Honda riders earn front row in Istanbul

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Honda riders earn front row in Istanbul

The Movistar Honda riders came up today with a 1-2 in the qualifying session at the Istanbul Park Circuit for this weekend's first MotoGP Grand Prix of Turkey. Sete Gibernau took the pole position, leaving behind, by just one tenth of a second,...

The Movistar Honda riders came up today with a 1-2 in the qualifying session at the Istanbul Park Circuit for this weekend's first MotoGP Grand Prix of Turkey. Sete Gibernau took the pole position, leaving behind, by just one tenth of a second, his teammate Marco Melandri.

Sete Gibernau.
Photo by Gresini Racing.
Gibernau set a lap time of 1:52.334 in a perfect ride for his fourth pole of the season in a year in which he still has not taken a victory.

"This is a technical and difficult circuit which has a bit of everything -- fast corners, slow sections, drops, rises, hard braking... More than having a perfect bike in each section, you need a good general balance. I like the track, you can have fun here and that always makes the job easier, which you can see in the result", commented the Spaniard.

In contrast to the last few races when Gibernau did a good job on Saturday but couldn't be happy knowing the pace of his bike wasn't good enough for Sunday, something that seems to have changed for Istanbul.

"The team have worked well from the start, we've been fast and set a good pace, something we've been missing for the last few rounds," Gibernau said. "In the afternoon we made a few changes which weren't quite right but we went back to the setting from the morning and I was able to fight for pole.

"Tomorrow will be a tough and long race but hopefully I can make a good start and fight until the end". Gibernau has a clear target in Turkey.

Melandri dominated all of the practice sessions before qualifying, but a mistake on his last flying lap left him without the pole, but still with a good position for the race.

"The weekend started well and we have made progress in every session. After dominating the three free practice sessions I'm sorry not to have got pole but I am calm and I feel good", stated the Italian.

Marco Melandri.
Photo by Gresini Racing.
Melandri is in chase to take the sub-championship, which has lots of candidates so far. A good result tomorrow might give him the important advantage for the season closure in Valencia.

"The bike is working well and Michelin have given me some good tyres which have adapted perfectly to the characteristics of the track. Tomorrow will be a tough race and we'll see what the best tactic is because we have to think about finishing second in the championship", mentioned Melandri.

Nicky Hayden completed the front row for Honda. The North American rider was once again faster than his teammate Max Biaggi, who best time only gave him 12th.

"Things are slowly coming better. The Movistar boys came out early and really jumped on the pace early and got going fast," Hayden explained on his run today. "Sure it's nice to be on the front row for tomorrow but I've got a few problems with a couple of sections of the track where I'm losing a lot of time so I'm not satisfied by any means with my set-up or my riding."

The Repsol Honda rider was second place on the grid with just 30 seconds to the checkered flag when end Melandri appeared to steal that position.

Nicky Hayden.
Photo by Repsol YPF Media.
Hayden, who took his fifth front row start of the season, will try tomorrow to beat Melandri, his main rival for the sub-championship.

Despite his bad performance, Biaggi will have the chance of celebrate something on Sunday: His 200th consecutive grand prix start. No other rider in the 57-year history of the world championships has managed this feat.

Newly crowned champion Valentino Rossi will start the race from fourth place, giving Yamaha the second row along with Colin Edwards and Toni Elias, who has his the best qualifying performance in MotoGP.

Rossi, as always, appears as the main fear for the Honda riders in the chase of the victory. The Italian will try to emulate the 12 victories in one season that Mike Doohan accomplished in 1999.

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