Pedrosa pole, Stoner struggles.
Saturday, 22nd September 2007
Dani Pedrosa's Japanese Grand Prix charge continued in qualifying as the Spaniard celebrated a new Honda deal with only his second pole position of the 2007 MotoGP season.
The Repsol rider, fastest in every free practice session, led the first half of the hour long qualifying test - then returned to the top with eight minutes remaining after overcoming Kawasaki's Randy de Puniet.
Fiat Yamaha's Valentino Rossi then charged to pole, before Pedrosa responded was a brilliant final lap that put the Sachsenring winner 0.391secs clear of the rejuvenated Italian - who had been just 14th on Friday after an engine failure.
Pedrosa's team-mate Nicky Hayden completed a strong day for Honda, and Michelin, with third position, while de Puniet was eventually edged back to the head of an all-Bridgestone second row in front of commendable performances by Honda Gresini's Toni Elias and the second ZX-RR of Anthony West.
Meanwhile, world championship leader Casey Stoner suffered his worst qualifying session of the season - the Ducati star languishing down in 18th position with fifteen minutes remaining, before rising to sixth with his first qualifying tyre run. But the visibly unhappy Australian, who needs to beat Rossi to wrap up the world title on Sunday, was later bumped back to ninth - having started no lower than fifth in the previous 14 rounds.
Team-mate Loris Capirossi, dominant winner of the last two Japanese Grands Prix, lapped 0.050secs and one position ahead of the 21-year-old, while Marco Melandri (tenth), John Hopkins (eleventh) and especially Chris Vermeulen (17th) will also have hoped for much better grid positions.
4. de Puniet