MotoGP > MotoGP 2007 Round 15: Japan GP > Qualifying
MotoGPJapanSeptember 22, 2007
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 15
Japan Grand Prix at Motegi

Pedrosa On Pole With Hayden On Front Row Too

Race Results >>

Repsol Honda teamsters Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) and Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC212V) made the front row of the Motegi grid their own with a pole and third spot, separated only by Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) as second fastest rider.



Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)


Dani PEDROSA & Nicky HAYDEN (Repsol Honda Team)

An hour of hyper-intense MotoGP qualifying got underway in stifling heat here at this huge Honda facility; ambient temperature at an unseasonal 32-degrees with the track at 45-degrees.

Within five minutes of the start of this hour-long session Rossi was in the dirt at turn one after Randy de Puniet (Kawasaki) had put in an early fastest lap of 1m 48.109s to take an early provisional pole from Dani Pedrosa who topped yesterday’s timesheets.

De Puniet and then Casey Stoner (Ducati), who was struggling here, both visited the same turn one gravel trap as Rossi early in the session. All those riders exploring the limits of grip at a corner which is among the trickier first turns on the calendar – and just as significant in terms of race position in those critical early laps.

Dani Pedrosa swiftly showed his mastery of this 4.801km track. The Spanish ace, now really on top of his RC212V after being mildly out of sorts mid-season, reeled off a 1m 47.633s lap with 42 minutes still left on the clock, to retake pole from de Puniet.

Marco Melandri (Gresini Honda RC212V) was on the pace early on, holding third place from Loris Capirossi (Ducati).

Toni Elias (Gresini Honda RC212V) too was looking good, breaking into the top six with 38 minutes gone.

Then de Puniet made his now customary move of fitting a sticky qualifying tyre at around the mid-point of the session. The Frenchman promptly made pole again with a time of 1m 46.643s and this was to prove a more than respectable time until two minutes remained.

His team-mate Anthony West made the same move with twenty minutes to go and for a time the green duo topped the leaderboard. But they were both vulnerable when push came to shove and Dani bested them with a 1m 46.543s lap to take charge again.

The late order was Pedrosa, de Puniet, Rossi, Nicky Hayden, West and Colin Edwards (Yamaha) until with two minutes remaining Rossi looked to have gone top with a 1m 46.864s time. But Dani had more left to give and on the one minute mark he scorched round in 1m 45.864 seconds, destroying Capirossi’s 2006 pole time by nearly a second – with 190cc less to play with.

Rossi persisted for one more lap with a qualifying tyre, but could only do a 1m 46.255s time to stay second despite Hayden’s best efforts to oust him. Elias meanwhile made it to fifth for a row two start alongside fourth fastest de Puniet.

Poleman Dani Pedrosa said: “I’m very happy to be in this position and it’s been a little while since I’ve been on the front row. We’ve spent today mostly working on race tyre selection and it looks like we’ve got good pace in all the conditions we’ve had so far this weekend. We’ll have to look at the weather for tomorrow to make our final selection of race tyre, but I think we’re looking pretty good, and hopefully the endurance will be there too because we’ve tested for that by putting in a lot of laps on the same tyre. I hope we get through the first corner cleanly and have a good race at Honda’s home track.”

On the front row for the fourth consecutive race, Nicky Hayden said: “I definitely have to say thanks to the team because we made quite a lot of progress straight away this morning and I felt a lot more comfortable on the bike. I’m not completely thrilled with my second qualifying lap though. My first two splits were quite good but then I made a little mistake and in the last part of the lap I didn’t put it together clean enough. I really didn’t improve my time from my first qualifier to my second one and with these boys that won’t cut it.”

Toni Elias finished up fifth and said: “It was a difficult session but we found the right way forward in the end. I’m happy with fifth place – it’s very important for us and a good qualifying position was the first objective we set for ourselves this weekend. The team have worked really well and we’ll try to make another small step forward in the warm-up tomorrow. I’m confident – I like this track and considering my physical condition I have to be satisfied. I am still suffering from pain in my left leg and I have to say that this heat isn’t making it any easier.”

His team-mate Marco Melandri qualified 10th. He said: “I’ve got a decent race pace but unfortunately tomorrow we’ll be starting from a little way back. The bike was skipping around on a qualifying tyre and I couldn’t get the best out of the bike. It’s a real shame because it’s really important to start near the front at this circuit. I can’t say I’m happy but we’ll keep trying. Tomorrow we’ll try to make the most out of the warm-up and find something that can improve the bike and after that it’s a case of getting a good start.”

