Stoner Storms To Dominant Pole At Phillip Island

by Louis Suddaby

Casey Stoner continued his total domination of the Australian Grand Prix weekend by taking pole position ahead of Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa. The world champion was comfortably quickest in all three practice sessions and duly delivered in qualifying, going half a second quicker than anybody else.

The writing was on the wall from the moment Stoner completed his first flying lap, a 1:31.497, which already gave him a one second lead. After his initial sighter, the home favourite immediately lowered the target time to a 1:30.518 before pitting although Dani Pedrosa gave the rest hope by closing to within a quarter of a second.

Stoner’s rivals received another crumb of comfort when the Repsol Honda highsided twenty minutes in. Stoner had been midway through an out lap on the harder tyre when the RC213V swapped ends at the Honda hairpin. Despite a potentially awkward landing, Casey avoided further damage to his previously injured ankle and made a swift return to the pits.

At the halfway point Stoner dropped into the 1:29s, a feat that only he’d been able to manage all weekend and although Lorenzo improved to go second, that fact wouldn’t change. Yamaha were simply relieved to see their man back at the sharp end though after he’d languished in fifth for much of the session.

To rub even more salt into the wounds, Stoner improved to a 1:29.623 at the start of his final run but we wouldn’t find out if further improvements were possible as rain started to fall two minutes from time. Stoner wasn’t complaining though and neither was Lorenzo but Dani Pedrosa was prevented from challenging his title rival, remaining rooted in third.

Cal Crutchlow beat the showers to snatch fourth from Stefan Bradl and Andrea Dovizioso with Valentino Rossi the quickest Ducati in seventh. The Italian spared the Bologna squad the embarrassment of being outqualified by Randy de Puniet’s Aspar CRT machine although the Frenchman only trailed ‘The Doctor’ by six thousandths of a second.

Nicky Hayden was tenth fastest ahead of Karel Abraham and the second Aspar ART of Aleix Espargaro while James Ellison placed his Paul Bird CRT bike seventeenth for tomorrow’s race.

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