Gordon Hatch, MotoGP Correspondent
Repsol Honda rider untouchable in incident packed qualifying session
Dani Pedrosa was the quickest rider at Indianapolis Motor Speedway again today in an incident packed hour-long session that saw a number of serious crashes fpr some of the top riders. The Repsol Honda rider set a new qualifying record of 1m 38.813s to take the pole for tomorrow's Red Bull Grand Prix while the majority of the other factory riders struggled with the famed track's road course.
I feel we have a good setting for tomorrow. We are confident for the race.
The session took place under warm and dry conditions but despite the favorable weather it didn’t stop the on track incidents from starting at the beginning with Pedrosa’s teammate Casey Stoner crashing out from a fast lap and being brought to Clinica Mobile where he treated with a suspected ankle injury. Further incidents throughout the hour saw Yamaha Factory Racing’s Ben Spies high-siding and landing heavily but walking away but hurt and Ducati Racing’s Nicky Hayden who also had a heavy crash as a result of a high-side in front of his home fans. While Spies’ looks set to contest the race tomorrow, Hayden has been confirmed as being withdrawn from the race by his doctors.
Pedrosa's time, was set on the 25th lap of the session and enough to stay in front of main championship rival Yamaha Factory Racing's Jorge Lorenzo who was only 0.100 seconds behind to take second position with a lap of 1m 38.913s despite being off the pace for quite some time and was an improvement on his seventh quickest lap in the final Free Practice session. Rounding out the front row is Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Andrea Dovizioso in his first front-row start for his new team after a steady session with a best lap time of 1m 39.235s.
Despite his heavy crash, Spies took a 4th place start on his YZR-M1 machine with a 1m 39.279s lap while Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda) continues to impress in his rookie year with the German setting a best lap of in fifth with a best time of 1m 39.437s. Stoner is next on the grid placings with his best lap of 1m 39.465s but no information on whether the Australian intends to race tomorrow has yet to be released. Next along is Cal Crutchlow in 7th and his best time of 1m 39.549s puts the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider ahead of Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda Gresini) who is promoted to 8th after Hayden’s misfortune.
Starting from 9th tomorrow will be CRT rider Randy De Puniet and the Power Electronics Aspar Aprilia with a best lap of 1m 40.437s and one place ahead of Ducati’s Valentino Rossi who rounds out the top ten with a best lap time of 1m 40.763s. Starting tomorrow’s race in 11th will be Aleix Espargaro and the second of the Power Electronics Aspar machines with a best time of 1m 40.803s. Yonny Hernandez (Avintia Blusens) will start from 12th tomorrow with his best lap of 1m 41.197s ahead of Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham with his best time of 1m 41.295s. Mattia Pasini starts from 14th tomorrow for the Speed Master team on a best time of 1m 41.370s.
Michele Pirro was next along on his San Carlo Honda Gresini CRT machine (1m 41.449s) with Pramac Racing substitute Toni Elias securing a 16th place start with a best time of 1m 41.866s while James Ellison took 17th with a 1m 41.978s lap on his Paul Bird Motorsport machine. Danilo Petrucci Set a best time of 1m 42.553s for the Came IodaRacing team with NGM Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards next along with a best time of 1m 42.599s enough to start ahead of Ivan Silva (Avintia Blusens) who secured his best lap of 1m 42.768s. The two American wildcard entries both qualified also with Steve Rapp and the Attack Performance team starting from 22nd on a best time of 1m 43.673s and Aaron Yates close behind for the GPTech team on a best time of 1m 44.312s.
Speaking after his latest pole position lap, Pedrosa said, “It was a tricky session because the asphalt was very slippery and we saw many nasty crashes already in Moto3 and then in MotoGP. It felt that you could control the slide, but suddenly many riders found themselves on the floor. It was crucial to keep the concentration on our riding and not make any mistake and achieve the lap time. To be in pole position is great at a track where the first sector is very tight and it's always good to have a clean start.
We did a very good job today, testing the tyres, working on the bike and being ready for the hot laps. I feel we have a good setting for tomorrow. We are confident for the race, but other riders look strong as well. Lorenzo picked up his pace, Spies is strong here and I hope Casey has nothing serious and can be on the grid. We will need to fight at the maximum tomorrow,” Pedrosa added.
Lorenzo was philosophical in his post-qualifying interview saying, “A really tough weekend so far, I really thought I wouldn’t be able to deliver but finally we modified the bike a lot with some weight on the rear to enter the corners with more confidence. I felt great as a result, could lean a lot and open the throttle quickly so I got second and was close to Dani. We don’t have a bad pace but not as good as Dani yet, we need to improve a little in the morning.”
Dovizioso was very happy with his third place start that was unexpected according to the Italian. He said, “Honestly I didn't really expect to be on the front row today because Ben and Casey have both been very fast all weekend and I knew it was going to be difficult to finish in front of them. I am sorry for what happened to them but I am really happy to be on the front row because that is always important. It is even more at this track because the first section is very tight and it will be important to try and break with the leading group. I'm sure I could have gone a little bit faster but I was just on a new tire when Nicky crashed and the red flags came out again.
I am looking forward to the race now because we have improved the bike in each session and made some really positive progress. I am confident that we can make another step forward for tomorrow but the race is going to be very hard. This track is very slippery and you really have to pay attention and at the end of the race there will be a lot of sliding. I am sure I can fight close to the front to put myself in contention for a strong result,” Dovizioso added.