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Spain's Dani Pedrosa takes pole position at Italian MotoGP

MUGELLO, Italy -- In-form Spanish rider Dani Pedrosa will start from pole in Sunday's Italian MotoGP after posting the fastest time in qualifying here on Saturday.

The 26-year-old Honda star — who won last Sunday's German MotoGP — will start ahead of series leader and compatriot Jorge Lorenzo, on a Yamaha, while another Spaniard, Hector Barbera, is third on the grid on a Ducati.

It is Pedrosa's 39th pole position of his career — the 21st in this category.

His Australian team-mate and defending world champion Casey Stoner, who crashed when set for at least second place on the last lap of the German MotoGP, was fifth fastest.

Pedrosa, who is second in the standings, battled it out with Lorenzo for most of the session but it was to end in disappointment for the latter when he had to come in early on the last lap.

“We definitely made another step forward today and to get the pole position here is great, although to always be on the front row is what really matters to me,” said Pedrosa.

“We had a good practice in the morning and managed the timing well in qualifying to be on track when everybody started to improve the lap times. It will be a very hard race for sure, it's very hot out there and the race pace will be also very high looking at the lap times this afternoon.

“I'm quite happy with the set up of my bike, we've had better grip today and I'm pretty confident, but we have to keep very focused and push at the maximum because Lorenzo has an incredible pace.”

Lorenzo, who leads Pedrosa by 26 points in the standings, said: “In the lap before the last I felt a loss of power in some corners. On the final lap I was red until the last corner then I felt the power drop much more so I had to enter the pits and stop,” said Lorenzo.

“I made some good laps, although not completely perfect and I felt I could make a better one. It's going to be a very tough race for everyone so we have to stay calm and save some energy for the end.”

Barbera achieved his best result in this category so far, outperforming the two official Ducati entries of Italian legend Valentino Rossi, who was only 10th fastest, and Nicky Hayden, who was fourth quickest.

Stoner was disappointed by his performance which means he failed to make the front row of the grid for only the second time this season.

“This weekend we're just missing something, especially in the longer corners we just can't get the bike to turn,” said the Australian.

“We're losing some tenths in each sector, if we get the bike sorted for one sector then everything should come together easily but it's been a difficult weekend so far.

“We still have tomorrow morning to improve our set up and sort out a few of our weaker points, if we do then we might be in with a chance. I'm not too worried about second row, we'll hopefully get a good start, see what we can do and try to hang with the guys at the front, but honestly at the moment Jorge and Dani are on a different level.”

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Spain's Dani Pedrosa steers his Honda during the third free practice session for Sunday's Italian Moto GP, at the Mugello race circuit in Scarperia, Italy, Saturday, July 14. (AP)

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