Marlboro Ducati's Casey Stoner has been uncatchable so far, and will go for his third consecutive win at Qatar tomorrow after winning Saturday night's pole position.
Marlboro Ducati’s Casey Stoner continued his dominating form under the floodlights at Qatar Saturday night, winning pole by almost half a second over defending MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi. Stoner set a personal best near the end of the session at 1’55.286, and has been fastest all weekend. The Ducati MotoGP rider has won the last two races at Qatar and will vie for the tri-fecta tomorrow.
“We’ve still got a little more work to do before the race tomorrow, and I’m glad as a warm up, but this pole position, the first pole of the season is a very nice way to start. But we also know not to get in over our heads and just make sure we stay focused,” Stoner said.
He will be joined on tomorrow’s front row by the Fiat Yamaha duo of Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo. Rossi secured the second-place position with a fast lap late in the qualifying session. Lorenzo, last year’s polesetter, was hot on Rossi’s tail, with a mere 0.024-seconds separating the two.
Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso had a strong showing for his new factory team, grabbing the lead spot on the second row. Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi looked strong in the morning’s free practice session and backed those results up with the fifth-fastest time of the day.
”The bike is working well and we have found a good setting. We worked a lot on engine braking and mapping today and the whole team worked really hard to make everything happen. We tried to use all the time to its best extent and we are able to confirm that the bike is much better here than last year,” Capirossi said.
Will Valentino Rossi find the extra half-second he's been lacking on Stoner's Ducati in tomorrow night's race?
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards made it three YZR-M1’s in the first six slots as he grabbed the final starting position on the second row with the sixth-best time.
LCR Honda’s Randy De Puniet leads the trio of riders who will start from the third row of the starting grid. The Frenchman edged out Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen, who finished in eighth. Chris V. will be sandwiched on the starting grid by another Honda, as Alex De Angelis finished ninth for the San Carlo Honda Gresini team. Rounding out the top ten is Pramac Racing’s Mika Kallio, the highest qualifier among MotoGP rookies.
Hayate Racing’s Marco Melandri recovered from an off-track excursion during qualifying to finish 11th. Melandri went straight off the course into the gravel pit at Turn 3 but was able to keep the Ninja upright.
Sete Gibernau is quickly finding out that it’s not so easy to make a comeback. After running off course just like Melandri during qualifying, Gibernau finished near the back of the pack in 15th.
But Ducati’s Nicky Hayden topped the list of unfortunates with a spectacular highside near the end of the session and was carted off the course. Whether Nick the Quick will be back for tomorrow’s race is unknown, but if he does, he will have to battle from a 16th place starting position.
Catch the first race of the 2009 MotoGP season tomorrow night on SPEED TV at 10 p.m. (EST)
2009 MotoGP Qatar Qualifying Results –
1. C. Stoner (Ducati Marlboro) 1’55.286
2. V. Rossi ( Fiat Yamaha) + 0.473
3. J. Lorenzo (Fiat Yamah) +0.479
4. A. Dovizioso (Repsol Honda)+ 0.691
5. L. Capirossi ( Rizla Suzuki) +0.863
6. C. Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) +0.908
7. R. De Puniet (LCR Honda) +1.072
8. C. Vermeulen (Rizla Suzuki) +1.207
9. A. De Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini)+1.504
10. M. Kallio (Pramac Racing) +1.566
11. M. Melandri (Hayate Racing) + 1.676
12. T. Elias (San Carlo Honda Gresini) +1.939
13. J. Toseland (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) +2.224
14. D. Pedrosa (Respsol Honda) +2.443
15. S. Gibernau (Grupo Francisco Hernando) +2.613
16. N. Hayden (Ducati Marlboro) +2.929
17. Y. Takahashi (Scot Racing) +3.498
18. N. Canepa (Pramac Racing) +3.713