Dani Pedrosa was only 0.029 seconds faster than Casey Stoner during qualifying for the penultimate race.
Once again the three-man Repsol Honda crew dominated the timesheets in Malaysia following Saturday’s MotoGP qualifying. Despite crashing early in the session, Spaniard Dani Pedrosa went on to post the fastest lap of the day on his 18th lap out to secure pole by just 0.029 seconds ahead of teammate and newly declared MotoGP champ, Casey Stoner. Overall the 45-minute session was a close one with the top-nine riders finishing within a second of each other in the charts.
“It was a very difficult session, extremely hot, I couldn’t breathe inside the helmet,” said Pedrosa. “We had a small crash in the front that I didn’t expect, but was able to go back and go faster and take my second pole of the season. I thought I would be able to improve a little more at the end and get closer to the time I did yesterday, but I found some traffic on my final run.”
Meanwhile Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso secured the final front row spot with his lap of 2’01.666. Following the Italian by 0.175 seconds was American Colin Edwards, who earned his best qualification this season in fourth after outrunning San Carlo Honda’s Marco Simoncelli.
“I’m ecstatic with this result because to get a fourth place in any session against this level of competition is a pretty big achievement,” Edwards said. “I said yesterday that we rolled the bike out of the crate hot and today I felt even more confident.”
American Colin Edwards achieved his best qualification this season in fourth at the Malaysian circuit.
Ducati’s Nicky Hayden just made it on the second row for his best qualifying session of the season. The American’s crew spent the entire night working out the bike’s kinks, allowing Hayden to finish 0.710 seconds off the pace of Pedrosa as the series enters its penultimate race. San Carlo Honda’s Hiroshi Aoyama grabbed seventh on the grid right behind Hayden, though the Japanese rider was disappointment after missing the second row by only 0.082 seconds. Rizla Suzuki’s Alvaro Bautista was on pace to secure a front row start with less than 15 minutes remaining in the session, but traffic prevented him from running a clean lap and he had to settle for eighth in the timesheets. Ducati’s Valentino Rossi emerged unscathed from a crash near the end to post one final run, taking ninth on the grid just 0.063 seconds behind Bautista.
“Today went better,” Rossi said. “I was able to ride more effectively, although the fall was really a shame because it was the usual type, which means that we still have to solve that problem. In addition, that wasted some precious minutes, and I had to use the second bike, which I didn’t like quite as much.”
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow rounded out the top-10 in the charts after finishing more than a second off the pace of Pedrosa. The Brit was followed by Pramac Racing’s Randy de Puniet, Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham, Pramac Racing’s Loris Capirossi and Mapfre Aspar’s Hector Barbera. Some of the big news coming out of qualifying is
Americans Ben Spies (above) and John Hopkins (below) both dropped out of the Sepang GP due to lingering injuries.
the withdrawal of Yamaha’s Ben Spies and wild-card rider, John Hopkins. Spies, who suffered torn tissue around the ribs and a concussion during the last round in Australia, decided jointly with medical staff that his impairments proved to significant to participate. Meanwhile Hopkins encountered more problems with the finger he previously broke in Brno after it re-broke at the knuckle, causing it to swell and seize overnight.
Sepang MotoGP Qualifying Results:
1. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2’01.462
2. Casey Stoner (Honda) 2’01.491
3. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 2’01.666
4. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 2’02.010
5. Marco Simoncelli (Honda) 2’02.105
6. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 2’02.172
7. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda) 2’02.254
8. Alvaro Bautista (Suzuki) 2’02.332
9. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 2’02.395
10. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 2’02.756
11. Randy de Puniet (Ducati) 2’02.939
12. Loris Capirossi (Ducati) 2’03.077
13. Karel Abraham (Ducati) 2’03.438
14. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 2’03.619
15. Toni Elias (Honda) 2’03.646
16. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 2’03.678
17. Katsuyuki Nakasuga (Yamaha) 2’04.072
Interwetten Paddock Moto2’s Thomas Luthi seized his first pole position in the Moto2 class on Saturday. The Swiss rider lapped the Malaysian circuit more than two-tenths faster than current Moto2 champ, Stefan Bradl. Gresini Racing Moto2’s Michele Pirro nabbed the final front row spot 0.280 seconds behind Bradl, with Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol’s Marc Marquez only completing two laps to secure a position on the starting grid. Gresini Racing Moto2’s Yuki Takahashi and HP Tuenti Speed Up’s Pol Espargaro rounded out the top-five times in fourth and fifth, respectively.
Swiss rider Thomas Luthi earned the first pole position of his career on Saturday ahead of Stefan Bradl.
Sepang Moto2 Qualifying Results:
1. Thomas Luthi (Suter) 2’07.512
2. Stefan Bradl (Kalex) 2’07.724
3. Michele Pirro (Moriwaki) 2’08.004
4. Yuki Takahashi (Moriwaki) 2’08.069
5. Pol Espargaro (FTR) 2’08.107
6. Aleix Espargaro (Pons Kalex) 2’08.154
7. Mika Kallio (Suter) 2’08.240
8. Claudio Corti (Suter) 2’08.319
9. Scott Redding (Suter) 2’08.412
10. Mattia Pasini (FTR) 2’08.414
11. Alex de Angelis (Motobi) 2’08.417
12. Esteve Rabat (FTR) 2’08.466
13. Andrea Iannone (Suter) 2’08.520
14. Simone Corsi (FTR) 2’08.549
15. Max Neukirchner (MZ-RE Honda) 2’08.620