MotoGP > MotoGP Round 17: Malaysia GP > Qualifying
MotoGPMalaysiaOctober 20, 2007
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 17
Malaysia Grand Prix at SEPANG Qualifying

Pedrosa Takes Pole with Melandri on Front Row

Race Results >>

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) once more put his stamp firmly on the MotoGP grid with his third consecutive pole here at Sepang. Casey Stoner (Ducati) qualified second fastest with Marco Melandri (Gresini Honda RC212V) completing the front row.



Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)


Marco Melandri (Team Honda Gresini)

After yesterday’s rain, the skies held clear for qualifying and a track that was ‘green’ and greasy with little grip began to ‘rubber up’ and provide better adhesion for riders today. With ambient temperature at 33 degrees, the track heated up to 45 degrees by the start of this hour-long final qualifying session.

And even after extensive re-surfacing work not all of Sepang’s notorious bumps have been ironed out, the turn five/six combination is still rippled and a source of chatter for riders. Nevertheless Dani’s pole lap of 2m 01.877s is still more than a second slower than the 2006 pole time.

Randy de Puniet (Kawasaki) fell at turn one in the first ten minutes without injury as Melandri topped the table with a 2m 03.884s lap before Dani replied with first a 2m 03.838s time and then a 2m 03.109s lap as the Spanish ace settled into a race pace tempo.

With 34 minutes left on the clock riders began to up the pace and it was Melandri who first dipped into the 2m 02 bracket with a lap of 2m 02.775s to go pole. The order on the front row was Melandri, Pedrosa then Stoner and these men would stay there, although not in that order and not without temporary intervention from others during the remaining half of the hour.

Typically it was the Kawasaki pairing of Anthony West and Randy de Puniet who made the first attacks on qualifying rubber. De Puniet at 2m 02.692s, then his Aussie team-mate at 2m 02.202s. With twenty minutes of the session to go, West was on pole.

With ten minutes to go Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC212V) hoisted himself to third and Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) who was well down the order managed to grapple his way to a provisional second fastest time.

Then newly crowned World Champion Casey Stoner made his bid for pole with a 2m 02.144s time with seven minutes left that looked good enough to head the field. The front row with two minutes left was an all Aussie affair: Stoner, West, Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki).

Then Nicky put himself back on the front row and looked good for even more until Stoner shaved his pole time by more than a second with a 2m 01.918s lap that was the first time to go below the 2m 02s barrier.

But he had reckoned without the super-consistent pole performances of Dani. Pedrosa dug deep to speed round the 5.548km track at 2m 01.877s. It was an unbeatable lap time here today although in his efforts to beat it Melandri elevated himself to the front row.

Dani said: “It’s great to have three pole positions in a row and it gives us a good chance for the start tomorrow, but of course the only important thing is the race result because there are no points for pole position. The qualifying laps went quite well and I improved by 0.8s on my second fast lap which was just enough to take pole position This afternoon the conditions were quite different to those we had yesterday and this morning - it was much hotter which made the surface a little bit more slippery. We’ve been testing more tyre options today and we still have to decide which ones we’ll race with.”

Melandri said: “I’m happy - we know I’ve got a good race pace. A front row position on the grid is a good start for tomorrow. The bike is improving and I can get on the gas early and the speed down the straights is much better. The bike and tyres are working well together and this is a circuit I have always enjoyed. This is probably the first time we’ve had the right conditions to get the most out of it and I felt comfortable today. I had fun and now I feel confident about the race. It will be tough and demanding on both the tyres and our physical condition. It’s really hot here like going from full winter in Australia to full summer in Malaysia.”

Nicky ended up sixth and said: “This morning in the cooler temperatures I was able to go a lot faster than this afternoon so we definitely need to come up with some adjustments to improve our speed in the hot conditions. Sixth on the grid is OK, although it hasn’t exactly been the best day for us. My qualifying lap wasn’t perfect and, like at Phillip Island last week, in the last sector of the lap the tyre went a little bit soft. The surface was really hot and greasy, it was quite difficult for me to find enough grip and my rhythm was not so good. It’s going to be really important to get a good start tomorrow and latch onto the front guys.”

Toni Elias (Gresini Honda RC212V) qualified eighth fastest and said: “We’ve done a good job today, together with the team. The bike setting has improved and we were able to do some good tyre tests. We have chosen our tyre for the race after running it in both sessions. Unfortunately I didn’t get a better starting position because I ran out of time on my second qualifying lap. It will be important to get a good start tomorrow to try and fight it out with the lead group.”

