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Stoner dominance rolls on with top spot in qualifying

Stoner dominance rolls on with top spot in qualifying

For the second consecutive year Casey Stoner will start the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar in pole position, as he attempts to win the race for the fourth season running.

Casey Stoner’s strength at the Losail International Circuit was evident once again in qualifying practice on Saturday evening, as the Ducati Marlboro rider posted a best lap of 1’55.007 to place himself in pole position for the start of Sunday’s season-opening race.

Having won the floodlit race from pole position last season the Australian beat his qualifying time from 2009 by over two-tenths of a second, as he followed up his display as the fastest rider in free practice this weekend.

Stoner said: “You never know what’s going to happen on Sunday, so we’re not playing our chances down, we’re just being realistic. We’ve been let down in the past a few times when things have looked good – it’s one thing to start the season strong but you have to finish it strong. We’re going to try and stay a bit more focused this year, and pole position is definitely the best way to start off the season.”

The Australian admitted there were still a few minor tweaks to make, and that he was not totally content with his set-up. “It’s still not 100%, we found something in this last session,” he explained. “In FP2 we really struggled because we had a problem with the front brakes and we lost a lot of set-up time, but in general the bike is working well enough and we can sort out a few things tomorrow in warm-up.”

Reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha) was second fastest in the hour-long qualifying with a time of 1’55.362, as he ensured his title defence will begin from the front row of the grid in Losail.

Rossi’s Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo looks to be in good shape despite some concerns over his fitness that were still lingering at the start of the weekend. Any such questions were answered with a strong display that had been hinted at in practice, as the Spaniard timed in at just over half a second off Stoner’s pace to complete the front row.

Heading up the second row for the inaugural race of 2010 will be Randy de Puniet. The LCR Honda rider’s progression throughout the weekend continued with a best time of 1’55.831, putting him in fourth position and making him not only the fastest Honda on the starting grid but also the highest placed private rider.

Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki) will start his record-breaking 300th Grand Prix from fifth place after his late surge also produced a leap in places. The veteran, with a time of 1’55.899 on his GSV-R, was ahead of fellow Italian Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda). His team-mate Dani Pedrosa – who had struggled to find his pace during free practice – managed to step his level up as he posted a time of 1’55.990 to take seventh spot.

Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech3) and Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro) took eighth and ninth fastest respectively to join Pedrosa on the third row, with 250cc World Champion Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda MotoGP) finding a fast last-minute lap to complete the top ten and place himself as the highest rookie on the grid.

Ben Spies (Monster Yamaha Tech3) finished 11th, and there were crashes for Mika Kallio (Pramac Racing) – 12th – and Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini Team) – 15th – inside the opening 10 minutes of the session. Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) had a fall late on, but only after he had set his best time which will see him start his first MotoGP race from 13th position.


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