Shinya Nakano (Konica Minolta Honda RC212V) managed 12th. He said: “It’s been tough today as the lap time around here has improved a lot. On the qualifying tyre I was making a good lap time in T1 and T2 sectors, but in T3 and the downhill T4 sector we’ve been having problems with braking stability. This makes it hard to enter the corner at high-speed and affects your overall lap-time. Tomorrow we’ll change some settings to the front of the bike to improve our braking performance. We need to make a good start because it’s very hard to pass around here.”

Carlos Checa (LCR Honda RC212V) had to settle for 14th and said: “I’m waiting for the cooler weather, not so much for me, but to improve the potential of our tyre and chassis set-up, usually it is not so hot for the Motegi race. My qualifying tyre runs were not so good, some chatter, like in Estoril returned on the very soft tyres. For the race we have softened the rear suspension and continue to work to maximise tyre endurance although we do not have the pace to run right at the front. I am aiming for a more consistent race than Estoril and a finish in the top ten.”

A frustrated Kurtis Roberts (Roberts KR212V) qualified 21st. He said: “The nature of the track’s killing us, because it’s all these places where the bike’s got to accelerate. Even the not stop-and-go stuff, it’s still low on power, unless it’s revving its guts out. It’s got to have a torque curve and we don’t have one compared to everyone else. We knew how the session was going to go before it started.”

Honda riders were right on top of 250cc qualifying with Shuhei Aoyama (Repsol Honda RS250RW) just taking pole from Andrea Dovizioso (Scot Honda RS250RW) with series points leader Jorge Lorenzo third fastest and Hector Barbera completing the front row as fourth fastest man.

Mika Kallio (KTM) headed the timesheets early on, but the Finn would be one of many riders to run off track in his efforts to stay on top. Hiroshi Aoyama (KTM) and last weekend’s winner in Portugal Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia) would also visit the gravel.

With five minutes of the three-quarter hour session to go Kallio was on top with Julian Simon (Repsol Honda RS250RW) fastest Honda runner in fifth. Lorenzo then stole pole from Kallio before Aoyama made his first successful bid for pole. Dovi then relieved the former All Japan 250cc champ of the top slot before Aoyama knocked out a 1m 51.327s lap to cement his place at the head of the grid.

Kallio heads row two with his team-mate Hiro Aoyama alongside him as sixth quickest man, with Simon seventh fastest after getting baulked by Bautista while on a hot lap.
Yuki Takahashi (Scot Honda RS250RW) completes the second row. Just 1.001 second covers the first two rows of the grid.

Aoyama said: “I was very surprised to get pole position. I was following Andrea Dovizioso and thought I was second fastest but when I saw my number at the top of the
list on the timing screen at the last corner I was very happy. Today I was aiming to set fast average lap times but conditions were too hot both the air and track temperature if they were cooler I could have bettered my times.”

Dovi said: “The team did a good job for me this morning and I feel OK with the bike. We have found a very good balance for front and rear and good stability under braking. I was both happy and unhappy with qualifying. I ran a fast lap on the soft qualifying tyre and went into the box to fit another set but we did not have any. So I had two choices – fit race tyres or stop. I went out on a set of race tyres and set my fastest lap.”

Mattia Pasini (Aprilia) put his stamp firmly on 125cc qualifying with his eighth pole of the season. He was fastest yesterday and today he again appropriated pole position – more than half a second ahead of his closest opposition – Tomoyoshi Koyama (KTM), Gabor Talmacsi and Hector Faubel (both Aprilia) on the front row.

British teenager Bradley Smith (Repsol Honda RS125R) heads row two as fastest Honda qualifier while Mike di Meglio (Scot Honda RS125R) starts from 12th on the grid and
Esteve Rabat (Repsol Honda RS125R) from 15th.

Smith said: “I am not 100% happy with the bike. It was me that made a small mistake on my fastest lap but I have to be positive for the race. This morning on a race distance tyre the pit showed me the ‘Box’ sign but I carried on another lap and crashed – stupid! This afternoon we changed the suspension slightly and on my second run I basically knew all my reference points and was much faster. Everything came together nicely.”

