Dani Pedrosa will start the Cardion ab Grand Prix České republiky from pole position on Sunday after a fantastic qualifying effort at Brno.
The Repsol Honda rider’s best lap of 1:56.508 delivered his third pole of the season and placed him just over three-tenths of a second clear at the top of the time sheet in a session that had a dramatic climax.
“It was a great qualifying session and to be back on pole position is fantastic after such a long time – the last time was in Italy at the beginning of June,” he said. “We’ve done a very good job so far this weekend and we have established a good pace for the race, but we still need to keep a clear mind, stay focused and try to be ready for any conditions because the weather forecast for tomorrow is very uncertain.
“Anyway, the team did a very good job today and I hope if it’s dry we can have a strong race and go for the victory. I won’t really be approaching the race tomorrow with a particular strategy. I really hope to do a great job tomorrow and at least to be back on the podium.”
American rookie Ben Spies had looked to be on course for a sensational first ever MotoGP pole when he assumed the lead time with only a few minutes remaining. The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rookie will not be disappointed with second spot on the grid next to Pedrosa however as he starts a premier class race from the front row for the first time.
“My goal was to be on the second row and I didn’t think the front row was possible, let alone a pole position, so I’m really happy,” the Texan said. “It would have been nice to have a pole position but at this point just being on the middle of the front row is a great result for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team and myself.
“I’ll try and get a good start and if I can latch onto those guys for the first six or seven laps I can put together a good race. I’ve struggled in the first few laps in some races but here I’ve been able to get into a fast rhythm pretty quick, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Championship leader Jorge Lorenzo will attempt to achieve his seventh win of the campaign from the final front-row spot having qualified at 0.357s off Pedrosa’s pace. However, the Fiat Yamaha rider had a fall right at the end of the hour-long session when pushing through turn 11, a crash which thankfully left him unharmed, however his confidence may well have taken a slight knock.
“This wasn’t the best practice session of the year for us,” Lorenzo said. “We made some modifications that didn’t work and it was especially a problem in the front, which was closing on me a lot. I wasn’t fast and I was having to take too many risks. Then I made a mistake and the bike went flying!
“I really hope the engine is okay for tomorrow, luckily I am not hurt and I was able to get up straight away. We are still on the front row and we can’t always be on top. I think tomorrow will be a tough race but we will see how we can improve our setting and see what happens.”
Casey Stoner was not satisfied with his Ducati Team machine as he struggled with traction on corner exit, but a determined final push at the end of the session placed the Australian fourth and he and his team will work hard overnight to correct the rear grip issues he appeared to be having.
“If it wasn’t for another rider in my way going into the last two corners I could have been on the front row,” Stoner said. “I’m disappointed in that respect but relatively happy with our pace in general. A few people are having problems with the front so it will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow, hopefully we can hang at the front.”
Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha), at just over half a second off pole, will start from fifth and the reigning world champion was extremely frustrated to have a fall at turn 13 just moments after Lorenzo went down.
“I’m okay and I haven’t made any of my injuries worse, so this is the most important thing,” he said. “I was pushing hard and trying to make my best flying lap and I just lost the front, so maybe we’re still missing a bit of grip.
“I was really angry when I crashed because I think it was possible to get second or even the pole position. Apart from the mistake though I’m very happy because I feel confident on the bike and I enjoyed riding today – I think for tomorrow I can be competitive.”
Pedrosa’s Repsol Honda teammate Andrea Dovizioso will complete the second row after taking his factory RC212V round in the sixth best time.
The third row comprises Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) and rookie Héctor Barberá (Páginas Amarillas Aspar), with Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki) tenth. Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) will start from 11th on his return from injury.
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini Team) had a fall inside the opening ten minutes but returned to the track to qualify 12th, whilst Hayden had a crash at turn three with 15 minutes remaining and suffered a chipped radius in his left forearm, however he will be fit to race.
Absent from the session was Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) following his crash in the morning practice, and a decision on his participation in the race will be made on Sunday morning.
Shoya Tomizawa took his second pole position of the season as the Japanese rider set the fastest lap time in qualifying for Moto2. A time of 2:03.452 was enough to see the Technomag-CIP man 0.232s clear of the rest of the competition as he searches for his first win since the curtain-raiser in Qatar.
Andrea Iannone (Fimmco Speed Up) was next fastest as he took his fifth front-row start of the season having been on pole for the three previous rounds, and championship leader Toni Elías (Gresini Racing) and Roberto Rolfo (Italtrans STR) will also launch their races from the front row after finishing the session with the third and fourth best times respectively.
Aiming for strong results from the second row of the grid will be Yuki Takahashi (Tech3 Racing), Dominique Aegerter (Technomag-CIP), Simone Corsi (JiR Moto2) and Arne Tode (Racing Team Germany), with Julián Simón (Mapfre Aspar) and Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team) completing the top ten. It was a season’s best qualification to date for the young Brit.
Currently second in the championship, Thomas Lüthi (Interwetten Moriwaki Racing) will start from 13th position having qualified just over a second off Tomizawa’s pace. Home rider Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) suffered the misfortune of two crashes and ended 34th overall, having been one of the quickest riders in Friday’s free practice.
Bradley Smith put in a masterful qualifying performance at Brno on Saturday to qualify in pole position for the 125cc class, setting a fastest lap of 2:07.146 to power himself to the top of the grid. It was the British rider’s first pole of the 2010 campaign after he had started on the front row for the five previous rounds leading into round nine.
Smith’s pace placed him 0.484s ahead of his closest rival, team-mate Nico Terol, whose display was equally impressive given the fact that this is his first GP back from a serious back injury which he suffered in a crash at the Catalunya circuit.
There was almost a full second gap between Pol Espargaró (Tuenti Racing) and Smith as the Spaniard set the third best time of the session, and championship leader Marc Márquez (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) did a sterling job to qualify in fourth and complete the front row having dislocated a shoulder in yesterday’s practice session and missing Saturday morning’s run.
Sandro Cortese (Avant Mitsubishi Ajo), Efrén Vázquez (Tuenti Racing), Randy Krummenacher (Stipa-Molenaar Racing) and Tomoyoshi Koyama (Racing Team Germany) all achieved second row grid positions. Johann Zarco (WTR San Marino Team) and Luis Salom (Stipa-Molenaar Racing) completed the top ten.
There were a number of crashers inside the final ten minutes as Krummenacher went down at turn 13, whilst Zarco and Esteve Rabat (Blusens-STX) were both involved in a fall at turn two. Wild card rider Ladislav Chmelik (Moto FGR) experienced a front-end fold at turn seven late on as well and failed to qualify for the race.