Championship leader Dani Pedrosa stole a last-minute pole position to cap off a dramatic qualifying session for the Gran Premio d’Italia TIM in Mugello today. The Repsol Honda Team rider will share the front row with Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo and Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso, who overcame a neck injury for a front row slot.
Until Free Practice 4, Pedrosa had not been quickest in any practice session so far this weekend but, shortly after Lorenzo had beaten his pole position record of 2012, overcame his compatriot with a best effort of 1’47.157. This left less than a tenth of a second between the top two, with Dovizioso cementing a front row position for the second consecutive race; this was notwithstanding the fact that the leading Italian was on painkillers after crashing on Friday. The top eight riders all enjoyed a short time on the provisional front row, but a flurry of changes made for an action-packed Q2.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow will start fourth, still riding with a broken leg, as LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl pipped Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez for the middle slot on the second row; incidentally, the rookie had crashed in each of the first three practices – not least on Friday afternoon when he was fortunate to escape a high-speed accident – and had progressed to the shootout from Q1 for the first time. Crutchlow on the other hand had crashed in the Q2 session, yet cited that it had a positive side, as he found out he preferred the set-up on his second bike.
Lorenzo’s teammate Valentino Rossi – riding with a turtle-inspired helmet design – was disappointed to have plummeted to seventh at the last moment, heading up Row 3 from Ducati’s Nicky Hayden and GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista. Michele Pirro achieved the first top ten qualifying result for the Ducati GP13 Lab bike, leading the fourth row from Tech 3’s Bradley Smith and Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro, who unlike on previous occasions had headed directly to Q2.
Failing to pass through to Q2 on his second bike, Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone will start his first premier class home Grand Prix from 13th place, although teammate Ben Spies has pulled out of the weekend as he continues to suffer pain with a pectoral muscle. Accompanying Iannone on Row 5 will be Randy de Puniet (14th) and Hector Barbera (15th) for their respective Aspar and Avintia Blusens outfits. Gresini CRT runner Bryan Staring managed 22nd position on his 26th birthday, one spot ahead of Avintia’s Hiroshi Aoyama who had endured two accidents earlier on in the day.