Fresh off winning his first Grand Prix of the season last weekend in Germany, Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa earned his second pole position of the year with a record-breaking lap of the Mugello Circuit in Italy today, though it was a time that was under threat until the very end.
Pedrosa had been going back and forth all session long with Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo in the battle for pole, but Lorenzo's last-lap effort ended with a trip to pit lane after his M1 failed him coming out of the final corner while he was ahead of Pedrosa on splits. That gave the top spot to Pedrosa for his first pole since the French Grand Prix at Le Man on May 19. It was also the 20th pole position of Pedrosa's seven-year MotoGP career.
"It's just very special to be on pole," Pedrosa said. "Obviously, important for me is to always been on front row but pole is good. For tomorrow we have to do a good race. For tomorrow we have to do a good race; [Jorge] Lorenzo is riding very strong here and seems very comfortable. I hope to have a good race also and get some better confidence for tomorrow and get a good start and a good race."
Pedrosa's best was a 1:47.284 and it put him .139 of a second clear of Lorenzo's 1:47.423.
The surprise of the session came in the form of Hector Barbera, the Pramac Racing Ducati rider landing on the front row for the first time in his MotoGP career. The Spaniard lapped at 1:47.545 to knock Marlboro Ducati's Nicky Hayden off the front row.
Still, Hayden's 1:47.671 was enough for fourth - six spots better than this teammate Valentino Rossi, the Italian having won nine times in his career at his home circuit of Mugello.
World Champion Casey Stoner spent a lot of time on pit lane and he ended up fifth as he struggles to find a set-up on his RC213V. Stoner is just under half a second off his teammate Pedrosa's pace.
Despite crashing his Monster Tech 3 Yamaha with some 13 minutes left in the session, Cal Crutchlow ended up sixth and the second best Yamaha to Lorenzo. Crutchlow will start the race from the outside of the second row after besting his teammate Andrea Dovizioso by just .002 of a second.
Dovizioso will lead the third row of LCR Honda's Stefan Bradl and Yamaha's Ben Spies, the Texan having crashed in the same spot as Crutchlow during the session. Spies was the first rider out of the 1:47s, his 1:48.149 is 1.2 second slower than pole man Pedrosa.
As previously mentioned, Rossi ended up 10th in the session.
Texan Colin Edward completed the day in 19th on the NGM Mobile Forward Racing CRT bike.
1. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:47.284
2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:47.423
3. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 1:47.545
4. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:47.671
5. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1:47.689
6. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1:47.749
7. Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha) 1:47.751
8. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1:47.857
9. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1:48.149
10. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1:48.502