Repsol Honda Team riders Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa qualified in seventh and eighth places for tomorrow's Italian Grand Prix in a tightly fought qualifying session at Mugello today. In front of his home crowd, Dovizioso was able to improve...
Repsol Honda Team riders Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa qualified in seventh and eighth places for tomorrow's Italian Grand Prix in a tightly fought qualifying session at Mugello today. In front of his home crowd, Dovizioso was able to improve his pace by over 1.5s from yesterday's single hour of practice, recording a time of 1m 49.648s, which was well inside the existing race lap record of 1m 50.003s.
The front two rows were fiercely contested today and Dovizioso missed out on sixth place and the final spot on row two by just a tenth of a second, setting a time just 0.661s behind today's pole position man Jorge Lorenzo. With final set-up adjustments planned for tomorrow morning's warm-up session and boosted by a passionate home crowd, Dovizioso is determined battle at the front in tomorrow's 23-lap race.
Pedrosa put in a fighting performance today as an unfortunate hip injury in morning practice left him in considerable discomfort during this afternoon's one-hour session and prevented him from riding at full pace. Despite this, the 23-year-old Spaniard, who lies just nine points behind the World Championship points leader, was able to pull out a lap of 1m 50.073s to secure a spot alongside his team-mate on the third row of the grid.
The unusual injury wasn't caused by a fall, but instead it happened as his machine shook vigorously as it recovered from a big rear wheel slide in the left-hand Palagio corner. The unlucky Pedrosa incurred severe stretching in his right hip which pulled the gluteus medius muscle and may have caused a tiny crack in the greater trochanter (thigh) bone where the muscle attaches. It was a very unfortunate incident for a rider who has already produced a remarkable start to 2009 after an injury-hit pre-season. However, Pedrosa has proved his toughness in the face of adversity many times before and is likely to try to make the 2pm start of tomorrow's race.
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO -- 7th - 1m 49.648s
"We have improved our lap time session after session, reducing the gap from the fastest riders and this is a positive move. Yesterday we had a gap of 1.3s, this morning it was one second and this afternoon we got it down to five tenths so I'm happy about that. This morning we made an adjustment to the settings which improved the feeling during corner entry. For the qualifying session we tried another modification but we didn't get the results we expected, so we'll need to make some changes to finalise the set-up tomorrow morning in the warm-up. I'm confident we can improve by two or three tenths but it will be difficult to consistently match the pace of the fastest riders. Tomorrow the race will be tough and really I was hoping to start from the second row. Still, I will do my best to get a good start and try not to lose contact with the first group. It's my home race and the atmosphere here is incredible. The fans are so passionate and so I'll be going all out to give them something to cheer about tomorrow."
DANI PEDROSA -- 8th - 1m 50.073
"Considering what happened today, eighth place on the grid is actually quite good because I was in a lot of pain on the bike and for a while it was touch and go whether I'd be able to ride at all. In this morning's session I had a slide from the rear tyre and the bike went into quite a violent shake. During this, I pulled a muscle in my right hip really hard and maybe caused some more damage - we'll have to check what the next scans show. But what I can say is that it was very painful and I had to stop riding immediately because the pain stopped my right leg from working properly - it was like a switch. This afternoon I had some painkillers, but it was still very difficult. It's very hard to make a prediction for the race - I will try, but at the moment I don't know for how long I can continue my pace - we'll see."
KAZUHIKO YAMANO - REPSOL HONDA TEAM MANAGER
"Both riders fought hard today, though things obviously didn't go exactly according to plan for Dani. Andrea has made significant step-by-step progress throughout the sessions and has closed the gap on the front runners. His machine settings have improved with the adjustments the team made today and his crew will work on finalising things in the warm-up. Dani's situation is very unlucky, especially because he was approaching full strength. We'll have to see how he is tomorrow and cross our fingers that he's in a condition to be able to race. It's been a tricky day but we'll focus on getting the best results possible tomorrow."