Having dominated all three free practice sessions in Valencia this weekend, American Nicky Hayden had to settle for third place in qualifying for his last Honda appearance tomorrow.
The 27-year-old logged a best time of 1.31.703 but it wasn’t enough to secure Hayden a farewell pole position for HRC as 2009 factory Ducati team-mate Casey Stoner claimed a stunning ninth pole position of the campaign.
The 2006 world champion at least thought he might hold second, but team-mate Dani Pedrosa relegated him to third in the closing moments.
“I certainly gave it a go. Things have gone really good for most of the weekend but in qualifying when we saw a few raindrops I came in and threw a qualifier in early. With this being my last race for Honda, I needed to qualify good so my team did a great job.
"As soon as it started raining we had qualifiers in the other bike and I went out and tried two tyres. I went back to race tyres then and it was a bit tricky having been on the extra grip of the qualifiers.
"It was a bit loose on the first couple of laps on race tyres but I’m a bit disappointed to slip to third. I should be happy with the front row but it would have been really nice to be on pole but Casey was too quick today.
"We were close but close don’t count, I guess! On my last qualifying run I did a 32.0 on my first lap and I knew it was going to be tough to get into 31s. I really pushed hard, really hung it out, but the bike was just moving around too much to be fast.
"The best I could do was a 31.7. I definitely pushed as hard as I could, though maybe I should’ve got the tyre a bit hotter on the out lap. It’s always a compromise – sometimes you get it too hot and sometimes you don’t get it hot enough.
"I didn’t get the lap time I needed, so I’m a little frustrated because it would’ve been cool to give Michelin a pole position for their last MotoGP race. But we’ve got a good bike and a good set-up, so we’ll just try to go for it in the race.
"I didn’t get to do many laps on race tyres, what with the drizzle and the qualifiers. I’ve only tried a couple of race tyres, so we’ll definitely talk to Michelin and use every bit of morning warm-up to get the information we need to make our tyre choice.”