Dani Pedrosa took the MotoGP season's final pole position at the valencian GP today, setting a time of 1:31.517 with just seconds remaining in the qualifying session. The Repsol Honda rider's time was enough to drop the Casey Stoner, the ...
Dani Pedrosa took the MotoGP season's final pole position at the valencian GP today, setting a time of 1:31.517 with just seconds remaining in the qualifying session. The Repsol Honda rider's time was enough to drop the Casey Stoner, the already-crowned 2008 MotoGP champion, down to second place on the starting grid.
"The practice was positive this afternoon and I was able to go fast on race tyres as well," the Spaniard said. "The Michelin qualifiers also worked very well again and I was able to improve on my second lap by quite a lot -- which was just enough for pole position. The weekend has gone well so far and I hope I can make a good start and challenge for the win tomorrow."
While the championship is Stoner's, Pedrosa still has a slim chance of taking second place in the 2008 points standings: he is currently 24 points adrift of Valentino Rossi, and a victory, combined with a non-finish for Rossi, would put him one point ahead.
A day without points is not something one expects of Rossi, though, who has only retired three times this season, and finished in the points in every other race. However, the five-time top-class champion fell heavily in qualifying, fracturing his right hand, and is now a doubtful starter for the race.
"I was going quite well and able to do 1:33.3 quite easily, but then at a certain point, when I was accelerating, I lost the rear," 'Il Dottore' explained. "I tried to get the bike back but it was too late. After the crash I immediately realised that my hand was broken but I didn't know how bad it was. I hit my lower back quite hard as well and actually it hurts quite a lot, but luckily there is no bad damage there."
Rossi, who has yet to miss a race in his Grand Prix racing career, will now consult with the doctors tomorrow morning, and then make a decision whether he can take part in the final Grand Prix of the season.
Back on the front row, then, it was Stoner on his Marlboro Ducati, missing the ple by less than a tenth -- 0.086 seconds -- after Pedrosa's late flyer. However, the Australian is well-positioned to challenge for his 11th victory of the year, and a challenge to Rossi's all-time single-season points record, 367, set in 2005. Stoner needs a second place to tie the record and a win to claim sole possession of it.
"I've probably got the record for the most second places in qualifying this year," Stoner smiled. "Again we missed out on pole by a few thousandths, it's been like that every time we've nearly been on pole this year. The race set-up is looking pretty good and we're quite happy with race distance on the tyres. But we are still trying to get slightly better lap times towards the end, just to make sure we are competitive at the end of the race."
Nicky Hayden took third place in the other Repsol Honda, exactly three tenths behind Stoner, and 0.386 seconds off his teammate's pace.
"When I put the qualifiers on, the bike was really good and fun to ride," Hayden said. "But it's honestly been a bit of a nightmare this weekend up to now. For whatever reason I cannot get the race tyres to work for me here. I've had a lot of luck with the 16-inch rear tyre at the last few races but at Valencia it's been really tough. Race day is always a different story and anything can happen so we'll just try to stick our nose in there, put a bid in and try to finish off the year really well."