Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa will start the last MotoGP race of the season from pole position after a terrific performance in qualifying for the Gran Premio Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana on Saturday.
Pedrosa set a new record at the Ricardo Tormo circuit, posting a lap clocked in at 1:30.844, with Yamaha Factory Racing’s World Champion Jorge Lorenzo jumping up into second with a final push on his last lap. Repsol Honda’s retiring Casey Stoner had looked like he was set to take pole for most of the session, but could not match the Spaniards at the end, also citing that he was not entirely happy with the new tarmac.
Pedrosa, the only rider who has won at Valencia in all three classes, set a new pole record on his last flying lap, beating Valentino Rossi’s old record by 0.158 seconds (1:31.002), which Rossi recorded using qualifying tires in 2006.
“It was almost a perfect lap and I gave 100 percent because I knew I wouldn’t be able to improve any more as the tires were very good for the first lap and then the drop in grip was quite severe,” Pedrosa said. “We had only one dry session to test the new asphalt and we saw that the grip level is a little better but the tires dropped down very quick.
“We still have to decide on the tires for tomorrow because we have used only the soft compound, but it depends on the weather – if it rains we will need to take what we learned yesterday. I really would like to win here and finish the season with a good race.”
Lorenzo was on suitable form in front of his Spanish crowd, fighting within the top three and looking promising for pole until relegated to second in the last minutes by Championship runner up Pedrosa.
“It seems like it’s going to be very close tomorrow,” the new World Champion admitted. “Dani is very strong here, not only in the dry but also in the wet and it seems it could be wet for the race. I tried my best for pole position with the last rear tire but I didn’t expect the lap time from Dani. Anyway, second place is good and the important thing is the race. Maybe the story will be different tomorrow.”
Stoner starts from the front row of the grid for the 10th race this year as he contests his final-ever Grand Prix in Valencia on Sunday.
“Qualifying didn’t really go to plan, it was a pretty frustrating session,” the Australian conceded. “Due to the miserable weather this weekend, we had a lot of work to do in a very short space of time. We did make some good progress but unfortunately we couldn’t find enough before the end of the session. There is a new surface here and we expected everything to be really good and smooth but in fact we’ve found there are a lot of bumps on the circuit.
“Now I’m thinking how we can improve the bike and get everything working a little easier. We need to adapt the electronics to allow me to be less restricted on this track so I can ride how I want to. Hopefully the weather is dry tomorrow and we can take that extra step in warm up.”
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow finished as second best-placed Yamaha on the grid after posting the fourth fastest time in qualifying. LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl put in a good showing on his satellite machine to place himself in the middle of the second row in fifth.
Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso will contest his last race for the Yamaha satellite outfit from sixth. Nicky Hayden qualified as best Ducati in seventh spot on the grid, after carrying out a big amount of set-up work throughout the session.
He will be joined on the third row by San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista, who was once again struggling with front-end issues on his Showa-equipped Honda RC213V. Pramac Racing Team’s Héctor Barberá completes the third row, as he signs off from his team this weekend.
Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaró was the top CRT qualifier in 10th, which should help him in his quest to securing the CRT title on Sunday. Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi had a disappointing last qualifying session for the Italian outfit, as he finished down in 11th.
Tuenti Movil HP 40’s Pol Espargaró took the honours for most pole positions in the Moto2 class this season with his eighth at the Gran Premio Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana, with Tom Lüthi and Takaaki Nakagami joining him on the front row.
Espargaró was once again on blistering pace as he set the quickest time of 1:35.191, despite crashing out in the latter stages. CatalunyaCaixa Repsol’s Marc Márquez was in fact the second fastest man of the session, however his penalty for running into Simone Corsi on Friday means he will start last on the grid. Interwetten-Paddock’s Lüthi upped his pace at the end to start second, and Italtrans Racing Team’s Nakagami was promoted to third to round out the front row.
During the first fully dry session for the Moto3 contingent Jonas Folger charged to pole position in front of Miguel Oliveira and Luis Salom.