Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa gave the hometown fans something to cheer about by taking his first pole position of the year on a sunny afternoon at the Circuito de Jerez, site of Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix.The postponement of the Japanese Grand Prix, caused by a volcano eruption in Iceland, didn’t seem to affect the Spaniard. Just the opposite. The extra week gave Honda time to refine the RC212V that Pedrosa was so critical of in the season-opener in Qatar three weeks ago.With more confidence in the chassis, Pedrosa sped to the top time with just over 16 minutes to run, then solidified the time at the 56 minute mark in the one hour session. His lap of 1:39.202 mins. wasn’t near Jorge Lorenzo’s qualifying mark of 1:38.189 mins. from 2008, but that was done on Michelin qualifiers. That pole marked the first of two in a row at this track in southern Spain for Lorenzo, who wasn’t able to match his fellow Spaniard today. Instead he finished second with a lap of 1:39.487 mins. in a session in which the top ten were covered by .825 secs. and the entire 17-rider field by 1.601 secs.Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner is the final rider on the front row. The Australian who’d been so fast in Qatar couldn’t match that pace here and didn’t lock up third until there were only about two minutes, 30 seconds remaining. His lap of 1:39.511 mins. knocked teammate Nicky Hayden back to the second row and Hayden would fall one more spot to fifth thanks to Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha).Rossi wasn’t expecting much from the session. The world champion was nursing an injured shoulder that he’d damaged in a motocross accident and he said it was particularly problematic in the three hardest braking corners.Rossi was in sixth when he put in his flyer in the final 30 seconds of the hour. The improvement was only .157 secs., but it was enough to jump to fourth and move Hayden down to fifth.A second row start wasn’t bad for the nine-time world champion, but whether the shoulder would stand up to the rigors of the race remained to be seen.Hayden had his own issues. The Kentuckian heavily damaged his “A” bike in a big morning spill and started slowly in qualifying on his backup machine. But once up to speed, he put his name among the leaders and had a front row start until late in the hour when first Stoner dropped him a spot, then Rossi. Still, he finished in the middle of row two just in front of LCR Honda’s Randy de Puniet.Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards took the third row pole from teammate Ben Spies near the end of the session and only by .019 sec. This was Spies’ first trip to Jerez and the reigning World Superbike champion adapted quickly. Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso, the third place finisher in Qatar, sits at the end of row three.San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Melandri is on the row four pole in front of Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi and Interwetten Honda MotoGP’s Hiroshi Aoyama.
Qualifying:1. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:39.2022. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:39.4873. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1:39.5114. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:39.5585. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:39.5606. Randy De Puniet (Honda) 1:39.5917. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:39.9708. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1:39.9899. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:40.02110. Marco Melandri (Honda) 1:40.027