Italian Andrea Dovizioso’s first pole position in the MotoGP class was secured on Saturday as the Repsol Honda rider topped the qualifying session for the Grand Prix of Japan.
Andrea Dovizioso’s first pole position in the MotoGP class was secured on Saturday as the Repsol Honda rider topped the qualifying session for the Grand Prix of Japan.
Having taken his first-ever front-row start in the premier class at Laguna Seca earlier this season, the Italian went one better at Motegi, where he won a battle for top spot on the time sheet with a best lap of 1:47.001.
In the absence of his team-mate Dani Pedrosa, who today returned to Spain to undergo surgery on the collarbone he fractured in yesterday’s free practice, Dovizioso carries the hopes of the Honda factory team into tomorrow’s race.
The manufacturer has been winless at its home circuit since Tamada’s victory in 2004 and the Italian will be desperate to break the sequence and seal his first victory of the season.
“I’m really happy to be on pole and also surprised because I didn’t expect to get so close to going under a 1m 47s lap here,” Dovizioso said. “This is like my second home race because it’s the home of the team, which makes it even more special to get my first pole position here. I’m also so happy about the performance of the RC212V.
“We’re looking good for the race because my style is usually not to go at my absolute maximum pace in practice and qualifying, so I’m hopeful for tomorrow.”
Behind, Valentino Rossi’s final lap of the session placed the Fiat Yamaha rider in second position and gave him his first front-row starting position since he took pole at Le Mans back in May before he suffered the injury that destroyed his season.
The reigning world champion, who has looked in good shape throughout the weekend, was just 0.054s off his fellow Italian.
Completing the front row having battled with Dovizioso for top spot in the closing stages was Casey Stoner. The Ducati Team rider, who had a minor run-off at turn five early on, was a fraction over a tenth of a second off the pole position time.
Starting a race off the front row for the first time this season will be championship leader Jorge Lorenzo, after the Fiat Yamaha man placed fourth in the session.
Lorenzo had led during the early stages but eventually ended the hour 0.205s off Dovizioso’s pace. Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) equalled his best qualification of the season so far with fifth, with teammate Ben Spies once again proving his aptitude at learning new tracks in an impressively quick manner and taking the final spot on row two.
Two run-offs during the session failed to hold back Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) as he placed seventh, with Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini Team) and Rizla Suzuki duo Álvaro Bautista and Loris Capirossi completing the top 10.
The veteran Italian had a crash early on in the session but returned to the track to set his best time, which was just over a second off pole.
Héctor Barberá (Páginas Amarillas Aspar) was the only other rider to crash, with Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team), Aleix Espargaró (Pramac Racing) and Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda MotoGP) all running off track but able to stay on board and bring their bikes back safely.
The MotoGP race is scheduled to get underway at 3:00pm local time on Sunday.
Julián Simón’s second pole of the 2010 season came at Motegi on Saturday as the Mapfre Aspar rider’s best lap of 1’53.008 placed him at the top of the starting grid for the Moto2 Grand Prix of Japan.
Simón has finished second for the last three consecutive races, the first of which was at Indianapolis and which was the site of his last pole position.
In second position and celebrating having signed a new two-year deal with the Marc VDS Racing Team this week, Scott Redding starts from the front row for the fourth successive race, thus continuing his rich vein of form.
Yuki Takahashi put his Tech 3 machine there as well, with Championship leader Toni Elías (Gresini Racing) taking the final front-row spot with a late lap that left him three-thousandths of a second in front of Claudio Corti.
The Italian from the Forward Racing team heads up a second row that also comprises Alex de Angelis (JiR Moto2), Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) and Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing).
Yonny Hernández (Blusens-STX) finished in ninth position, with Andrea Iannone (Fimmco Speed Up) tenth and ending the session with a minor run off track. Thomas Lüthi (Interwetten Moriwaki), who is contesting second spot in the overall standings with Iannone and Simón, qualified in 16th place.
Marc Márquez once again set a blistering pace in qualifying to take his ninth pole position of the season, finishing 0.417s ahead of his rivals at Motegi in preparation for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Japan.
The Red Bull Ajo Motorsport rider, who currently lies third in the Championship, set a hot lap of 1’58.030 to ensure he will go for what could be a seventh victory of 2010 from the top of the starting grid.
Championship leader Nico Terol followed his rival on the timesheet and was the only other rider to join Márquez under 1’59”, with his Bancaja Aspar team-mate Bradley Smith third at 0.996s off the pole pace.
Sandro Cortese (Avant Mitsubishi Ajo) will complete the front row after qualifying in fourth position.
Heading up the second row in his home GP after setting the fifth best time in qualifying will be Tomoyoshi Koyama (Racing Team Germany), with Esteve Rabat (Blusens-STX) sixth.
Pol Espargaró’s weekend failed to get any easier when a technical problem ended the Tuenti Racing rider’s session early. His time of 1:59.873 left him seventh in the order and rounded off a tough series of sessions which saw him crash twice in the first practice on Friday.
A career’s best qualification of eighth for Simone Grotzkyj (Fontana Racing) means the Italian will complete the second row, although he had a minor fall at the very end of the session.
Alberto Moncayo (Andalucia Cajasol), Efrén Vázquez (Tuenti Racing), Jonas Folger (Team Ongetta) and Randy Krummenacher (Stipa-Molenaar Racing) all registered times to place them on the third row.