MUGELLO, ITALY, JULY 2 – Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner sped to his fifth pole position of the season with the fastest ever lap by a motorcycle in a rain-shortened qualifying session at the majestic Mugello Circuit in the Tuscan hills north of Florence, Italy.Riding in a very light drizzle – it wasn’t raining hard enough to coat the track – Stoner went to the top in the first 20 minutes with a lap of 1:48.034 mins., lowering the previous mark of 1:48.080 mins. set by Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo in Saturday morning practice. At the time the lap was the fastest of the day by .600 sec., but Yamaha’s Ben Spies cut the gap to .445 sec., dropping San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Simoncelli to third by .006 sec.With about 27 minutes remaining in the hour the rain picked up, sending everyone back to the pit box. For the rest of the hour the riders sat and waited, with the few who returned to the track having no hope of improving their times. Stoner ended up on pole from Spies, who was on the front row for the second time in a row, and Simoncelli, who had his fifth consecutive front row start.
Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso, the rider who lives closest to the track in Forli, qualified fourth fastest and narrowly in front of world champion Lorenzo (Yamaha). Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards qualified at the end of row two.Edwards’ teammate Cal Crutchlow was just behind in seventh and heading row three from the returning Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) and Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden. Hayden was the first of four Ducatis in a row that were separated by .4 sec. Behind the Kentuckian came Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP’s Hector Barbera, Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham, and a very disappointed Valentino Rossi, who was 12th on the Ducati Marlboro GP11.1. The performance was quite a comedown for Rossi, who’d won the race seven times in a row, but also broke his leg here last year.
1. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1:48.034
2. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1:48.479
3. Marco Simoncelli (Honda) 1:48.485
4. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:48.694
5. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:48.756
6. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:48.974
7. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1:49.021
8. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:49.398
9. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:49.509
10. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 1:49.663
11. Karel Abraham (Ducati) 1:49.678
12. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1:49.902