Casey Stoner has a clear advantage to win the championship this weekend after snagging pole by nearly half a second.
Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner continued to dominate at his home circuit on Saturday, snagging pole by nearly half a second over the MotoGP field at Phillip Island. With a lap of 1’29.975 the Australian outpaced his rival in the series, Jorge Lorenzo, earning his 11th pole victory this season and putting himself on track to win his fifth consecutive Australian GP.
“So far so good, we have a good race pace and the bike’s feeling pretty good at the moment,” said Stoner. “We still need to improve the rear grip, but I think this is the same for everyone, we’d also like to get the harder rear tire working better for the race.”
Meanwhile San Carlo Honda’s Marco Simoncelli had a strong performance and will start from the front row for the first time in seven races after posting the third-fastest lap. Conditions were also favorable for Rizla Suzuki’s Alvaro Bautista, who secured his best qualification this season in fourth and will start Sunday’s race from the top of Row 2.
“I’m very happy with today, because I got my best qualifying result so far in MotoGP and at the toughest track for Suzuki, so that shows what good work we have done since last year,” Bautista said.
Jorge Lorenzo: “We did a very good job today. We tried many things and I believe we have the right set up for tomorrow.”
Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso followed the Italian by 0.066 seconds to claim fifth on the grid, with American Nicky Hayden taking the best position for Ducati in sixth. Yamaha’s Ben Spies had a crash during the third lap of qualifying, forcing the American to use his back up bike to finish the rest of the session. Spies suffered heavily bruised ribs during the fall but still managed to land seventh on the grid just 0.043 seconds behind Hayden. Meanwhile Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa continued to struggle with poor rear grip, causing the Spaniard to cross the line 0.896 seconds behind Stoner.
“The main issue I had today was changing direction in high speed areas,” Pedrosa said. “Let’s see what the weather brings tomorrow and if we can take profit from the warm up to improve the set up slightly.”
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards was more than a second adrift of the leader after finishing the session more than three-tenths behind Pedrosa. The American will start from the back of Row 3 as Pramac Racing’s Loris Capirossi heads the fourth row after rounding out the top-10 laptimes.
Ducati’s Valentino Rossi only saw slight improvement during the day after finishing 13th on the grid. The Italian was clearly off pace and riding slower than normal as a result of his injured hand. The six-time MotoGP champ will have to start the fifth row in Sunday’s contest.
“Before we arrived here, we expected to do much better than this, considering that Phillip Island is a track where Ducati and I have always done well,” Rossi said. “Instead, I again had trouble riding today, and I was very slow. It’s really a shame, and I’m very sorry.”
Phillip Island MotoGP Qualifying Results:
1. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1’29.975
For the first time in seven rounds Marco Simoncelli made it on the front row after qualifying 0.151 seconds behind Lorenzo.
2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’30.448
3. Marco Simoncelli (Honda) 1’30.599
4. Alvaro Bautista (Suzuki) 1’30.714
5. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1’30.780
6. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1’30.792
7. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1’30.835
8. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1’30.871
9. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1’31.237
10. Loris Capirossi (Ducati) 1’31.583
11. Randy de Puniet (Ducati) 1’31.635
12. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda) 1’31.889
13. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1’31.980
14. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1’32.023
15. Karel Abraham (Ducati) 1’32.054
JiR Moto2’s Alex de Angelis took advantage of a small window during a wet qualifying session at Phillip Island. In the final minutes the rain stopped, giving riders precious time to improve their pace. In the end De Angelis stole the lead away from Tech 3 Racing’s Mike di Meglio by 0.088 seconds, with Gresini Racing Moto2’s Yuki Takahashi and Marc VDS Racing’s Scott Redding rounding out the front row finishers.
Meanwhile Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol’s Marc Marquez will have to start Sunday’s race from 38th on the grid following his one-minute penalty for crashing into the back of Ratthapark Wilairot at the end of Friday. Marquez’s poor starting position leaves the door open for Viessmann Kiefer Racing’s Stefan Bradl to reclaim the lead in the series as the German rider will start the race from eighth on the grid.
Phillip Island Moto2 Qualifying Results:
1. Alex de Angelis (Motobi) 1’34.574
2. Mike di Meglio (Tech 3) 1’34.662
3. Yuki Takahashi (Moriwaki) 1’34.689
4. Scott Redding (Suter) 1’34.699
5. Kenan Sofuoglu (Suter) 1’34.729
6. Pol Espargaro (FTR) 1’34.797
7. Bradley Smith (Tech 3) 1’34.867
8. Stefan Bradl (Kalex) 1’34.902
9. Thomas Luthi (Suter) 1’34.958
10. Mattia Pasini (FTR) 1’35.092
11. Max Neukirchner (MZ-RE Honda) 1’35.267
12. Michele Pirro (Moriwaki) 1’35.281
13. Dominique Aegerter (Suter) 1’35.399
14. Jordi Torres (Suter) 1’35.519
15. Mika Kallio (Suter) 1’35.564