Edwards was just 0.278 seconds off the pace of his team- mate to equal his best qualifying position of the campaign ahead of what promises to be a mouth-watering penultimate round.
Both riders worked hard on the race setting of their YZR-M1 machines throughout the day, building on positive recent tests at Motegi and an exhaustive first day of practice yesterday. In the morning they were second and fifth fastest but the momentum grew in the afternoon when they both dipped under the 1’38 mark on race rubber before launching their grid attack in an exciting climax to the session, Rossi setting his definitive pole time on the last of three impressive efforts.
Tomorrow’s race, which gets underway at 1pm local time (CET –1), will see the reigning World Champion aim to reduce a 12-point deficit to series leader Nicky Hayden, who clinched the final front row spot in third place, before the final round of the season at Valencia in two weeks’ time.
VALENTINO ROSSI (1st – 1’36.200; 27 laps) “With the championship as it is now I think it was fundamental to be on pole position today and for Colin to qualify second is perfect – I am really pleased for him and all his guys. We’ve worked hard this weekend because the right setting was quite difficult to find and all the team had to give 100% so I’m really thankful to them and to Michelin for a great tyre. Of course the important thing is tomorrow and with Hayden on the front row with us it looks like it will be a great battle for the victory. There are a lot of other riders with good pace too but for now I’m really happy with the pole position. My first two qualifying laps were quite good but the last one was unbelievable – it is so much fun to ride the M1 when it’s working so well like this. Hopefully the weather will stay like this tomorrow and we can have a good show for everybody.”
COLIN EDWARDS (2nd – 1’36.478; 27 laps)
“It’s a fantastic feeling to be back on the front row and running with consistent times that we know can make us competitive in the race. Hats off to my team and to Michelin as well, because we had a lot of help from them today. After Motegi we stayed and tested and finally figured out the little piece of the puzzle that has been missing all year. Now the bike feels easy to ride – I can push it to the limit, even go over the limit, and I don’t know how to thank the guys enough. Personally I feel good and feel that I’m riding great.
Tomorrow looks like it’s going to be really interesting so hopefully I can play my part for the team and we’ll see what happens.”
DAVIDE BRIVIO – CAMEL YAMAHA TEAM DIRECTOR "It was a perfect end to the session for us and a perfect way to start the race tomorrow! To have Valentino and Colin start first and second at such a crucial moment in the season is very important. It's great for us to see Colin back on the front row and so happy on the bike. It's also encouraging to see that we're making progress with the bike, even at this stage of the championship. It's fantastic that Valentino is on pole and in such good shape for these last two battles. But it is only Saturday and now we have to focus on tomorrow and hope for an equally good day.”