2012-07-14 17:31
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) won an enthralling duel for pole position at sweltering Mugello this afternoon, beating title rival Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) by a fraction of a second. Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC213V) had a more difficult time, ending the session fifth quickest.

The Pedrosa versus Lorenzo battle lit up the final stages of the hour-long outing, after Lorenzo had dominated the opening 50 minutes. Pedrosa then went ahead by less than two tenths, only for Lorenzo to counter-attack two minutes later and regain the advantage by a similar margin. With three minutes remaining Pedrosa once again moved in front by five hundredths, and then stretched the advantage to 0.139s. Lorenzo looked like he might have the speed to regain pole, until his machine suffered an electrical glitch during his final run.

The pair will be joined on the front row tomorrow by Hector Barbera (Ducati), who was delighted with his first premier-class front-row start. Barbera’s new-found speed helped make history: the first all-Spanish front row in the elite category.

Pedrosa – who earlier this week renewed his contract with Repsol Honda – is currently on fantastic form, having won last Sunday’s German Grand Prix to move to within 14 points of championship leader Lorenzo. It seems like the Spaniard’s title challenge has shifted into top gear, though he is fully aware that Lorenzo has a very strong race pace and will be difficult to beat tomorrow.

Stoner ended today in the middle of the second row, 0.405s off pole. Winner of three GPs so far this year, the Australian is having a few problems getting through Mugello’s sweeping corners and so far has been unable to match the pace of his two title rivals. Stoner has tomorrow morning’s warm-up session in which to try some more solutions as he works to close the gap on the front-runners.

Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP RC213V) enjoyed another good qualifying session, the German MotoGP rookie holding third place with just 12 minutes to go. As the pace increased he slipped to eighth, 0.573s behind Pedrosa, but he is very confident of a good race, having increased his confidence in the front end, a vital asset for Mugello’s numerous high-speed corner entries.

Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda Gresini) has made some good progress recently, but has had a torrid time here, sliding off on three occasions during the first three practice sessions. He ended qualifying in 11th position as he worked to regain some confidence around this challenging circuit.

Michele Pirro (San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR-Honda) was third fastest CRT rider in 14th position. He also fell this morning, but came back strongly this afternoon to close the gap on the two CRT men in front of him.

Pol Espargaro (Pons 40 HP Tuenti-Kalex) claimed a heroic Moto2 pole position, denying Marc Marquez (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol-Suter) of a third consecutive pole by just 0.069s. It was a remarkable performance from Espargaro who had a heavy fall in this morning’s practice session after he was taken out by Johann Zarco (JIR Moto2 – Motobi) at turn one.

Zarco was third fastest in qualifying, his best-ever in Moto2, but Race Direction relegated him to 18th on the grid for his part in the incident with Espargaro.

Local star Andrea Iannone (Speed Master – Speed Up) ended the session a mere 0.054s behind Zarco, which left him just off the front row. But due to Zarco’s punishment he will be promoted to third place for a front-row start tomorrow.

The lap times were typically very, very close in Moto2 with the fastest 20 riders separated by just 1.353s. The second row is led by Alex De Angelis (NGM Mobile Forward Racing – FTR) who will be looking to repeat his first 2012 podium that he achieved last Sunday. He will be joined on row two by Thomas Luthi (Interwetten-Paddock-Suter) and Bradley Smith (Tech 3 Racing – Tech 3). Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team-Kalex) leads the third row.

Maverick Vinales (Blusens Avintia – FTR Honda) stormed to another brilliant Moto3 pole position, overcoming title rival Sandro Cortese (KTM) at the very last moment. The Spaniard timed his attack perfectly to better Cortese by an impressive margin of 0.421s. It was a welcome performance following his difficult ride in last weekend’s rain-lashed German GP in which he finished just outside the points, thus relinquishing the title lead to Cortese. This is Vinales’ fourth pole of the year.

Alex Rins (Estrella Galicia 0.0 – Suter Honda) made it two Spanish teenagers on the front row, the 16-year-old taking third place, 0.841s down on 17-year-old Vinales. It is Rins’ first front-row start since he took pole at the Spanish Grand Prix in April.

Row two was another two Hondas on the outside with a KTM in the middle: fourth fastest Efren Vazquez (JHK T-Shirt Laglisse – FTR Honda) just ahead of Cortese’s team-mate Danny Kent and 16-year-old Niccolo Antonelli (San Carlo Gresini – FTR Honda), riding in his first home Grand Prix.

Spanish GP winner Romano Fenati (Team Italian FMI – FTR- Honda) will start from the third row in what is also his first home GP.

MotoGP rider quotes:
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: pole position – 1m 47.284s
“We definitely made another step forward today and to get the pole position here is great, although to always be on the front row is what really matters to me. We had a good practice in the morning and managed the timing well in qualifying to be on track when everybody started to improve the lap times. It will be a very hard race for sure. It’s very hot out there and the race pace will be also very high looking at the lap times this afternoon. I’m quite happy with the set-up of my bike, we’ve had better grip today and I’m pretty confident, but we have to keep very focused and push at the maximum because Lorenzo has an incredible pace.”

