Photography by Gold & Goose
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa saved the best for last. The World Championship leader waited to his very last lap in qualifying to pop the cork on a lap record 1:47.157 to earn the pole for Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix. It marked the first pole of the season for Pedrosa. Defending champ Jorge Lorenzo qualified second with a time of 1:47.226 on his factory Yamaha and the surprise of the session was the performance turned in by Italy’s own Andrea Dovizioso on the factory Ducati. “Dovi” took third in spite of suffering from a stiff neck, a result from a crash on Friday.
The other news coming out of Mugello Saturday was the announcement that Ben Spies was pulling out of the event, his injured shoulder still not healthy enough to race.
Lorenzo was the fastest rider early in the final qualifying session and he said he was surprised by his speed.
“I was really surprised when I made the 47.6 the first lap,” said last year’s Mugello winner. “I didn’t expect it to be so fast. I also didn’t expect Dani to be so quick on the last lap. I expected to stay on the pole position, but sometimes you expect to be on the pole position and you are not and the opposite sometimes. Anyway, it was not enough, my perfect lap with the bike and with the track, but I think we have a good pace for tomorrow and we have to be consistent and to be in good physical condition.”
Dovizioso made a remarkable recovery after there was a question whether or not he would even race after Friday morning’s crash.
“The consequence for my neck was not so nice,” Dovizioso said of the result of his crash on Friday. “Yesterday I almost couldn’t ride. But my physio did a really good job and today a little bit improve on my neck and I was able to push 100 percent. It’s special to do the first row in Mugello for Ducati, for all the fans, for all the sponsors and all my friends who came here to support me. I’m really happy. It’s really special for us. We know in the race we don’t have a really fast pace, but we worked really, really hard here with the test a month ago and now we are quite competitive.”
Pedrosa scored the pole, his second straight at Mugello, after being annoyed with other riders doing nothing but following him in the session.
“It was a hard moment at the end because I knew my previous lap wasn’t good, so I wasn’t really up on the grid,” Pedrosa said. “I knew I had only one chance, so I was a little bit disappointed because many riders wanted to follow, nobody really wanted to push. So I only had one chance to go and finally did a good lap time because I was really looking not to make any mistakes, because I knew one mistake and I wouldn’t improve on my lap time from before. So I kept calm and focused but finally came just on the point, even a little faster than last year. It’s good. I think we did improvements today on the bike so I hope tomorrow to do a good pace.”
Earlier Ignite Pramac Racing announced that, following Friday practice, Ben Spies would not be able to take part in the rest of the race weekend.
The team statement read:
"Unfortunately yesterday’s free practice sessions highlighted the muscular problems still afflicting Ben Spies. The intense rehabilitation activities which the Texan has undergone in the last four weeks have brought about a clear improvement but it still not sufficient for Spies to demonstrate his true potential on the track.
"After an analysis of the situation, the Pramac Racing Team, Ducati Corse and the rider have taken the mutual decision to continue rehabilitation and physiotherapy and to interrupt all track activities to allow Ben to complete his total physical recovery.
"In the next few days Ben Spies will undergo further medical checks in order to have a clearer appraisal of the situation and evaluate the treatment to be followed for full recovery."
As for the other Americans, Nicky Hayden qualified eighth on the Ducati with a 1:48.006. It had to be a bit disappointing for the former world champ since he’d been as high as third with just three minutes to go in the session. Texan Colin Edwards timed in at 1:50.701, which puts him 17th on the grid aboard his FTR Kawasaki.
Marc Marquez returned from his 175 mph crash on Friday to qualify sixth. The rookie wore a thick bandage on his chin during the session.
Cal Crutchlow crashed in the session, but ran back to the paddock and got on his backup bike to clock a solid fourth.
The Italian Grand Prix will be shown on SPEED Sunday beginning at 7:30 am Eastern.
Qualifying results for MotoGP at Mugello, Italy, June 1, 2013
1. Dani Pedrosa (Spa) Honda 1 minute 47.157 seconds
2. Jorge Lorenzo (Spa) Yamaha 1:47.226
3. Andrea Dovizioso (Ita) Ducati 1:47.628
4. Cal Crutchlow (GB) Yamaha 1:47.632
5. Stefan Bradl (Ger) Honda 1:47.737
6. Marc Marquez (Spa) Honda 1:47.763
7. Valentino Rossi (Ita) Yamaha 1:47.872
8. Nicky Hayden (US) Ducati 1:48.006
9. Alvaro Bautista (Spa) Honda 1:48.355
10. Michele Pirro (Ita) Ducati 1:48.564
11. Bradley Smith (GB) Yamaha 1:48.706
12. Aleix Espargaro (Spa) ART 1:48.765
17. Colin Edwards (US) FTR Kawasaki 1:50.701