Motegi MotoGP: Andrea Dovizioso lifts Honda spirits
Andrea Dovizioso did his best to lift the gloom surrounding Honda’s factory squad at the Twin Ring Motegi today by storming to his career first MotoGP pole position.
With Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa’s slim title hopes wrecked by a heavy crash in practice yesterday that left the Spaniard with a triple fracture in his left collarbone, Dovizioso stole the limelight for HRC in its all-important home race.
Casey Stoner had just moved to the top of the timesheets in the final six minutes when Italian Dovizioso seized back top spot just 17 seconds later with a best time of 1.47.001.
And that time was never bettered as Dovizioso secured his first premier class pole position and only the second MotoGP front row of his career.
His first front row came earlier this season when he qualified in third place for the American Grand Prix at Laguna Seca in late July.
It was a good day for Italy with Valentino Rossi securing his first front row start since he returned from the broken right leg he suffered in Mugello at the beginning of June.
The 31-year-old had only managed a best grid position of fourth since his return at the Sachsenring and came within 0.054s of denying compatriot Dovizioso.
A best lap of 1.47.055 from the reigning world champion relegated Stoner’s factory Ducati to third spot, the Aussie securing his tenth front row start of the season.
Stoner logged a best time of 1.47.105 to finish just 0.050s adrift of Rossi and 0.104s behind Dovizioso’s factory Honda RC212V.
Jorge Lorenzo had dominated the opening half of the session but he had to settle for fourth place on the grid.
The Spaniard, who signed a new two-year factory Yamaha contract earlier today at the Twin Ring Motegi, could only produce a quickest lap of 1.47.206 that left him over two-tenths behind Dovizioso.
It was the first time in 14 races this season that Lorenzo has missed the front row.
American Colin Edwards was as high as second at the halfway stage and he equalled his best qualifying result of the season with a brilliant last lap of 1.47.464 clinching him fifth.
The 36-year-old finished less than two-tenths clear of Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team-mate Ben Spies who had to settle for sixth place. His best time of 1.47.648 secured him a place on the second row of the grid for the sixth successive race.
Loris Capirossi finished in tenth place after he escaped unhurt from an early crash while he was in fourth position.
Spaniard Hector Barbera was 11th with ten minutes left on the clock when he crashed his Aspar Ducati and slipped down the rankings to 15th.