Despite missing the Jerez pre-season test, due to knee and forearm injuries that also hampered development of the factory Repsol Honda RC212V, Dani Pedrosa proved that last weekend's surprise Motegi podium was no fluke by battling countryman Jorge Lorenzo for home pole honours at Jerez on Saturday.
Motegi winner Lorenzo prevailed, but only by 0.051sec over Pedrosa, who undoubtedly has a fighting chance of repeating his 2008 Jerez victory at a circuit where he has never finished lower than second as a MotoGP rider.
“I'm happy because we've improved a lot from yesterday and we're starting from the front row. This is always important - but especially at my home race,” said Pedrosa, who had been just tenth fastest on Friday, but put an RC212V in P1 for the first time this year in Saturday morning practice.
“It was very windy this afternoon which made it quite difficult to ride with a consistent line and keep the rhythm on the bike, but still, my pace was good and I'll go into the race with a lot of confidence.
“We still have some work to do to improve our set-up for the race but I'm happy with how we've progressed so far this weekend. Tomorrow is the important day though. There will be a lot of fans out there supporting me and the team and I really hope I can get a good result for them. If I get a start like I did at Motegi then that will help!" added the #3, pictured with his rear wheel in the air under braking.
“It was a promising day for Dani, and second on the grid is a good place to be,” stated team manager Kazuhiko Yamano. “His understanding of the machine is growing all the time. This is the first front row of the season for the team and indicates we're going in the right direction. The machine is not perfect though and there are some small improvements we want to make before the race so that Dani can fight for the win.”
Team-mate Andrea Dovizioso suffered his worst qualifying ranking of his young factory Honda career with eighth on Saturday, but hopes a good start will allow him to join his team-mate in the leading group during the 27 lap race.
“This morning we made some adjustments that gave us some positive feedback, and we wanted to keep working on them, but we couldn't test properly this afternoon because of the strong wind,” explained Dovi.
"Tomorrow morning we will work on further improving the feeling of mid-corner stability at the front. For the race I'll have to make a good start because we cannot afford to lose contact with the guys in front."
“Andrea made some gains testing new parts this morning, though there are still some areas he'd like improved. We know he's excellent in race conditions though so I'm hoping to get both riders on the podium tomorrow,” added Yamano.