Stoner takes pole number nine to end 2008 qualifying action2008-10-25 01:44
Casey Stoner had the last word in MotoGP qualifying for the 2008 season with his ninth pole position of the year, setting a 1'31.502 lap of the Valencia circuit that proved too hot to handle for his premier class rivals.
The session saw what could be the last appearance for Bridgestone's special qualifying rubber, put to expert use by the Ducati rider for his nineteenth MotoGP top spot. Riding on dry asphalt for the first time this weekend, Stoner upped his pace before putting down his fastest lap with time to spare.
2007 Valencia poleman and racewinner Dani Pedrosa was just 0.053 short of his rival's marker, at the track where he and Stoner did battle throughout their time in various classes and championships. The Gran Premio Parts Europe de la Comunitat Valenciana will be the second consecutive race in which Pedrosa will start from the front row, the ninth time this season.
Top of every previous session this weekend, Nicky Hayden was unable to take the pole position that has eluded him over the course of the season. The Repsol Honda rider was just over a tenth of a second slower than current teammate Pedrosa, with future garage counterpart Stoner the first to knock him off the top spot. Hayden completes the front row for his last race with Honda before moving to Ducati on Monday, and put it all on the line as he slipped and skidded around the Valencia track in qualifying.
Tech 3 Yamaha had a positive session that almost ascended to the heights of their season-opener in Qatar, with both of their riders on the second line. Colin Edwards heads the row, with James Toseland alongside him in fifth. The latter had one of his attempts at pole halted by Marco Melandri, whose apologies for baulking the Briton fell on deaf ears.
Randy de Puniet completes row two, coming back from a crash in the session, whilst the third row consists of home rider Jorge Lorenzo, Suzuki man Loris Capirossi and Andrea Dovizioso. 2008 MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi could only place tenth onboard the Fiat Yamaha M1, his worst qualifying result this year when fully fit.
Fresh from his clinching the 2008 250cc World Championship, Marco Simoncelli took his seventh pole position of the year in a last-gasp hot lap of the Valencia circuit. The Italian pickpocketed home rider Alex Debon with the clock run down to zero, recording a 1'35.408 lap just 0.018 faster than his Lotus Aprilia rival.
Debon took his first Grand Prix podium at last year's race, and seemed to have pole position for the 2008 race in the bag before Simoncelli's charge. Nonetheless, he starts from the front line for the eighth time this year, second on the grid.
Also challenging for pole was Julian Simon, whose own final attempt at the top spot saw him come into close contact with Debon's teammate, Aleix Espargaro. Gestures were exchanged as the two Spaniards crossed the line, with a kick aimed by Simon in a feisty encounter. The Repsol KTM rider will make his second front row start of the season from third.
Whilst Simon moves down to 125cc after the Gran Premio Parts Europe de la Comunitat Valenciana, Red Bull KTM's Mika Kallio will be ascending to MotoGP with Ducati for next season. He placed fourth on the grid for his final 250cc race.
Kallio's teammate Hiroshi Aoyama heads row two, joined by Alvaro Bautista, Ratthapark Wilairot and Roberto Locatelli.
Gabor Talmacsi will start his final 125cc race from pole position on Sunday in Valencia, after putting down the fastest time of the second lower cylinder category qualifying session. The Hungarian was just under two-tenths of a second ahead of Bancaja Aspar teammate Sergio Gadea as he clocked a quickest lap of 1'41.451, giving him a fourth pole of the season.
The 2007 World Champion could easily have been relegated to the second row in the final moments of the session, with a host of riders upping their pace as the clock ran down. The Hungarian's sixteenth lap of the Valencia circuit eventually provided the definitive time, permitting him a repeat of his pole from last year.
Home rider Gadea had also left his best until last, and returned to the front row for the first time since the British round of the series back in June. Provisional poleman Simone Corsi consolidated his top four start, joined by local boy and Jack&Jones WRB teammate Nico Terol on the first line.
Sepang race runner-up Bradley Smith heads row two, alongside Stevie Bonsey, new World Champion Mike di Meglio and Andrea Iannone, who had led the way for much of the session.
The red flag was briefly shown ten minutes in, due to a nasty crash suffered by Belson Derbi's Pol Espargaro. The Spaniard was briefly knocked out by a fall over the front of his machine, and was taken to the medical centre for examination.
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