Phillip Island, Qualifying: Dominant Casey Takes 11th Pole Of The Season

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Without reducing an inch his extraordinary performance of this season, Casey Stoner dominated again at home, in the Australian circuit of Phillip Island where today he set the fastest time in the qualifying for the fourth year in a row. It is his fifth consecutive ‘pole’ in the last five races and the eleventh of the season, in a Grand Prix where Andrea Dovizioso will start fifth and Dani Pedrosa, eighth.

Faithful to his own style, Casey Stoner did not leave any margin in another day in which he led both sessions with authority. In the free practice of the morning, the Repsol rider was the only one to lap under 1 minute and 31 seconds, leaving the second placed —Jorge Lorenzo— 6 tenths behind and 9 tenths ahead of the third —Dani Pedrosa—, in a session in which Andrea Dovizioso finished in sixth position.

Focused on finding a good pace with used tyres to prepare tomorrow’s race, Stoner was slightly unnoticed in the first half of the qualifying, which was led at the beginning by Jorge Lorenzo and then by Dani Pedrosa, followed closely by the Australian. The Spaniard of the Repsol Honda Team lapped for the first time in the weekend under 1 minute and 31 seconds by mid session; nevertheless, he was not able to improve his time further and tomorrow will be forced to start from the third row, in eighth place.

At the crucial moment, with fifteen minutes to go before the end of the session, Stoner went back to the track decided to strike another blow. In his first lap he set the fastest time —for now— of the weekend: 1 minute, 30 seconds and 42 thousandths, reducing by 8 tenths Pedrosa’s time, who was still leading the classification. Seven minutes before the end of the session, although Lorenzo was trying to get close to his times, the Australian improved his lap time even more, setting a register under 1 minute and 30 seconds. After several laps at an impressive pace of 1 minute y 29 seconds, Stoner secured his eleventh ‘pole position’ of the season, just one pole position away from the record set by Mick Doohan in 1997.

With all riders trying to improve his times, Andrea Dovizioso was also looking for a place in the first row, but he was surpassed by Álvaro Bautista, who lapped 66 thousandths faster, leaving the Repsol rider in fourth position, which became the fifth place when Simoncelli took the third place. The battle for the first positions of the grid was so close that Dani Pedrosa finally fell to the eighth position, despite finishing just one tenth and a half away from the fastest time.

Casey Stoner

FP3 – 1:30.550, 21 laps, 93 km.
QP – 1:29.975, 24 laps, 107 km.

“So far so good, we have a good race pace and the bike’s feeling pretty good at the moment. We still need to improve the rear grip, but I think this is the same for everyone, we’d also like to get the harder rear tyre working better for the race.
We began Qualifying with older tyres to understand where we are for the race and I’m quite happy as the lap times we were achieving were similar to Jorge [Lorenzo] and Dani [Pedrosa] who were on the new soft tyre.
Then we put on the soft tyre for the first time since yesterday morning, everything felt good and we were able to improve our lap time consistently, but it’s still difficult on the left side of the tyre and we’re getting a lot of spinning and tyre degradation.
We’ll see what the weather does tomorrow, it’s not looking too good right now but we’ll adapt to whatever it throws at us. Jorge is strong everywhere we go and I think my chances of taking the Championship here tomorrow is pretty slim to be honest, we’re just going to go out there and concentrate on winning the race”.

Source: Repsol Media