Stoner secures final 800cc pole in Valencia

Gordon Hatch, MotoGP Correspondent

Stoner secures final 800cc pole in Valencia

Newly crowned MotoGP Champion takes 12th pole of 2011 championship

Casey Stoner ended the final ever qualifying session of the 800cc MotoGP era in devastating fashion and was untouchable on the Ricardo Tormo Circuit where he set a lap pace one second faster than second placed Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa, with Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing) taking third position ahead of tomorrow’s Gran Premio Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana.

Stoner set a blistering pace throughout the hour-long session and with weather conditions remaining dry, the Australian would eventually set his pole time of 1m 31.861s, having led for most of the session. Teammate Pedrosa threatened to take the top spot a number of times but as the session progressed it was Stoner who pulled away and Pedrosa had to settle for second place with a best time of 1m 32.875s.

... you're never 100% sure how far you can push.

Casey Stoner

Despite wrapping up his second MotoGP title Stoner said there was only one position he would be happy with. He said, “Of course I'm really happy with pole position today, I'm still hungry to win and get pole positions, after all this is why I line up to go racing, winning the Championship is the bonus at the end of the season, but I still try my best in every session and every race. I took some less risks yesterday in the wet, as I didn't feel we were making any progress in the conditions.

“Today was also difficult, there was a little rain in all the sessions, this morning there were some wet patches on the track and it was hard to know where to push, then the same this afternoon with some rain on the track, you're never 100% sure how far you can push. We felt comfortable though and the feeling in the bike was pretty good, with a similar set up to the test we had here last year and we put in a good lap. Now we'll have to see what the weather does tomorrow and take it from there, but we remain confident,” Stoner added.

Pedrosa was happy with his second place but is still looking for something more from his RC212V saying, “It was tricky out there because we had a little rain by the middle of the session, we were lucky because the track stayed dry and we were able to do one more practice on slick tyres. Casey was very fast and consistent. I'm happy with second position on the grid, it's a good place to start, but I'm not totally satisfied with the set up of the bike yet, we need to improve the front tonight with the mechanics. I want to have a good race tomorrow, it's the last one and in front on my fans, so I'll do my best to finish the season in the best way.”

Spies enjoyed a return to form this weekend after sitting out the last two races due to injury. The American rider snatched the final place on the front row with a best lap of 1m 33.057s ahead of Pramac Racing’s randy de Puniet, who was himself lapping at a consistently faster pace this weekend than that of any other race weekend this year. The Frenchman’s best time was 1m 33.118s and only bettered by Spies in the dying minutes of the session.

Ben Spies, Yamaha Factory Team
Ben Spies, Yamaha Factory Team

Photo by: Bridgestone Corporation

Spies is hoping tomorrow’s race is under dry conditions so he can make the most from his front row start saying, “Qualifying was really hectic today for all the riders. There was a sprinkling of rain all the way through which makes you very nervous about how much to push. I have to say thank you Yamaha for a great bike. It’s working great here so we just need to pray for some dry time for the race. We’re going to get some rest tonight and try to make sure we end the season on a high tomorrow.”

Alvaro Bautista had another strong session and took 5th spot with a lap of 1m 33.443s on board his Rizla Suzuki GSV-R while the final place on the second row was secured by Ducati Marlboro rider Valentino Rossi with a best lap of 1m 33.478s. Rossi’s teammate Nicky Hayden starts from 7th place tomorrow after recording a 1m 33.656s lap time. Hayden heads the third row on front of Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso who set a best time of 1m 33.824s but the Italian rider was unlucky to crash on the final lap with no apparent injuries. Hector Barbera (Mapfre Aspar) starts in 9th with a time of 1m 34.186s.

The last spot in the top ten was secured by Cardion AB Motoracing rider Karel Abraham with his best time of 1m 34.265s to start ahead of his competitor for Rookie of the Year bragging rights, Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) who set a 1m 34.329s time. Starting in 12th position tomorrow will be Loris Capirossi who is rounding off an incredible career with 22 years of World Championship motorcycle racing and the Pramac Racing rider showing no sign of slowing down, setting a best time of 1m 34.671s.

Capirossi starts his final MotoGP race ahead of Toni Elias (LCR Honda) who registered a lap time of 1m 34.680s to start in front of Hiroshi Aoyama on his San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V with the Japanese rider still coming to terms, as is the rest of the MotoGP paddock, with the death of teammate Marco Simoncelli. Aoyama starts in 14th tomorrow ahead of Yamaha Factory Racing’s substitute rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga (1m 35.999s) who also had a fall at the end of the session but the Japanese rider didn’t appear to injure himself. The final position for the final race of the 800cc MotoGP era was taken by Josh Hayes (1m 36.042s) who is standing in for injured Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Colin Edwards.

