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Pedrosa breaks Rossi's record to claim Valencia pole

Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa will start the final race of the 2012 season in pole position after topping qualifying.

Story highlights

  • Spanish motorcyclist Dani Pedrosa wins pole at final race of MotoGP season
  • Honda rider breaks Valentino Rossi's lap record at Valencia circuit
  • He heads the front row from world champion Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner
  • Stoner, the 2011 world champion, will retire from the sport after Sunday's race

Dani Pedrosa may have missed out on the MotoGP world title yet again, but the Spanish motorcycle star is determined to finish the 2012 season on a high note at one of his favorite tracks on Sunday.

The Honda rider smashed Valentino Rossi's lap record at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia on Saturday to claim pole position for the final race.

He clocked one minute 30.844 seconds near the end of the session to head off compatriot Jorge Lorenzo, who clinched his second world title for Yamaha at the penultimate race in Australia last month.

Last year's world champion Casey Stoner, who won at Phillip Island, will complete the front row in his final race for Honda before retiring.

"It was almost a perfect lap and I gave 100% because I knew I wouldn't be able to improve any more as the tires were very good for the first lap and then the drop in grip was quite severe," said Pedrosa, who will finish second in the championship for the third time since stepping up to the elite class in 2006.

The 27-year-old has won five times at the circuit in MotoGP's three divisions.

"I'm very happy with the pole position and the new record because Valentino's old record was done with qualifying tires. We had only one dry session to test the new asphalt," he said.

"We still have to decide on the tires for tomorrow because we have used only the soft compound, but it depends on the weather -- if it rains we will need to take what we learned yesterday. I really would like to win here and finish the season with a good race."

Stoner, whose title defense was derailed by injury, has two wins and two second placings in Valencia since his MotoGP debut in 2006 but the Australian is not comfortable with the track's new surface.

"Qualifying didn't really go to plan, it was a pretty frustrating session. Due to the miserable weather this weekend, we had a lot of work to do in a very short space of time, we did make some good progress but unfortunately we couldn't find enough before the end of the session," the 27-year-old said after setting a time of 1:31.428.

"There is a new surface here and we expected everything to be really good and smooth but in fact we've found there are a lot of bumps on the circuit. Hopefully the weather is dry tomorrow and we can take that extra step in warm-up."

Lorenzo, who will be rejoined by Rossi at Yamaha next year, has won six out of 17 races and finished runner-up 10 times -- with just one retirement.

"It seems like it's going to be very close tomorrow. Dani is very strong here, not only in the dry but also in the wet and it seems it could be wet for the race," he said after clocking 1:31.195.

"I tried my best for pole position with the last rear tire but I didn't expect the lap time from Dani."

Seven-time world champion Rossi has not won at Valencia since 2004, and his hopes of a repeat seem slim after a poor final qualifying run for Ducati.

The Italian, who has stood on the podium just twice in two years away from Yamaha, finished Saturday's session back in 11th -- more than two seconds slower than Pedrosa.

He set the previous lap record of 1:31:002 in 2006.