Dani Pedrosa kept in close contact with reigning six time MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi during the closing minutes of Friday's qualifying session at Assen, and was rewarded with second on the Dutch TT grid.
“I'm pleased with my qualifying position today, especially considering that there was quite a lot of traffic on track in the final few minutes,” said Pedrosa, who lapped just 0.085sec slower than Rossi for his first front row start since pole at round four in France.
“I was lucky at the end of the session to have Valentino in front and being behind him helped me a lot to set this lap time,” admitted the #3, who had been sixth in the free practice sessions.
“The feeling from the machine is quite good, although we still need to make some adjustments to the set-up to make best use of the Bridgestone tyres for the race, and this is what we'll be working on in the warm-up.”
Nursing an injured hip since Mugello, the Repsol Honda rider has now dropped to fifth in the world championship, but is hoping for a strong race tomorrow.
“My physical condition on the bike today was again much better than at the last race in Barcelona and this makes a lot of difference because I am able to concentrate fully on riding. I know that the race will be very physically demanding though, so I can take nothing for granted. Still, with some final set-up improvements, I hope I can make a good start and have a strong race tomorrow,” said the Spaniard.
Team-mate Andrea Dovizioso experienced a very different qualifying, losing ground relative to his free practice pace and will start just eighth on the grid.
“I have to say I'm quite disappointed about my qualifying result this afternoon because starting from the third row makes the race more complicated,” said the Italian, who had been third in Friday morning practice. “Although my race pace was pretty good throughout the session, I didn't manage to make the best of the soft tyre option, so tomorrow I will really have to focus on making a good start and recovering as many positions as possible during the first two or three laps.”
“Andrea was unlucky not to get a higher grid position because he was in the top six for most of the session and I don't think eighth reflects his true potential,” said team manager Kazuhiko Yamano. “Still, with a good start I think both he and Dani can be strong tomorrow and the whole team will be working hard for that.”