Repsol Honda's Casey Stoner had a tip over on his very last lap of today's final qualifying session at the Jerez Circuit in Spain, but it was harmless and by then the Australian had already secured the lap that would give him pole position for tomorrow's Grand Prix of Spain.

Stoner lapped the 2.74-mile track in 1:38.757 on the 19th of his 23 laps to keep his perfect two-for-two qualifying record intact for the 2011 season. He ended up .158 of a second ahead of his teammate Dani Pedrosa, the Spaniard having led this morning's free practice session that was held in calmer conditions as the winds continue to pick up in the afternoon in Jerez.

"The conditions have been pretty tough this weekend, with morning to afternoon really different with the wind picking up and making things quite difficult," Stoner said after earning pole. "But it's the same conditions for everybody. I think the wind will pick up tomorrow and there's also the chance of some rain. We've had a pretty good run this weekend. This morning I was really happy with the way the bike was working with worn tires. We didn't seem to be going in the right direction this afternoon. We're trying to find the balance."And then came the crash in turn one, with Stoner riding off into the gravel and finally tipping over at slow speed."After my best lap on one set [of tires], we went to the other set of tires and I wanted to push the front a bit harder," he explained. "I got on the brakes a little too hard, let the brakes off and was going way too fast. I ended up playing in the sand pit for a little bit."Pedrosa's best lap was his last lap."We did some good practice," Pedrosa said. "We are going not so bad, but still not perfect as I like. For tomorrow, we must wait and see and maybe we even have some rain. It's going to be hard for me, but I will try to the end."Third went to Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo, the World Champion just .161 behind Stoner's best."Well the track was better and the lap times were better this morning, but we were the only ones to maintain the same times as this morning," Lorenzo said. "We are still a little bit far from the other riders so we hope tomorrow a difficult race but it will be more close."

Ben Spies was another who crashed out of today's qualifying session, the Texan losing the front of his Yamaha M1. But he fought back and ended up fourth for tomorrow's Grand Prix - almost half a second slower than his teammate and .633 of a second behind Stoner.Marco Simoncelli ended the day fifth, besting fellow Italian and fellow Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso. Seventh went to Pramac Racing Ducati's Randy de Puniet, another crasher from the session.Colin Edwards was eighth on the first of the Monster Tech 3 Yamahas with his teammate Cal Crutchlow just behind him in ninth - the pair separated by just .124 of a second. Edwards was another who lost the front end and crashed today.Hiroshi Aoyoma rode his Honda to 10th, the Japanese rider also suffering a front-end crash.Then came the first of the factory Marlboro Ducatis ridden by Nicky Hayden. Hayden's best was 1.4 seconds off Stoner's best and .010 of a second better than his teammate Valentino Rossi - another of seven who crashed in today's afternoon session.John Hopkins continued to show vast improvement as he gets reacquainted with MotoGP racing after a two-year hiatus. Hopkins ended up qualifying 14th - 1.7 seconds behind Stoner. He started the weekend over three seconds off the pace.

Final Qualifying

1.                  Casey Stoner (Honda) 1:38.757

2.                  Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:38.915

3.                  Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:38.918

4.                  Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1:39.390

5.                  Marco Simoncelli (Honda) 1:39.486

6.                  Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:39.709

7.                  Randy de Puniet (Ducati) 1:39.892

8.                  Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:39.895

9.                  Cal Cruchlow (Yamaha) 1:40.019

10.                  Hiroshi Aoyoma (Honda) 1:40.168

11.                  Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:40.175

12.                  Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1:40.185

13.                  Hector Barbera (Ducati) 1:40.217

14.                  John Hopkins (Suzuki) 1:40.310

15.                  Loris Capirossi (Ducati) 1:40.523

16.                  Karel Abraham (Ducati) 1:40.601

17.                  Toni Elias (Honda) 1:41.114

 

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By Cycle News Staff

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