Stoner takes stunning home pole at Phillip Island Ducati's Casey Stoner has taken a sensational pole position for this weekend's Australian Grand Prix after producing a stunning final qualifying lap at Phillip Island this afternoon. It is...
Stoner takes stunning home pole at Phillip Island
Ducati's Casey Stoner has taken a sensational pole position for this weekend's Australian Grand Prix after producing a stunning final qualifying lap at Phillip Island this afternoon. It is Stoner's eighth pole position of the season so far and the tenth in total for a Bridgestone-shod rider in 2008.
A Bridgestone rider has not taken the top spot in qualifying at Phillip Island since the tyre manufacturer's debut MotoGP season in 2002 when Jeremy McWilliams scored the first ever Bridgestone MotoGP pole position.
Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa was the next best man using Bridgestone qualifying tyres this afternoon, setting the sixth fastest time to claim a second row place on the grid for the second consecutive race. Shinya Nakano claimed a top ten position aboard the San Carlo Honda Gresini machine in ninth place, the same position he started last weekend's Japanese Grand Prix. His team-mate Alex De Angelis rounded out the top ten to take his best qualifying result since he was 5th in Brno back in August.
For Bridgestone, it proved to be another challenging qualifying session with riders having to intelligently manage their qualifying tyres over the demanding 4.448km Phillip Island lap. However, Stoner's pole time still represented a notable 0.4s improvement over the existing pole record, set by Nicky Hayden on a 990cc machine back in 2006, and a massive 1.2s quicker than his qualifying time from last season.
Before the switch to qualifying rubber, four Bridgestone riders led the way on race tyres with Stoner, Pedrosa, Rossi and De Angelis occupying the top positions, suggesting that there is more potential to come for tomorrow's Australian GP, which is one of the toughest of the season for tyre manufacturers.
Shinji Aoki - Bridgestone Motorsport - Assistant Manager, Motorcycle Race Tyre Development
What were the issues faced by Bridgestone in today's qualifying session?
"Although Phillip Island was the scene of the first ever Bridgestone MotoGP pole position in 2002, it has not been one of our favoured tracks for qualifying results in recent years. It was a fantastic lap from Casey and our thanks go to him for our tenth pole position of the season. Our other riders were not able to get such a lap time from the qualifiers today so a good start in tomorrow's race will be especially important. It was unfortunate that Valentino crashed today, his feeling with the qualifying tyre was good so I think we would have seen him near the front of the grid as well. Dani has a second row starting position, and both Honda Gresini riders are in the top ten with an encouraging race pace, so it will be interesting to see what progress they can make tomorrow."
Has Bridgestone found better pace on race tyres today?
"The race tyre performance this morning was not easy because the track was quite cool and we saw a number of crashes, but this afternoon looked much better. Casey, Valentino, Dani and Alex in particular showed a good pace, so we hope that they will be able to maintain such a level over 27 laps tomorrow. Consistency and durability will be the most important factors in the race and we still have to see how the left-hand side of the tyre behaves over the complete race distance. So far, I think the tyre behaviour is within our expectations, but we know it is going to be a tough battle with our rivals who appear very competitive here this weekend."
Weather: Dry - Air 18C, Track 30C (Bridgestone measurement)