Photography by Gold & Goose
Dani Pedrosa thrilled the Spanish fans Saturday at Circuit de Catalunya not only by earning the pole for tomorrow’s Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya, but also by shattering a five-year-old track record set by Casey Stoner in 2008. In the best qualifying performance of the season, Pedrosa clocked a 1:40.893 on his factory Repsol Honda RC213V to become the first rider ever to dip into the 1:40s on the 2.9-mile, 13-turn circuit in Barcelona.
Stoner’s 2008 record of 1:41.186 was established on a Ducati during the days of super gummy qualifying tires.
Joining Pedrosa on the front row are Yamaha riders Cal Crutchlow (1:41.501) and Jorge Lorenzo (1:41.566). Both set their fastest times on the final lap of qualifying.
Pedrosa left Catalunya fans slack-jawed with his blazing lap with about three minutes left in Q2. It put the championship points leader in a class by himself. His lap was over 6-10ths of a second faster than second-place Crutchlow.
“Today was a better day because we did a very good lap time,” said an understated Pedrosa, who earned his second straight pole. “We improved the lap record of the circuit, but especially to get pole in front of these fans is a good feeling. Obviously most important today is that we improve the rhythm. That is so important for tomorrow. I hope to make a good start and a good race.”
For Crutchlow it marked a return to the front row for the first time since round one in Qatar.
“The lap time for Dani was incredible,” Crutchlow admitted. “Congratulations to him because it was really tricky conditions out there today. I believe we did a good job. It’s nice to be back on the front row. I haven’t been there since… since a long time. If we can get a good start tomorrow and try to hang with Dani and Jorge I’ll be very happy. So far so good and we look forward to the race tomorrow.”
Lorenzo remained the only rider to be on the front row from every GP start this season, but it didn’t come easy. He had a troublesome session, with the clutch going out on his primary bike in the opening minutes of the final session.
Alvaro Bautista will head up the second row on the Gresini Honda, followed by top Ducati rider Nicky Hayden.
Saturday started very encouragingly for Hayden. He was second fastest in the morning’s Free Practice 3 session. He then followed that up with his solid fifth-place qualifying performance, finishing ahead of Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi. Hayden’s factory Ducati has display fantastic top speed. He matched the top-speed record at the track yesterday reaching 210.8 miles per hour. Today’s fifth marked his best qualifying performance of the season for Hayden.
Rossi’s seventh-place qualifying effort had to be a disappointment after the popular Italian opened the weekend with the fastest time Friday. His confidence may have been shaken slightly by a crash in turn five in the morning practice.
Texan Colin Edwards will start 16th. He turned a 1:43.983 on his NGM Mobile Forward Racing FTR Kawasaki.
The MotGP race from Catalunya will be broadcast on SpeedTV Sunday morning starting at 7:30 am Eastern.
Qualifying results for the Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya – Saturday, June 15, 2013
1. Dani Pedrosa ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 1m 40.893s
2. Cal Crutchlow GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 1m 41.501s
3. Jorge Lorenzo ESP Yamaha Factory Racing (YZR-M1) 1m 41.566s
4. Alvaro Bautista ESP Go&Fun Honda Gresini (RC213V) 1m 41.714s
5. Nicky Hayden USA Ducati Team (GP13) 1m 41.800s
6. Marc Marquez ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 1m 41.842s
7. Valentino Rossi ITA Yamaha Factory Racing (YZR-M1) 1m 41.959s
8. Andrea Iannone ITA Energy T.I. Pramac Racing (GP13) 1m 41.963s
9. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Ducati Team (GP13) 1m 42.053s
10. Stefan Bradl GER LCR Honda MotoGP (RC213V) 1m 42.090s
11. Bradley Smith GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 1m 42.548s
12. Aleix Espargaro ESP Power Electronics Aspar (ART CRT) 1m 42.878s
16. Colin Edwards USA NGM Forward Racing (FTR-Kawasaki CRT) 1m 43.983s