Stoner sets scorching pole position for the Qatar Grand Prix
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Medium, Extra Hard. Rear: Medium, Hard
During the hour-long qualifying session at the Losail circuit this evening it was once again Repsol Honda's Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa who dominated the session, with the Australian finishing fastest with a stunning lap to secure pole position for tomorrow's season-opening grand prix.
The outright pole position record at Losail was set in 2008 by Jorge Lorenzo, with a time of 1m 53.927s. That was on qualifying tyres in an era before single tyre supply when extra-soft compounds were made for maximum grip over just a few qualifying laps. Stoner's pole time today was just over 0.2seconds slower but crucially was set on race tyres designed to perform over 22 laps of this circuit, giving an indication of his pace today. There are no qualifying tyres in the era of single tyre supply.
Pedrosa and Yamaha Factory Racing's Jorge Lorenzo complete tomorrow's front row of the grid, and like Stoner they too set their best times using Bridgestone's harder option front and softer option rear slick tyres.
The top four riders all dipped into the 1m 54second bracket and, impressively, the top five riders, including Marco Simoncelli and Ben Spies, all lapped faster than the existing lap record.
Towards the end of the session the laptimes started tumbling as riders opted for the softer option rear slicks. After a day of the warmest weather since the test started last weekend, the track was in good condition today and a lot cleaner which was a factor in the fast pace and more riders being able to get the softer rear tyre working well.
Hirohide Hamashima - Director, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development
"The pace we saw at the front today is very impressive so I must congratulate in particular Casey and the Repsol Honda Team. To be so close to the outright pole record using race tyres is very impressive, and I am very pleased with tyre performance today. We have seen this weekend that the extra hard front slick tyre will be the choice for almost every rider for the race, and also the hard rear tyre will be favoured for its extra durability. The circuit was cleaner today which helped tyre performance, particularly with the softer rear with which we experienced less graining today. If today's pace is anything to go by, I am confident of setting our first new lap record of 2011 tomorrow."