BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — MotoGP overall leader Dani Pedrosa set a record for qualifying at the Catalonia Grand Prix on Saturday, breaking the previous mark held by Casey Stoner.
Pedrosa steered his Honda around the Circuit de Catalunya in a flying lap of 1 minute, 40.893 seconds under sunny skies in his native region of northeastern Spain. Pedrosa's time beat Stoner's previous mark by 0.293 seconds.
Briton Cal Crutchlow set the second fastest time, followed by world champion Jorge Lorenzo on his Yamaha in third. Pedrosa's new teammate and title challenger Marc Marquez will start Sunday's race from sixth place on the grid. Seven-time world champion Valentino Rossi is next after only managing the seventh-fastest lap in qualifying.
It was Pedrosa' second pole of the season and 26th of his career. Pedrosa leads the standings with 103 points after five of 18 races. Lorenzo is in second place with 91 points, while Marquez is third with 77.
Pedrosa said that temperatures reaching 52 degrees Celsius on the track made conditions tough, but he didn't let it show as he cruised through the track's 13 corners. "It's difficult to do what I did especially when it is so hot," Pedrosa said. "Pace is the most important thing here — that and to start in front."
Lorenzo had to change to a backup bike early in the session because of mechanical problems, but the two-time champion said he wasn't concerned any glitches would carry over to Sunday. "We are on the first row, which is the most important thing for tomorrow," Lorenzo said. "We have to keep improving, but it will be a completely different race tomorrow. It will be very hot and we will run slower than our best lap today."
Spanish riders also won pole position in the two minor categories. In Moto2, Pol Espargaro claimed his second pole of the season, while Luis Salom did the same in the early Moto3 session. Runaway Moto2 leader Scott Redding of Britain will start second on the grid, despite saying his bike underperformed and needed to be looked at by his team's engineers. Redding leads the standings by 43 points. Spaniard Esteve Rabat was the third fastest.
Salom clocked the best time late in Moto3 qualifying after overall leader Maverick Vinales had to abandon the track due to mechanical problems following a crash from which he managed to come back. Salom was followed by fellow Spaniard Alex Rins and Portugal's Miguel Oliveira respectively. Vinales, who leads Salom by four points in the standings, will start in the second line in fifth.