Qatar Qualifying Report
Casey Stoner gave himself the best possible chance of taking his fourth successive MotoGP victory in Qatar tomorrow, by qualifying his Ducati Marlboro Desmosedici on pole position.
The Australian rider has topped every practice and qualifying session this weekend, holding off a late charge from reigning World Champion, Valentino Rossi, during qualifying to claim prime position on the grid for tomorrow’s 22-lap Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar.
Rossi, who topped the timesheet briefly during qualifying this evening, looked set to topple Stoner from the top spot with a late charge, but the Fiat Yamaha rider lost time in the final corner and was forced to settle for second place on the grid, 0.355s adrift of Stoner and his Ducati.
Jorge Lorenzo secured the final spot on the front row of the grid with his final lap of the hour-long session, declaring himself fighting fit after his pre-season injury, but concerned about a lack of rear traction that had caused him issues during the qualifying session.
Randy de Puniet was the fastest Honda mounted qualifier this evening, finishing fifth fastest to head up the second row of the grid, where he will be joined by Loris Capirossi, who will celebrate his 300th Grand Prix start tomorrow, and fellow Honda rider, Andrea Dovizioso.
Colin Edwards got the better of fellow countryman, Nicky Hayden, to take eighth place, with the first of the MotoGP rookies, reigning 250cc World Champion Hiroshi Aoyama, joining the two Americans on the third row of the grid in ninth.
Another MotoGP rookie, Ben Spies, rounded out the top ten for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team.
Qatar MotoGP Sunday Race Guide
• If Casey Stoner wins the race he will become only the fourth rider ever to win the opening premier-class race of the year in four or more successive years; the other riders to have done this are Giacomo Agostini, Barry Sheene and Valentino Rossi.
• Ducati are aiming to become only the second manufacturer to win the opening premier-class race of the year in five or more successive seasons. The only other manufacturer to have achieved this is MV Agusta.
• Valentino Rossi is looking to win the opening race of the year for the first time since 2005 at Jerez.
• Jorge Lorenzo, who has won in Qatar in the 125cc class and twice in the 250cc class, has finished on the podium in both his two starts in the MotoGP class at the Losail circuit.
• Randy de Puniet is the top Honda rider on the grid in 4th place, which is his best qualifying result since the Australian Grand Prix in 2008.
• Loris Capirossi, who is starting his 21st season of Grand Prix racing, is scheduled to become the first rider ever to make 300 Grand Prix starts.
• Andrea Dovizioso was 4th at Qatar on his debut in the MotoGP class in 2008 and last year he was the first Honda rider across the line in 5th.
• Dani Pedrosa will be starting from his lowest grid position since he was 8th on the grid in Germany last year. Losail is one of only four current circuits (that have been used previously) where Pedrosa has not had a victory in any class of GP racing.
• Hiroshi Aoyama, in tenth place on the grid, is the best qualifier of the rookies in the MotoGP class in 2010.
• The combined total of Grand Prix victories for the riders scheduled to start the MotoGP race is 317, which is greater than the current record for the combined number of Grand Prix wins for all riders starting a GP which stands at 289, at the Dutch TT last year.