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Pedrosa on MotoGP pole as Spies surprises in Czech qualifying

Dani Pedrosa is seeking to bounce back after crashing out in the previous race in the United States.
Dani Pedrosa is seeking to bounce back after crashing out in the previous race in the United States.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dani Pedrosa seeking his third victory this season after earning his third pole position
  • Spaniard heads off Ben Spies in Brno, with American denied his first pole
  • MotoGP leader Jorge Lorenzo will complete front row after finishing third
  • Lorenzo and fifth-placed world champion Valentino Rossi had falls during qualifying

(CNN) -- Title hopeful Dani Pedrosa claimed his third pole position this season for Sunday's Czech Grand Prix as MotoGP leader Jorge Lorenzo and world champion Valentino Rossi suffered falls in qualifying.

Pedrosa trails Lorenzo by 72 points with nine races left in the season, but has the chance to reduce that deficit after his fellow Spaniard was third behind American Ben Spies in Brno on Saturday.

Spies was looking at his first-ever pole as he led until the closing minutes of the session, but Pedrosa pushed his Honda to a superb lap time of one minute 56.508 seconds.

That left him three-tenths of a second ahead of the 26-year-old Yamaha rider, with Lorenzo clocking 1:56.865 before a late spill from which he emerged unscathed.

I'm okay and I haven't made any of my injuries worse, so this is the most important thing. I was pushing hard
--Valentino Rossi
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Pedrosa, who did not finish at Laguna Seca last time out following his victory in Germany, won from pole in Italy and was second starting head of the grid at his home race.

Rossi, who is 120 points behind Lorenzo after breaking his leg earlier this season, came home in fifth behind Ducati's former world champion Casey Stoner (1:56.868).

The Italian's 1:57.059 was just over half a second off Pedrosa's best time, and he was also unhurt following his fall soon after Lorenzo came off.

"I'm okay and I haven't made any of my injuries worse, so this is the most important thing," Rossi told the MotoGP website.

"I was pushing hard and trying to make my best flying lap and I just lost the front, so maybe we're still missing a bit of grip. I was really angry when I crashed because I think it was possible to get second or even the pole position."

Lorenzo was hoping for improvement on Sunday after his struggles.

"This wasn't the best practice session of the year for us. We made some modifications that didn't work and it was especially a problem in the front, which was closing on me a lot," he said.

"I wasn't fast and I was having to take too many risks. Then I made a mistake and the bike went flying. I really hope the engine is okay for tomorrow, luckily I am not hurt and I was able to get up straight away."

Repsol Honda's Andrea Dovizioso completed the second row in sixth ahead of Americans Colin Edwards and Nicky Hayden, Spanish rookie Hector Barbera and Italy's Loris Capirossi.

French rider Randy de Puniet will start from 11th on his return from injury, having broken his leg in Germany in mid-July.

Meanwhile, MotoGP's 125cc class will be replaced from 2012 with a new 250cc engine category, the sport's ruling body announced on Saturday.

In another change, there will be a third practice session added for the premier category race in Spain next month, and if the experiment at the circuit in Aragon is successful then it may be extended to the events at Valencia and Estoril.