Repsol Honda team-mates Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa will start from the second row for Sunday's Indianapolis Grand Prix after the pair narrowly missed out on the front row on a hot and sunny day at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda)
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda)
The front row was a crowd-pleaser, with American Ben Spies (Yamaha) taking his first ever pole and fellow countryman Nicky Hayden (Ducati) third fastest. In between came world championship leader Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha).
Both Pedrosa and Dovizioso took turns at the top of the qualifying leaderboard. Pedrosa was the first of the two to go to the top when he became the first rider into the 1:40's on his eighth lap of the 4216m road course, near the 15 minute mark.
Pedrosa remained in control into the second half of the hour when riders began fitting the softer of the two Bridgestone rear tyres. The Speedway is one of the bumpier and more abrasive tracks on the calendar and the options were hard and extra-hard, the latter of which was likely the consensus race choice.
Dovizioso made the most of his softer option when he topped the time charts in the 44th minute, moving his team-mate to second.
By now everyone was on the softer option and the fast laps came more quickly. Dovizioso was still on the front row with ten minutes to go when Hayden moved to the fore and Dovi was dropped to fourth, which is where he would finish with a best lap of 1m, 40.559s.
Pedrosa had a quick lap three laps from the end, but didn't improve on his 1m, 40.637s lap, which was less than a tenth of a second off Dovizioso's time.
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini) was happy to be in eighth place, despite believing he could do better after finishing the morning practice seventh fastest. The difference was the track temperature. The ground was 22C hotter in the afternoon and traction was at a premium. With the race scheduled for an hour later than normal, at 3:00 p.m local time, 9:00 p.m. CET, the heat promises to be a factor in the outcome of Sunday's 11th round of the MotoGP World Championship.
Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini) worked very hard during the hour, with little reward. Melandri was having a difficult time in two key areas, rear traction and engine management, both of which affected his corner speed and drive onto the straightaways. Melandri is known for his impressive corner speed and being robbed of that tool will make it difficult to compete in Sunday's race.
Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda MotoGP) qualified a valiant 13th fastest in his first race since breaking his back warming up for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on June 20. Riding with a special back brace, the Japanese rider performed well above expectations, though he cautioned that the closeness of the field meant there were no guarantees of a similar race finish. Still, having spent one month virtually immobilized, Aoyama was happy to be back on his Honda RC212V.
Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) was less fortunate with his recent injury. The Frenchman made a miraculous return to action at the Czech Grand Prix only four weeks after breaking his leg at the Sachsenring. Two weeks on should have put him in better stead, but the leg was so swollen and painful for three days following Brno that he could barely walk. The 16-turn track has ten lefts, which puts an added burden on the only recently mended left leg. De Puniet qualified 17th and said that his target for the race was to score as many points as possible.
Julian Simon (Mapfre Aspar Team, Suter) earned his first pole position in the Moto2 class in Indianapolis. The reigning 125cc champion and three-time Moto2 podium finisher took the pole with his final lap of 1m, 46.139s.
The class featured the usual tightly packed field, with the top 23 riders on the same second and the next 12 within two seconds of Simon. The 39-rider field was covered by 2.766s.
The second row is made of of Marc VDS Racing Team (Suter) team-mates Hector Faubel and Scott Redding, the pair separated by a mere .047s. Simone Corsi (JIR Moto2, Motobi) earned his first front row start of the year with a lap only .024s slower than Redding's.
Marco SIMONCELLI (San Carlo Honda Gresini)
Marco MELANDRI (San Carlo Honda Gresini)
Andrea Dovizioso, Repsol Honda RC212V: 4th - 1m, 40.559s
“I'm satisfied with the front of the second row, especially because our race pace is fast - so I'm confident for tomorrow. It will be important to make a good start. I think it will be a tight group going into the first turns, and Spies and Nicky will be very determined in front of their home fans, but actually the fastest person in terms of race pace is Dani. He has a margin of two or three tenths compared to us so it will be a tough race because there isn't much grip and you need to ride smoothly to exploit what grip there is - this can be difficult to do in a race situation. The team did a good job today, we improved the stability at the front a lot and we made a big improvement with the electronic set-up - especially with the traction control. I think the tyre choice will have to be the hard compound, and this means we look in pretty good shape for the race.”
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda RC212V: 5th - 1m, 40.637s
“We improved our times quite a lot from yesterday and made some good progress with the machine set-up and race pace. In the final moments of qualifying though we couldn't go any faster on the softer tyre and so we have to settle for the second row - which isn't perfect - but still I think we can make a good start and compete at the front tomorrow. With these high track temperatures it looks like the harder option tyre will be the one to go with and we have a decent pace on this tyre, although I don't know if all the riders will make the same choice. Tomorrow it will be a very tough race physically, and also for the tyres because it will be very difficult to control the tyre temperature in the race. I'm sure the American riders will be very strong, and also the riders who are normally at the front, so here maybe we will have more rivals to consider. Still, my feeling with the hard Bridgestone is good so I think we can do a good race tomorrow.”