Di Meglio said: “My engine was not good all weekend and I was struggling to go faster until the qualifying session so I am very happy now because the team have given me a fast engine. I like this track very much there are many heavy braking places and the bike is very stable under braking. The one problem I have is with the rear tyre sliding after four or five laps. The mechanics will soften up the rear suspension a little to try and help me find grip for longer. I need a good start because at the first corner there is a big bump on the racing line so I will run a wide line there.”



Nicky HAYDEN (Repsol Honda Team)


Toni ELIAS (Team Honda Gresini)

MotoGP:

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 1st.
“I'm very happy to be on pole position and it's been a little while since I've been on the front row so today went very well for us, all in all. We've spent today mostly working on race tyre selection and it looks like we've got good pace in all the conditions we've had so far this weekend. We'll have to look at the weather for tomorrow to make our final selection of race tyre, but I think we're looking pretty good, and hopefully the endurance will be there too because we've tested for that by putting in a lot of laps on the same tyre. We're in a good position for the race, but anything can happen. The weather is looking like it will change and we've seen first corner incidents at this circuit before. I hope we get through the first corner cleanly and have a good race at Honda's home track.”

Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda: 3rd.
”I definitely have to say thanks to the team because we made quite a lot of progress straight away this morning and I felt a lot more comfortable on the bike. I'm not completely thrilled with my second qualifying lap though. My first two splits were quite good but then I made a little mistake and in the last part of the lap I didn't put it together clean enough. I really didn't improve my time from my first qualifier to my second one and with these boys that won't cut it. Nevertheless I'm happy to be on the front row - that's four in a row - and the bike, tyres and everything is working pretty well so I'm excited for the race. I know it's going to be difficult tomorrow because there are a lot of guys going quickly but hopefully we've got a package that we can do something with. This afternoon I was able to put in some decent laps on a used race tyre so I'm excited for the race.”

Toni Elias, Team Honda Gresini: 5th.
”It was a difficult session but we found the right way forward in the end. I'm happy with fifth place - it is very important for us and a good qualifying position was the first objective we set for ourselves this weekend. The team have worked really well and we'll try to make another small step forward in the warm-up tomorrow. I'm confident - I like this track and considering my physical condition I have to be satisfied. I am still suffering from pain in my left leg and I have to say that this heat isn't making it any easier.”

Marco Melandri, Team Honda Gresini: 10th.
“I've got a decent race pace but unfortunately tomorrow we'll be starting from a little way back. The bike was skipping around on a qualifying tyre and I couldn't get the best out of the bike. It's a real shame because it's really important to start near the front at this circuit. I can't say I'm happy but we'll keep trying. Tomorrow we'll try to make the most out of the warm-up and find something that can improve the bike and after that it's a case of getting a good start. I like the track but it's going to be a tough race for us tomorrow.”

Shinya Nakano, Konica Minolta Honda: 12th.
“It’s been tough today as the lap time around here has improved a lot! On the qualifying tyre I was making a good lap time in T1 and T2 sectors, but in T3 and the downhill T4 sector we’ve been having problems with braking stability. This makes it hard to enter the corner at high-speed and affects your overall lap-time. Tomorrow we will change some settings to the front of the bike to improve our braking performance. We need to make a good start as at Motegi it’s very hard to pass around here.”

Carlos Checa, LCR Honda: 14th.
“I'm waiting for the cooler weather, not so much for me, but to improve the potential of our tyre and chassis set-up, usually it is not so hot for the Motegi race. My qualifying tyre runs were not so good, some chatter, like in Estoril returned on the very soft tyres. For the race we have softened the rear suspension and continue to work to maximise tyre endurance although we do not have the pace to run right at the front. I am aiming for a more consistent race than Estoril and finish in the top ten.”

Kurtis Roberts, KR212V: 21st.
”The nature of the track's killing us, because it's all these places where the bike's got to accelerate. Even the not stop-and-go stuff, it's still low in the power-band, unless it's revving it's guts out. It's got to have a torque curve and we don't have one compared to everyone else's. We knew how the session was going to go before the session started. It's just getting past the point of frustration, but we're here because it's not like you can sit here and say they're working on it, they're working on it, they're working on it. For us, this is completely not against any part of the team, because we're all working our butts off.”

