As usual, a Repsol Honda RC212V was the top prototype in qualifying for the Malaysian GP at Sepang. But it wasn’t the usual Casey Stoner, the man who clinched the 2011 MotoGP Championship last weekend in Phillip Island.
Instead, it was Dani Pedrosa, who lead all three practice sessions before taking the pole position for Sunday’s Sepang MotoGP. Pedrosa will be joined on the front row for the penultimate round by teammates Casey Stoner and Andrea Dovizioso, respectively.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: "It was a very difficult session, extremely hot, I couldn’t breathe inside the helmet. We had a small crash in the front that I didn’t expect, but was able to go back and go faster and take my second pole of the season.
"I thought I would be able to improve a little more at the end and get closer to the time I did yesterday, but I found some traffic on my final run. Anyway, it’s good to be on pole and I hope our race pace can be even better. We have to work on the set up and make a good rear tyre choice because our rivals are also very strong.
"It’s going to be very physically demanding for everybody. To have three Repsol Honda riders on the front row is very good, but we cannot forget the other rivals and we must keep focused to finish the weekend in the best way."
Although Pedrosa suffered a the crash at the last corner in the third free practice Saturday morning, he returned to the track for qualifying on a second bike, leading by the mid-way point.
He then fought with Stoner and Dovizioso for the top time, eventually taking pole position by 0.029 of a second ahead of Stoner, who was denied his 12th pole of the 2011 MotoGP season, and 0.204 of a second ahead of Dovi.
Heading up the second row is the Texan Colin Edwards aboard the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha M1. Edwards put in a a 2:02.010, which was four-tenths of a second faster than his best practice time. This was the 37-year-old American’s best qualifying time since fourth position at Valencia in 2008.
Joining Edwards on the second row will be San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Simoncelli, who was 0.095 of a second behind Edwards, and Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden.
The third row will consist of Simoncelli’s teammate Hiroshi Aoyama, Rizla Suzuki’s Alvaro Bautista and Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi, who suffered a crash during qualfiying.
Although the grew to 18 riders, there will be only 16 starting Sunday’s Sepang MotoGP. The first to withdraw was Rizla Suzuki wildcard rider John Hopkins. The American was forced out due to further complications with the broken finger he damaged Brno World Superbike earlier this year.
The second rider to withdraw was Yamaha Factory MotoGP’s Ben Spies. The American’s still recovering from a concussion and tearing some soft tissue in the rib area, the injuries Spies sustained during a qualifying crash last weekend for Phillip Island MotoGP, a race he didn’t start.
Spies upset the injuries after two additional crashes in Saturday’s free practice sessions. Spies teammate, Jorge Lorenzo’s replacement for the Sepang MotoGP, Katsuyuki Nakasuga, will start in the final position, 16th.
2011 Sepang MotoGP Qualifying Results
|1.||26||Dani PEDROSA||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||315.3||2’01.462|
|2.||27||Casey STONER||AUS||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||315.6||2’01.491||0.029 / 0.029|
|3.||4||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||ITA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||313.0||2’01.666||0.204 / 0.175|
|4.||5||Colin EDWARDS||USA||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||308.9||2’02.010||0.548 / 0.344|
|5.||58||Marco SIMONCELLI||ITA||San Carlo Honda Gresini||Honda||309.0||2’02.105||0.643 / 0.095|
|6.||69||Nicky HAYDEN||USA||Ducati Team||Ducati||311.3||2’02.172||0.710 / 0.067|
|7.||7||Hiroshi AOYAMA||JPN||San Carlo Honda Gresini||Honda||312.7||2’02.254||0.792 / 0.082|
|8.||19||Alvaro BAUTISTA||SPA||Rizla Suzuki MotoGP||Suzuki||312.2||2’02.332||0.870 / 0.078|
|9.||46||Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||307.5||2’02.395||0.933 / 0.063|
|10.||35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||GBR||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||307.9||2’02.756||1.294 / 0.361|
|11.||14||Randy DE PUNIET||FRA||Pramac Racing Team||Ducati||308.2||2’02.939||1.477 / 0.183|
|12.||65||Loris CAPIROSSI||ITA||Pramac Racing Team||Ducati||307.9||2’03.077||1.615 / 0.138|
|13.||17||Karel ABRAHAM||CZE||Cardion AB Motoracing||Ducati||310.7||2’03.438||1.976 / 0.361|
|14.||8||Hector BARBERA||SPA||Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP||Ducati||310.8||2’03.619||2.157 / 0.181|
|15.||24||Toni ELIAS||SPA||LCR Honda MotoGP||Honda||311.3||2’03.646||2.184 / 0.027|
|16.||89||Katsuyuki NAKASUGA||JPN||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha||302.7||2’04.072||2.610 / 0.394|