Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) won a thrilling battle for pole position during this afternoon’s Italian Grand Prix qualifying session, beating compatriot Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) by just under two tenths of a second. This was Pedrosa’s second pole position of the year, following his brilliant qualifying performance at last month’s Spanish Grand Prix.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda)
Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda)
The former 125 and 250 World Champion enjoyed an intense battle for pole with his fellow Spaniard, the pair lapping considerably faster than final front-row qualifier and 2009 Mugello winner Casey Stoner (Ducati). Pedrosa led most of the session, Lorenzo taking over at the top with 11 minutes to go, before Pedrosa fought back in the final seconds to better the Yamaha rider by 0.177 seconds.
Tomorrow Pedrosa will bid to score his first Grand Prix victory of the year. He is confident that he will be able to run a fast and consistent pace but expects a serious challenge from current points leader Lorenzo. The 2010 Italian GP will go ahead without reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) who crashed heavily during this morning’s session, breaking his right tibia. Pedrosa and team mate Andrea Dovizioso were among the many MotoGP riders who wished Rossi all the best for a speedy recovery.
Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda RC212V) was today’s second best Honda qualifier, securing a place on the second row of the grid during a determined final run. The Frenchman is proving to be an impressively consistent qualifier this year – sixth quickest today, he was also sixth on the grid at Jerez and Le Mans and now has four second-row starts from four attempts. Today he had hopes of making the front row but he lost time when another rider crashed ahead of him during his best lap.
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V) will start the fourth race of the 18-round series from the third row after struggling to get the best out of his softer rear tyre at the end of the session. Dovizioso had been second fastest in this morning’s practice session but had to be content with eighth place in qualifying. He will be doing everything in his power to get a good start tomorrow so he can get away with the leaders.
Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda MotoGP RC212V) qualified tenth, missing row three by a tantalising 0.056 seconds. Nevertheless it was an impressive performance from the rookie, equalling his amazing tenth place during qualifying for his debut MotoGP race at Qatar earlier this year. Aoyama and his crew worked well and improved their understanding of the RCV during today’s sessions.
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) also learned much at this most challenging of circuits, the Italian ending up 11th on the grid, two tenths behind fellow rookie Aoyama. Team-mate Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) had an altogether more difficult today, unable to find a set-up that gives him confidence over the bumps.
Moto2 continues to throw up surprises, with Andrea Iannone (Fimmco Speed Up, Speed Up) scoring his first pole position in the class at Mugello this afternoon. The Italian’s previous best qualifying performance in Moto2 was 14th at Le Mans two weeks ago.
Moto2 is so close and competitive that there is very little difference to being fastest and being way down the qualifying order. At Le Mans the grid was the closest in GP history, with less than a second separating the fastest 27 qualifier. Here the top 18 men are covered by just 1.067s.
Iannone, three times a pole sitter in 125cc, was impressive in front of his home crowd, lapping more than a quarter of a second faster than anyone else, a big gap in the frantically close world of Moto2. Iannone’s crew had to work hard following a difficult morning session to fine tune his machine for the qualifying outing.
Points leader Toni Elias (Gresini Racing Moto2, Moriwaki) also had to fight set-up issues, having completed the two free practice sessions 21st fastest. But his Gresini crew worked miracles for qualifying and the Spaniard was able to move up to the front row on his very last lap of the session, though he still needs to work to improve his race pace. He ended the day three tenths up on Alex De Angelis (RSM Team Scot, Force GP210). De Angelis has had a luckless and so far point-less start to Moto2, but the San Marinese hopes to turn that luck around this weekend.
Last man on the front row is Jules Cluzel (Forward Racing, Suter) who has already enjoyed podium success in Moto2 – at the Qatar GP – but crashed out of the recent French round while battling for the win in front of his home crowd.
Shoya Tomizawa (Technomag-CIP, Suter), winner of the historic Qatar round, was fifth quickest, missing out on a front-row start by a slender 0.012 seconds. To underline the closeness of the competition, Tomizawa’s fastest lap was exactly the same as that of Sergio Gadea (Tenerife 40 Pons, Pons Kalex).
On his first ever visit to the Mugello circuit Marcel Schrotter, Interwetten Honda, qualified in 18th place on his first ever visit to the Mugello circuit. The German youngster steadily improved his lap time with each practice session concentrating on finding the best possible race set up for his RS125R. Schrotter is aiming for a top 15 finish and to improve upon his 12th place at Jerez, his best result to date this season.