Shinya Nakano (Konica Minolta Honda RC212V) managed 14tgh and said: “No rain today but we and everyone else are still struggling with this new track surface. In the afternoon we improved a little with suspension settings, but we’re still looking for quicker turning into the corners and overall a better feeling from the front of the bike. At the moment I cannot keep my corner speed up, or keep a decent speed when entering the corner. Tomorrow morning we will try and find a better setting in warm-up. We will keep hoping for the best and never give-up as the race is long and the conditions still could be changeable.”

Carlos Checa (LCR Honda RC212V) qualified 16th. He said: “It is not normal that I’m almost two seconds slower than my times from pre-season testing here, especially as we now have the updated chassis and engine parts from Honda. Nothing we tried seemed to work and on the qualifying tyres I had a big problem with chatter and the front-end jumping around - the bike would not turn. But we will not give up and we’ll continue to try 100%. I will work with my crew chief, Ramon Forcada, examine the data, and see what we can try in the warm-up to improve the performance.”

Kurtis Roberts (Roberts KR212V) will start from 20th on the grid and said: “I’m struggling for grip. I keep losing the front. The first qualifier didn’t last the lap, and anyway we went the same speed as on the race tyres… so none of the tyres are working very good right now. It could all be me. I don’t know. We’ll find out tomorrow. The bumps are alright. I’m just losing the front a lot. Could be me, could be tyres. I don’t know.”

The 250cc grid is headed by Hiroshi Aoyama with his KTM team-mate Mika Kallio alongside him. Crucially in terms of the World Championship Jorge Lorenzo (Aprilia) lines up third with his World Championship rival Andrea Dovizioso (Scot Honda RS250RW) just behind him in fourth.

Julian Simon (Repsol Honda RS250RW) qualified eighth fastest, Yuki Takahashi (Scot Honda RS250RW) 12th, while Ratthapark Wilairot (Stop And Go Racing Honda RS250RW) managed to out-qualify Shuhei Aoyama (Repsol Honda RS250RW) in 15th with Aoyama 16th.

Dovi said: “This morning we were able to improve a lot, in particular on the front. In the afternoon, despite these hot temperatures, we had a good pace with a smooth drive that satisfied me. Tomorrow the race will be hard with these temperatures but I’m relaxed. I’m conscious that for the Championship I can’t do a lot, just win this race. I have a good feeling with the circuit and with the bike, so I’m very confident.”

Simon said: “Qualifying was so - so I had a small problem with the front end - it kept trying to turn in on me. The track was a little dirty on the race line after the MotoGP qualifying session and maybe that was part of the problem. The tyre compound is OK so I think it is the construction, it needs to be stronger - the suspension is good.”

Wilairot said: “Staying on the fourth row wasn’t easy because the weather was really hot today, but in the end I was able to improve on yesterday’s lap times. In the morning, we worked on stiffening the suspension as the grip improved, but it wasn’t enough. We did a good job anyway, finding a good set-up for the race.”

World Championship contender Hector Faubel took pole in the 125cc class by just 0.116 seconds from his team-mate and title rival Gabor Talmacsi. Sandro Cortese and Pol Espargaro line up third and fourth on the grid for tomorrow’s 19-lap race (all Aprilia).

Alex Masbou (FFM Racing Honda RS125R) was best Honda qualifier in 12th, with Bradley Smith (Repsol Honda RS125R) lining up in 15th. Esteve Rabat (Repsol Honda RS125R) managed 17th and Mike di Meglio (Scot Honda RS125R) 18th.

Masbou said: “We did a lot of work on the Australian Grand Prix data and changed the chassis settings to improve our performance entering the long corners. It handles more easily and I’m faster. Now I’m having a few problems in the tighter corners but the overall feeling of the bike is good. It all augurs well for the race because with the slipstreaming I can maybe gain another few tenths and stay with a good group.”

Smith said: “I don’t know what’s going on, we just can’t set up the front-end well enough for the fast downhill corners. ‘ OK running into the corners but when I close the gas a little I have a lot of front-end chatter and that puts me off line and onto the dirty part of the track so I can’t get back on the gas as fast as I need to. We have changed the centre of gravity to try and help but it’s not much better. We have had this problem before but it was OK at Catalunya so we have to find a solution. The engine is as good as all the Honda’s except Mike di Meglio’s.”



