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Stoner takes first pole of the year at wet Mugello

Stoner takes first pole of the year at wet Mugello

The MotoGP qualifying session at the Gran Premio d'Italia Alice took place this afternoon at Mugello, with Ducati Marlboro rider Casey Stoner's excellent season continuing as he took pole by more than a second, ahead of compatriot Chris Vermeulen and home rider Valentino Rossi.

The MotoGP qualifying session at the Gran Premio d'Italia Alice took place this afternoon at Mugello, with Ducati Marlboro rider Casey Stoner's excellent season continuing as he took pole by more than a second, ahead of compatriot Chris Vermeulen and home rider Valentino Rossi.

A rainy day has hampered the riders somewhat at the famous Tuscan circuit and qualifying tyres were not used this afternoon as the participants stuck to wet weather compounds. The session ended with six Bridgestone riders in the top seven and only two Michelin riders in the top ten, again demonstrating the strength of the Japanese factory in wet conditions.

Stoner secured his first pole of the season, with a time of 2'00.359s approximately 20 minutes into the session on the 11th of 15 laps - and has a good chance of securing his fourth win of the year tomorrow to extend his current World Championship lead. Stoner will aim to buck the trend after the last seven riders on pole in the MotoGP class failed to take victory after qualifying first.

Meanwhile, as he demonstrated in Le Mans with his excellent first career victory Stoner's countryman Vermeulen loves riding in the wet and might be hoping for more rain tomorrow as he starts the race in second place. The Rizla Suzuki rider was 1.022s behind his fellow Australian also registering his best time on his 11th lap, making 16 attempts in total.

Fiat Yamaha's Rossi was much further down the timesheets before he recorded his best time on the last of his 20 laps - as his home track began to dry partially - and will feel that being on the front row gives him a decent chance of maintaining his consecutive winning streak in front of his adoring Italian public.

In two of Rossi's five successive recent premier class wins he has come from third to take the glory (2004 & 2006) and he would of course love to repeat those heroic efforts tomorrow, having described this race as the most important of his career at the Mugello circuit.

On the second row sits Frenchman Olivier Jacque of Kawasaki, who like Rossi made a late dash to climb the timesheets and secure his best start since his return to MotoGP as he goes in search of a good result on his comeback from his recent injury.

With Stoner's team-mate Loris Capirossi fifth and Honda Gresini's Marco Melandri just behind his compatriot on the grid, all three Italians in the premier class start their home Grand Prix on the front two rows.

Notable for their disappointing qualifying positions are Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa (the only other Michelin man in the top ten with Rossi) who starts eighth and the Spaniard's title-holding colleague Nicky Hayden who is 13th. The World Champion has three Americans behind him on the grid with Colin Edwards unable to use a Michelin qualifier on this occasion and having to settle for 16th, while Kenny Jnr and Kurtis Roberts ended up 18th and 19th respectively.

The Roberts brothers were both several seconds off the pace, but not as slow as Makoto Tamada of Yamaha Tech 3 who lapped 8.721s behind Stoner which being outside the 107% time marker would in normal circumstances mean he does not qualify. However, due to the exceptional weather conditions Race Direction have decided to admit him to participate in tomorrow's race, which commences at 2pm local time.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2007, GRAN PREMIO D'ITALIA ALICE, QP

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