Pedrosa second, Dovizioso fifth
After a difficult day Friday at the Alcañiz track, when FP2 was cancelled due to an electrical short, all three Repsol Honda riders made the most of Saturday's longer morning session. In the afternoon when track temperatures were 12 degrees higher than the morning, Stoner, Pedrosa and Dovizioso fine tuned their machines for an intense final twenty minutes of qualifying.
Following a cautious first lap on the softer tyres, Stoner narrowly escaped impact with the safety barrier. He was able to return to the pits in time and on his second bike he recorded a new lap record of 1'48.451 almost five tenths faster than his record set here in 2010 of 1'48.942. It is Stoner's ninth pole of the season and second year in succession at the Aragón circuit.
Alongside him on the front row is team mate Dani Pedrosa who set a time of 1'48.747. Pedrosa, fresh from his second place finish in Misano two weeks ago will be looking to continue his strong end to the season. Dovizioso, starting from the second row, wasn't able to put together a perfect flying lap, but he is confident with his race pace he will be able to fight for the podium.
Tomorrow at the circuit, the Repsol Honda bikes and riders will have a special 'look' created by Spanish designer David Delfin. The new design has been inspired by superheroes and supermen and incorporates David Delfin's trademark typography to give the team a unique personality for the Aragón GP which will start at 14:00 local time.
Casey Stoner: "It was a very eventful qualifying session for us! Everything has been going very well this weekend, we have a good feeling with the bike and I'm feeling great. At the end of the session we put on the soft tyre and on the first lap I was a little too cautious in Turn 1 as I wasn't sure if the tyres were warm enough, then I pushed on the second lap and I had a lot more grip than I expected so I went through the corner much faster and I wasn't able to slow down, I pulled the bike up but it was difficult to reduce the speed and I ended up needing to lay the bike down to avoid the wall. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to restart the bike which is a shame as I was happier on that one, but even on the second bike we were able to improve our time. Now we need to see what the weather brings for tomorrow but we're feeling good and I hope for a good race.”
Dani Pedrosa: "I'm happy with the first row on the grid. I've pushed to the limit to get a good position and we achieved it, but to be honest we still need to tune the set up of the bike a little, especially in front because I don't feel as comfortable as I'd like to and I'm struggling a little under braking. For the race pace, Casey is quicker than us, he is riding very fast and smooth, so I guess he will set the pace tomorrow and we will need to stay close from the beginning of the race. I'm still not 100% sure about the tyre choice; the tyres are suffering especially on the left side. In principal, the medium compound should be the right one for the distance, but we need to wait and see how the weather is. Let's hope we can find something else on the setting tonight and have a good race in front of the Spanish fans."
Andrea Dovizioso: "I’m quite satisfied with this qualifying session as we have a good race pace but Casey is so strong and seems unbeatable. We’ll do our best to strengthen our position in the Championship and we want to fight Dani’s comeback and gain some points on Lorenzo. During qualifying I didn’t do a perfect fast lap, but starting from the second row is not so bad. We will continue working on the set up because the main issue remains the tyre wear on the rear. The key point of the race will be managing the tyres because with these hot temperatures and this kind of asphalt, the tyres suffer a lot; I expect that we’ll all race with the hard tyre. Concerning the race I aim to make a good start and maintain the contact with the front group.”