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Stoner takes home pole in last minute steal

Stoner takes home pole in last minute steal

Casey Stoner will start the Australian Grand Prix from pole position.

Local hero Casey Stoner will start the Australian Grand Prix from pole position for the first time in his premier class career, thanks to a stunning 1´28.665 `smash and grab´ in the Saturday afternoon qualifying session. The 2007 MotoGP World Champion smashed the pole position record by nearly four-tenths of a second onboard his Ducati Desmosedici GP8, on his final hot lap in the dying moments of the afternoon run.

Stoner´s eighth pole position of the year and spectacular time was the exceptional moment needed in order to prevent Fiat Yamaha´s Jorge Lorenzo from taking a second consecutive qualifying victory. The Spaniard was just 0.069 from the top spot, but keeps his four-race front row streak alive with his performance in the dry afternoon session.

Repsol Honda rider Nicky Hayden had looked to be on course for a repeat of his 2005 & 2006 pole positions with just five minutes remaining at Phillip Island, but missed out as his rivals upped the pace. The former MotoGP World Champion will complete the front row alongside Stoner and Lorenzo.

One rider expected to feature at the business end of the timesheet, newly-crowned 2008 titlist Valentino Rossi will start from the fourth row after suffering an awkward crash on Saturday afternoon. The Bridgestone qualifying tyres had barely been fitted to his Fiat Yamaha M1 before he was required to use them on the grassy run-off area with fifteen minutes to go in the session, and when the Italian arrived at the gravel the 800cc machine turned into a temperamental bucking beast. Rossi held on and was lowsided amongst the stones, picking up a light knock to his neck, but gave a testing lap at the end of the qualifying run to assess his condition.

LCR Honda´s Randy de Puniet will be hoping that the weather stays sunny in Australia on Sunday, having continually put in fast times in the dry. The Frenchman was the last of four riders to break the existing pole position record, set by Hayden in 2006. He heads the second row, joined by Tech 3 Yamaha´s James Toseland in the Briton´s best qualifying performance since Laguna Seca in July. Dani Pedrosa completes the second line.

Colin Edwards, Andrea Dovizioso and Shinya Nakano make up row three onboard their respective Yamaha and Honda satellite machinery.


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