Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso will start on pole position for tomorrows Japanese Grand Prix in Motegi after taking his first pole in the premier class. Qualifying threw up many other “firsts”, with FIAT Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi claiming his first front row start since Le Mans, and championship leader Jorge Lorenzo missing out on the front row for the first time this season, after losing out to Ducati’s Casey Stoner who had drama of his own after leaving the track early on.
Dovizioso is Repsol Hondas sole representative this weekend, after championship contender Dani Pedrosa returned home to Spain for an operation on his collarbone, fractured in FP1 on Friday. With Pedrosa out, leader Lorenzo needs a solid performance to increase the advantage at the top. However, starting from 4th may not be what the Spaniard wanted. Lorenzo will be joined on Row 2 by the Monster Yamaha Tech3 duo of Colin Edwards, who will start 5th after equaling his best qualifying performance this year, and Ben Spies in 6th, yet again showing his aptitude at learning new tracks.
Row 3 is headed by LCR Hondas Randy De Puniet, who survived 2 offs in the session. He will be joined by Marco Simoncelli on his San Carlo Honda Gresini in 8th with Rizla Suzukis Ãlvaro Bautista just behind in 9th. Loris Capirossi completes the top ten even after the veteran Italian had a crash early in the session. He returned to the track to set his best time, which was just over a second off pole.
The 2nd Ducati of Nicky Hayden will start in 11th, after having an early excursion in the gravel, with Marco Melandri on the other San Carlo Honda Gresini in 12th. Melandri has the honour of being the only rider towards the back of the grid who didn’t explore the gravel. Aleix Espargaro completes Row 4 on the lead Pramac Ducati.
The back row is headed by Hiroshi Aoyama, starting his home grand prix in 14th on the solo Interwetten Honda. Hector Barbera finished the session in 15th, after crashing his Paginas Amarillas Aspar Ducati and the grid is completed by Mika Kallio on the second Pramac Ducati.