Nicky HAYDEN (Repsol Honda Team)


Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Kopron Scot Honda)

MotoGP:

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 1st.
“It's great to have three pole positions in a row and gives us a good chance for the start tomorrow, but of course the only important thing is the race result because there are no points for pole position. The qualifying laps went quite well and I improved by 0.8s on my second fast lap which was just enough to take pole position This afternoon the conditions were quite different to those we had yesterday and this morning - it was much hotter which made the surface a little bit more slippery. We've been testing more tyre options today and we still have to decide which ones we'll race with. It depends on the weather and especially the temperature we expect for tomorrow afternoon. We also need to do some more work on the set-up based on the data from today's two sessions.”

Marco Melandri, Team Honda Gresini: 3rd.
“I'm happy - we know that I have got a good race pace. A front row position on the grid is a good start for tomorrow. The bike is improving - I can get on the gas early and the speed down the straights is much better. The bike and tyres are working well together and this is a circuit I have always enjoyed. This is probably the first time we've had the right conditions to get the most out of it and I felt comfortable today. I had fun and now I feel confident about the race. It will be tough and demanding on both the tyres and our physical condition. It's really hot here - like going from full winter in Australia to full summer in Malaysia!”

Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda: 6th.
”This morning in the cooler temperatures I was able to go a lot faster than this afternoon so we definitely need to come up with some adjustments to improve our speed in the hot conditions. Sixth on the grid is ok, although it hasn't exactly been the best day for us. My qualifying lap wasn't perfect and, like at Phillip Island last week, in the last sector of the lap the tyre went a little bit soft. Nonetheless, I was able to move up the field on qualifiers and getting on the second row here is ok. The main thing we have to decide is which race tyre to run with because the track changed so much this afternoon when the temperature came up. The surface was really hot and greasy, it was quite difficult for me to find enough grip and my rhythm was not so good. We got a decent qualifying position to give ourselves a chance - now we've got to improve the settings in race trim. It's going to be really important to get a good start tomorrow and latch onto the front guys.”

Toni Elias, Team Honda Gresini: 8th.
”We've done a good job today, together with the team. The bike setting has improved and we were able to do some good tyre tests. We have chosen our tyre for the race after running it in both sessions. Unfortunately I didn't get a better starting position because I ran out of time on my second qualifying lap. It will be important to get a good start tomorrow to try and stick it out with the lead group.”

Shinya Nakano, Konica Minolta Honda: 14th.
“No rain today but we and everyone else are still struggling with this new track surface. In the afternoon we improved a little with suspension settings, but we're still looking for quicker turning into the corners and overall a better feeling from the front of the bike. At the moment I cannot keep my corner speed up, or keep a decent speed when entering the corner. Tomorrow morning we will try and find a better setting in warm-up. We will keep hoping for the best and never give-up as the race is long and the conditions still could be changeable.”

Carlos Checa, LCR Honda: 16th.
“It is not normal that I am almost two seconds slower than my times from pre-season testing here, especially as we now have the updated chassis and engine parts from Honda. Nothing we tried seemed to work and on the qualifying tyres I had a big problem with chatter and the front-end jumping around, the bike would not turn. But we will not give up and continue to try 100%. I will work with Ramon, examine the data, and see what we can try in the warm-up to improve the performance.”

Kurtis Roberts, KR212V: 20th.
”I'm struggling for grip. I keep losing the front. The first qualifier didn't last the lap, and anyway we went the same speed as on the race tyres … so none of the tyres are working very good right now. It could all be me. I don't know. We'll find out tomorrow. The bumps are alright. I'm just losing the front a lot. Could be me, could be tyres. I don't know.”

Chuck Aksland -Team Manager Team Roberts.
“we're struggling for grip. Our rear grip is kind of bad on race tyres, and we're probably even worse off with the front right now. When we went to qualifiers, the first qualifier didn't last a full lap, and on the second the front went away. Kurtis is doing okay for not having been here for a long time. Every time he goes out he gets more acquainted with the race track, but it's a tough struggle here, and it'll be a long race tomorrow. If it does rain it'll better our chance a little bit. If it doesn't, we'll do the best we can, like we always do.”

250cc:

Andrea Dovizioso, Scot Honda: 4th.
“I'm quite happy because we really improved the front end of the bike this morning and I can hold my line in the corners without pushing the front. Today I quickly found a smooth fast rhythm in the fast corners. The track temperature was very high and this helped us a lot with finding a good overall machine set up. If the race is held in the same conditions I will be very happy. I am mentally very relaxed as I have a good bike and I like racing at Sepang and I feel very. As for the championship I have to win the race, nothing else will count.”

