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Stoner storms to opening pole of the season

After dominating all of the practice sessions, Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda) clinched the first pole of the 2011 season at the Losail International Circuit, making it his 27th pole of his career.

Of the seven MotoGP races held in Qatar, only one has been won from pole position and it was the Australian on a Ducati back in 2009. He will be hoping to add to that tally tomorrow. This is only the second pole position in Doha for Honda in MotoGP, the previous one being Stoner again, back in 2006.

The MotoGP class were presented with higher temperatures in Qatar with less wind compared to earlier in the week in the hour long qualifying session. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) was the only man who could compete with Stoner’s brilliance and took provisional pole off him during the session, but ended up 0. 205 behind when Stoner blitzed his lap time with a pole position lap of 1’54.137 Pedrosa will now make his first ever front row start at the Losail International Circuit.

The final place on the front row went to Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing) who must be pleased with that effort after pre-season testing and results in practice. He finished 0.810 behind Stoner. He finished second in Qatar in 2010 after fighting his way through the field so will hoping to repeat the same success in the race. The riders on the front row were the only ones able to achieve a lap time in the 1’54s. The Spaniard also has the satisfaction of getting the better of his team-mate, Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing), who finished qualifying in fifth place.

Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini Team) was the surprise of the session with a great lap to finish fourth fastest, just four hundredths slower than the current MotoGP World Champion. The top Ducati was yet again Héctor Barberá (Mapfre Aspar Team) who was sixth fastest, 1.086 off the time set by Stoner.

Monster Yamaha Tech 3 again produced a good showing with the sole British representative Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech) managing a stunning eighth place on the grid in his first MotoGP race, despite the awkward injury to his finger. His team-mate Colin Edwards was in tenth position.

It was a disappointing showing for Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) compared to his team-mates and after his form in the previous practice sessions. The Italian not known for strong qualifying compared to race results, could only manage seventh with a deficit of 1.092 off the leading Repsol Honda.

Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) still struggling with the shoulder injury in his debut race weekend for Ducati Team was ninth quickest, whilst his American team-mate Nicky Hayden was down in 13th.

There will be just 16 riders on the grid for tomorrow’s race after the accident for Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki), as there will be no replacement rider.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2011, QP

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