Casey Stoner has taken his second pole of the year at Motorland Aragon, confirming the fast pace he has shown all weekend. The Marlboro Ducati rider had a tough fight on his hands, though, with Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa pushing Stoner all the way to the final seconds, until a mistake on Pedrosa's final fast lap prevented the Spaniard from improving his time, handing pole to the Australian.
Stoner and Pedrosa had swapped provisional pole throughout the session, slashing away at the times as they approached 1'49.1. Stoner's last attempt was blistering, taking two tenths off his own best time to get into the 1'48s with a lap of 1'48.942. Dani Pedrosa looked like matching it, crossing the second intermediate timing point two tenths up on Stoner, but that turned out to be a pace that was just not sustainable, the Repsol Honda running wide seconds later at Turn 11.
Pedrosa's mistake lost him both the pole and 2nd position, allowing Jorge Lorenzo to slip past. The Fiat Yamahas were both well down on top speed down the back straight, but Lorenzo's speed in the first section helped limit the damage.
Nicky Hayden made his strong weekend even better by securing a 4th place start for tomorrow's race, but even more encouraging will be the fact that the Marlboro Ducati rider is just over a tenth behind Pedrosa, and just over half a second behind his teammate, much closer than he was at Misano. Hayden was just fractionally faster than Monster Tech 3 Yamaha's Ben Spies, who was the last of the riders to finish inside a second of Stoner's blistering pole time. LCR Honda's Randy de Puniet ended qualifying in 6th, ahead of a struggling Valentino Rossi, who heads up the third row of the grid in 7th, over a second behind Stoner.
The one thing that qualifying has made clear is the speed deficit the Yamahas have against the Honda and the Ducati. All three Yamahas clocked just under 319 km/h along Aragon's long, downhill back straight. Casey Stoner's fastest speed there was 324.5 km/h, while Dani Pedrosa was over two clicks faster, at 326.8 km/h, or 203 miles per hour. Yamaha are expecting to get a new engine spec sometime during the next few races, but even that engine won't be able to match the pace of the Hondas.
|6||14||Randy DE PUNIET||HONDA||1'49.952||1.010||0.387|