Fourth Straight Pole Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa delighted his home fans at the Ricardo Tormo circuit today by claiming pole position for Sunday's Grand Prix of Valencia in a thrilling qualifying battle. In yet another blistering display ...
Fourth Straight Pole
Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa delighted his home fans at the Ricardo Tormo circuit today by claiming pole position for Sunday's Grand Prix of Valencia in a thrilling qualifying battle. In yet another blistering display of one-lap pace the 22-year-old Spaniard took his fourth pole in successive races to give him the ideal starting position for tomorrow's 30-lap race. Nicky Hayden joins Pedrosa on the front row after an equally impressive showing on his Michelin qualifying rubber. The American had lay in a lowly 17th place in the afternoon session before producing a stunning 2.4s improvement on his qualifying laps to secure his fifth front-row start from the last seven races.
Pedrosa's qualifying performance came after he had set a series of consistently fast times on race rubber in the first half of the session which will give the Barcelona rider confidence for the race. Should Pedrosa win tomorrow he will be the first rider to have taken victory at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in all three Grand Prix classes: 125cc, 250cc and MotoGP. This was also the fifth consecutive pole position for the Repsol Honda Team, Hayden having begun the impressive qualifying sequence at the Grand Prix of Portugal in September. The last time a single manufacturer claimed five MotoGP pole positions in a row was at the final five races of the 2003 season when the Honda RC211V repeatedly topped the timesheets.
With yet another great qualifying performance today Hayden gave himself an excellent chance of getting away at the front of the race, though the 2006 World Champion will be looking for improvements to his machine set-up tonight. Having enjoyed enhanced performance at recent races by using a 16-inch rear Michelin tyre in place of the standard 16-inch version, Hayden has found the choice does not work so well at Valencia and has struggled to find enough grip throughout the weekend. The 26-year-old and his crew will be focussed on making big strides in tomorrow's warm-up to give Hayden front-running pace for the race.
The 30-lap Grand Prix of Valencia begins at 2pm local time (1pm UK time) on Sunday and the Repsol Honda squad will be going all out to convert today's excellent qualifying display into a podium-topping season finale.
Dani Pedrosa -- Qualifying: Pole Position -- 1m 31.517s
"Well, I'm very happy to be on pole position again -- and especially here in front of my home fans because I really want to give them a good result. There are already many people here looking for Spanish success and tomorrow I'm sure there will be even more. We must try to improve our machine settings further and find that little bit extra for the race because the lap times are still very close and we cannot relax at all. Thirty laps makes it a long race and tyre choice will be critical of course to give us the best chance of maintaining our pace right until the end. The practice was positive this afternoon and I was able to go fast on race tyres as well. 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."
Nicky Hayden -- Qualifying: 3rd -- 1m 31.903s
"When I put the qualifiers on, the bike was really good and fun to ride -- that was by far the most fun I've had this weekend and I dropped my lap time by two and a half seconds. 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. Still, I've got some good guys around me and an excellent team so we'll definitely be trying something huge to improve things for tomorrow. Being on the front row is a big advantage here, though I know these guys are going to make it 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. I'm excited about the race -- I wish I was quicker on race tyres but we'll see what happens when the light goes out. Whatever happens, I'd like to dedicate this performance to Merlyn Plumlee, my mechanic from AMA superbike who died from cancer last week. He will be sadly missed and I'm definitely thinking about him and his family."
Makoto Tanaka - Team Manager
"Since Portugal we have had five consecutive pole positions so I must thank both our riders for this great performance, and today especially Dani because this is his fourth pole position in a row. I'm very happy with this. It's very important to be on the front row here because of the twisty nature of the circuit and Nicky did very well to get third. Still his race settings need to be improved and we will have to re-think and try something new in the warm-up tomorrow morning. For the 30-lap race, fuel consumption and tyre durability need our careful consideration. We want to win this race to give us the best platform for next year so we will concentrate fully on this target."