Japanese GP: Repsol Honda qualifying report

Trying To Get A Result Repsol Honda rider Nicky Hayden stormed to a front-row start at Motegi this afternoon, signalling his intention to play a leading role in tomorrow's Japanese Grand Prix. The American ended the qualifying session third...

Trying To Get A Result

Repsol Honda rider Nicky Hayden stormed to a front-row start at Motegi this afternoon, signalling his intention to play a leading role in tomorrow's Japanese Grand Prix.

The American ended the qualifying session third fastest, just four tenths off pole position, despite having to ride two full-speed laps on his final set of Michelin qualifiers after he had been baulked by a group of slower riders at the start of his final run. A good grid position is vital at Motegi because the first corner is tight and close to the start.

This is Hayden's third front-row start of the year, after Catalunya and Laguna Seca, Two weeks ago at Indianapolis he recorded his first podium finish of the year with a great ride to second.

Nicky Hayden, 3rd fastest, 1m 45.971s

"Honda's home race, we're on the front row which is nice, now we've got to try and get a result. Yesterday the bike didn't feel good, balance and all. We made some pretty good changes overnight. A lot of the time when you make changes, in theory they should do this or that but a lot of the time it don't work out like that, but today everything worked like we thought it would, so my guys did some good work. My race pace is decent but not great, we need to improve tomorrow morning if we want to turn it into a result, which is the plan. My first qualifier went good, my second I didn't really improve, the third one I did improve, then the fourth felt really good. But going into turn three there was a pack of riders, so I just had to shut it down. I went hard enough for the rest of that lap to keep heat in the tyres and then tried to pull the trigger again. Luckily I was able to get two laps out of it, though the last little bit of the second lap the right side started to go. The Michelin qualifiers were really good today, so I just held on to squeeze on to the front row. That's important here especially because in the past there's been plenty of carnage at the first turn. We'll try to improve the bike in morning, try to get away with them, then see what we got."

Kazuhiko Yamano - Team Manager

"Nicky and his team have done a great job here. His machine and the Michelin tyres are working very well, so he could make the front row, and it is very important to start from the front here. His pace on race tyres is also good. After his podium at Indy he is very motivated to fight for the win here."

'Happier'

Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa will start tomorrow's Japanese GP from the second row of the grid after recording fifth-fastest time in this afternoon's qualifying session.

Conditions were warm and sunny as the Spaniard sped to fifth place in only his second qualifying session on Bridgestone qualifying tyres. Earlier in the day he had recorded fourth fastest time in the final free practice outing. Tomorrow morning Pedrosa is confident he can make further set-up improvements to his RC212V so he can be a part of the front-running pack in the race.

Dani Pedrosa, 5th fastest, 1m 46.303s

"I am happier than I was after Indy qualifying because we are improving all the time. Every time I go out with another qualifying tyre I get faster, but during my last lap today I made a mistake at one corner and lost a lot of time. The second row is okay, it's important to get a good start here because the first corner is so close to the grid. Today we tried a few different race tyres and did some good work, but we still need to make some improvements in a few different places. This is Honda's home track, I have always been a Honda rider, so it is very important for all of us to get a good result here. I will do my best."

Kazuhiko Yamano - Team Manager

"Dani is going well here, he has improved his race pace since yesterday and still has some small improvements to make to his set-up during morning warm-up. This is his second qualifying sessions with Bridgestone tyres, he is starting to understand the tyres, though he can still get faster with them at the next races. Considering this, the second row is a good result. It will be a tough race with many riders running similar lap times."

CRIVILLE AND REPSOL HONDA NSR500 RIDE AGAIN

Alex Criville rode his 1999 World Championship-winning Repsol Honda NSR500 at Motegi today. The Spaniard completed two laps as part of the track's ten years of GP racing anniversary -- Motegi hosted its first GP in 1999.

"Riding the bike brought back many good and happy memories," smiled Criville. "I think the NSR500 is probably one of the greatest motorcycles ever made, and it was good to see the fans enjoying the sound of the 500 once more. I have my other 1999 NSR at home in Spain. This bike is looked after by the Honda Collection Hall and it felt good. The engine still makes very good power -- I had a small slide on my first lap. I got on the gas and had some wheelspin, so I told myself to be careful. These bikes have no traction control! Compared to the modern MotoGP machines, everything is different, the 500 doesn't have any engine braking, and the powerband is narrower than that of the four-strokes."

Criville rode for the Repsol Honda team for seven seasons, winning 14 of his 15 GPs for the team, including six victories during his title-winning year.

-credit: repsol

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Alex Criville , Dani Pedrosa