Stoner’s Fourth Pole in a Row

Henny Ray Abrams | July 12, 2008

HOHENSTEIN-ERNSTTHAL, GERMANY, JULY 12: Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner took his fourth consecutive pole position by shattering the lap record on a cool afternoon at the Sachsenring, site of Sunday’s Alice Grand Prix of Germany. Stoner was on pace from the start, setting a number of increasingly faster lap times that began just over four minutes into the hour. His run of fast laps ended with just over three minutes to go when he clocked a lap of 1:21.067 minutes, well below the existing lap record of 1:21.805 mins., set by Dani Pedrosa on a 990cc Honda two years ago. The pole was yet another indication of Stoner’s unquestioned resurgence. Ever since sorting out his electronics package at the British Grand Prix at Donington Park, the world champion has been unstoppable. He won in England and followed up with another win in the Dutch TT in Assen. Now this. And more ominous was his race pace. Before putting on qualifiers Stoner ran a series of laps that included many in the low 1:22’s and one 1:21. Stoner said the session was important to help sort out tires for Sunday’s race, when the weather is expected to similar and cooler than during Friday’s practice. “So the hard compounds that we were using yesterday are struggling just a little bit in these conditions today. “And, you know, we didn’t really do the lap times that we wanted to, but we also weren’t pushing too hard. The track was a little bit windy and things weren’t well. But qualifying tires working really well today. I struggled the last two corners of the track; we’re spinning up a lot. There’s no way I expected to get pole with that last lap. So to come around with enough of an advantage through T-3, basically, we held it for T-4. So, I’m very happy. And you know four in a row, we’re really trying to chase down this championship and see what we can do.” Stoner’s gap to second was a healthy .353 seconds over Repsol Honda’s Pedrosa. The Spaniard put down his best lap at the checkered flag, knocking Tech 3 Yamaha’s Colin Edwards back to third. Edwards had taken over second with less than ten seconds remaining in the hour. Pedrosa also had strong pace; histwo long runs in qualifying both had the bulk of the laps in the mid-1:22’s. His best lap was his last, a 1:22.858. It didn’t hurt that he had the fastest top speed of 177.339 mph, fractionally better than Stoner’s. The world championship leader said he didn’t expect to qualify second, “because in the last section I had some problems and I couldn’t finish well the lap. So here the lap times are very tight and to finish in second place is good for tomorrow’s start. “For the race I will wait for the weather also, because it seems not so good. And then, anyway, we have to make some adjustments more for tomorrow’s race.” Coming off a last second podium in the Dutch TT, Edwards was predicting another. “Yeah, it’s looking that way,” he said, adding, “It’s weird. I’ve always hated this track with a passion. This is where I had the infamous barbecue,” a reference to when his Aprilia Cube caught fire in his first MotoGP season of 2003. “We arrived here yesterday and it just seemed to work right off the bat. My Tech 3 guys, my Yamaha on Michelins have been working great. “We had a little bit of a front issue; we’ve got to run such hard tires to put up with the surface here. I tipped off yesterday; I think just about everybody tipped off yesterday, if I’m not mistaken. To do 30 laps race distance on that, that’s going to be pretty much on the edge the whole time. “As far as today, anyways, it felt good. We went out there, put the qualifiers on. As soon as you put the qualifiers on there, the Michelins are just like Superglue. You just go out and nail it. So thanks to them and thanks to the team. It’s good to be on the front row.” JiR Team Scot MotoGP’s Andrea Dovizioso put in a fast lap 18 seconds from the end of the session to move into second before Edwards and Pedrosa moved him down. He ended up fourth. Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo outqualified his teammate by two spots. Lorenzo was fifth and Valentino Rossi was a dispiriting seventh, back on the third row. Between the teammates came LCR Honda MotoGP’s Randy de Puniet. The Frenchman claimed the top spot early in the session by being the first to slip on a qualifier. He was taken down by Edwards 11 minutes later. The Texan held the top spot for 16 minutes, until Stoner clicked off three increasingly faster laps. Rossi shares row three with Repsol Honda’s Nicky Hayden and San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Shinya Nakano. Hayden had a few laps that were promising for the first three splits, only to see a drop-off at the end.

MotoGP Qualifying: 1. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1:21.067 2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:21.420 3. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:21.519 4. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:21.656 5. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:21.795 6. Randy de Puniet (Honda) 1:21.821 7. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:21.845 8. Nicky Hayden (Honda) 1:21.876 9. Shinya Nakano (Honda) 1:21.920 10. Alex de Angelis (Honda) 1:21.977 11. James Toseland (Yamaha) 1:22.126 12. Toni Elias (Ducati) 1:22.256 13. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki) 1:22.542 14. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) 1:22.601 15. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 1:22.938 16. Marco Melandri (Ducati) 1:23.131 17. Anthony West (Kawasaki) 1:23.158

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.