Phillip Island MotoGP

The man who won the last three meetings at Phillip Island secured the pole Saturday after setting a blistering pace of 1:30.107. This is also Casey Stoner’s third consecutive pole at his home race on the Ducati Team GP10.

Unlike Friday’s practice session that was plagued by rain, the hour-long session had sunshine for the first 58 minutes, and then rain during the final two. Stoner will be joined on the front row by 2010 World Champion Jorge Lorenzo and Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider Ben Spies. Stoner, who also celebrated his 25th birthday on Saturday, was 0.668 ahead of Lorenzo.

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Casey Stoner says: “I always seem to celebrate my birthday here at Phillip Island but I guess there are worse places to be! We have had virtually every single condition you could imagine thrown at us this weekend so we’ll have to wait and see what happens tomorrow before we make any decisions on set-up but so far I think we have done the best possible job in every condition.”

“I’m quite happy with the setting in the wet even though we haven’t had a fully wet session, which made it difficult to get a good reading from the bike. We have had two good sessions today, making progress in the last half an hour of this morning and another big step again in the last half hour of the afternoon. With the last two soft tires I was able to make a substantial improvement to the lap time and we’re in the best possible position for tomorrow so I’m pretty happy so far.”

The only rider to post a time within a second of Stoner was Lorenzo, who piloted his Fiat Yamaha M1 to a 1:30.775. Lorenzo, who secured the 2010 title last week at Malaysia with a third-place finish, briefly lead the qualifying session before Stoner took over. This is Lorenzo’s 15th start of the season from the front row, and the Spaniard has finished on the podium an impressive 13 out of 15 races, including seven wins.

Jorge Lorenzo says: “These conditions were really risky because it was so cold and also incredibly windy. It was hard to stay on the bike sometimes! I’m happy with my race pace which is unusual for me here because I’ve never been so strong in MotoGP at this track, but I think we’ve done a good job. I wanted pole today but the weather and Casey stopped me – he is so quick here. We have the second best time so it is okay and I am feeling very calm after last weekend. We hope the weather is like this or better tomorrow, with no rain, and then we will go for it and see what happens in the race. I am ready for the race; I just want to enjoy it.”

Spies will start on the front row for the third time this season, the rookie’s time 1.279 seconds behind Stoner’s. Depending on Spies’ performance at Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix, he may be able to clinch the Rookie of the Year award.

Ben Spies says: I’m really happy to be on the front row again but a little bit surprised. I was really happy with my pace and the lap times earlier in the session but each time I tried to go quicker in the last part I’d have spots of rain on my visor. I’d warm up the tyres and see nothing but as soon as I’d push going into the first corner to start a fast lap, I was getting a lot of rain on my visor.”

“I didn’t want to take a big risk when I knew I was already pretty close to the front row. My qualifying time is a pace that I can run in the race, so I’m happy with that. I’m confident because I haven’t finished a session thinking I put in a great session. So if we can put everything together and ride really well and the bike is working good, maybe I can fight for the podium. I’ve got the lap time to make the podium but I just want to make the bike better for the last ten laps of the race. It would be nice to clinch the Rookie of the Year title tomorrow. It would be another box ticked in what has been a really po sitive season so far.”

Starting off the second row is another rookie, San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli. The Italian was 0.016 of a second behind Spies. Joining him on the second row will be Spies’ teammate Colin Edwards and then Stoner’s teammate Nicky Hayden, who crashed at the end of the session.

Nine-Time World Champion Valentino Rossi qualified in eight after struggling with setup on his YZF-M1. And the returning Dani Pedrosa struggled also, qualifying 15th. After qualifying, the Repsol Honda rider decided to not compete in Sunday’s GP. This will be three consecutive missed racers for Pedrosa, who crashed during practice for the race in Motegi.

2010 MotoGP Qualifying Results: Phillip Island, Australia

Pos. Num. Rider Nation Team Bike Km/h Time Gap 1st/Prev.
1. 27 Casey STONER AUS Ducati Team Ducati 323.4 1’30.107
2. 99 Jorge LORENZO SPA Fiat Yamaha Team Yamaha 319.8 1’30.775 0.668 / 0.668
3. 11 Ben SPIES USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 319.8 1’31.386 1.279 / 0.611
4. 58 Marco SIMONCELLI ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda 319.3 1’31.402 1.295 / 0.016
5. 5 Colin EDWARDS USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 317.9 1’31.415 1.308 / 0.013
6. 69 Nicky HAYDEN USA Ducati Team Ducati 319.8 1’31.530 1.423 / 0.115
7. 14 Randy DE PUNIET FRA LCR Honda MotoGP Honda 319.5 1’31.554 1.447 / 0.024
8. 46 Valentino ROSSI ITA Fiat Yamaha Team Yamaha 316.0 1’31.627 1.520 / 0.073
9. 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Repsol Honda Team Honda 325.2 1’32.018 1.911 / 0.391
10. 33 Marco MELANDRI ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda 322.2 1’32.367 2.260 / 0.349
11. 41 Aleix ESPARGARO SPA Pramac Racing Team Ducati 321.4 1’32.542 2.435 / 0.175
12. 36 Mika KALLIO FIN Pramac Racing Team Ducati 318.9 1’32.816 2.709 / 0.274
13. 7 Hiroshi AOYAMA JPN Interwetten Honda MotoGP Honda 318.3 1’33.190 3.083 / 0.374
14. 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP Suzuki 317.4 1’33.224 3.117 / 0.034
15. 26 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 305.5 1’33.384 3.277 / 0.160
16. 40 Hector BARBERA SPA Paginas Amarillas Aspar Ducati 324.1 1’33.390 3.283 / 0.006
17. 65 Loris CAPIROSSI ITA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP Suzuki 311.5 1’34.269 4.162 / 0.879