Stoner on pole position for Qatar GP

Australian rider Casey Stoner was the surprise today at the Losail International circuit of Doha, Qatar, by taking the pole position for the second round of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MotoGP) in his second event. The ...

Australian rider Casey Stoner was the surprise today at the Losail International circuit of Doha, Qatar, by taking the pole position for the second round of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MotoGP) in his second event.

The 20-year-old rider of Honda set a time of 1m55s683 to lead the pace over second fastest Loris Capirossi, winner of the opening round in Jerez, who put his Ducati at just 0s038 adrift of Stoner. The front row was completed by another surprise with Spaniard Toni Elias setting 1m55s735 for his best lap during today's qualifying.

The session was under intense heat on the circuit where the Aussie boy used all the potential of the Honda RC211v to become in the second youngest rider to land a pole in MotoGP.

"I expected it to take a couple of years to be up here on pole position, not in just my second race.But the LCR team have worked perfectly and I have a very strong set-up since first practice and this afternoon it was just a matter of bolting on the qualifying tyres and doing the lap", commented Stoner.

Stoner had a complicated arrival at Qatar after some problems with his flight and a 48 hour delay. When he finally reached Doha, Stoner went straight to the bike of the Honda LCR team.

"When I saw the gap closing and the other riders challenging I thought I couldn't keep pole and I would have been happy with a place in the top six. I'm still tired and weak from the flu and all the travel problems so this is a big relief, it's an amazing feeling to be on pole", finished the poleman.

Stoner had a fantastic debut a couple of weeks ago in Jerez de la Frontera by taking sixth place. He is now ready to improve in the best way that achievement.

Last year's poleman in Qatar, Capirossi, took second fastest and continue showing the potential of the Ducati Desmosedici GP6. The Italian wants to repeat his amazing victory of Spain.

"I missed pole by only 38 thousandths of a second. On my final fast lap I tried too hard in last part of the track and the bike slid a couple of times. I lost a few tenths and missed my second pole of 2006. It doesn't matter so much, because last year I was on pole at Qatar but not so competitive in the race", Capirossi stated.

Capirossi, leader in the standings, knows the tyres could be one of the keys for tomorrow`s race. In issue in which Bridgestone seems to follow the right way: "This year we have a very good race tyres. The track is proving to be less difficult for us than expected and we made a nearly perfect job this weekend. Bridgestone has done a great job in these months! I think we can be an important part of the game tomorrow", he said.

Elias became in the second surprise of the journey by taking the front row with a factory Honda of Fortuna team. Showing excellent consistency and real confidence, the Spaniard rider was amongst the leading riders throughout the second qualifying session. "I am very satisfied. I want to thank my team and the Michelin mechanics for the great job they have done", said the Spaniard.

The former Yamaha rider has an important challenge on tomorrow in a race that counts with many candidates. "We worked very well today, but it is going to be a difficult race tomorrow as a lot of riders are going quick and the tyres are sure to disintegrate because of the heat," explained Elias. "The most important thing will be to get a good start. This is my first front row start of the season and I hope to continue this kind of form".

Both Repsol Honda riders, Nicky Hayden and Dani Pedrosa, took fourth and fifth respectively, while the seven time World Champion, Valentino Rossi, set sixth with the Yamaha M1 on the grid. achieve a pole position behind Freddie Spencer.

Camel Yamaha kept working hard on the grip problems of the M1 that has been suffering Rossi since the pre-season tests began.

"The problem is that when the grip comes up we push more and the bike vibration comes back, so we couldn't use the full potential of the qualifying tyre today and I am only sixth", mentioned the Italian with some disappointment.

However, the expectation of having a strong race after the bad weekend in Jerez is still alive for Rossi. "My rhythm is not so bad and there are many riders close together so I think it will be a good battle tomorrow".

Top ten places were filled by Sete Gibernau, with the second factory Ducati, Colin Edwards with Camel Yamaha, Shinya Nakano riding the Kawasaki, and yesterday's fastest during practice sessions, Kenny Roberts Jr.

Tomorrow it is expected to be a fantastic battle head-to-head for the leading places after a qualifying session that had the top eleven places split by just 0s673. The show of the MotoGP stars is guaranteed for the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar.

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Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Loris Capirossi , Colin Edwards , Sete Gibernau , Shinya Nakano , Toni Elias , Freddie Spencer , Casey Stoner , Dani Pedrosa