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.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team)
Alex DE ANGELIS (San Carlo Honda Gresini)
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.
Current 250 World Championship leader Hiroshi Aoyama (Scot Honda) came within a tenth of a second of taking his second pole in a row. The Japanese rider qualified second to Mike Di Meglio (Mapfre Aspar Team), the Frenchman who knocked Aoyama from the top spot with his final lap of 1m, 44.341 s. Aoyama’s lap of 1m, 44.461s secured the second position and a clear track ahead to maintain his championship lead.
Team-mates Ratthapark Wilairot (Thai Honda PTT SAG) and Hector Faubel (Honda SAG) will start Sunday’s race from the first two spots on the third row of the grid. Wilairot was hoping to get a second row spot before being blocked by a slower rider on what would have been his fastest lap. Faubel was testing suspension settings when he had a small crash in the middle of practice. The 27C temperature today was higher than expected and his suspension wasn’t set properly. Tomorrow’s race is expected to be held in cooler temperatures and the Spaniard is confident of having the right set-up.
Raffaele De Rosa (Scot Honda) crashed on lap five, landing hard on his right shoulder. After an initial diagnosis by the doctors in the Clinica Mobile, it was recommended that he be transported to a local hospital for further tests. He qualified 15th for the race.
Team CIP Honda will go into Sunday’s race one rider down. Shoya Tomizawa has been ruled out of the race after damaging his lone chassis in a Friday practice crash. The team tried to secure an alternative, but weren’t able to. Instead they will be represented by Valentin Debise, the young French rider who qualified 17th in his first visit to “The Brickyard.” The experience was a bit overwhelming at first, racing in such a famed venue, but once Debise learned the track and its intricacies, his lap times quickly came down.
Bastien Chesaux (Racing Team Germany Honda) qualified 22nd in his first visit to the track on a 250. Chesaux had the advantage of having raced in the 125cc class last year, when weather conditions canceled the 250cc race. What he found early in today’s qualifying was a lack of acceleration, which cost him valuable time at the end of the straightaways. The young Swiss rider believes with a few small adjustments he can improve his lap time considerably.
Toni ELIAS (San Carlo Honda Gresini)
Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Repsol Honda Team)
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 1st – 1m 39.730s, said:
“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, said:
“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, said:
“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, said:
“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, said:
“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, said:
“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.”
Hiroshi Aoyama, Scot Honda: 2nd – 1m 44.461s, said:
“We found a good set-up for the race, and good tyres. The critical issue tomorrow will probably be the tyre consumption. This means that we must still work on the bike to improve the package, and particularly to help the tyre to last.”
Ratthapark Wilairot, Thai Honda PTT-SAG: 9th - 1m 45.396s, said:
“We changed the settings of the bike (suspension and engine) because the conditions changed to warm from this morning. I made two important mistakes when I was riding in my best laps; one in the sixth corner, where a lot of riders crash there, and another when I was following (Alvaro) Bautista. In the last lap I found in the middle of the track a slower rider and I lost my last oportunity to be in the top eight. Anyway , ninth is a good position and tomorrow is important to do a good setting in the warm-up and also a good start in the race.”
Hector Faubel, Valencia CF-Honda SAG: 10th – 1m 45.438s, said:
“Today I began very good, riding in a high pace, but in the middle of the practice I crashed because the temperature was warm and the suspension was soft for these conditions. Finally I lost the front. After this we changed the spring to a harder one than before. At the end of the practice I was riding in my fastest lap, but I found slow riders and I couldn’t do my best. The crash in the middle of the practice broke the qualifying for me, but we have to be optimistic for tomorrow and take care with the adjustments of the bike thinking of the weather conditions.”
Valentin Debise, Team CIP Honda: 17th – 1m 47.838s, said:
“I think it’s been going quite OK. The first practice was a bit difficult because I didn’t know the racetrack, but now I’m putting everything together and the lap time is OK. So we’re quite happy. After the first few laps I came in and said ‘This is really weird.’ And also the tarmac here is very different. There are three different kinds of tarmac. It’s a bit bumpy. At the beginning I was a bit lost. Then I put my head down. By the end of the practice I started to come good. Coming here for the first time the Speedway is quite huge, quite big, and you’re a little bit more impressed by the place first and you get a bit distracted. But now I’m just focused on racing.”
Bastien Chesaux, Racing Team Germany Honda: 22nd – 1m 49.888s, said:
“Itt was really difficult. The track is really different from the other tracks. I tried to push a lot at the beginning and the bike was really good; I think I have a good bike. But we must find a solution for the acceleration and for the end of the corners, because I’m too slow on all the straights. I must find a solution with my mechanics for tomorrow morning to take a good start and take the group just in front of me. Yeah, I think I can make up two seconds in lap time, maybe, for tomorrow.”
Gilles Bigot, Team CIP Honda: Shoya (Tomizawa) crashed and bent his chassis yesterday and we don’t have a spare chassis. So we tried to run a standard production bike, but we couldn’t find one. Unfortunately he won’t be racing tomorrow. This is the problem of a small team with a low budget. By Misano we’ll be able to fix it; unfortunately for tomorrow, no.