Stoner rounds out season with 12th pole as rain holds off
Casey Stoner took the final pole position of the 2011 season today in Valencia, marking his record-equalling 12th start from the top spot in what has been a dominant Championship year for the Australian and the Repsol Honda Team.
After yesterday’s two wet sessions, both this morning’s free practice session and hour-long qualifying session this afternoon were dry, although a rain shower at midday threatened this. The tarmac was still greasy by the start of qualifying and many riders made a tentative out-lap on wet tyres, but soon returned to their garages for their dry bikes and slicks. By the end, it was the harder front and softer rear slicks that were favoured, as we have come to expect from qualifying runs.
As the session progressed, the track conditions improved slightly although as spots of rain started to fall with 20minutes remaining, it was very difficult to judge the level of grip available. Nevertheless, using a new soft rear tyre right at the end of the session, Stoner beat the existing lap record by a comfortable margin of 0.7seconds.
Dani Pedrosa will start his home Grand Prix from second on the grid whilst Ben Spies jumped to third on the grid with his final lap of the session, 0.06seconds ahead of Randy de Puniet who held a provisional front row position for much of the session on his satellite Pramac Ducati machine.
Tohru Ubukata – General Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“Today was dry but the track surface was still quite dirty and slippery and it was very tricky for the riders to judge just how much grip was available, especially with the spots of rain affecting sections of the track differently. In the conditions, Casey’s pole lap was very impressive indeed. With the wet sessions yesterday, we have now had running in just about all conditions from wet to dry and everything in-between this weekend which could prove important tomorrow when the weather is forecast to be more changeable. We haven’t had a flag-to-flag race this year, one which starts wet and becomes dry or vice versa, and in such a case a base setup for both the wet and the dry will be very beneficial.”