Hiroshi Aoyama came out of nowhere in the closing seconds of the second 250cc qualifying practice for the Malaysian 250 cc Grand prix to statch the pole from Red Bull KTM team-mate Mika Kallio by a mere three hundredths of a second.
Aoyama said he had constantly run into traffic when attempting a fast lap but eventually he saw his opportunity. "It was only at the very end and after sorting through different tyres and fine-tuning the set-up in different areas that I finally found a clear track. I managed to take pole position with this one and only fast and flawless lap." It was Aoyama's first 250 cc pole position of the 2007 season.
Aoyama said he was particularly pleased to complete the lap time on the race tyre, a big confidence factor for Sunday's race. "Of course there are still parts that can be further improved on the bike, especially the feeling on the front end, which is very important for the raceA risk factor is the weather - for today's conditions, the bike is good, but tomorrow, the conditions could be different. That's why we have to keep working hard to keep improving the bike both tonight with the data and tomorrow in the warm-up session," Aoyama said.
Kallio had seemed the favourite to take his second pole of his rookie season in the 250 cc class right up to the moment when Aoama charged through his fastest lap. Already out in front by the middle of the session, the Finn had been consistently shaved nano seconds off his lap time as the going got tough and serious in the final stages of the race. Despite finishing second to his team-mate, Kallio is very confident for the race.
"I was on top almost all the time this afternoon, which shows something for the race tomorrow!" he said. "The feeling with the bike was good straight away, we didn't have any problems and in the end we also found a good rear tyre for the last qualifying run. I pushed for three or four laps and managed to improve my time, but then I came in a little earlier because the rear tyre performance had dropped a lot." Kallio said he was satisfied with being second even if "as a rider you always want to be on top
Team director Harald Bartol congratulated both his riders on the top pole positions and said they not only had done a great job on the day but always push their bikes to the limit. "Their riding abilities are beyond any doubts, but success is still also a matter of luck and circumstance," Bartol said. "Here in Malaysia, the circumstances seem to be in our favour because our engines withstand the heat especially well!"
The circuit in Sepang has been recently resurfaced and riders will have to contend with brutal tropical temepratures and conditions, always with the outside chance of rain.
Both Red Bull KTM riders are now glowing with confidence and hope to try to repeat the one-two success at the German Grand Prix in July, where Aoyama had won the race ahead of Kallio.