Stoner on Pole With Indy Lap Record

Henny Ray Abrams | August 27, 2011

SPEEDWAY, IN, AUG 27 – Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner took his seventh pole of the season with the fastest ever lap of Indianapolis Motor Speedway.The championship leader was a cut above the rest today, clocking the six fastest laps. The best of them were under the previous pole record set by Dani Pedrosa in 2009. What made it more impressive was that the Australian said he wasn’t comfortable on the new pavement, where greasy seams threaten to take you out of the race.Stoner finished with a best of 1:38.850 secs. on the 2.61-mile, 16-turn “Brickyard.” The previous record was 1:39.538.”Yeah, it’s been quite complicated actually knowing whether to chase settings and get the bike set up, whether the bike’s going to improve more or not,” he said. “And session by session it’s got gradually better. I think today it got a little bit better but not too much better than what we had this morning. So we’re still undecided with settings, things like that, because if the conditions improve tomorrow then whatever we find out today is going to be irrelevant. So we’ve been just trying to decide how big a step to make and things like this and in reality we haven’t made a lot of changes with the bike, we’ve just been experimenting with different tires, front, trying to get it to last a little bit longer without the grip that we need; basically, we’re just sort of tearing the front tire.

“So we definitely need to improve those areas a little bit, but at the same time on both softer compounds we’ve done over race distance and we’re pretty happy with the lap times we’re getting. So, you know, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens tomorrow, how it plays out. I think tires will play a factor in it and we’re just going to have to see if we made the right choice and make sure we’re there at the end, but I think there’s going to be a lot different race tomorrow to what it looks like in qualifying.”Yamaha’s Ben Spies finished .523 sec. behind Stoner. The Texan had a problem with his seat pad late in the session, but admitted that under the best of conditions he couldn’t have caught Stoner. And it’s going to be difficult to stay with him in Sunday’s Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix, the 12th round of the MotoGP World Championship.”It’s going to be tough,” he said. “He’s riding really fast, for sure. We have a chance, we just have to be perfect and not make any mistakes and just hang on the first few laps.”But the bike’s working really good. We did race distance with the tires early on. It feels great. Just couldn’t quite get the fast lap out of the bike. When we put a new rear on, we just didn’t have the confidence in the front to push that little bit. We tried and that’s about it. We had a little problem the last couple laps, but it was fine with me because I know I didn’t have the pace to move up, but I knew we would be on the front row so that was important for the start tomorrow. And now we’ll just look at some data and rest up and get ready for tomorrow. But the Yamaha’s working good and we’re both on the front row so we’ll try to put together a good race.”Spies’ teammate Jorge Lorenzo broke out of a weekend slump to take the final spot on the front row. Before qualifying, Lorenzo was only seventh fastest and more than a second off the pace.Fourth went to Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa by .077 sec. over teammate Andrea Dovizioso. Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards filled out the second row.San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Simoncelli was disappointed to qualify seventh, two weeks after his first MotoGP podium. The Italian was struck by a front tire issue after fitting a fresh rear that provided so much traction the front was pushing.Next to Simoncelli was Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden. Hayden, again the fastest Ducati, was hopeful of putting on a better show for his home crowd. The team had some ideas for the race, but nothing would make up the nearly 1.5 secs. gap to Stoner.Still, he was better off than teammate Valentino Rossi who finished 14th out of 17 and two seconds down on Stoner. Rossi lost the front end and crashed early in qualifying. He explained that he afternoon’s high track temperatures caused a loss of front end feel that eventually caught him out.MotoGP Qualifying: 1. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1:38.850

2. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1:39.373

3. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:39.629

4. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:39.947

5. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:40.024

6. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:40.098

7. Marco Simoncelli (Honda) 1:40.204

8. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:40.244

9. Alvaro Bautista (Suzuki) 1:40.333

10. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 1:40.360

14. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1:40.975


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.