For the first time since 1997, Repsol Honda riders filled the top three places in qualifying for the Malaysian MotoGP at Sepang.

Dani Pedrosa, unbeaten all weekend, led the way by just 0.029sec from newly crowned double world champion Casey Stoner, with Andrea Dovizioso 0.204sec from pole in third.

There hasn't been an all-Repsol Honda front row since the final race of 1997 at Phillip Island, when Mick Doohan was on pole ahead of Alex Crivill? and Takuma Aoki. Team-mate Tadayuki Okada was fourth on the grid (in 1997 there were four riders per row).

Pedrosa had to overcome an early lowside crash at the final hairpin, and the suffocating weather, to claim only his second pole of the season.

"It was a very difficult session, extremely hot, I couldn't breathe inside the helmet," he revealed. "We had a small crash in the front that I didn't expect, but was able to go back and go faster and take my second pole of the season.

"I thought I would be able to improve a little more at the end and get closer to the time I did yesterday, but I found some traffic on my final run. Anyway, it's good to be on pole and I hope our race pace can be even better.

"We have to work on the set up and make a good rear tyre choice because our rivals are also very strong. It's going to be very physically demanding for everybody. To have three Repsol Honda riders on the front row is very good, but we cannot forget the other rivals and we must keep focused to finish the weekend in the best way".

Pedrosa will be seeking his fourth victory of the year on Sunday, while Stoner seeks his tenth.

"I tried to steal pole but it wasn't really our day today," said the Australian. "We tried a few different things in set up but we haven't really gone the right direction at all this weekend.

"In qualifying we tried to find another path to go but we just haven't been able to get grip along with turning, we can find one or the other but at best they are both average so we have some improvement to make for tomorrow.

"Our race pace isn't too bad, we've looked worse than everyone else because we've been running on the harder tyre all weekend but once we put the soft tyres on the bike worked a little better".

Dovizioso hasn't won a race since 2009, but is confident he can put up a fight and form part of a possible first all-Repsol podium of 2011 on Sunday.

"I'm really happy with this front row and even more satisfied with my race pace," he said. "We were consistent and fast both with soft and hard tyre, meaning that it's possible to race with both of them.

"This afternoon the conditions were really demanding, it was very hot and there was no grip but we were able to be consistently fast so we go into the race very strong. With such conditions here it's impossible to push 100% for 20 laps so it will be very important to make a strategy for the race and to manage the tyres.

"I really like this track and tomorrow it would be fantastic to repeat a Repsol Honda 1-2-3 on the podium, but... in the reverse order!"


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