Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa will start tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix from the front row after an admirable performance in qualifying at Phillip Island this afternoon. The 24-year-old Spaniard was totally unfazed by a high-speed tumble in the middle of the session and returned to the track on his spare bike to steal third on the grid by just one thousandth of a second, fractionally edging out fellow Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo.
It was a fair result for Pedrosa who had been on the pace in a rain-interrupted morning session too - finishing the hour in second place with a gap of just 0.048s to top spot. Indeed, due to his disrupted qualifying session, Pedrosa's time from the morning of 1m 30.674s was four tenths of a second faster than he achieved this afternoon. Now he and his pit crew will be looking to make a few final adjustments to the set-up of his factory RC212V in the morning warm-up to give him the best chance of running at the front in the 27-lap race.
His Repsol Honda team-mate, Andrea Dovizioso, was naturally less than satisfied with his starting position of 10th - despite his best lap time being just 0.4s behind Pedrosa's front row position. The Italian was able to make significant improvements to his machine set-up today, but a packed mid-field where the riders from third to 13th are covered by a single second, saw Dovizioso end up further back than he would have liked. However, with a fast start from the fourth row, Dovizioso has a good chance of a strong finish.
Round 15 of the 17-race MotoGP World Championship begins tomorrow at the unusually late time of 16.00 (GMT +11 hours).
DANI PEDROSA -- 3rd -- 1m 31.070s
"I'm pleased to be on the front row because it's always good to have a clear track ahead of you at the start of the race - and especially since it came after I had quite a big crash in qualifying. It was at high speed on the way into Turn Two so it's a relief that I wasn't injured and I was able go straight back out on track for the second half of the session. I'm not sure yet why I fell - I just touched the brake and boom - I was down. We'll take a look at the data and try to find out exactly what happened. For tomorrow we'll work on finding a little something in terms of pace to allow us to compete for the win because the riders in front are going quickly. It will be a long race tomorrow so we'll need to be fully concentrated - and of course it will be important to see what the weather does."
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO -- 10th -- 1m 31.472s
"We made progress today and, in spite of the grid position, we actually improved our situation a little here. During the first three quarters of the qualifying session we tried some different set-up solutions that didn't really give any improvements. We were also using the hard option tyres that were proving too hard for the conditions so, when we switched to the soft tyres, we improved our rhythm and the lap times came down. I'm a little disappointed because we upped our pace, but not by enough and this means the grid position is not the best. On the plus side, we are only four tenths behind the third fastest time which is actually encouraging, though the grid slot is a pity because starting from the fourth row makes everything more difficult. Anyway tomorrow I will give 100 per cent to make a good start and recover as many positions as possible."
KAZUHIKO YAMANO - REPSOL HONDA TEAM MANAGER
"Dani did well to take a front row start and this is a fair result for him because he was looking fast in the morning too. He fell at quite high speed so it's good that he is unhurt and was able to ride at qualifying pace immediately after returning to the pits. Our rivals at the front are very quick so the Repsol Honda team will be working hard tonight to give both riders the best chance of competing at the front tomorrow. Andrea wasn't far behind in terms of pace so naturally he's a little disappointed with 10th on the grid. It's a long race tomorrow though, and with a good start he can also make significant moves forward."