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Stoner takes first pole of season in action-packed MotoGP™ qualifying at Estoril

It was Repsol Honda Team´s Casey Stoner who got his first pole position of the season in the MotoGP™ qualifying session for the Grande Prémio de Portugal Circuito Estoril ahead of teammate Dani Pedrosa.

In a frantic final four minutes, Stoner´s time of 1.37´188 was enough to oust Pedrosa into second place on the grid, who will be looking to repeat his win here last year. Finishing off the front row of the grid is Monster Yamaha Tech 3´s revelation of the season Cal Crutchlow, who secured his second front-row start in three races.

Heading the second row is Yamaha Factory Racing´s Jorge Lorenzo, who was unhappy with his performance in the session, as it is the first time in his MotoGP career that he has not started on the front row at Estoril.

Behind him in fifth, his teammate Ben Spies left it late to put in his fast lap, after struggling with traffic throughout the session, which saw him almost collide with Speed Master´s Mattia Pasini. Rounding out the second row is San Carlo Honda Gresini´s Álvaro Bautista, who has been the quiet performer this weekend, getting ever more comfortable on his Honda. Seventh place went to Crutchlow´s teammate Andrea Dovizioso, who has been out-qualified by the Brit for the third time in a row.

Behind him, Pramac Racing´s Héctor Barberá took the honours for top Ducati in eighth place, in front of Ducati Team rider Valentino Rossi in ninth. Rossi will not be pleased with this grid position, but will take heart from being less than a second off the front. Rounding out the top ten is Rossi´s teammate Nicky Hayden, who could not repeat his front-row heroics from Jerez. Top CRT finisher was Power Electronics Aspar´s Aleix Espargaró in 12th.

The session was red flagged 11 minutes before the end as Power Electronics Aspar´s Randy de Puniet lost the front end of his bike, taking out Colin Edwards on his NGM Mobile Forward Racing bike. Edwards suffered a broken collarbone, while de Puniet has abrasion to one of his fingers and contusions to his left shoulder. The session was resumed shortly after.

Avintia Blusens´ Iván Silva fortunately saved his near crash, by pulling off a tremendous save on his CRT bike late on in the session, as it tried to buck him off.

Despite dry track conditions, riders expressed concern about a permanent damp patch on the exit the final corner, the infamous long Parabolica. Whilst not an awful lot could be done about the state of the track, Race Direction decided to mark the spot at the side of the track to provide a visual aid to the riders.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2012, QP

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