For the second time in the 2007 season, Casey Stoner claimed the pole position and will start tomorrow's German Grand Prix from the best position on board his Ducati Marlboro in the tenth round of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MotoGP).
Stoner set a lap time of 1.22:384 to achieve his third pole position in MotoGP and to beat Dani Pedrosa's Repsol Honda by just 0.004 at the end of the qualifying session.
"The bike's worked out of the box this weekend, we haven't really improved the lap times that much from the first session, just by a few tenths. Everybody else has pretty much been playing catch up. I did my quickest time on my first qualifying tyre, which isn't normally the case, I normally go a lot faster on my second qualifier. I made a big mistake with my second, coming over the top of the hill, I ran wide onto the outside kerb on the entrance to the corner", Stoner commented.
The target for the Australian is to break the jinx that has haunted the polesitters in the last 11 races: The last time that a rider was able to win from the pole was in 2006, with Loris Capirossi winning at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit in Japan.
Looking forward to tomorrow's Grand Prix, Stoner stated: "I'm hoping it's a similar situation to Turkey where we were quite a lot faster than the others on race pace. Like most weekends we're pretty happy before we go into the race, so we'll just see what happens. We may not be able to win it but I know we're going to be able to fight for a podium. It's very, very hot and I've heard it's going to be hotter tomorrow, so fitness and tyres are going to come into it at the end".
Pedrosa proved to be fast in Sachsenring and will try on Sunday to give Honda their first victory of a season that is being harder than thought for the Spaniard and the Repsol Honda team.
"I'm happy to be on the front row because this is a tight track where it's quite difficult to overtake, so to be up front is going to be important," said the 21 year-old rider. "Of course it would have been nice to be on pole position like last year, and we came very close, but I'm not disappointed with the result this afternoon".
"This morning was not so good and we tried a few things that didn't immediately improve the machine. However, it helped us find a better direction in the afternoon and I was able to ride at a fast, consistent pace on race tyres, so I think our set-up is quite good - for the beginning of the race at least", Pedrosa added.
Third place belongs to Marco Melandri and Gresini Honda, in the return for the Italian rider into a top position. Melandri clocked 1.22:397 to complete the front row closed by a gap between the three riders of only 0.013.
"It's a nice feeling to be back on the front row. Thanks to the new material we've been given here at Sachsenring we've been able to make a big step forward. The bike is good fun to ride and I've got a good feeling. I made a small mistake in turn one on the qualifying tyre and only missed out on pole by a small fraction but I'm still satisfied with this result. On such a tight circuit, especially in the first sections, it is important to be starting from the front of the grid", Melandri mentioned.
Kawasaki's Randy de Puniet put in a good time to take fourth place before a late crash which saw him veer onto the gravel and slam into the Sachsenring safety barriers at considerable speed. The tough Frenchman walked away and did not appear adversely affected in his pit-box after the incident. John Hopkins and Valentino Rossi make up the top six, filling the front two rows.
"I was quite confident of a better qualification today but unfortunately we had a problem with our qualifying tyre and I lost some time at the end. It's a difficult weekend because everyone is very close and the level is very high! I think we can expect another great battle tomorrow. My pace and rhythm is quite good, not the best but still not so bad, so I think that if I can make a good start then I will be able to fight at the front", Rossi explained about the reason he wasn't able to fight for the pole.
Capirossi, Alex Barros, impressive French rookie Sylvain Guintoli, and Shinya Nakano, who rarely makes it into the top half, complete the top ten.
It was another frustrating run for Nicky Hayden as the World Champion ended up 14th. The 25-year-old American will need to use all his grit and determination to fight through the pack if he is to secure a good result before his home Grand Prix at Laguna Seca next weekend.