Casey Stoner sent out an ominous warning to his rivals with a scintillating performance in qualifying for the Indianapolis Grand Prix, taking pole position by half a second. The championship leader's dominance was demonstrated by the fact that he set six separate lap times good enough to put him ahead of the factory Yamahas that join him on the front row.
The hour-long session got off to a dramatic start with Valentino Rossi sliding off the track eight minutes in. The Italian's number one bike was out of commission for the rest of the session, setting the scene for a nightmare afternoon for the 2008 Indy winner.
Stoner was already in possession of top spot before the riders emerged for their attacking efforts but with 20 minutes remaining he stamped his authority with a 1:38.947, over half a second quicker than nearest rival Ben Spies.
With six minutes left, he Texan cut the gap slightly with a 1:39.373 but Stoner was response was outstanding. The Australian put in consecutive laps of 1:38.923 and 1:38.850 with astonishing ease, leaving his rivals to scrap over the remaining places on the front row.
Spies continued the trend from the weekend so far by outpacing teammate Jorge Lorenzo to take second, while the world champion was forced to dig very deep to secure third. Lorenzo admitted in the post-qualifying press conference that the weekend had been a “nightmare” up until that point, and will certainly be relieved to start alongside his title rival.
Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso will start together on the second row in fourth and fifth respectively. The one second margin to their teammate spoke volumes for the performance of Stoner, who will now be hoping the fast-starting Spaniard can challenge Lorenzo at the start tomorrow.
Colin Edwards continued his giant killing act by claiming the scalp of Marco Simoncelli. The American will start from the second row in sixth while Simoncelli will have to settle for seventh, his worst grid position of the year.
Nicky Hayden salvaged eighth on a terrible afternoon for Ducati while Valentino Rossi only made it as high as 14th on the spare GP11.1. Alvaro Bautista got the Rizla Suzuki onto the third row again in ninth while Hector Barbera took a solid tenth.
Cal Crutchlow pushed the Tech 3 Yamaha to the limits again as he searched for a place in the top ten. A trip through the gravel on his final lap put paid to those chances but he will still start from a creditable 11th.
Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix: Qualifying Result
|1||Casey Stoner||AUS||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||1:38.850|
|2||Ben Spies||USA||Yamaha||Yamaha Factory Racing||+0.523|
|3||Jorge Lorenzo||SPA||Yamaha||Yamaha Factory Racing||+0.779|
|4||Dani Pedrosa||SPA||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||+1.097|
|5||Andrea Dovizioso||ITA||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||+1.174|
|6||Colin Edwards||USA||Yamaha||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||+1.248|
|7||Marco Simoncelli||ITA||Honda||San Carlo Honda Gresini||+1.354|
|8||Nicky Hayden||USA||Ducati||Ducati Team||+1.394|
|9||Alvaro Bautista||SPA||Suzuki||Rizla Suzuki MotoGP||+1.483|
|10||Hector Barbera||SPA||Ducati||Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP||+1.510|
|11||Cal Crutchlow||GBR||Yamaha||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||+1.770|
|12||Randy de Puniet||FRA||Ducati||Pramac Racing Team||+1.965|
|13||Hiroshi Aoyama||JAP||Honda||San Carlo Honda Gresini||+2.075|
|14||Valentino Rossi||ITA||Ducati||Ducati Team||+2.125|
|15||Toni Elias||SPA||Honda||LCR Honda MotoGP||+2.180|
|16||Karel Abraham||CZE||Ducati||Cardion AB Motoracing||+2.235|
|17||Loris Capirossi||ITA||Ducati||Pramac Racing Team||+2.242|
|107% Qualifying Time: 1:45.770|