Pedrosa Close Second, Hayden Sixth Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa is going well at Mugello, the Spaniard was fastest in this morning's free practice session and a close second in this afternoon's qualifying outing, just 0.167 seconds off pole...
Pedrosa Close Second, Hayden Sixth
Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa is going well at Mugello, the Spaniard was fastest in this morning's free practice session and a close second in this afternoon's qualifying outing, just 0.167 seconds off pole position. Team-mate Nicky Hayden also went well today with sixth best time in qualifying, only half a second off pole. And Italian GP wild card Tadayuki Okada, who is giving Honda's pneumatic-valve-spring engine its MotoGP debut, qualified a respectable 15th for his first GP in almost eight years.
After yesterday's rain-lashed first day of practice there was further rainfall this morning, so qualifying was the first fully dry session of the weekend. Race tyre selection will thus be a more than usually complicated affair, with Repsol Honda engineers working closely with Michelin technicians to choose the best tyres for tomorrow's race. Despite the lack of dry-track time the pace was red hot, with pole position eight tenths faster than the previous best Mugello pole, set by a 990cc MotoGP bike in 2006.
Tomorrow's race will be Okada's second 'sprint' event (as opposed to endurance events) since he stopped full-time racing at the end of 2001. The former GP winner's only other 'sprint' race since then was an All-Japan championship race at Tsukuba on May 11, in which he finished tenth.
Dani Pedrosa, 2nd fastest, 1m 48.130s
"Conditions weren't so good this morning, the track was dirty after all the rain, so it wasn't easy to work on set-up. This afternoon the track was completely dry and better, so we were more focused in our work. We still need to improve, so the warm-up session will be very important. We still haven't decided which tyres to run, and this choice will crucial because the race is long and there are a lot corners that require an aggressive riding style, so we need to look for a good compromise. Starting from the front row is very important here, so I'm happy to be there. Tomorrow it will be a tough race with many competitive riders."
Nicky Hayden, 6th fastest, 1m 48.666s
"We've basically only had one completely dry session all weekend -- so we've tried out a lot of tyres: rains, intermediates and qualifiers and just a couple of race tyres. So that's certainly a big issue for tomorrow, we don't know a lot about what race tyres to run, so we'll definitely let Michelin help us a little there. We made a bit of progress this afternoon and ended up on the second row. I'm not going to fool myself though, it's certainly going to be a hard one tomorrow, some guys going really quick. It'd be nice to improve in warm-up, we've got some work to do to try and get closer to the front. Then we'll just try to get a start and go for it."
Tadayuki Okada, 15th fastest, 1m 49.829s
"This morning we had an electrical problem which was caused by yesterday's crash. We couldn't fix it quickly, so this afternoon was my only chance to ride in the dry. We still have to work on set-up for this track. With more time to improve suspension set-up, traction and gearing I think we could improve top speed by at least 5km/h. Tyre choice is another big issue because I've only tested one race tyre, so it will be difficult to choose."
Kazuhiko Yamano - Team Manager
"All our riders did a good job today, so my thanks to them and the team. We have had very little dry track time, so today it was very important to make our target the race, so it's not so bad having Dani and Nicky on the first and second rows. The big question for tomorrow is the weather, we aren't yet sure if it will be sunshine or rain, but either way we are in good shape. Tady made good progress today despite an electrical problem. This afternoon he went well, our data shows that the top-speed potential of the pneumatic-valve-spring engine is better than the valve-spring engine."