Stoner grabs ninth pole of the season in Valencia qualifying
Ducati rider Casey Stoner has taken his ninth pole position of the 2008 season in this afternoon's Valencia GP qualifying session, taking to twelve the total number of Bridgestone-shod poles this year, double the number that was achieved last year.
Stoner's result will be the final pole position lap to be set using the softer specification 'qualifiers' with next year's tyre regulations looking set to remove the possibility to use specific qualifying tyres.
Honda rider Dani Pedrosa claimed his second consecutive front row start on Bridgestone tyres, lapping just 0.053s slower than Stoner's pole lap. Nicky Hayden, who was the pacesetter in all three practice sessions prior to qualifying, finished in third position.
In the 18 qualifying sessions to be held this season, a total of 28 front row starts have been achieved using Bridgestone tyres, scored by six different riders - Stoner, Pedrosa, Valentino Rossi, Chris Vermeuelen, Loris Capirossi and John Hopkins.
Only two other Bridgestone riders were able to qualify in the top ten this afternoon with Suzuki's Capirossi in eighth spot and this year's world champion Rossi in tenth for Yamaha. It has been another difficult day with weather conditions in Valencia with morning rain limiting slick tyre work in free practice and track conditions far from ideal in the dry afternoon qualifying hour. Race preparations have been hampered by the conditions and tomorrow's tough 30-lap race could spring a few surprises
Tohru Ubukata - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager, Motorcycle Race Tyre Development
Were you satisfied with the qualifying results today?
"I am reasonably satisfied with today's results. Casey has again shown himself to be the master of qualifying this year with his ninth pole position. It will be the final pole result using qualifying tyres due to the new regulations for next season, so well done to him and Ducati. Dani also had a good session, finishing just a fraction off Casey's time, and as a result we have another 1-2 grid result. We brought a new qualifying spec to this race with a focus on improved warm-up performance and overall grip levels. The performance was within our expectations but only four of our riders were able to break into the top ten today."
With more wet conditions this morning has Bridgestone been able to work on slick tyre evaluation?
"This morning's session was again wet so we could not conduct any of our usual race preparations for slick tyres. Even in the dry conditions this afternoon it was difficult because spots of rain started to fall and everyone switched their attention to setting qualifying runs in case the rain worsened. I am confident that our slick tyres will be ok if the race is dry but we must hope for a dry warm-up session in the morning to verify this. Like yesterday, I was pleased with the durability of our wet tyres this morning even in the drying conditions, so this is a positive point if we have a wet race on Sunday."
Weather: Dry - Air 19C, Track 18C (Bridgestone measurement)