MotoGP Motegi qualifying report: First pole for Ducati since 2010

Andrea Dovisioso continues his momentum from practice by setting a new lap record at Motegi for Ducati's first pole since 2010; Valentino Rossi second, Dani Pedrosa third despite crash, Marc Marquez fourth, Jorge Lorenzo fifth

motogp motegi qualifying dovisioso

In perhaps an indication of the progress that Gigi Dall'Igna and the Ducati Corse team have been achieving with the Desmosedici, Andrea Dovisioso managed to continue his momentum from Friday and grab the first pole position for Ducati since 2010 with Casey Stoner. And while it's easy to point to the usage of the ultra-soft tire option that is available to the Open class MotoGP teams but not the factory teams as the reason for his speed, it should be noted that Dovisioso's race pace on regular race rubber was very good, hovering only a few tenths off the fastest times. Following just 0.055 seconds behind Dovisioso was Movistar Yamaha's Valentino Rossi, who looked like he might get his first pole position of the season before the Ducati rider's late run. Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa managed to hang onto the outside of the front row despite crashing in the next to last corner on his last lap attempt at pole, fortunately unhurt.

"It’s really nice to have that feeling," Dovisioso said about his pole position. "I mean, the pole position is always something special and very difficult for me in my career so I’m really proud to be in pole position with Ducati. It’s a special feeling because we struggled a lot in the beginning and in one year we improved the bike a lot. We worked really hard and we arrived with really good speed in the last four or five races but especially at this track. I love this track, I’m a good braker so this helped me to go fast. Our bike now is really stable under braking, and under acceleration we have a lot of power so I think we have some chance to fight for the podium tomorrow. It’s always really important the first exit in qualifying to understand how much you can push more in the second one and I have a really good feeling to improve the lap time a lot and I was able to get it."

Rossi was obviously elated to have been so close to pole, nevermind the importance of starting on the front row at Motegi, where the first turn is fairly tight and can cause some unintentional collisions. "Yeah, I’m very satisfied especially because we’re starting in the front row for the race tomorrow will be very important. It will be a tough race, very long where everybody push at the maximum. I’m also happy because we work well with the team on the bike, we improve a lot the setting, we make a good job and for the qualifying I was strong. And I hope that this modification help me with the rhythm for the race because during the practice my rhythm was not so bad but nothing special, so if we want to try to make a good race and fight for the victory tomorrow we have to improve."

When asked about any lingering injuries from his Aragon crash two weeks ago, he replied, "Yeah I was worried for the head but that I know on that I’m OK. But for the finger, because this finger is very important for braking. And sincerely I feel pain, but I have power, I have feeling with the brakes so I can ride."

Pedrosa admitted that he threw caution to the wind on the lap where he crashed. "I had a little chatter in that corner in the previous laps. I was pushing very hard in the last laps and didn’t care so much about the chatter so that happened. But I didn’t care because I’m still on the front row. Yeah, unfortunately I crashed on the last lap, in the very end trying to get the pole I was under the lap time but fortunately I’m OK. We’re also looking to improve some things for the race tomorrow, but also take advantage of the front row. It can be a tight race maybe, but we hope to do our best anyway whether it’s a good race or not."

And what of Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo? Lorenzo made a mistake on his second tire when he mis-shifted heading into the next to last corner, but his race pace was superb, and he'll be looking to get another one of his lightning starts. Marquez's race pace was also excellent, so he'll be looking to make up for his mistake on his first tire where he ran on in turn one on his first flying lap. Marquez ended up fourth, with Lorenzo fifth.

MotoGP Motegi Saturday qualifying results:

Pos. Rider Country Team Machine Time
1 Andrea Dovizioso ITA Ducati Team Ducati 1:44.502
2 Valentino Rossi ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1:44.557
3 Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 1:44.755
4 Marc Marquez SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 1:44.775
5 Jorge Lorenzo SPA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1:44.784
6 Andrea Iannone ITA Pramac Racing Ducati 1:44.854
7 Pol Espargaro SPA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 1:44.867
8 Cal Crutchlow GBR Ducati Team Ducati 1:44.898
9 Stefan Bradl GER LCR Honda MotoGP Honda 1:45.005
10 Bradley Smith GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 1:45.044
11 Aleix Espargaro SPA NGM Forward Racing Forward Yamaha 1:45.315
12 Alvaro Bautista SPA GO&FUN Honda Gresini Honda 1:45.677
13 Yonny Hernandez COL Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Ducati 1:45.971
14 Nicky Hayden USA Drive M7 Aspar Honda 1:46.465
15 Scott Redding GBR GO&FUN Honda Gresini Honda 1:46.499
16 Hector Barbera SPA Avintia Racing FTR/Kawasaki 1:46.796
17 Katsuyuki Nakasuga JPN Yamalube Racing Team w/YSP Yamaha 1:46.876
18 Hiroshi Aoyama JPN Drive M7 Aspar Honda 1:46.915
19 Karel Abraham CZE Cardion AB Motoracing Honda 1:46.948
20 Alex De Angelis ITA NGM Forward Racing Forward Yamaha 1:47.092
21 Danilo Petrucci ITA Octo Ioda Racing Ioda/Aprilia 1:47.757
22 Michael Laverty IRL Paul Bird Motorsport ART/Aprilia 1:48.144
23 Mike Di Meglio FRA Avintia Racing FTR/Kawasaki 1:48.185
24 Broc Parkes AUS Paul Bird Motorsport ART/Aprilia 1:48.261