Julian Simon, Repsol Honda: 8th.
“Qualifying was so - so I had a small problem with the front end - it kept trying to turn in on me. The track was a little dirty on the race line after the MotoGP qualifying session and maybe that was part of the problem. The tyre compound is OK so I think it is the construction, it needs to be stronger - the suspension is good.”

Yuki Takahashi, Scot Honda: 12th.
”This morning I had a good feeling with the bike but it needed a little work on rear end. W changed the suspension and the rear tyre but it was worse so we changed back but ran out of time. I could not understand why. When we checked the computer I could see that I had been riding with my foot on the rear brake. I thought my injured foot was better but didn't have any feeling in it.”

Ratthapark Wilairot, PTT-SAG Honda: 15rd.
“Remaining on the fourth row wasn't easy because the weather was really hot today, but in the end I was able to improve on yesterday's lap times. In the morning, we worked on stiffening the suspensions as the grip improved, but it wasn't enough. We did a good job anyway, finding a good set-up for the race.”

Shuhei Aoyama, Repsol Honda: 16th.
“I didn't really have any big problems with my machine but I didn't have a good feeling. I don't know the track and the new surface was very slippery in qualifying. There as only on really good line to use to set a good time but I could not get the best out of the bike today. Tomorrow I don't think I can get with the top group from 16th on the grid but I hope to be fighting in the second group.”

Eugene Laverty, LCR Honda: 20th.
”Considering I lost about 30 minutes this morning with the crash I'm very happy with my progress, I'm only 0.4s away from 13th on the grid. We have made a big improvement to front grip and braking stability.”

125cc.

Alexis Masbou, FFM Honda: 12th.
“With Tiziano, my chief mechanic, we did a lot of work on the Australian Grand Prix data and changed the Honda's chassis settings to improve our performance entering the long corners. It handles more easily and I'm faster entering the long corners. Now I'm having a few problems in the smaller corners but the overall feeling of the bike is good. We will further fine tune these settings for tomorrow's race. I achieved my fastest lap time alone, which augurs well for the race because with the slipstreaming I can maybe gain another few tenths and stay with a good group.”

Bradley Smith, Repsol Honda: 15th.
“I don't know what is going on we just can't set up the front end good enough for the fast downhill corners. It's OK running into the corners but when I close the gas a little I have a lot of front end chatter and that puts me off line and onto the dirty part of the track so I can't get back on the gas as fast as I need to. We have changed the centre of gravity to try and help but it's not much better. We have had this problem before but it was OK at Catalunya so we have to find a solution. The engine is as good as all the Honda's except Mike di Meglio's.”

Tito Rabat, Repsol Honda: 17th.
“Tat was a very difficult session for me I had problems with my engine it was slow this afternoon it just would not pick up, no pull at all. The chassis is not so bad but the tyres are sliding a lot in the fast turns if I push too hard the front wants to turn in. We can fix the front end OK and I hope the engine will be good in the warm up. I need a good start to try and get with the top group but I am on the fifth row of the grid.”

Mike di Meglio, Scot Honda: 18th.
“I don't understand the qualifying session at all. I went out with the same set up as in the practice this morning, when I was 11th fastest, but in qualifying I was not fast. My engine was overheating but not much and second gear a little too long but that was not the problem. Normally I can make a fast lap alone but I had to wait for a fast rider to help with the slipstream but I didn't find one and had to do it alone.”

Danny Webb, Molenaar Honda: 25th.
“I ran my fastest lap behind Masbou but it could have been better but I hit a bump and almost lost the front. I lost the tow from Masbou but I'm still happy with my time. I don't have enough grip on the front end and the rear is sliding but that's the same for everybody. The engine is fast but struggles against the Aprilia's. To be honest the only real problem I have to fix is my second gear, it's too long but I'm fast off most of the corners and can hold my own with most when I'm braking.”

Joey Litjens, Molenaar Honda: 27rd.
“This morning everything was super good but this afternoon it went wrong for me on very first lap of qualifying. For some reason the rear brake locked on then freed itself. I went into the pit and the team took only five minutes to fix it but when I went back onto the rack I could not find my rhythm or a good group to run fast times with. Just before the end of qualifying I got in behind Danny (Webb) and managed to set 27th time. I will need one of my super fast starts tomorrow if I am going to get a good finish.”


MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 17
Malaysia Grand Prix at SEPANG Qualifying

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

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