Stoner unstoppable in Qatar2010-04-11 00:20
Casey Stoner gave himself the best possible chance of taking his fourth successive MotoGP victory in Qatar tomorrow, by qualifying his Ducati Marlboro Desmosedici on pole position.
The Australian rider has topped every practice and qualifying session this weekend, holding off a late charge from reigning World Champion, Valentino Rossi, during qualifying to claim prime position on the grid for tomorrow's 22-lap Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar.
"We're only at the start of a very long season, but this is a perfect start and I'm really pleased," declared Stoner. "I'm sure I was on for a faster lap, but then my gear shifter got stuck at turn two. To have set a virtually identical time on both the hard and soft tyres is obviously encouraging for the race, but the only objective here is to take some solid points to Japan."
Rossi, who topped the timesheet briefly during qualifying this evening, looked set to topple Stoner from the top spot with a late charge, but the Fiat Yamaha rider lost time in the final corner and was forced to settle for second place on the grid, 0.355s adrift of Stoner and his Ducati.
Jorge Lorenzo secured the final spot on the front row of the grid with his final lap of the hour-long session, declaring himself fighting fit after his pre-season injury, but concerned about a lack of rear traction that had caused him issues during the qualifying session.
Randy de Puniet was the fastest Honda mounted qualifier this evening, finishing fifth fastest to head up the second row of the grid, where he will be joined by Loris Capirossi, who will celebrate his 300th Grand Prix start tomorrow, and fellow Honda rider, Andrea Dovizioso.
Colin Edwards got the better of fellow countryman, Nicky Hayden, to take eighth place, with the first of the MotoGP rookies, reigning 250cc World Champion Hiroshi Aoyama, joining the two Americans on the third row of the grid in ninth.
Another MotoGP rookie, Ben Spies, rounded out the top ten for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team.
Toni Elias rode through the pain barrier this evening to claim pole position for tomorrow's first ever Moto2 World Championship race. The former MotoGP rider crashed heavily during the final pre-season test in Jerez and arrived in Qatar on crutches following surgery on a fractured ankle and hand. The 27-year-old Spaniard had to have painkilling injections ahead of qualifying, but the pain was forgotten as he parked his Gresini Moriwaki on the number one spot in parc ferme at the end of the 45-minute timed session.
Reigning 125cc World Champion, Julian Simon, secured second place on the grid aboard his Mapfre Aspar RSV machine, just 0.006s ahead of former 125cc rival, Stefan Bradl. Another former MotoGP rider, Alex De Angelis, secured fourth position, with the result that four different chassis manufacturers will be represented on the front row of the Moto2 grid in Qatar.
A late charge by Yuki Takahashi secured the Japanese rider fifth place on the grid, ahead of Jules Cluzel, Raffaele De Rosa and the elder statesman of the Moto2 class, Alex Debon.
With 41 riders on the grid, the first ever Moto2 race promises to be an exciting affair.
Marc Marquez will start the first 125cc World Championship race from pole position aboard his Red Bull Ajo Motorsport Derbi, after holding off the challenge of fellow Derbi rider, Pol Espargaro. Nico Terol qualified his Bancaja Aspar Aprilia in third place, just ahead of the second Tuenti Racing Derbi of Efren Vazquez.
Randy Krummenacher finished qualifying fifth fastest and will head up the second row of the grid, in front of Tomoyoshi Koyama, Sandro Cortese and Alexis Masbou.
Runner up in last year's 125cc World Championship, Bradley Smith has struggled throughout the Qatar weekend with machinery problems, but the British rider managed to salvage ninth place on the grid with his very last lap in the timed session. Esteve Rabat rounded out the top ten aboard his Blusens STX Aprilia.
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