Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner took his fourth pole position of the season at Sachsenring for Round 8 of the MotoGP World Championship after a host of riders contested for the position late in the qualifying session. Yamaha Factory Racing’s Ben Spies followed in second and Stoner’s teammate Dani Pedrosa posted the third-fastest time.
Stoner came out early and started posting laps, but early on faced an unexpected mechanical issue which took him immediately back to the pits. “It was actually a very difficult session. We started off well and then we switched to our number one bike with a completely different set up and that felt a lot better. On the first lap, I matched my best time I did on my second bike, then unfortunately on the second lap the engine gave up. We’re not too sure what happened, if it was something electrical or if some water got in there, but we’ll find out later.”
Weather forecasters originally predicted sunny skies for the qualifying session, but instead a torrential downpour ensued which kept many riders in the garage until the final minutes. After addressing the early mechanical issue, Stoner and Pedrosa came out to post laps in earnest after half the session had passed. With only eight minutes remaining the rain stopped and the battle for pole position began to heat up. LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl had managed to hold the top spot early on, but fell to sixth after the rest of the field began to push hard at the end. During those final minutes, the top seven riders each briefly held pole position before Stoner clinched the spot with just seconds remaining.
Spies also encountered mechanical issues, though his were less severe than Stoner’s and left him somewhat in the dark about his pace and standing late in the session. “I was honestly a bit lost in the last ten minutes of qualifying, my lap timer quit working so I didn’t know what times I was doing and what my splits were. I just rode off of what I thought was quick and saw P1 on my board a couple of times. In the end I just gave it some stick and hoped I would get on the front row.”
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow will head up the second row followed by Spies’ teammate Jorge Lorenzo in fifth and Bradl in sixth. Ducati’s Nicky Hayden took seventh with Crutchlow’s teammate Andrea Dovizioso in eighth and The Doctor, Valentino Rossi of Ducati, in ninth.
“Considering how bad the conditions were I am really happy to be so close to the front row,” said Crutchlow. “I was very close to being on the front row again but to head the second row is a good result and I am looking forward to the race. I’ve shown good pace in the wet and dry all weekend but the problem is we haven’t had enough track time in each to get a good set-up with the bike.”
Rossi struggled to make the conditions work for him as he did at LeMans in the wet though his teammate Hayden had one of his best qualifying sessions of the season, holding the top spot a number of times before falling behind.
Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro excelled in the CRT field and will start from 10th position on the grid. Espargaro was followed by San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista who will start from last regardless of his 11th place time in qualifying due to the penalty incurred after the previous round at Assen.
MotoGP Sachsenring Qualifying Results 2012:
1. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1’31.796
2. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1’31.989
3. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1’32.081
4. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1’32.288
5. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’32.381
6. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1’32.510
7. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1’32.795
8. Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha) 1’33.205
9. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1’33.217
10. Aleix Espargaro (ART) 1’33.900
11. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1’34.088
12. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 1’34.542
13. Colin Edwards (Suter) 1’34.649
14. Randy de Puniet (ART) 1’34.651
15. Mattia Pasini (ART) 1’34.938
16. Danilo Petrucci (Ioda) 1’35.590
17. Michele Pirro (FTR) 1’35.595
18. Yonny Hernandez (BQR) 1’35.962
19. Ivan Silva (BQR) 1’36.183
20. James Ellison (ART) 1’36.355
21. Franco Battaini (Ducati) 1’36.438