Dani Pedrosa romped to pole position in a last gasp effort in a thrilling qualifying session ahead of tomorrow’s Gran Premio d'Italia TIM at the Mugello circuit that saw the fastest time being swapped between the factory riders multiple times but it was the Repsol Honda machine of Pedrosa that got the measure of the rest with an outright best lap of 1m 47.157s to that of Yamaha Factory Racing man Jorge Lorenzo’s 1m 47.226s and a stunning performance from Ducati Racing’s Andrea Dovizioso to take third with a 1m 47.628s lap.
We managed a great last lap and took pole.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Cal Crutchlow got pushed off the front row at the end of the session and starts from 4th place setting a best lap of 1m 47.632s while LCR Honda man Stefan Bradl will start from 5th tomorrow (1m 47.737s) with Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) stunning the paddock to be back at full speed so quickly after an unnerving high speed crash yesterday and setting a fastest lap of 1m 47.763s. Valentino Rossi was also the victim of the last lap surge from his competitors and starts from 7th tomorrow setting a best lap time of 1m 47.872s while Ducati Racing’s Nicky Hayden set a 1m 48.006 lap to secure an 8th place start. The final place on the third row went to Alvaro Bautista and the GO&Fun Honda Gresini team with a 1m 48.355s lap.
Michele Pirro will start from 10th for the Ducati test team with a 1m 48.564s while Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Bradley Smith (1m 48.706s) fought through the pain barrier to secure an 11th place start with the British rookie in considerable pain with his little finger that was part ground away after a high speed crash yesterday. The fastest CRT machine was that of Aleix Espargaro who powered his Power Electronics Aspar machine into Q2 and starts from 12th place with a 1m 48.765s lap. Andrea Iannone missed out on Q2 and will start from 13th for the Energy TI Pramac Racing team with a best lap of 1m 49.265s to that of Power Electronics Aspar rider Randy De Puniet with a best lap of 1m 49.266s.
Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing
Hector Barbera starts from 15th for the Avintia Blusens machine setting a best time of 1m 49.847s ahead of Came IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci on a 1m 50.518s lap to that of Colin Edwards’ best of 1m 50.701s for the NGM Forward Racing team and teammate Claudio Corti starts one place behind on a best lap of 1m 50.729s. Michael Laverty posted the 19th fastest time on the Paul Bird Motorsports machine 1m 50.787s while Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham will start from 20th with a best time of 1m 51.089s. Yonny Hernandez starts from 21st tomorrow for the Paul Bird Motorsports team (1m 51.239s) while Bryan Staring finished with the 22nd best time of 1m 51.981s on the GO&Fun Honda Gresini CRT effort. Hiroshi Aoyama had a heavy crash in qualifying an set the 23rd best time of 1m 52.148s on the Avintia Blusens machine with Lukas Pesek starting from 24th for the Came IodaRacing Project with a 1m 52.345s lap.
Setting a new pole position record, Pedrosa said, “Today the track conditions were good, the tyres worked well and we improved the bike. All this helped us a lot to increase our pace and this is the most important thing. Qualifying was difficult, because we were behind for a large part of the session, but we managed a great last lap and took pole. Now we have some ideas to improve the bike for tomorrow and hope to have a strong race.”
Lorenzo thought he had the pace for pole position but remains focused on tomorrow’s race. He said, “We still suffer a little bit when the weather is hotter, we don't have the same grip. Even with this issue we have been competitive though, in the free practice and also in the qualifying. I was surprised to be so fast in the first lap when I made a 47.6. I was also surprised about the lap time from Marquez on his first try and also the lap time from Dani. I thought the 47.2 lap was enough for pole position but Dani was faster so it wasn't. The important thing is to make a good start tomorrow, to get in front and to go away if possible. If not possible, the race is long and we have to be consistent. We have to improve some small details but in general the bike is better here than at the other tracks.”
Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati Team
Dovizioso was delighted to achieve a front row start for his home race despite hurting his neck in a crash yesterday. He said, “It feels incredible to make it onto the first row at Mugello, especially as a Ducati rider! It was one of my goals, but I still can’t believe it, particularly after yesterday’s crash. The Clinica Mobile and my physiotherapist did a really good job of making my neck feel better, which gave me the opportunity to push hard in qualifying. It still bothers me, but I can push at almost 100%, and because yesterday I didn’t even know if I’d be able to race, I’m very happy. We worked really well this morning, improving the setup a little, and I was pretty fast this afternoon, but when the tyres wear a little our pace isn’t good enough to fight for the podium. Anyway, we’ll try to do our best to get a good result tomorrow for Ducati and all our fans.”