Dani Pedrosa’s impressive form continued on Saturday at Misano as the Repsol Honda rider took his fourth pole position of the season for tomorrow’s Gran Premio Aperol di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini.
A blistering final lap of the hour-long MotoGP qualifying session saw the Spaniard duck under the 1:34 barrier, the only rider to do so with a best time of 1:33.948 cementing his place at the top of the time sheet.
After having taken victory just six days ago in Indianapolis, Pedrosa is doing everything he can to claw back Jorge Lorenzo’s 68-point advantage in the championship and a win tomorrow would undoubtedly put a little bit more pressure on his compatriot.
With 10 minutes of the session remaining Lorenzo had actually taken the lead, but the Fiat Yamaha rider eventually ended up 0.308s off Pedrosa after his rival pushed back in front. Lorenzo maintains his record of having started every race this season from the front row.
Completing the front row was Ducati rider Casey Stoner after the Australian capped off an eventful session with the third quickest time.
Stoner had taken the lead 20 minutes into the session but crashed immediately after at turn four, remounting his Desmosedici GP10 following some rapid front-end work from his crew.
He improved his time to finish up just under half a second off Pedrosa with a best time of 1:34.397.
Valentino Rossi will head up the second row in his home race after the reigning world champion set the fourth fastest time of the hour on his Fiat Yamaha M1 machine, whilst Ben Spies will be the highest satellite rider on the grid after placing his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine in fifth spot.
A commendable effort from the recovering Randy de Puniet saw the LCR Honda rider secure sixth place.
Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) and San Carlo Honda Gresini pair Marco Simoncelli and Marco Melandri completed the top 10 in the hour.
The only crash of the session other than Stoner happened just 10 minutes in when rookie Héctor Barberá (Páginas Amarillas Aspar) fell at turn four, and he eventually qualified in 12th on his Ducati.
Toni Elías secured his second pole position of the 2010 season – his first since the opening round in Qatar – on Saturday, as he primed himself for an attempt at a sixth win of the season this weekend at Misano.
The Spaniard’s best time of 1:38.991 was enough to beat young Brit Scott Redding to pole by 0.044s in the Gresini Moto2 team’s home GP.
Redding took his second successive front row position for the Marc VDS Racing Team having finished on the podium from third in Indianapolis, with Julián Simón (Mapfre Aspar) third at just over two-tenths behind.
Jules Cluzel of the Forward Racing team will complete the front file of the grid for tomorrow’s race.
Andrea Iannone’s session was cut short by a mechanical problem but the Fimmco Speed Up rider still managed to hold onto fifth position at 0.435s off Elías’ time, and he will head up a second row that also includes JiR Moto2 duo Simone Corsi and home rider Alex de Angelis along with Shoya Tomizawa (Technomag-CIP).
Mattia Pasini qualified in ninth as he continued his impressive weekend as a wild card for the Italtrans STR team, with Gabor Talmacsi (Fimmco Speed Up) completing the top ten.
There were crashes in the session for Dominique Aegerter (Technomag-CIP) who qualified in 12th, Michael Ranseder (Vector Kiefer Racing) in 22nd and Raffaele de Rosa (Tech 3 Racing) in 28th – all three avoided any lasting injuries as a result of their falls.
Bradley Smith will start the 125cc race from pole position on Sunday, after setting a hot lap of 1:43.329 on his final lap of the session. That delivered the Bancaja Aspar rider his second pole of the 2010 season, as he continues his quest for a first win of the campaign.
Smith beat Championship leader Marc Márquez (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) – who had led until the dying moments of the session – to top spot on the timesheet by 0.158s, with the Brit’s teammate Nico Terol, who was second in last year’s race, third.
Pol Espargaró (Tuenti Racing) will complete a strong front row as he was the final rider to get within half a second of Smith’s time.
Row two of the 125cc grid will be comprised of Tomoyoshi Koyama (Racing Team Germany), Sandro Cortese (Avant Mitsubishi Ajo), Efrén Vázquez (Tuenti Racing) and Esteve Rabat (Blusens-STX), whilst Danny Webb (Andalucia Cajasol) and Johann Zarco (WTR San Marino Team) completed the top ten.
There were crashes during the session for Marcel Schrötter (Interwetten Honda 125), Randy Krummenacher (Stipa-Molenaar Racing) and wild card Alessandro Tonucci (Junior GP).