Casey Stoner, Repsol Honda: 5th – 1m 47.689s
“This weekend we’re just missing something, especially in the longer corners. We just can’t get the bike to turn, we can’t stop the rear chatter in the exit and in the end we can’t put the lap together. We’re losing some tenths in each sector, if we get the bike sorted for one sector then everything should come together easily but it’s been a difficult weekend so far. We still have tomorrow morning to improve our set-up and sort out a few of our weaker points, if we do then we might be in with a chance. I’m not too worried about the second row. We’ll hopefully get a good start, see what we can do and try to hang with the guys at the front, but honestly at the moment Jorge and Dani are on a different level.”

Stefan Bradl, LCR Honda MotoGP: 8th – 1m 47.857s “We definitely improved the overall package compared to yesterday and both sessions were pretty good for us, especially qualifying. Yesterday we struggled too much and I was looking for more front confidence on this track which I like very much. This morning we took the first step forward and for qualifying I felt much more comfortable, going faster with less physical efforts. Actually we are strong on soft tyres and on race tyres too and I am really confident for tomorrow because we did a good job today.”

Alvaro Bautista, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 11th – 1m 48.894s
“Again it wasn’t an easy day today because I had another strange crash no sooner had I gone out this morning. We were still having problems with the brakes and we practically lost the entire session. I came back in and this afternoon everything was working well. At that point I did as many laps as I could on used tyres to work on our race pace, which is decent, but I just didn’t have the confidence still to push for a fast lap so I’ll have to make do with a fourth row start. We’ll try to get a good start tomorrow and try to finish off a difficult weekend in a positive way.”

Michel Pirro, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 14th – 1m 50.263s
“It was a shame that we had another crash this morning on the final lap, which caused quite a bit of damage to our number one bike. With so little time available we preferred to use the other bike for qualifying and even though I didn’t have the same feeling I was able to reduce the gap to the Aprilias. They are still too far ahead for our liking, but the guys will have a close look at the data tonight and no doubt give me a good bike for the race tomorrow. Once again they have done an amazing job and skipped lunch to make sure I had two bikes available. I want to give them and the sponsors a result to be proud of tomorrow.”

Moto2 rider quotes:

Pol Espargaro, Pons 40 HP Tuenti-Kalex: pole position, 1m 52.369s “It’s been a difficult day. After the crash this morning I was a little confused and angry, but the team and I kept our focus and carried on working to find a good set-up for the race. I’m happy because I have an incredible team now – they work so hard to give me the best bike.”

Marc Marquez, Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol-Suter: 2nd, 1m 52.438s
“I am feeling quite confident about the race, even though we haven’t yet found the perfect settings for this track. The first part of the session went well for us, but later on it was very, very difficult to find a clear track, because there were so many riders waiting for a tow. Tomorrow morning we will try some more adjustments to be bike, trying to make the bike so I can ride a fast pace more comfortably.”

Johann Zarco, JIR Moto2 – Motobi: 3rd, 1m 52.781s
“I think maybe I was a little lucky at the end of qualifying because I got a very good lap during which I could fully focus on following the correct lines. This is my first year in Moto2, so I am still learning the best lines and learning how to use the bike in the best possible way. This morning I was behind Pol when he overtook two riders into turn one. I also overtook those two riders, so I went into the corner so fast. I tried to brake but finally I made contact with Pol and then I was a bit worried that he had really hurt his foot. I have been given a penalty for this and I accept it. I was very happy to see Pol go so fast in qualifying because it showed he is in good physical shape. I have to be clever in the race because I don’t feel so easy on the bike.”

Moto3 Rider Quotes:
Maverick Vinales, Blusens Avintia – FTR Honda: pole, 1m 57.980s
“I’m happy to be back at the front after a difficult race last weekend. Maybe I was a bit lucky because I found someone’s slipstream on my fastest lap, which helped my top speed because we lack a little horsepower which usually loses us maybe half a second on the long straight here. Anyway we are strong and ready to fight in the race.”

Alex Rins, Estrella Galicia 0.0 – Suter Honda: 3rd, 1m 58.821s
“First of all I want to thank the team because they worked last night to give me a competitive bike for today. I have achieved my second best qualifying result of the season, so I'm really pleased. In the race we will aim to make a good start and hook up with the lead group. I will try to race calmly but forcefully. We are fast enough to be there so we can face the race in positive mood.”

Efren Vazquez, JHK T-Shirt Laglisse – FTR Honda: 4th, 1m 58.840s
“I’m happy because we have worked very well during every session, always maintaining good progress and always staying calm. We haven’t got a perfect set-up here, because it’s such a difficult circuit, but what counts here is riding and making the best of what you’ve got. Tomorrow I’ll be ready for a fight because it will be a very hard race. It will be tough and we have to stay cool.”

Source: Honda Pro Image

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