With his reputation for gaining ground off the start, and a second place in qualifying, few would be surprised if Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa takes an early lead in Sunday's British Grand Prix at Donington Park.
“Dani's starts have been very good this year and so the middle of the front row gives him a clear run into the first corner which could be valuable,” admitted team manager Kazuhiko Yamano.
Pedrosa took victory in the recent US Grand Prix after rocketing from fourth to first at turn one and the 2006 Donington winner has his sights set on a return to the top step during the final MotoGP event to be held at the East Midlands circuit for the foreseeable future.
“We did a good job in both sessions today and I'm happy to qualify on the front row because, in reality, that's more important than taking pole position,” said the 23-year-old, who lost out on pole to Valentino Rossi by just 0.095sec. “On my last run at the end of the qualifying session I found some traffic on the circuit which caused me to lose my concentration and rhythm slightly, so I think I could have gone a little quicker. But still, the middle of the front row is OK.
“Our dry set-up is nearly there so we'll aim to make just a few little improvements before the race. The weather is looking changeable for tomorrow, though at least we've had some practice time in the wet yesterday. If it's raining I'd like to improve my riding and my pace a bit but the weather is out of our control so we'll have to see. It's the last MotoGP race at Donington tomorrow and of course I'd like a good result to sign off with - preferably a win,” he added.
Rossi's Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo will start the other side of Pedrosa in third.
Pedrosa's team-mate Andrea Dovizioso will start the race directly behind Pedrosa in the middle of the second row, having qualified in fifth with a lap 0.662sec from pole. Dovizioso is looking to end a three-race DNF streak on Sunday.
“Starting from the second row is not a bad place to be and gives us a chance to get away at the head of the field so I'm satisfied with that,” said the Italian. “A fast start tomorrow should give us a good opportunity to have a strong race. Having said that, I really like this track and I was hoping to be in a slightly better situation going into tomorrow both in terms of grid position and race pace.
“We still need to improve our speed and consistency and there is some work to do to take us closer to the frontrunners and be fully competitive. We need to improve on the entry to the corner and also to work on traction, so we'll look at the data we collected today and I'm confident my team can help me to make these improvements. It could rain tomorrow too, so we'll come in ready for anything,” he added.