Pedrosa shows the way, takes Jerez pole

In the second day of activity for the Spanish Grand Prix, held this weekend on the Jerez de la Frontera circuit, Dani Pedrosa on his Repsol Honda claimed the pole position for the second round in the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix...

In the second day of activity for the Spanish Grand Prix, held this weekend on the Jerez de la Frontera circuit, Dani Pedrosa on his Repsol Honda claimed the pole position for the second round in the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MotoGP) this year.

"I think we did a good job and I'm very happy to have qualified on pole position of course, though the really important thing is to be on the front row - that was our main aim today.," said the Spaniard.

In a fantastic tight qualifying session that had 15 riders close by less than one second gap, Pedrosa grabbed his fifth MotoGP career pole position after setting a lap time of 1:39.402 to beat Valentino Rossi by just 0.051 seconds.

Another Spaniard rider completed the first row as Carlos Checa -- fastest in yesterday's practice -- set third best time at 1:39.460, only 0.058 seconds off of Pedrosa's best lap.

"The race set-up we have for the bike is quite good and the tyre choice looks ok as well so we'll have to see how their performance continues over the race distance. I don't think there's any extra pressure that comes from being on pole position but the times are very close so a good start will be very important tomorrow," commented Pedrosa.

About the great support of the Spanish fans all around the circuit, the two-time 250cc champion said: "The crowd was amazing today. On the last lap coming into the pits I was more relaxed and I could actually notice how many people there were. It's great for the Spanish riders and the others to have so much support and I think the atmosphere tomorrow will be very special".

For Rossi, it is his eighth consecutive top-three start for Yamaha, the Italian having started from the front row in the final six races of 2006 and at this season's opener in Qatar. "It's been an up and down weekend for us so it's good that we've achieved our number one goal of getting onto the front row," he said.

"It's going to be very important for tomorrow's race I think. It was a good qualifying session and my lap was quite good, but we know it's possible to be a lot quicker because last month at the test I was more than one second faster! We knew it would be difficult to match the 1'38.394 I did then however, because then we had four qualifying tyres and with the new tyre restrictions now we only have two," added the five-time world champion.

After struggling for grip once again this morning and finishing free practice way down the order in 18th position, it was clear from the start that warmer temperatures in the afternoon plus the latest changes made to the setting of his M1 had improved Rossi's package, and he quickly posted his fastest time of the weekend so far. However, the Italian know that must work to find some more grip in the race tyres.

"With the race tyre we were struggling quite a bit yesterday and this morning it was even worse, so we were a bit worried, but we looked at the situation together with Michelin and found a good solution and this afternoon we were in much better shape. I think tyres are going to be the biggest issue tomorrow and the last ten laps especially are going to be very hard and difficult for everyone," Rossi said.

With a perfectly judged qualifying run in the final minute of the one hour session, Checa jumped from 15th to third position in a fantastic and expected performance for the Spaniard in his home Grand Prix.

"This front row is a very good feeling, especially for my home race," said Checa. "Predictions are difficult but if the weather and track are the same for the race as in practice, then we have a very good set-up, and a chance to fight for the podium. The LCR team has done a great job, especially to give me more confidence with the front-end. And until today I have struggled with a lot of chatter on the soft rear qualifying tyre but, with the support of Michelin, we have made a lot of progress in this area."

Colin Edwards came in to land fourth place with the second Fiat Yamaha, giving him and team rider Rossi positions in the first two rows.

Casey Stoner -- winner of the season opener Grand Prix at Qatar -- was fifth fastest on his Ducati Marlboro ride this year. John Hopkins with one of the Rizla Suzuki bikes ended sixth on the grid.

Current World Champion, Nicky Hayden, continued to show he does not feel confident with this year bike of 800cc and finished 11th at 0.432 on his Repsol Honda. ""We've made some improvements with the bike today and the feeling is pretty good," he said.

"I wasn't totally satisfied with my qualifying laps and of course I'm definitely a little disappointed with my grid position -- 0.4s doesn't sound like a long way off but right now in this league at this track it's a lot. It's frustrating to be this far back", Hayden said.

Tomorrow`s Grand Prix starts at 14.00hrs CET and it all seemed that is going to be a head-to-head fight right from the beginning more than ever after what today`s session showed.

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Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Carlos Checa , Valentino Rossi , Colin Edwards , John Hopkins , Casey Stoner , Dani Pedrosa