Casey Stoner rode his Ducati to a pole position victory at his hometurf in front of appreciative Aussie fans at Phillip Island.
Despite lowering laps times from his timesheet topping practice session on Friday, Rossi could not match the pace set by Stoner around the Australian circuit, posting the second-fastest time, only 0.050 behind. Despite lowsiding his Repsol Honda RC212V, Pedrosa managed to return and claim the third-fastest position.
Rossi’s teammate, Jorge Lorenzo, missed the front row by a mere thousandth of a second to Dani P. and will start lined up behind Stoner in fourth. Joining Lorenzo on the second row is American Colin Edwards, who crossed the line fifth-fastest today aboard his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine, wihile San Carlo Gresini Honda’s Alex De Angelis captured sixth. De Angelis also suffered an off-track experience but rejoined after running back to the pits for his second bike.
Fellow American Nicky Hayden qualified in the third-row in seventh with LCR Honda’s Randy De Puniet and Mika Kallio rounding out Row 3. Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso accomplished a top-ten grid start on Row 4 with fellow Honda pilot Toni Elias in 11th and Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider James Toseland in 12th.
Starting on Row 5 will be Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi. He will be joined by Hayate Racing’s Marco Melandri and Rizla teammate, Chris Vermeulen.
Since the beginning of his 2000 MotoGP career, Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi has finished on the podium at the Phillip Island circuit.
Stoner looks to have shaken off any effects of his mysterious illness and looks like more than capable of making it three GP wins in a row at the Australian circuit.
MotoGP Phillip Island Saturday Qualifying:
1. Casey Stoner (Ducati Marlboro) 1:30.341
2. Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha) +0.050
3. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) +0.729
4. Jorge Lorenzo (Fiat Yamaha) +0.730
5. Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) +0.755
6. Alex de Angelis (San Carlo Gresini Honda) +0.919
7. Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro) +0.984
8. Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) +1.039
9. Mika Kallio (Pramac Racing) +1.043
10. Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) +1.131
11. Toni Elias (San Carlo Gresini Honda) +1.299
12. James Toseland (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) +1.381
13. Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki) +1.532
14. Marco Melandri (Hayate Racing Team) +1.849
15. Chris Vermeulen (Rizla Suzuki) +1.99
MotoGP Phillip Island Saturday Qualifying Rider Quotes:
Dani Pedrosa (3) lowsided his Repsol Honda in the entrance to the Southern Loop section of the Phillip Island circuit, but escaped injury.
Casey Stoner – Ducati Marlboro:
“It’s a great feeling to be on pole position again, especially here at my home race. I’ve had great support from the fans here this weekend and it is nice to give them something to cheer for today, although the real work starts tomorrow. To be honest we’re still struggling for traction, which seems to be the same problem for everybody, but we have worked hard this season to create a bike that turns well – trying things like going back to the aluminium swingarm – and it has paid off so far this weekend. This is a great track to ride at when you’re comfortable with your bike and even though we still don’t have a perfect set-up I still felt confident enough to push it at the end and it was good fun. Now I’m really looking forward to tomorrow, especially because we’re going to be running a special livery and I’d really like to thank our sponsors for that.”
Valentino Rossi – Fiat Yamaha:
“We are on the front row which is the most important thing and I think we can definitely have a good race tomorrow. We have a few things to check in the morning, depending on the weather, including the final tire choice – of course we hope for it to be dry. I have a good setting and with the last modification we made I was able to make another step and we were quite fast. The pole position was possible today but unfortunately I made a mistake in the last section on my flying lap and Stoner was able to go a little bit faster than me. We have an advantage on Lorenzo, which is important for the championship points, and I hope that I will be able to fight with Stoner for the win.”
Dani Pedrosa – Repsol Honda:
“I’m pleased to be on the front row because it’s always good to have a clear track ahead of you at the start of the race – and especially since it came after I had quite a big crash in qualifying. It was at high speed on the way into Turn 2 so it’s a relief that I wasn’t injured and I was able go straight back out on track for the second half of the session. I’m not sure yet why I fell – I just touched the brake and boom – I was down. We’ll take a look at the data and try to find out exactly
“I feel better than yesterday but I’m still not at 100%; I feel quite weak still because I haven’t been able to eat much. I will have to try before tomorrow in order to have enough strength for the race,” said Jorge Lorenzo about contracting food poisoning at Phillip Island.
what happened. For tomorrow we’ll work on finding a little something in terms of pace to allow us to compete for the win because the riders in front are going quickly. It will be a long race tomorrow so we’ll need to be fully concentrated – and of course it will be important to see what the weather does.”
Jorge Lorenzo – Fiat Yamaha:
“I’m a bit disappointed to lose my 100% front-row qualifying record by such a tiny amount, but today we just didn’t quite have enough pace. We still don’t have enough grip on the rear and the tire is spinning too much, which makes it difficult to be fast enough. Tomorrow I will try to adapt my riding style instead in order to try to make it onto the podium. I don’t feel any pressure, I will just go out and do my best.”
Colin Edwards – Monster Yamaha Tech 3:
“I need to thank my guys at Tech 3 because in one hour we got through a lot of work this afternoon to get to where we ended up with the bike. Generally we show up and the bike is in the ballpark, but today we were still out in the car park waiting to get in. But my guys did an amazing job and we can still make it better tomorrow, so I’m confident we can have a strong weekend.”
Alex De Angelis – San Carlo Gresini Honda:
“It was a real shame about the crash because I had a good feeling from the start of the session and that was the bike that had the better setting on, in terms of working with the hard race tire, and it would have been good to get some more laps on it. Having said that there were some things about the setting on the other bike that I liked and I was able to push it and set a few laps in the 1’31.2, 1’31.3 mark. The good thing is that we have found good things from both settings – now we have to work how best to combine them together! Either way I’m pleased with our performance today and confident about the race tomorrow.”