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Good front row show from Stoner

Good front row show from Stoner

In his first qualifying practice for more than two months Casey Stoner placed his Desmosedici GP9 on the front row of the Estoril grid.

Casey Stoner appears to be back on form this weekend after his two month absence due to illness, immediately on the pace at Estoril in free practice on Friday and qualifying in third place behind Fiat Yamaha’s ‘usual suspects’ Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi on Saturday afternoon.

Stoner may not have ridden his Ducati Marlboro prototype since Donington Park in July but he is showing no signs of weakness at round 14 in Portugal and he was within 0.054s of beating Rossi to second on the grid – the Australian’s best time coming up 0.314s behind Lorenzo’s pole-setting fastest lap.

“Yesterday it looked as though a front row start was a long shot but at the end of the qualifying session today I was actually disappointed not to be on pole!” joked Stoner.

“This morning we came out and everything felt good and this afternoon was the same. My body’s sore because I haven’t been on the bike for so long but so far I haven’t struggled with any of the symptoms that had bothered me before the break.”

Continuing his positive assessment of affairs the former World Champion added, “A front row start is nice for us and I want to thank my whole team and everybody else who has stuck by me lately. We’ve had a lot of critics while I’ve been away and I’ve had to laugh at some of the things I’ve read. Tomorrow is the race, which is the big one, but it’s nice to come back in this way and I think we’ve already shown that it was the right decision to take the time off.”

MotoGP, 2009, GRANDE PREMIO DE PORTUGAL, Casey Stoner, Ducati Marlboro Team

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