Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) will try to sweep the American GP’s after taking the pole position for Sunday’s Indianapolis Grand Prix with a new lap record in this afternoon’s sun-soaked qualifying session at the world famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway, site of the twelfth round of the MotoGP World Championship.
Pedrosa, who earlier this season won the U.S. Grand Prix at Laguna Seca, was instantly among the leaders, and to the top of the order for the first time within six minutes. Twice more he’d lower his mark while battling for supremacy, and with less than 15 minutes to run he again seized the top spot, never to give it up. For the final 45 minutes he ran a succession of fast, consistent laps, lowering the mark five times to finish at 1m, 39.730s for the 4.216ks road course that’s mostly tucked inside the famous oval.
Not only was Pedrosa the only rider to breach the 1:39’s, he did it with authority. His second pole of the season –the first was in Le Mans-was taken by .506s. The time was over a second faster than the 2008 pole mark of 1m, 40.779s set by Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha). Rossi finished third today, .373s behind teammate Jorge Lorenzo who will start the 28-lap race from the middle of the front row.
Alex De Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini) set a personal best qualifying effort by finishing with the fourth fastest time. The San Marinese had been in line for his first front row start when he was bumped to row two by Rossi after the hour had expired. Still, the second row pole will give him his best opportunity to finish on the podium.
Team-mate Toni Elias (San Carlo Honda Gresini) is on the row three pole, but by only .026s over Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda). Elias was pushing hard to move closer to De Angelis when he crashed near the end of the session. That denied the Spaniard the chance to improve, but he was unhurt and hopeful of getting away with the riders just in front.
British GP winner Dovizioso didn’t believe that his eighth place qualifying effort reflected his potential. The Italian was hampered by a small crash early in the session, which cost him valuable set-up time. The culprit was a lack of front end feeling, which he was certain to improve during the Sunday morning warm-up.
Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) was 12th fastest and still suffering from the motocross injury suffered more than two weeks ago. The broken left ankle was considerably improved, but the track is heavily biased with left hand corners-10 lefts to six rights-which made changing direction punishing. An adjustment to his riding style has allowed De Puniet to use his upper body to change direction, which could be tiring over the course of 28 laps.
In his first visit to Indianapolis on a MotoGP bike, Gabor Talmacsi qualified 17th. The Hungarian rider was encouraged by his morning qualifying effort, but he wasn’t able to continue the momentum in the afternoon. He was going to try a “radical” set-up in the morning in a bid to be part of the mix on Sunday.
HONDA MotoGP RIDER LAP TIMES AND QUOTES
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 1st – 1m 39.730s. “I’m really happy with this pole position because we have been fast all weekend so far – in the wet as well as the dry – so this is very positive. The lap times are quick and also consistent which should give us a good chance in the race tomorrow. I’ve been comfortable on the machine from the start and things have just clicked here – it’s not as if we’ve made any big changes for this race. We can’t relax at all though because I’m sure the other riders will improve and we know how strong our rivals have been this season. So we must make a few small adjustments to make sure we have the best possible package tomorrow.
I’m really looking forward to the race because it looks like the weather should be good – a big contrast to last year – and it will be great to feel the race-day atmosphere at Indianapolis in more normal conditions than last year’s wash-out.
Now we’ll just stay focused and concentrate on our preparation for tomorrow.”
Alex De Angelis, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 4th – 1m 40.620s. “Clearly, I would have preferred to start on the front row but this is still a wonderful day for me. The team have worked well and so far it has been a perfect weekend. It is never easy to get near the pace of the front three but I’m enjoying riding my bike here and we have never been this close, so I’m delighted. I could have gone even faster on a new tyre at the end but we had an electrical problem and I had to roll off the gas. It sorted itself out but by that time the tyre had gone cold and I couldn’t push. Anyway, I’ll be going on the attack in the race because this is a big opportunity for me to score a top result and to move up in the championship, with there being a small gap to the guys currently ahead of me. I have always believed I have the talent but it was good to show everybody today that when things are right I can be there.”
Toni Elias, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 7th – 1m 41.283s. “We improved from the morning to the afternoon but I’m still not as comfortable as I would like to be with the set-up and at the end I crashed, purely because I was pushing too hard to try and stay with Valentino. Having said that, seventh on the grid isn’t bad. The race will be pretty tough tomorrow, so the target is just to get a good start and follow the group ahead of me.”
Andrea Dovizioso, Repsol Honda: 8th – 1m 41.309s. “I’d like to be further forward on the grid and I think eighth doesn’t actually reflect our potential here, so we’ll be aiming to improve the set-up for the race. My qualifying session didn’t go exactly to plan because I had a small crash near the beginning of the session in Turn 7. At that point in the middle of the turn there’s a change in the asphalt and you have to be more delicate on the brakes at the point. I didn’t change the lever pressure correctly which was the mistake that caused me to lose the front. In fact, my feeling from the front end wasn’t perfect today, so this is what we’ll be working to improve for tomorrow. I think the front of the race is going to be run with lap times below 1m 41s and I’ll need to get a good start from the third row to give me a chance of competing with the leaders. I’m confident we can take a step forward tomorrow.”
Randy de Puniet, LCR Honda: 12th – 1m 41.773s. “As my ankle improved quite a lot after the Brno race, we came here with better expectations, but this circuit is very demanding with many left corners. That’s why I am struggling a lot, and when it’s time to push on the foot rest I honestly do not feel comfortable. I must force with the arms to change direction in the corners and after few laps I feel tired. The team will improve the machine a bit more to help me and I will attempt to end in the top ten once again.”
Gabor Talmacsi, Scot Honda: 17th – 1m 42.736s. “After what we were able to do this morning, I thought it could be better, this afternoon. What worries me mostly is that the pace is not as good as it could be. I presume we have to modify our set-up trying something radical tomorrow morning. We have to risk, if necessary.”