Indy last weekend and was leading the race when he slid off. He recovered to finish a dogged tenth.
Pedrosa and his RC212V once again achieved the highest top speed of the day at 276.1km/h (171.56mph). The RC212Vs of Elias and De Angelis were third and fourth on top speed, at 273.3km/h (169.82mph) and 273.2km/h (169.76mph).
Elias was delighted with his performance, which followed a difficult first session on Friday, and is confident he will be able to fight for another podium finish if he gets a good start. Elias scored his first podium of the year at last month’s Czech GP.
Team-mate De Angelis ran with the leaders for much of the session, proving that he has a superb race pace. But when he switched to softer tyres for his end-of-session ‘time attack’ he couldn’t find the extra speed he needed. He thus ended up on row three and will need a flying getaway if he’s to go with the leaders and repeat the brilliant podium he scored last weekend at Indianapolis.
Dovizioso also struggled to up his pace on softer tyres but is confident that he has a good pace on race rubber. This is the first race weekend that Dovi has used Öhlins suspension, so he has been focusing on adapting his machine set-up to suit.
De Puniet claimed the final spot on the third row of the grid with a spirited ride to ninth. The Frenchman is still suffering from the left ankle fracture he sustained a month ago. Despite that he reckons he could have been further up the grid if he hadn’t run into some traffic at the very end of the session.
Gabor Talmacsi (Scot Honda) made useful progress today, benefiting from the input of the team’s new suspension technician. The Hungarian believes he has finally found a good set-up direction and will aim to learn more in tomorrow’s race.
HONDA MotoGP RIDER QUOTES
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 2nd – 1m 34.560s.
“It’s great to get a front row start here and we weren’t far away from pole position which is a good result from this afternoon because our rivals are very strong again here. During the session we were working on race set-up and we still have a little way to go to improve my race pace and consistency compared to the others. In qualifying I was able to up my speed towards the end and I was pushing really hard because it’s very important to get on the front row here and give yourself the best chance of a clean getaway. It’s sure to be an exciting race tomorrow and I hope we can find that little bit extra so we can challenge for the win again. It’s likely to be a tough race because it was hot and windy today, but I’m looking forward to it – the atmosphere is sure to be special.”
Toni Elias, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 4th – 1m 34.907s.
“I’m really pleased because nobody ever expects to improve by two seconds in one day. One second is quite easy, but two? It’s amazing really but it shows what a great job the team have done. I wasn’t happy yesterday but I knew exactly where the problems were and I was able to get the message across to the team, who responded perfectly once again. We still have a couple of things to work on and I’d like to take another step forward before the race to close the gap further on the three guys ahead of us, but for the moment I’m contented and excited about our chances tomorrow.”
Alex De Angelis, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 7th – 1m 35.343s.
“I started out the session well and we put a really good rhythm together on race tyres but for some reason we couldn’t make an improvement on the softer tyre and that’s a shame because even if we’d just found an extra tenth I’d have been on the second row. Anyway, the important thing is the race set-up and we’re in good shape, so if I can get a good start tomorrow then we can look forward to another good race. I have a lot of fans here and a lot of support from everybody in San Marino so it would be great to give them all something to celebrate.”
Andrea Dovizioso, Repsol Honda: 8th – 1m 35.492s.
“I have a good pace with race tyres, and we improved the rhythm and reduced the gap to the front riders this afternoon which I’m pleased about. We are six tenths behind with our race pace and quite close to Dani so I was happy about this. Unfortunately I couldn’t go fast enough with the soft tyre and so my starting position is not what I wanted. I’m disappointed about that because it could compromise the race and it means I really have to make a good start and try to recover positions right from the beginning. It won’t be easy as it’s tricky to overtake in the first corners because you have a group of bikes all going through together. But still, I think we’ve been making progress with the set-up and the potential from our package is good.”
Randy de Puniet, LCR Honda: 9th – 1m 35.554s.
“I am quite happy because we improved our machine set-up, winning a lot of time in this morning’s session. My lap time was quite fast and I could have shaved off a few more tenths at the end of qualifying but I found some traffic. Anyway, I am pretty close to the fifth-fastest guy, so I’m pleased with that, considering that a month ago I was in hospital with a fractured left ankle. We are back in the group where we should be. If we get a good start I think we can score another positive result. We still have to fine-tune the machine and adjust a few things in warm-up, but I like this track and we are going in the right direction.”
Gabor Talmacsi, Scot Racing Team: 17th – 1m 37.091s.
“We have a new man in our crew – a suspension technician. It seems that the cooperation started well here, because we have been able to improve our performance by one second from the beginning to the end of the qualifying session. We tested different set-ups, and in my opinion are going in the right direction. The bike still feels a bit too light in the straight and still suffers a bit in the tight corners. The day did not begin in the best possible way – I did not feel well and I had to ask for help at the Clinical Mobile. This afternoon I felt much better.”