Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa was in a class of one today during qualifying for the Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya, claiming a dominant pole position ahead of tomorrow’s race at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain.
En route to taking pole, Pedrosa set a time of 1m40.893 to smash Casey Stoner’s previous lap record at Barcelona, set by the then-Ducati mounted Australian in 2008 on special qualifying tyres, by a margin of 0.293s.
But Pedrosa knows that qualifying on pole only counts for so much, after he was beaten from the front last time out at Mugello by Jorge Lorenzo, who went on to win the race.
A cautiously optimistic Pedrosa told the media: “Today we did a very good lap time, we improved the lap record of the circuit. To take pole in front of the fans is a good feeling…I just hope to make a good start for the race.”
Behind Pedrosa came Cal Crutchlow, the British rider continuing to bother the factory Yamaha team by outpacing them on his satellite Tech 3 machinery. But despite his impressive qualifying, Crutchlow was quick to praise the achievement of Pedrosa, who was a full six-tenths faster than the Briton.
“The lap time of Dani was incredible and congratulations to him because they were really tricky conditions out there today,” said Crutchlow.
The final slot on the front row was taken by reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo on his factory Yamaha.
“My limit today was not very quick,” he told the press. “We stay on the front row, so that is very important, but very far from the lap time of Dani. But I think for tomorrow we can solve a little bit the problem we have in the front [end of the bike] and we can fight for the win.”
One person who needed a decent qualifying session was Lorenzo’s team-mate, Valentino Rossi.
The seven-time world champion hasn’t been on the front row once since his return to Yamaha in 2013 and today could only manage a lowly seventh after failing to hook up anything other than a solid lap on his Yamaha M1.
Instead it was the man who had taken Rossi out of the race at Mugello, Alvaro Bautista, who was impressing, claiming fourth on the grid ahead of Ducati’s Nicky Hayden.
And while Pedrosa was flying at the front, his team-mate Marc Marquez was having a tougher time, only managing sixth place, his confidence perhaps shaken by his two big falls in Italy two weekends ago.
In the Moto2 class Pol Espargaro, brother of current MotoGP CRT class leader Aleix, posted the fastest time in qualifying, followed by championship leader Scott Redding, who was forced to abort one of his fast laps after being blocked. Esteve Rabat will complete the front row.
In Moto3, Luis Salom took advantage of a big crash from current points leader Maverick Vinales to claim pole position ahead of Alex Rins and Portuguese rider Miguel Oliveira.
Tomorrow’s MotoGP race will get underway at 14.00 CEST