Repsol Honda's Casey Stoner sped to his eighth pole position of the season with the fastest ever lap by a motorcycle at the Misano Circuit, site of Sunday's San Marino Grand Prix.The world championship leader waited until there were a little over 15 minutes to go in the hour before getting down to business. The lap that put him atop the time sheets was a 1:33.495 and the next one set the record. His pole lap of 1:33.138 mins. was under his three-year-old qualifying record of 1:33.378 set on Bridgestone qualifying tires aboard a Ducati in 2008.Stoner will be looking to increase his 42-point championship lead in Sunday's 13th round of the MotoGP World Championship.

The conditions are expected to be hot in Sunday's race, which Stoner said would be "Difficult, definitely, physically. The last three races we've had have been extremely hot, hard races, with good weather, and it's nice in one way to have consistent weather but in another it sort of takes its toll on you. And to have two hot, hard back-to-back races is going to be a lot of hard work."The team's done a great job this weekend. Bike feels pretty good. In every session we've had to make small adjustments here and there just to get a little bit more grip, especially with the harder tire this afternoon. But we managed to get some good times with that and with the soft tire we got our lap time in that first one because with the second one, with the old front, we found it was pushing a little bit too much and we were struggling."But in general it's been a good weekend for us. It's going to be a very hard race tomorrow. Dani (Pedrosa) and Jorge (Lorenzo) are really close on times and I think it's going to be a bit of a battle, but we'll do what we can."The rider with the only hope of catching Stoner in the championship is Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo, and his hopes are fading. Lorenzo controlled qualifying until Stoner got going, but still managed to finish second. His best laps came at the end of the session, with his final lap of 1:33.258 mins. coming up short by .120 sec.Lorenzo said his recent machine issues were solved at Misano "and more or less we can fight with the Hondas, with Casey (Stoner) and Dani. They keep being so fast, so quick, so fighting with them you must be at more than 100%. But anyway, the race is another history, there is a lot of laps to do, so I think we have a good pace in '33 and hopefully we can do it for tomorrow."Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa filled out the front row with a lap that was slower than Lorenzo's best by only .060 sec."Yes, the lap times are really close," Pedrosa said. "I think sure tomorrow the race is going to be a fast race and it's important to be consistent and I think we work quite good this weekend. Just trying to get the right tire choice for tomorrow, because it's quite open at this track. Normally we have a quite clear tire choice, but at this track it seems that the two tires are working quite good."Yeah, just trying to improve the bike a little more for tomorrow and get the right tire on the grid and hopefully we can do a good race."Yamaha's Ben Spies put in his best effort late, but he wasn't able to get onto the front row. Instead he'll share the second row with San Carlo Honda Gresini's Marco Simoncelli, who lives less than four miles from the track, and Repsol Honda's Andrea Dovizioso.The Italian who the crowd wanted most to succeed struggled again, as he has all year. Ducati Marlboro's Valentino Rossi, from nearby Tavullia, was 11th fastest and 1.538 secs. off the pace. Teammate Nicky Hayden was down in 15th and 1.817 secs. behind Stoner.Hayden's fellow American Colin Edwards was again the top non-factory rider in seventh, one better than Rizla Suzuki's Alvaro Bautista, who equaled his best MotoGP qualifying mark of the season. Mapfre Aspar MotoGP's Hector Barbera qualified ninth.MotoGP Qualifying:1. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1:33.138

2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:33.258

3. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:33.318

4. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1:33.947

5. Marco Simoncelli (Honda) 1:33.990

6. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:34.026

7. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:34.054

8. Alvaro Bautista (Suzuki) 1:34.360

9. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 1:34.592

10. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda) 1:34.637

11. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1:34.676

15. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:34.955

 

MotoGP Headlines

By Cycle News Staff

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