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda)
Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda MotoGP)
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda RC212V: pole position at 1m 48.819s, said:
"It’s great to be on pole here and we’ve been working very hard through free practice and in qualifying this afternoon to improve things from yesterday. We have achieved this, so I’m satisfied. Being on the front row is the important thing and we have to keep our concentration because to win the race is the target - we have to make it tomorrow! We were pushing very hard right to the end of the session and we were able to do a good final lap, but the most important factor is that we’ve been able to be consistent too. Lorenzo will be the man to beat tomorrow, but we are confident, the machine is working better here and we are in better shape than the last race in Le Mans . So tomorrow for the race we hope to maintain our performance right to the end. We still have to improve our race pace a little but I’m feeling very well here, I like this circuit, and I think it will be a fun race with a great atmosphere created by the fans. I didn’t see Rossi’s crash, but what I’ve heard about the injury doesn’t sound good. It’s a pity because all of us riders know how you feel when you are hurt, and I just hope that the operation goes well for him because the first operation is always the most important."
Randy de Puniet, LCR Honda RC212V: 6th at 1m 49.737s, said:
"I am a bit disappointed because I had the potential to start from the front row but I did lose some time at the end of my best flying lap because somebody crashed in front of me and after that I made a small mistake on turn five. We could have improved a couple of tenths there. Anyway considering the overall package we are very pleased about this fourth consecutive second row. We still have to fix something about the race tyres because we had some small grip issues on the maximum angle in this afternoon session but it looks like everybody has to face the same problem on race set-up."
Andrea Dovizioso, Repsol Honda RC212V: 8th at 1m 50.065s, said:
"This morning we did a good job, improved the performance from yesterday and we finished second on the timesheets. In the afternoon however, the track conditions changed and, even though I pushed very hard, I couldn’t use all the potential of the bike. The gap to Dani and Lorenzo has increased a bit and unfortunately I wasn’t able to use the soft tyre at its best, which means tomorrow we will start from the third row. This is an area where I have to improve because starting in this position makes things more difficult for the race. Anyway I’m still confident for tomorrow. If we can stay with the front group of riders I think we can make a good race. Mugello is a very special place and I’m sure the Italian fans will give me an extra boost for the race. It’s a real shame about Valentino’s injury. It’s always very bad when a rider crashes like this and I’m very sorry for him. I wish him a quick recovery and send him all the best."
Hiroshi Aoyama, Interwetten Honda MotoGP RC212V: 10th at 1m 50.224s, said:
"Today we finished in the top ten. This was a really good qualifying for us. We still have to be even stronger and have to keep improving, but the set-up and the bike did work well today and I was able to fight from the beginning. We learnt to understand the bike during this session better. I hope we will have a similar good or even better race tomorrow."
Marco Simoncelli, San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V: 11th at 1m 50.434s, said:
"This afternoon went much better than yesterday and this morning. You could say we have finally seen the light and now we hope to improve a little more for tomorrow. I am satisfied and happy. At the end of the technical debrief we will make a few decisions about the plan for tomorrow’s warm-up and try to gain a few more tenths. The circuit and the atmosphere are both fantastic here, the only bad thing is the bumps. Obviously the incident with Valentino will take away from the show. Ever since I began watching racing I’ve never seen a race without him in it. I’m really gutted for him and all I can say is ‘get well soon’."
Marco Melandri, San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V: 14th at 1m 50.664s, said:
"That was a really bad session for us and since we arrived at Mugello we haven’t found anything to make even the slightest improvement. We started out badly and only got worse. It will be a difficult race tomorrow but in the warm-up we’ll try again to find something. At the moment I’m not very confident and it will be difficult for me to even fight for the top six."
Andrea Iannone, Fimmco Speed Up, Speed Up: pole position at 1m 55.598s, said:
"I am delighted because my fastest lap was a really good lap. This morning we had a few difficulties with the bike but we were able to solve them thanks to the good work of the team. The bike was much better in qualifying and that helped me to do that lap. Tomorrow there will be other problems – most likely Toni and Alex! It will be a difficult race, especially if we end up fighting in a big group. My aim is to get a good start and to try and go ahead on my own, but this will not be easy. I send my best wishes to Valentino [Rossi] for a speedy recovery from his injuries."
Alex De Angelis, RSM Team Scot, Force GP210: 3rd at 1m 56.222, said:
"We’ve already had quite a bit of bad luck so far this season and we had some more today. Just before we put in my final soft tyre we had some issues with the brakes. That still bothered me on my final run but I was able to be quite fast, which makes me happy and quite confident."
Jules Cluzel, Forward Racing, Suter: 4th at 1m 56.272s, said:
"I am very happy to make the front row because we had some problems in qualifying practice. We had a problem with the clutch, so my crew had to work very hard to get the bike fixed. Then right at the end of the session, on my best lap, I had to pass three riders. I hope we can make a good race."
Marcel Schrötter, INTERWETTEN Honda 125: 18th – 2m 01.312s:
"I am quite satisfied with the qualifying. I improved my times a lot and I think I could have gone even faster if there wouldn't have been one slow rider that was holding us all behind. I was in the fast group, but I could not overtake this rider until the last corner. I could have been further in front, but it was not possible, so I am satisfied with this qualifying and confident for the race."