Stoner Takes Wet Brno Pole

Cycle News Staff | August 16, 2008

Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner stretched his string of pole positions to six with a dominant performance in a rainy qualifying session in Brno, the Czech Republic. Following on his fast time in the morning, Stoner set the fastest lap on the fourth of seven in the streaming afternoon rain. Then he waited. The gap to second fastest Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha) was 1.189 secs. and the rain was pouring down. Most of the field sat in their garages waiting for the rain to lessen. It never did. So with ten minutes to go a number of riders took to the track again, Stoner among them. The conditions had significantly deteriorated. The track was puddling and the riding was treacherous. Some riders improved their times, and the positions changed, but Stoner was never seriously challenged. Today’s pole follows on his fast time streak that began back in June in Catalunya, then continued at Mugello, Donington, Germany, Laguna Seca, and now Brno. “Yeah, we went out and tried to at least put a few good laps together because we didn’t really know what the weather was going to do,” Stoner said after his lap of 2;11.657 mins. “Looked like it might have cleared up, but actually it did the opposite. So it was good to get a few early laps in. “You know, I still wasn’t too happy with those and I came in to make a change, but when I went back out it was already sort of two, three inches of water just about in some places and the bike was aquaplaning everywhere. We knew as long as the rain kept coming as it did that nobody was going to be able to go much quicker, because the track conditions were very difficult today. You were aquaplaning as you were coming in on the front brakes. As you were tipping in on the rear it was coming around, so it was quite challenging this qualifying session.” Rossi finished second, with his sixth of 15 laps, and he was hoping for dry conditions on Sunday. “Today the conditions are so difficult, because after the first 20 minutes the amount of water become too much for try to improve the setting of the bike and also the lap time for the grid,” he said. “But I’m very happy for my condition. I think in the dry we are able to be a bit more competitive. Also we have some modifieds to try. So we wait. We wait for tomorrow and we hope for a good condition and for another good race.” Kawasaki’s John Hopkins made a brilliant return to racing after a seven week lay-off by scoring a front row starting spot. Hopkins had been sidelined since breaking his lower left leg in a qualifying accident at the Dutch TT. He was able to recharge his batteries during the break, while Kawasaki was able to improve the ZXRR. “I mean, it was a good break, you know, come back and get a little bit more mentally focused,” he said “You never forget how to ride a bike, so, I mean, coming back and getting back on the machine wasn’t hard. It was actually getting on a better machine. Kawasaki has improved since the last time I was on it. “Today is only a small percentage of the weekend. Tomorrow’s the big race and we’ve given ourselves a good advantage today. But I’m really happy to be here and I’m happy that we’re making improvements at Kawasaki. I’m really happy and hopefully it’s making them happy. You know, right now we’ve just got to keep on the up and up and get prepared for tomorrow and just try and turn our season around, really.” Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen finished fourth, one better than San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alex de Angelis who made it five brands in the top five slots. The gap from first to fifth was 1.695 secs. Next came Kawasaki rain specialist Anthony West in front of LCR Honda’s Randy de Puniet, the first of the Michelin riders. The French tire company had a miserable day. Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa was 12th, JiR Team Scot MotoGP’s Andrea Dovizioso was 13th, and the final three riders were Michelin-shod Yamahas. Tech 3 Yamaha’s Colin Edwards was 15th, teammate James Toseland, a crasher for the second time on the weekend was 16th, with Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo 17th and last. MotoGP Qualifying: 1. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 2:11.657 2. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 2:12.846 3. John Hopkins (Kawasaki) 2:12.959 4. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) 2:13.002 5. Alex de Angelis (Honda) 2:13.352 6. Anthony West (Kawasaki) 2:14.064 7. Randy de Puniet (Honda) 2:14.535 8. Shinya Nakano (Honda) 2:14.718 9. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki) 2:14.805 10. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 2:14.861 11. Marco Melandri (Ducati) 2:15.880 12. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2:16.032 13. Toni Elias (Ducati) 2:16.510 14. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 2:17.632 15. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 2:20.074 16. James Toseland (Yamaha) 2:23.303 17. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2:23.701