Summary and results of the qualifying practice for the MotoGP class at Motegi:
Casey Stoner has secured pole position for tomorrow's MotoGP race at Motegi, smashing records along the way. Pole in Japan is his 10th of the season, a new record, and Stoner added a new pole lap record into the bargain, taking nearly three tenths off a second off Jorge Lorenzo's pole record set on qualifying tires back in 2008.
Stoner did have to work for the pole, however. After his Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa had led for much of the session, getting into the 1'45 bracket very early in the session, Stoner upped the pace to just sneak ahead of the Spaniard. A lap later and he took nearly three tenths off Pedrosa, but a couple of minutes later, Jorge Lorenzo struck back at Stoner, taking provisional pole with a new lap record of 1'45.523. With 2 minutes left in the session, Stoner upped the pace again and took pole back again, setting a scorching pole record in the process.
Despite being demoted to 2nd on the grid, Jorge Lorenzo was much happier after qualifying. A major setup change after the morning FP3 session saw Lorenzo match the pace of the factory Hondas, putting him right amid the Repsols, where he needs to be if he is to have a chance of taking points from Stoner on Sunday. Andrea Dovizioso rounds out the front row of the grid, the Repsol Honda man making his point very forcefully at Motegi, in front of the HRC bigwigs who selected Marco Simoncelli over him for support. Dovizioso finished ahead of Dani Pedrosa, the Spaniard losing the early lead he held and not quite timing his final runs right to get back onto the front row, leaving him down in 4th.
Beside Pedrosa on the second row of the grid sits Ben Spies, the factory Yamaha rider much recovered from the bout of food poisoning that plagued his first few days in Japan. Rounding out the second row is Marco Simoncelli, the pace of the San Carlo Gresini Honda rider dropping off a little as the others improved, and only securing 6th in the final seconds of qualifying.
Valentino Rossi will have been irritated to have Simoncelli nip in at the last minute and bump him down to the third row of the grid, but the Marlboro Ducati rider's qualifying position is his best since Brno. There are signs of slow and steady progress for the Italian, with the lessons learned at the recent Jerez test perhaps starting to pay off. Rossi sits ahead of Rizla Suzuki's Alvaro Bautista, the Spaniard equalling his best qualifying position of the year with another 8th place. Bautista ended the session just a tenth of a second ahead of his compatriot, Mapfre Aspar's Hector Barbera, and under two tenths ahead of the Marlboro Ducati of Nicky Hayden, the American rounding out the top 10.
|13||14||Randy DE PUNIET||DUCATI||1'46.917||1.650||0.099|