Casey Stoner snapped up the 27th pole position of his career with a dominating qualifying effort at Qatar.
Casey Stoner kept his MotoGP rivals in check during qualifying with the Australian extending his dominance at Qatar by securing pole position. Stoner bested his two lead rivals, Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa and defending champion Jorge Lorenzo. The title-contending trio will fill up the front row on Sunday’s grid. The other ‘alien’ in MotoGP, Valentino Rossi, will have to start from Row 3 – the Doctor qualifying back in ninth position.
The qualifying performance marks the 27th pole position of Stoner’s career, with 27 the Aussie’s traditional number (when he’s not sporting number-1). Impressive throughout the GP paddock’s extensive stay at Qatar, Stoner seized the pole in typical fashion. When it appeared Pedrosa might mount a challenge, snatching up provisional pole with approximately 20 minutes remaining, Stoner hopped back on his RC212V and promptly turned a lap a full four-tenths faster than his teammate. From then on it was a matter of sorting out the fellows behind him.
Pedrosa managed to close the gap to 0.215 for second. While not enough to reel in Stoner, Pedrosa’s pace put the Spaniard a full 0.6 ahead of the third-running Lorenzo – proof the top-placed Repsols are running a step ahead of the competition.
Pedrosa couldn’t close the gap entirely on his teammate in qualifying, though the Stoner/Pedrosa duo are far ahead of the remaining GP pack.
Gresini Honda’s Marco Simoncelli capped an up-and-down performance in practice with an impressive lap to seize fourth. Following the Italian on Row 2 is factory Yamaha rider Ben Spies, who had been in the provisional front row for much of the hour-long qualifying session. Mapfre Aspar’s Hector Barbera logged yet another surprising result sneaking onto the final spot on the second row and was once again the fastest Ducati on the track.
Andrea Dovizioso was unable to repeat the 1-2-3 Repsol front from yesterday, with the Italian leading Row 3. Tech 3 Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow will start his first Grand Prix from a respectable eighth-place position, all the more remarkable considering he nipped ahead of the ninth-place Rossi. Finishing ahead of Rossi is not a bad way to start a GP career by anyone’s reckoning.
The second Tech 3 rider, American Colin Edwards, rounds out the top 10. Randy de Puniet (Pramac Racing) and Hiroshi Aoyama (Gresini Honda) complete Row 4.
Meanwhile, back in Row 5 is Ducati factory man Nicky Hayden. The Kentucky Kid has his work cut out for him, starting back with the satellite Ducs piloted by Loris Capirossi (Pramac Racing) and Karel Abraham (Cardon AB). Toni Elias brings up the GP caboose with the LCR Honda nearly four seconds off Stoner’s pace.
As for injured rider Alvaro Bautista, the Spaniard underwent surgery at the Doha hospital to place a pin his fractured femur. Logistical problems mean no rider in the Suzuki seat at Qatar, with former Rizla GP rider John Hopkins slated for Jerez.
2011 MotoGP Qatar Qualifying:
1. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1’54.137
2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1’54.342
3. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’54.947
4. Marco Simoncelli (Honda) 1’54.988
5. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1’55.095 0.958
6. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 1’55.223
7. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1’55.229
8. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1’55.578
9. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1’55.637
10. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1’55.647
11. Randy de Puniet (Ducati) 1’55.656
12. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda) 1’55.724
13. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1’55.881
14. Loris Capriossi (Ducati) 1’56.323
15. Karel Abraham (Ducati) 1’56.665
16. Toni Elias (Honda) 1’57.992