Chuck Aksland -Team Manager Team Roberts.
“It's no fun to be at the bottom of the time sheets, that's for sure. The guys aren't working any less hard than they did last year when we were
at the top. It's just very frustrating and a very difficult weekend. We'll go out and do our best tomorrow. Kurtis's feedback is the bike's working great, corner speed's good, he catches people on the brakes,
we're just lacking acceleration. And no matter how fast you make the motorcycle go around the corner, we can't make up for that acceleration.”


250cc:

Shuhei Aoyama, Repsol Honda: 1st.
“I was very surprised to get pole position I was following Andrea Dovizioso and thought I was second fastest but when I saw my number at the top of the list on the timing show at last corner I was very happy. Today I was aiming to set fast average lap times but conditions were too hot both the air and track temperature if they were cooler I could have bettered my times. But the temperature will drop tomorrow and that is something positive for me. The bike is running fast but I must get a fast start and stay in the top group. I ran with soft rubber yesterday but today I took the harder tyres and they were good.”

Andrea Dovizioso, Scot Honda: 2nd.
“The team did a good job for me this morning and I feel OK with the bike. We have found a very good balance for front and rear and good stability under braking. I was both happy and unhappy with qualifying. I ran a fast lap on the soft qualifying tyre and went into the box to fit another set but we did not have any. So I had two choices - fit race tyres or stop. I went out on a set of race tyres and set my fastest lap. I helped Aoyama with a slipstream for his best lap time and finished second so I was a little unhappy but when I realised the others were running soft tyres I have to be happy with second on the grid.”

Julian Simon, Repsol Honda: 7th.
“Obviously I am not too satisfied. We have a good pace for the race; the engine is working fine and we managed to go faster on the T4 section where we lost time yesterday. But at the end of the timed session this afternoon, when we were going for the fastest lap and aiming to get a position at the front of the grid, I had an incident with Bautista and we ended up dropping back a lot. My first fast lap was OK and I was 5th, but on the second Bautista got in my way and he was going slow and that meant I could not improve my time. In the end 7th and on the second row; that is not what I expected to get today.”

Yuki Takahashi, Scot Honda: 8th.
”My grid position is not good I should have been on the second row. Until this afternoon I had some engine setting problems and basically lost three sessions. I am happy with the set we have but have to work hard tonight to improve machine balance I have to improve in the warm up tomorrow morning. The engine is better and I have decided the tyres that I will run, soft front harder on the rear. If we find a better balance I hope for a good race.”

Ratthapark Wilairot, PTT-SAG Honda: 14th.
“I believe I could have improved a bit and dip under 1'53, but it proved impossible as the heat made things difficult for us today and the time I set yesterday was already very good. Despite this, I'm happy because I clinched my best qualifying result of the season and all the riders who are ahead of me are all pretty experienced. With this result, I'm looking forward to the race. I'm pretty upbeat and I hope it will be a bit cooler tomorrow, if it's not the case the race will be very tough.”

Eugene Laverty, LCR Honda: 21st.
”I only got one fast lap in, we also had a small engine problem, and I just missed the fifth row by 0.2s, I really wanted to be on the fifth row. The braking stability is much better today although a problem on the two downhill corners.”

125cc.

Bradley Smith, Repsol Honda: 5th.
“I am not 100% happy with the bike but it was me that made a small mistake on my fastest lap but I have to be positive for the race. This morning on a race distance tyre the pit showed me the ‘Box’ sign but I carried on another lap and crashed – stupid! This afternoon we changed the suspension slightly and on my second run I basically knew all my reference points and was much faster. Everything came together nicely, more or less like last year when I had a bad first day and good qualifying session. This is a pretty technical track and you need to put in a lot of laps to find a perfect lap. I have two problems – under braking I am running wide and with some of the corners here pretty much 90 degrees they tighten up on you - then, when I release the brakes I have some chatter but the team can fix that.”

Mike di Meglio, Scot Honda: 12th.
“My engine was not good all weekend and I was struggling to go faster, until the qualifying session so I am very happy now because the team have given me a fast engine. I like this track very much there are many heavy braking places and the bike is very stable under braking. The one problem I have is with the rear tyre sliding after four or five laps. The mechanics will soften up the rear suspension a little to try and help me find grip for longer. I need a good start because at the first corner there is a big bump on the racing line so I will run a wide line there.”

