This afternoon, during the qualifying session of the Italian Grand Prix at the Mugello Circuit, Repsol Honda Team rider Dani Pedrosa added a new pole position to his list of achievements - his second of the season after the Jerez pole - after clocking up the best time. Andrea Dovizioso, who expects a lot from this Grand Prix, was unable to sign a good qualifying session this afternoon, finishing back in eighth position.
On a day overshadowed by the injury suffered by Valentino Rossi during this morning's free practice - who will miss several races -, the Repsol rider clocked up the best time in a close-fought qualifying session, in which he finally stopped the clock at 1 minute, 48 seconds and 819 milliseconds. The Repsol rider showed signs of his intentions this morning by clocking up the third best time, four-tenths behind Lorenzo and less than one-tenth behind his team-mate Andrea Dovizioso, who finished second. After the morning practice, the qualifying session looked promising on both sides of the Repsol Honda Team garage.
When the qualifying session started, Pedrosa quickly got down to work, immediately appearing in the leading positions. Ten minutes after the session started, he was already fourth and soon after, the Repsol rider was heading the timesheets, where he stayed until the last few minutes. Pedrosa was at the top of the timesheets throughout the session, whereas Dovizioso switched between fifth and sixth.
When the time came to put on the softest compound tyres, Dovizioso did so 24 minutes from the end and Pedrosa one minute later. In his first attempt, Dovizioso took 5th place and a lap later, 3rd. Pedrosa did not improve in his first attempt with the first soft compound tyre but in his second lap, he set a provisional pole position. Then, in the last few minutes, Lorenzo took the best time away from Pedrosa. However, in a masterly last lap and with the clock about to signal the end of the session, the Spanish Repsol Honda Team rider achieved an excellent time -1'48.819 seconds -, awarding him his second pole position of the season.
For Dovizioso, his eighth best time was a little frustrating, considering that it is the Italian Grand Prix and especially after having been in a position to fight for a place on the front row of the starting grid. However, the Italian and his crew, who after putting in a good morning session - second best time -, made a mistake with one of the details of his setup, which put him back in the third row of the starting grid, are confident that they can get a good result tomorrow.
"It's great to be on pole here and we've been working very hard through free practice and in qualifying this afternoon to improve things from yesterday. We have achieved this, so I'm satisfied. Being on the front row is the important thing and we have to keep our concentration because to win the race is the target - we have to make it tomorrow! We were pushing very hard right to the end of the session and we were able to do a good final lap, but the most important factor is that we've been able to be consistent too.
Lorenzo will be the man to beat tomorrow, but we are confident, the machine is working better here and we are in better shape than the last race in Le Mans. So tomorrow for the race we hope to maintain our performance right to the end. We still have to improve our race pace a little but I'm feeling very well here, I like this circuit, and I think it will be a fun race with a great atmosphere created by the fans. I didn't see Rossi's crash, but what I've heard about the injury doesn't sound good. It's a pity because all of us riders know how you feel when you are hurt, and I just hope that the operation goes well for him because the first operation is always the most important".
"This morning we did a good job, improved the performance from yesterday and we finished second on the timesheets. In the afternoon however, the track conditions changed and, even though I pushed very hard, I couldn't use all the potential of the bike. The gap to Dani and Lorenzo has increased a bit and unfortunately I wasn't able to use the soft tyre at its best, which means tomorrow we will start from the third row.
This is an area where I have to improve because starting in this position makes things more difficult for the race. Anyway I'm still confident for tomorrow. If we can stay with the front group of riders I think we can make a good race. Mugello is a very special place and I'm sure the Italian fans will give me an extra boost for the race. It's a real shame about Valentino's injury. It's always very bad when a rider crashes like this and I'm very sorry for him. I wish him a quick recovery and send him all the best".