For the first time of the 2010 MotoGP season, Andrea Dovisioso grabbed the pole position, the Italian starting first on the grid at the Japanese Grand Prix in Motegi.
The Respol Honda rider piloted his RC212V to a 1:47.001, 0.054 of a second ahead of Friday’s fastest rider, Valentino Rossi. Completing the front row with the two Italians is Ducati Team rider Casey Stoner, who won the previous MotoGP race in Aragon.
Andrea Dovisioso says: “I’m really happy to be on pole and also surprised because I didn’t expect to get so close to going under a 1:47-second lap here. This is like my second home race because it’s the home of the team, which makes it even more special to get my first pole position here. I’m also so happy about the performance of the RC212V. We’re looking good for the race because my style is usually not to go at my absolute maximum pace in practice and qualifying, so I’m hopeful for tomorrow.”
Dovi’s teammate, Dani Pedrosa, missed qualifying after a crash on Friday. The Spaniard, the only capable of catching series’ leader Jorge Lorenzo, will miss Sunday’s race, and possibly the following round in Sepang.
Rossi, who will joining factory Ducati next year, will have his second first-row start since Le Mans.
Valentino Rossi says: “It is a good feeling to be back on the front row after so long, the last time was at Le Mans, before the Mugello crash! We have improved in every area here, firstly we have made a big step with our setting, then we have the new engine from Yamaha which is enabling us to push more and be faster on the straights, plus we also have slightly harder Bridgestone tires here than in Aragon and they are working better for me. As I said yesterday I expected to suffer more with the shoulder but I am feeling quite good and when I brake in a straight line here I don’t have too much pain. I am so happy about all of this. This front row is going to be very important for tomorrow, we really hope for good weather and let’s see what we can do.”
As for Lorenzo, the 23-year-old led most of the qualifying session until his times were passed by the top three within the last moments of qualifying. The biggest candiate for the 2010 Championship was 0.205 of a second behind Dovi’s time.
The quickest American at qualifying was Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Colind Edwards, the Texan’s starting position his best of the season. Finishing the second row behind Lornezo and Edwards is the rookie Ben Spies.
Starting in seventh is LCR Honda rider Randy de Puniet, who had two run-offs during the qualifying session. Rounding out the top 10 were Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini Team) and the Rizla Suzuki duo of Álvaro Bautista and Loris Capirossi completing the top ten.
2010 Motegi MotoGP Qualifying Results:
1. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Repsol Honda Team
2. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Fiat Yamaha Team
3. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro Team
4. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Fiat Yamaha Team
5. Colin Edwards (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3
6. Ben Spies (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3
7. Randy de Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda MotoGP
8. Marco Simoncelli (ITA) San Carlo Honda Gresini
9. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP
10. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP
11. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Marlboro Team
12. Marco Melandri (ITA) San Carlo Honda Gresini
13. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) Pramac Green Team
14. Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) Interwetten-Honda MotoGP
15. Hector Barbera (SPA) Aspar Team
16. Mika Kallio (FIN) Pramac Green Team