Spain’s Dani Pedrosa claimed only his second Moto GP pole position of the season in the gruelling heat of Malaysia as Honda dominated at the Sepang Circuit on Saturday.
The 26-year-old, who is lying fourth in the already-decided championship, whizzed his way around the 5.5-km (3.4-mile) course in two minutes 1.462 seconds. Newly crowned world champion Casey Stoner was second fastest.
Pedrosa missed the race last year at Sepang due to a collarbone injury sustained in a crash a week earlier at Motegi.
Honda riders swept the top three positions for Sunday’s race, where deposed world champion Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo is missing with an injury to his left hand.
Pedrosa was 0.029sec ahead of team-mate Stoner, while Italy’s Andrea Dovizioso (2:01.666), also on a Honda, cruised to third position.
The 26-year-old Stoner, who claimed the championship last week on home soil in Australia, said the punishing heat made for trying conditions.
“It will be a very tough race,” he said, adding that “we are struggling to get stability for the bike”.
Colin Edwards, on a Yamaha, landed fourth. Ducati’s Valentino Rossi was down in ninth.
Swiss rider Thomas Luthi claimed pole in the Moto2 category in 2:07.512 on his Suter, ahead of Kalex rider Stefan Bradl of Germany (2:07.724) and Italy’s Michele Pirro riding a Moriwaki (2:08.004).
In the 125cc class, championship leader Nicolas Terol was fastest on an Aprilia in 2:13.579. He will become the 125cc world champion at Sepang if he scores more points than Frenchman Johann Zarco on a Derbi.
He was down in 15th spot.
Spain’s Hector Faubel on an Aprilia and Sandro Cortese were second and third on the grid.