Casey Stoner lines up second on Laguna Seca grid
The Laguna Seca circuit played host to a tremendous qualifying session for the US Grand Prix, following on from the third free practice session. In an extremely tight battle for pole position, Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner fought right to the end of the run.
In the end, the top spot on the grid went to the Spaniard, who clinched pole by 74 thousandths of a second from the reigning MotoGP World Champion. 0.352 back was Dani Pedrosa, who could not lower his time in the final seconds and will round off the front row tomorrow.
After dominating the free practice sessions on day one, Repsol Honda Team riders Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner were the only riders to sit out the third practice session. Pedrosa had two bikes equipped with the new chassis and new engine (2013 spec) at his disposal, whilst Stoner continued working with a standard engine in one bike and the new motor in his second machine Ã¢â‚¬â€that with which he will ride tomorrow.
With temperatures of 12Ã‚ÂºC and the asphalt at less than 20Ã‚ÂºC, plus a dense mist covering the hills of the circuit, both riders opted to stay in the pits rather than risk injury in poor visibility. On-track action was limited to a few laps for the rest of the field in the final ten minutes.
In qualifying, the top three in the World Championship standings were quick to take centre stage, setting the early pace. Lorenzo took the initiative first, becoming the opening rider to break the 1Ã¢â‚¬â„¢21 mark. Pedrosa immediately responded. Stoner was down in third, improving his feel with the hard tyre. It would only be in the final moments of the run that the grid would be decided.
With the softest available tyre compound on his RC213V and less than two minutes remaining on the clock, Casey Stoner stopped the lap timer in 1Ã¢â‚¬â„¢20.628. That put him at the head of the grid, until Jorge Lorenzo made a late bid for pole and dropped 74 thousandths of a second off the AustralianÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s time.
Stoner will start from second, accompanied by Dani Pedrosa on the front row. Pedrosa had begun the session with the soft tyres, and has shown strong pace on hard rubber so far this weekend. He was, unfortunately, unable to improve upon his times late on in the Saturday session.
Tomorrow at 2pm local time Ã¢â‚¬â€11pm in EuropeÃ¢â‚¬â€ the lights will go out for what is sure to be an exciting MotoGP race between the top three riders in the standings, if today is anything to go by.
“I’m disappointed as I think we definitely had the potential for pole position. We spent most of the session with the hard tyre trying to improve our pace, we’ve been struggling with it all season when the temperatures aren’t high enough to get it working and we had made a few steps and weren’t too far off the pace. Then we put on the soft tyre and unfortunately we never got a clean lap. There was always a CRT bike in the way and considering we’re 3-4 seconds a lap quicker than them, you come up on them pretty quick, no matter how big a gap you give them. Every lap was spoiled which is very frustrating as I really feel we could have been on pole but we’ll have to settle for where we are. Tyre choice for the race will depend on the weather conditions tomorrow, I think we have the pace and longevity in the tyre for the soft, but if it’s hot then we may have to try and make the hard workÃ¢â‚¬Â.
Source: Repsol Media