Marco Simoncelli, San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V: 8th - 1m, 41.092s
“To be honest, after practice this morning I thought I could have gone faster than this, but I am quite satisfied to be in eighth place. Unfortunately the track conditions this afternoon weren't as good as this morning because of the heat and I struggled more. The race will be an hour later tomorrow but the track temperatures will be more or less the same so we need to improve and hope that our rivals suffer in a similar way to us. I am confident though and I have set myself the target of finally finishing in the top five so I'll be doing my very best to achieve that. We have definitely taken a step forward from Brno and I just want to keep improving at each GP.”
Marco Melandri, San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V: 12th - 1m, 41.623s
“We have worked hard, but things are still not working out for us. I am having so much trouble with the engine management system and I still can't find the rear grip I need to accelerate out of the corners. I can't ride as I would like and I can't generate any corner speed. It seems like my strongest weapon has now completely deserted me. I am so slow in the middle of the corner and I'm not comfortable on the bike. I'm really disappointed because I was expecting a very different season to this.”
Hiroshi Aoyama, Interwetten Honda MotoGP RC212V: 13th - 1m, 41.631s
“If you look at the conditions I am here with, I really did not expect such a result today. The gap to the other riders is not big though, neither in front, nor in the back. All possibilities are open, to the front, but also to the back. We have to be realistic. I was quite at the limit today, but I think after a two month break this was not a bad start and I am happy about that.”
Randy de Puniet, LCR Honda: 17th - 1m, 41.923s
“Before coming here I knew that it would not have been easy for me because of my injured leg and this track layout is not helping my physical conditions. I had the same experience last year when I raced with a broken ankle. Then, from the beginning of the weekend, we had some issues on the bike and we have been trying different adjustments so far, but I do not feel comfortable enough yet. I have tried hard to close the gap to the others, but I am struggling a lot especially on the brakes. We still have tomorrow's warm-up to fine tune the bike, because my target is to score as many points as possible.”
Julian Simon, Mapfre Aspar Team, Suter: 1st - 1m, 46.139s
“This is not my preferred circuit, but this year I stay very strong here and also my team stay very, very good, very strong. All the session stay in the first place, so I'm very happy about the settings in my bike. And today was very difficult almost at the final decision because too much traffic and I cannot make a good rhythm. But finally I make a very good final lap and I make a pole. And I'm very happy because very difficult this year to make a pole and I'm happy and I want to win. Also tomorrow I hope to make a good start.
Hector Faubel, Marc VDS Racing Team, Suter: 2nd - 1m, 46.287s
"I am happy to be on the front row tomorrow. We have had good pace all weekend, and my lap times have been consistent throughout practice and qualifying, but I was just missing that little bit extra to get me up to the front of the grid. Right at the end of the session Simone Corsi came past me on a fast lap and I managed to tag onto the back of him. That gave me the couple of tenths I was missing and put me at the top of the timesheet with just minutes to go. Unfortunately, Julian Simon pipped me for pole right at the end, but I'm happy enough with second place on the grid. Scott Redding, Simon and Corsi will be the strong riders tomorrow and, if I can get away with them at the start, then I'm confident I can leave here tomorrow with my best result of the season so far."
Scott Redding, Marc VDS Racing Team, Suter: 3rd - 1m, 46.334s
"Pole position had my name written all over it today, but I lost out to the traffic right at the end. I was fastest halfway through the session, but got pushed back to second place by my own teammate, which was quite rude of him I thought! I had the pace to reclaim the top spot, but every time I was quickest through the first three sectors I got baulked in the fourth. It was incredibly frustrating, as was having Takahashi following me everywhere; he even stopped when I stopped on the side of the track! But, I'm happy to be on the front row for the first time this season. We've got the pace in race trim and the fact that I won't have to fight my way through the field for once means a podium finish tomorrow is a real possibility. That's what I'll be aiming for, anyway."
Marcel Schrotter, Interwetten Honda 125 Team:17th, 1m, 50.992s
"The qualifying was not easy. It was so warm today and the asphalt got really hot and I was sliding around a lot, especially with the rear. I could hang on other riders a couple of laps, when I followed Iwema he made some mistakes and I had to ride alone again. Then I was with Smith and he suddenly was braking, which ruined my flying lap as I had to brake as well, because I was behind him. I am sure otherwise I could have been faster and could make it to fourth row."