Stoner set for fourth Australian MotoGP win
Local hope Casey Stoner has positioned himself perfectly to snare his fourth straight Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix.
On his 25th birthday, the Ducati ace grabbed pole position for Sunday’s MotoGP race ahead of new world champion Jorge Lorenzo.
Stoner scored the 21st pole of his MotoGP career on Saturday, beating his Spanish rival to top spot with a best lap of 1:30.107 on a dry track.
Lorenzo’s Yamaha was just six tenths of a second behind.
Third was American Yamaha rider Ben Spies while Italian Marco Simoncelli was fourth on a Honda.
Seven-times world champion Valentino Rossi will start from eighth place on his Yamaha, more than 1.5 seconds off the pace.
Stoner, who has had a late burst of form after a poor start to the 2010 season, is confident after his team made several improvements during the hour-long qualifying session.
“We have had virtually every single condition you could imagine thrown at us this weekend so we’ll have to see what happens tomorrow before we make any decisions on the set-up,” Stoner said.
“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 hour of this morning and another big step again in the last half hour of the afternoon.
“With the last two soft tyres I was able to make a substantial improvement to the lap time and we’re in the best possible position for tomorrow,” Stoner said.
The Queenslander has won two of the past three races, in Spain and Japan, before crashing out a week ago in Malaysia.
Spaniard Lorenzo was pleased with his run but admitted he could do nothing to out-gun Stoner.
“It seems it’s going to be Casey’s race, no?” Lorenzo said.
“But always in the race a lot of things can happen and we must be prepared and try to fight with him.
“It seems we have a base for tomorrow better than the rest of the riders apart from Casey but we want more and we want to be faster.
“Maybe with some modifications on the bike, some changes, maybe we can get the two or three tenths (of a second) that we need,” he said.
Meanwhile, Alex de Angelis from San Marino will start from pole in the Moto2 class, although Spain’s Toni Elias has already clinched the world championship.
And in the 125 cc class Spain’s Marc Marquez stole pole on his Red Bull Derbi bike.© AAP 2013
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