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Pedrosa: “It’s difficult to predict the race”

Repsol Honda rider talks qualifying, race pace and predictions for Sepang

It was a stunning end to qualifying at the Malaysian GP, with Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) searing to the top of the timesheets for his third pole of the year, fourth premier class pole at Sepang and eleventh front row at the venue – by a tiny margin.

Pedrosa: "We're hoping for a dry race"

“It was very close,” agrees the man on pole. “The laptimes were tight from the beginning in the dry, in both sessions from first to tenth was only a few tenths and everyone was lapping very fast. Fortunately my timing on the track in qualifying was good with no traffic, and on both runs I did I was feeling good. On the first run I could get some rhythm for improving on the second.”

Pedrosa did improve on the second run, and it was his final lap that stole the show – just 0.017 seconds ahead of Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), who had been on provisional pole. “It was quite positive and quite a good laptime because the track was very warm,” the Little Samurai explains, although he says he didn’t do a perfect lap. “Normally it’s difficult to do these times with these temperatures; throughout the day the track was improving.” That it was, with the first 1:59 of the day coming from Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) in FP3 and the times getting quicker and quicker. Not quite pole lap record pace, but it’s Pedrosa who holds that too – from 2015.


Pedrosa's pole-winning lap

Looking ahead to the race, the number 26 sees some stiff competition – and knows it will come down to longevity, rhythm and the weather: “In FP4 we had the chance to try more tyres and it seems there are three tyres that can do a good lap. This is one of the toughest tracks, but the bike setup can make a difference – and your feeling with the tyres. If you’re smoother you can save it. But in this class in this GP, looking at the laptimes, it looks like everybody is going fast so it’s difficult to predict the race. The rhythm is more of a question, and I think track conditions tomorrow will be important.”

With the race set for 15:00 (GMT +8) local time – when inclement weather often hits in Malaysia – that could be the easier prediction to make ahead of lights out. Pedrosa is currently the second most prolific winner at Sepang with five wins, and will be looking to add another and equal Rossi’s all-time record of six.

Highlights: Pedrosa takes pole in electric Sepang qualifying

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