Esteve Rabat, Repsol Honda: 15th.
“I am not a happy man, I am not fast here and I don’t really know why. I just could not find a fast rhythm this afternoon. The engine is OK and the chassis but we have work to do on the suspension to get it better and stop the sliding. I have to improve in the warm up.”

Alexis Masbou, FFM Honda: 22nd.
“I entered the first corner a little too fast and lost the front coming over a bump. Since the beginning of practice I feel strong on the brakes but seem to have problems entering the corners properly because my speed and racing lines aren¹t ideal. Therefore I¹m not exiting corners properly and losing precious seconds. I can express it without any problems but have been unable to make the necessary corrections on the track. It¹s true that I lack references on this racetrack where I didn¹t do so many laps back in 2005. We will analyse and work on this aspect during the warm-up in order to optimise our chances for an honourable race result.”

Danny Webb, Molenaar Honda: 29th.
”To be quite honest with you I am not really happy I just could not put one fast lap together in qualifying. It was a case of either me making a silly mistake or there being to much traffic. But we made a big step forward with the bike. We cut down the rear end sliding a lot and the team will improve it more tonight. We were slow this morning but we put in another engine and its faster. I’m having a struggle through the last section at the tunnel and the lefts after that.”

Shoya Tomizawa, Project Muy FRS Honda: 30th.
“I understood that there is a difference in the level of ability between the GP riders and me. It doesn't work in the same way to run at all with All-Japan
championship style in the GPs. It was very good study for me to follow the GP riders group today. However the pace of the top group was so quick and it's like the 250 class. I want find correct machine set up tomorrow and want to follow the GP riders. I think that it becomes surely good experience for me.”

Joey Litjens, Molenaar Honda:
Non-starter due to concussion sustained during practice for the Portuguese GP last weekend.


MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 15
Japan Grand Prix at Motegi

line
MotoGP
1 Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)
2 Valentino ROSSI (Fiat Yamaha Team)
3 Nicky HAYDEN (Repsol Honda Team)
4 Randy DE PUNIET (Kawasaki Racing Team)
5 Toni ELIAS (Team Honda Gresini)
6 Anthony WEST (Kawasaki Racing Team)
7 Colin EDWARDS (Fiat Yamaha Team)
8 Loris CAPIROSSI (Ducati Marlboro Team)
9 Casey STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team)
10 Marco MELANDRI (Team Honda Gresini)
11 John HOPKINS (Rizla Suzuki MotoGP)
12 Shinya NAKANO (KONICA MINOLTA Honda)
13 Kousuke AKIYOSHI (Rizla Suzuki MotoGP)
14 Carlos CHECA (Honda LCR)
15 Alex BARROS (Pramac d'Antin)
16 Makoto TAMADA (Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3)
17 Chris VERMEULEN (Rizla Suzuki MotoGP)
18 Sylvain GUINTOLI (Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3)
19 Akira YANAGAWA (Kawasaki Racing Team)
20 Shinichi ITO (Pramac d'Antin)
21 Kurtis ROBERTS (Team Roberts)
 
250cc
1 Shuhei AOYAMA (Repsol Honda 250)
2 Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Kopron Scot Honda)
3 Jorge LORENZO (Fortuna Aprilia)
4 Hector BARBERA (Team Toth Aprilia)
5 Hiroshi AOYAMA (Red Bull KTM 250)
6 Mika KALLIO (Red Bull KTM 250)
7 Julian SIMON (Repsol Honda 250)
8 Yuki TAKAHASHI (Kopron Scot Honda)
9 Thomas LUTHI (Emmi - Caffe Latte Aprilia)
10 Alex DE ANGELIS (Master - Mapfre Aspar)
 
125cc
1 Mattia PASINI (Polaris World)
2 Tomoyoshi KOYAMA (Red Bull KTM 125)
3 Gabor TALMACSI (Bancaja Aspar)
4 Hector FAUBEL (Bancaja Aspar)
5 Bradley SMITH (Repsol Honda 125cc)
6 Simone CORSI (Skilled Racing Team)
7 Joan OLIVE (Polaris World)
8 Lukas PESEK (Valsir Seedorf Derbi)
9 Raffaele DE ROSA (Multimedia Racing)
10 Sandro CORTESE (Emmi - Caffe Latte Aprilia)
 


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