Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa came out on top of a hectic Q2 qualifying session for the MotoGP race at Mugello tomorrow, with unexpected sunshine greeting the competitors and making for a very exciting 15 minutes. With so little time to turn a quick lap, many of the riders ended up bunching up together and there were some frayed nerves and fist-waving before the session was over. First to fall prey to the conditions was Cal Crutchlow, who crashed with eight minutes to go and was forced to run back to the pits for his backup bike; the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider got back out with four minutes left and was able to turn a lap that got him up to fourth on the second row.
Valentino Rossi was up to third with a quick lap with seven minutes to go, but it wouldn’t hold as numerous riders began to push him back with quicker laps; by the time the checkered flag fell, Rossi was pushed back to seventh, not what the Italian was looking for at his home event with thousands of fans cheering him on. Marc Marquez suffered a nasty high-speed fall in practice yesterday that resulted in a badly bruised chin and other contusions, and he didn’t do himself any favors by crashing—luckily without additional injury—in every practice session leading up to qualifying, but the plucky Spaniard showed his mettle by moving up to second briefly midway through the session before he too was pushed back, eventually to sixth on the grid next to Rossi. Stefan Bradl performed his usual quiet business-like laps to eventually qualify fifth, but all eyes were on Lorenzo and Pedrosa as the duo set themselves up for a final push.
Dani Pedrosa ran an amazing...
Dani Pedrosa ran an amazing last lap in qualifying to grab pole position at Mugello.
Lorenzo looked like he had it in the bag with his quick lap undercutting Pedrosa’s lap record by a tenth, and Pedrosa wasn’t setting any record times in the timed sections on his final lap. But his final section proved to be the quickest, with the Repsol Honda rider resetting his lap record from last year a few tenths and undercutting Lorenzo by a scant 0.069 seconds. Dovisioso surprised the paddock by qualifying on the front row in third, although nearly half a second behind Pedrosa and Lorenzo—and the Ducati rider admitted that he won’t have the pace to keep up with them as his tires wear.
“It was tough at the end because I knew my previous lap wasn’t good so I (wasn’t in a good grid position),” said Pedrosa after qualifying. “I knew I only had one chance. I was a little bit disappointed because many riders wanted to follow, nobody wanted to really push. So I only had one chance to go, and finally I could do a good lap time, because I was really looking not to make any mistake. I just kept my focus, but finally it came, even a little bit faster than last year. It’s good, I think we did improvements to the bike today.”
Yamaha Factory Racing's Jorge...
Yamaha Factory Racing's Jorge Lorenzo just missed out on pole by 0.069 seconds.
Lorenzo was disappointed not to be on pole, but he knows he’s in a good position for the race regardless. “I was really surprised when I did a 47.6 on the first lap, I didn’t expect it to be so fast,” admitted Lorenzo. “But also I 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, the opposite sometimes, no? Anyway, was not enough, my perfect lap with the bike and with the track. But I think we have a good pace for tomorrow. We have to be focused, consistent, and in good physical condition for the race.”
Ducati's Andrea Dovisioso...
Ducati's Andrea Dovisioso surprised even himself by qualifying third at Mugello.
Dovisioso wasn’t even a sure bet to even make qualifying after his crash yesterday in FP1 where he lost the front end into the San Donato corner resulted in a very sore neck. Some intensive physiotherapy allowed the Italian to take part however, and he rewarded the team with a front row grid position at its home race. In fact, Dovisioso was one of the riders that angered Pedrosa, as he tried to get a tow from the Spaniard on one of his laps. “It feels incredible to make it onto the first row at Mugello, especially as a Ducati rider,” said Dovisioso afterward. “It was one of my goals, but I still can’t believe it, particularly after yesterday’s crash. The Clinica Mobile and my physiotherapist did a really good job of making my neck feel better, which gave me the opportunity to push hard in qualifying. It still bothers me, but I can push at almost 100%, and because yesterday I didn’t even know if I’d be able to race, I’m very happy. We worked really well this morning, improving the setup a little, and I was pretty fast this afternoon, but when the tires wear a little our pace isn’t good enough to fight for the podium.”
Valentino Rossi still hasn't...
Valentino Rossi still hasn't quite got the hang of the new qualifying format, and ended up seventh on the grid at Mugello.
Rossi will be a looking to get a good start after being relegated to the third row of the grid. “The practices are not so bad because we have a good pace for the race which is important,” said Rossi. “As always in the qualifying we suffer more than the others. They use the slipstream of the others and are able to go a bit faster than me. Unfortunately I have to start on the third row but I’m quite happy because my pace is quite good so I think with a good start I can do a good race. We will see tomorrow.”
Ben Spies’ problems with his shoulder continue, as the American pulled out of the race weekend after the first practice session realizing that his shoulder muscles still weren’t strong enough after his surgery back in November. Spies had previously missed Jerez and Le Mans while undergoing physiotherapy for his shoulder, after struggles at Qatar and Austin convinced him that he wasn’t anywhere near 100% physically.
MotoGP Mugello qualifying results:
1. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Honda 1:47.157
2. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Yamaha 1:47.226
3. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Ducati 1:47.628
4. Cal Crutchlow (GBR) 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 (USA) Ducati 1:48.006
9. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Honda 1:48.355
10. Michele Pirro (ITA) Ducati 1:48.564
11. Bradley Smith (GBR) Yamaha 1:48.706
12. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) ART/Aprilia 1:48.765
13. Andrea Iannone (ITA) Ducati 1:49.265
14. Randy De Puniet (FRA) ART/Aprilia 1:49.266
15. Hector Barbera (SPA) FTR/Kawasaki 1:49.847
16. Danilo Petrucci (ITA) Ioda/BMW 1:50.518
17. Colin Edwards (USA) FTR/Kawasaki 1:50.701
18. Claudio Corti (ITA) FTR/Kawasaki 1:50.729
19. Michael Laverty (IRL) ART/Aprilia 1:50.787
20. Karel Abraham (CZE) ART/Aprilia 1:51.089
21. Yonny Hernandez (COL) ART/Aprilia 1:51.239
22. Bryan Staring (AUS) FTR/Honda 1:51.981
23. Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) FTR/Kawasaki 1:52.148
24. Lukas Pesek (CZE) Ioda/BMW 1:52.345