Pedrosa secures 20th pole
LE MANS (FRANCE) SPANIARD Dani Pedrosa will start in pole position in Sunday’s French MotoGP after posting the fastest time in a rain-hit qualifying session on Saturday.
The 26-year-old Honda rider, winner of 15 MotoGPs, will start from pole for the 38th time, his 20th in the elite category, after edging out teammate and world champion Casey Stoner of Australia by 0.303sec.
Italian Yamaha rider Andrea Dovizioso was third fastest.
Stoner and Pedrosa, who last year broke a collarbone in this race that ruled him out for several rounds, were the only two riders to go under the 1min 34sec mark.
“I’m not usually a pole guy but we must work hard on the bike. I hope for some good settings for dry and wet,” said Pedrosa, whose last pole was at the Czech Grand Prix in 2011.
“Let’s see what the weather does tomorrow but we have to be ready to go fast in any conditions. The race is very long, 28 laps, and everything can change during the race, so I hope to have a good start and to be able to keep a good pace until the end.” Championship leader Stoner, who will quit the sport at the end of the year, said the weather had hit his push for pole position.
“We’re really happy to be on front row, but qualifying definitely didn’t go to plan,” said the Australian, who has won two of the three races this season.
“The track was drying out and we knew we had the pace, you just had to be a little cautious in some areas that were still holding water.
We felt we were fast enough to be on pole position but every time I was on a good lap or building up to one, I got held up.
“I think we’re looking good for the race, we’re pretty comfortable in dry conditions but we still have warm up and a chance for the others to find something extra, so we’re going to have to improve our bike a little also and wait for the race as the weather conditions are still unpredictable.” Dovizioso’s best qualifying performance of the season so far was all the more creditable as he relegated the official Yamaha stable duo of 2010 world champion Jorge Lorenzo and American Ben Spies onto the second row.
Italian great Valentino Rossi will start from the third line of the grid on his Ducati, along with Frenchman Randy de Puniet on an Aprilia.