Spain takes top two spots

Updated: August 29, 2009, 7:18 PM ET
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- Dani Pedrosa had the fastest motorcycle in the rain and was even quicker on a dry track.

It's still not good enough for the 23-year-old Spaniard.

So Pedrosa has asked his Repsol Honda team to make more adjustments after outdueling his top two rivals Saturday to take the Indianapolis MotoGP pole with a fast lap of 1 minute, 39.730 seconds. Spain's Jorge Lorenzo was second at 1:40.236, with six-time world champ Valentino Rossi third in 1:40.609.

"I'm happy," Pedrosa said. "I think we have to look for something else. I think we always should have to work and try to improve for tomorrow."

Most expected Rossi and Lorenzo, the Fiat Yamaha teammates, to continue their season-long dominance.

Pedrosa hasn't given them a chance.

He topped the speed charts Friday afternoon, in the rain, and again Saturday morning, on a green track. Then in the 1-hour afternoon qualifying session, he rode on the edge, occasionally tapping the surface with his knee pads yet maintaining enough balance to zip through the corners and the straightaways on the 2.621-mile road course more than a second faster than Rossi did in last year's inaugural race.

The result: Pedrosa's speed of 94.56 mph was a 10 mph improvement from Friday.

Italy's Rossi, the defending race champ and current points leader, and Lorenzo couldn't keep up.

That ended a four-race streak in which Rossi or Lorenzo had won the pole, and it's only the fourth time this year one of the teammates has not had the pole. Rossi is making his fourth start of the season outside the top two spots and acknowledges his motorcycle may be quick enough to catch Pedrosa.

"Honestly, we don't have enough pace at the moment, and I can't ride how I want to," Rossi said. "We don't have quite enough grip to enable us to push at the maximum. We did a lot of work this afternoon, but we're still not at our best."

That's certainly not the case for Pedrosa, who claimed his second pole of the season and eighth in his MotoGP career.

Pedrosa knocked 11 seconds off his best time from Friday in the morning practice and shaved another 1.5 seconds off that pace in qualifying.

Now he can go for an American sweep after winning in California in July and perhaps even become the first motorcycle rider to hit 200 mph down Indy's famed straightaway. Track officials said speeds topped 197 on Saturday and with the forecast calling for cooler temperatures and drafting expected under race conditions, it is possible.

"If the wind changes, maybe we can go faster than that in the trap speed," Pedrosa said.

Thirty minutes into qualifying session, Lorenzo was clocked in a record 1:40.643. Five minutes later, Pedrosa jumped to the top of the speed charts by going 1:40.440.

In the final 10 minutes, three riders -- Lorenzo, Rossi, and San Marino's Alex De Angelis -- all broke 1:41.

Pedrosa outdid that, too, breaking 1:40 on two of his last three laps -- a first -- to win the pole.

De Angelis starts fourth after going 1:40.620.

Colin Edwards was the top American qualifier at 1:40.961. He'll start fifth.

Nicky Hayden, the 2006 world champ who lives in Kentucky, was sixth in 1:41.067.

"I still feel I could have gone faster at the end, and I'm not completely happy," Hayden said. "I know what I'm in for tomorrow, and I'm not expecting to find a full second in the morning [practice]."

Three drivers, including Edwards, slid off their motorcycles during qualifying, but none appeared seriously injured. All three walked away from the accidents.

But Pedrosa isn't leaving anything to chance.

"I've been comfortable on the machine from the start and things have just clicked here," he said. "We can't relax at all, though, because I'm sure the other riders will improve and we know how strong our rivals have been this season. So we must make a few small adjustments to make sure we have the best possible package."


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press