Stoner back to flying form taking pole position at Philip Island

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Reigning world champion sets pole time on spare bike after crashing early on

Casey Stoner shows no signs of slowing in his quest for home glory at the Philip Island circuit in Melbourne, Australia and after topping the practice times so far, the home hero pulverized the competition during qualifying and grabbed pole position despite having crashed early on in the session. Starting in second behind Stoner in tomorrow’s AirAsia Grand Prix of Australia will be Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing) and Stoner’s Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa starts from third.

Hopefully we can turn this pole into a win tomorrow!

Casey Stoner

From the off Stoner looked like he was the man to beat and despite his highside at the Honda hairpin after 20-minutes while he was on an out lap with a new hard rear tire, he returned to track on his spare bike spending just minutes dusting himself off in the pits and eventually set a best time of 1m 29.623s that no one else could match. Points leader Lorenzo set a best lap of 1m 30.140s that was enough to keep him ahead of main championship rival Pedrosa with a best lap time of 1m 30.575s.

The cool track conditions saw the field using soft rubber front and rear, which didn’t bother Cal Crutchlow who put in another strong performance for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team to secure a 4th place start tomorrow (1m 30.763s) Stefan Bradl set the 5th fastest time today with a 1m 30.798s lap and the LCR Honda starts just ahead of Crutchlow’s teammate Andrea Dovizioso with a best time of 1m 31.200s.

Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing
Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing

Photo by: Yamaha MotoGP

Heading the third row tomorrow will be Alvaro Bautista and the San Carlo Honda Gresini team with the Spaniard setting a best time of 1m 31.490s while Valentino Rossi had to settle for an 8th place start on a time of 1m 31.661s on board his Ducati Racing GP12. Randy De Puniet caused an upset with the Power Electronics Aspar CRT rider getting onto the third row in 9th position with a lap of 1m 31.667s to start ahead of Rossi’s teammate Nicky Hayden with the American registering a fastest lap time of 1m 31.681s.

Starting from 11th tomorrow will be the Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati of Karel Abraham with the Czech rider setting a best time of 1m 31.910s wit Power Electronics Aspar rider Aleix Espargaro close behind with a 1m 31.990s lap good enough for 12th while Pramac Racing’s Hector Barbera starts from 13th setting a 1m 32.231s lap. The San Carlo Honda Gresini CRT machine of Michele Pirro set the 14th best time (1m 33.050s), ahead of Danilo Petrucci and the Came IodaRacing outfit with the Italian setting a best time of 1m 33.069s to secure the final place on the fifth row.

Colin Edwards (NGM Forward Racing) will start from 16th with a best lap time of 1m 33.450s ahead of Paul Bord Motorsport’s James Ellison who set a time of 1m 33.489s. Robert Rolfo will start from 18th for the Speed Master team in tomorrow’s race with a personal best time of 1m 33.577s with Ivan Silva in a 19th place start for the Avintia Blusens team (1m 34.156s) and ahead of his stand in teammate Kris McLaren who is filling in for the injured Yonny Hernandez (1m 36.251s). Ben Spies is not competing this weekend due to injuries sustained at the Sepang round last week and the American’s Yamaha Factory Racing team have confirmed he will also not race at the final round in Valencia, Spain.

Speaking afterwards, Stoner was upbeat and is looking forward to the race tomorrow. He said, “It's been a good progression over these past few races and it's great to get pole for my home grand prix. The bike has been good since Friday and I'm feeling comfortable on it again. It wasn't an easy session this afternoon, we went out on a hard tire and on my out lap, as I was peeling into the Honda turn, the bike decided to flip me. I tried to make sure I kept my leg out of the way as I came off, fortunately it didn't get caught up.

My left hip is hurting a little as I landed on it but hopefully we shouldn't have any issues with it tomorrow. The bike feels pretty good for race pace, we would have liked to have done some more work in this afternoon's session but we lost time after the crash. A big thanks to all the fans for coming out and putting up with this weather, hopefully we can turn this pole into a win tomorrow!” Stoner added.

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Repsol Media

Lorenzo conceded to Stoner’s relentless pace and said he will be watching the Australian’s every move for where he has the advantage over the Yamaha. “Casey is really on another planet here, he’s riding so comfortably, sliding a lot and full throttle always so it’s very difficult to be with him,” Lorenzo said while adding, “We are closer now though; in qualifying I made a really good lap with the soft tire. Second place is a good position to be in for tomorrow, it’s important to be just behind Casey into the first corner and to follow his wheel for at least two laps as fast as we can be. A big thank you to the team who worked hard to improve the bike for me for today.”

Pedrosa was content with an important front row start alongside main rival Lorenzo. Pedrosa said, “I was trying some different things on the bike to get a little more comfortable, but they didn't work out very well for the middle of the session. On my first soft rear tyre I couldn't improve and then on my last run I was going quicker on the first lap and rain arrived. Anyway to be on the front row again is very good and I think we found a good bike setting for tomorrow's race. Casey is unreachable, he's on another level and doing an amazing job this weekend, but my pace is quite similar to Jorge's, so I hope to be at least constant for the fight with him.”

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About this article
Series MOTOGP
Article type Qualifying report
Tags australia, featured, honda, lorenzo, pedrosa, philip island, repsol, stoner, yamaha