Shortly after qualifying Dorna announced the official details of the tribute planned to honour Marco Simoncelli. At 10.10am local time on Sunday morning riders from all three categories of the World Championship will leave from Pit Lane as a group, and complete a lap of the track in honour of Simoncelli and leading the group will be Simoncelli’s good friend 1993 World Champion Kevin Schwantz on the Italian star’s RC212V.

Then as the riders near the finish line they will stop just short, with local authorities and representatives of MotoGP’s governing bodies (Dorna, IRTA and the FIM) gathering on the other side of the finish line alongside Simoncelli’s family and members of the Gresini team. Simoncelli’s father Paolo request for a ‘minute of chaos’ didn’t go unnoticed either as once the bikes have taken up their positions on the start/finish straight a two-minute Valencian Mascletà (a traditional firecracker display) will take place.

Loris Capirossi, Pramac Racing Team
Loris Capirossi, Pramac Racing Team

Photo by: Bridgestone Corporation

shares
comments
Aspar Valencia GP Friday report

Previous article

Aspar Valencia GP Friday report

Next article

Suzuki Valencia GP qualifying report

Suzuki Valencia GP qualifying report
Load comments
How KTM has ended up with an embarrassment of MotoGP riches Prime

How KTM has ended up with an embarrassment of MotoGP riches

Forming a ladder all the way from Red Bull Rookies Cup to MotoGP, KTM has created a steady stream of top talents in grand prix racing delivering the Austrian marque with the success expected of the brand. Here's how it has gone about it.

MotoGP
Jul 28, 2021
Why MotoGP will miss its gentle giant Prime

Why MotoGP will miss its gentle giant

Danilo Petrucci’s days in MotoGP appear numbered, as KTM looks to completely reshuffle the Tech3 team for 2022. Though the Italian's 2021 season so far hasn’t been standout, the giant Italian covertly became a top runner in MotoGP across the last decade and brought with him a personality that world sport sorely needs more of

MotoGP
Jul 22, 2021
Why Mir's MotoGP title defence can't be written off yet Prime

Why Mir's MotoGP title defence can't be written off yet

Joan Mir’s defence of his MotoGP title has had an underwhelming start as Suzuki didn’t progress its championship-winning GSX-RR as much as its rivals did with their bikes over the winter. Speaking to Motorsport.com, Mir lays out why his title defence has been stalled so far and why he’s confident title number two is still within reach

MotoGP
Jul 12, 2021
How Quartararo became the MotoGP leader Yamaha needed Prime

How Quartararo became the MotoGP leader Yamaha needed

It's been six years since Jorge Lorenzo gave Yamaha its last MotoGP title in 2015. Since his departure at the end of 2016, Yamaha's form has been inconsistent but it has at last found a new talisman to return it to the top spot in the form of a precociously talented Frenchman who currently leads the standings.

MotoGP
Jul 6, 2021
Why the Vinales/Yamaha MotoGP divorce satisfies both parties Prime

Why the Vinales/Yamaha MotoGP divorce satisfies both parties

On Monday, Yamaha announced it will part ways with Maverick Vinales at the end of the 2021 season - a move requested by the rider. As the already strained relationship between both parties in MotoGP hit rock bottom in recent weeks, this divorce - as Oriol Puigdemont writes - is good for both Yamaha and Vinales for a number of reasons

MotoGP
Jun 28, 2021
The unexpected Rossi/Ducati MotoGP sequel offering redemption Prime

The unexpected Rossi/Ducati MotoGP sequel offering redemption

A decade after first linking up with Ducati in what turned out to be an ill-fated period in his MotoGP career, Valentino Rossi has joined forces with the Italian marque once more - this time as a team owner. And the VR46/Ducati tie-up beginning in 2022 has the potential to right the wrongs of Rossi and Ducati's nadir of 2011/2012.

MotoGP
Jun 24, 2021
Why Yamaha is about to risk losing Valentino Rossi Prime

Why Yamaha is about to risk losing Valentino Rossi

With Valentino Rossi’s next career move imminent in MotoGP, it is set to have wide-reaching influences on a number of riders and teams on the grid. But one of the biggest impacts will be felt at Yamaha, with its pivotal role in the saga set to see it lose its appointment with ‘The Doctor’

MotoGP
Jun 22, 2021
How Marquez beat his Honda in his heroic MotoGP comeback win Prime

How Marquez beat his Honda in his heroic MotoGP comeback win

Marc Marquez has been through hell and back in the 581 days between his win in the 2019 Valencia season finale and his heroic MotoGP comeback victory in Germany last Sunday. Despite battling physical limitations and a difficult 2021-spec Honda, the Sachsenring provided the perfect storm for the Spaniard to return to the top step

MotoGP
Jun 21, 2021