VALENCIA, SPAIN, NOV. 6  - Casey Stoner began his final weekend with the Ducati Marlboro team by capturing his fourth pole position of the season on a sunny afternoon at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia, Spain.Stoner was the fastest rider through the three free practice sessions and he kept up his form in qualifying. The Australia lapped the 2.49-mile stadium circuit in a time of 1:31.799 mins., which was best on the day by a comfortable .331 secs. The only rider with a chance to unseat Stoner was 2010 World Champion Jorge Lorenzo, but on what should have been the fastest lap of the day, the Majorcan couldn't keep up the pace through the final split and had to settle for second."It’s a track in some ways very unlike Phillip Island, but in others it’s got a few corners that you can attack and not lose time by sliding through," Stoner said. "For me, I actually improved my lap times and feeling with the track, so there's a couple corners on this circuit that I really enjoy and have a lot of fun on and there’s a few corners that I’m really struggling with today. So we’ve got to improve that situation for tomorrow, we’ve got to get a little bit better  feeling with the front end, but the way that everything’s gone this weekend we can’t really complain. We’ve just go to try to improve it a little bit before tomorrow’s race and see what we can do. But everybody else is not too far off the pace. All the times are very, very close. And we don’t know who can pull anything out of the bag in tmorrow morning warm-up, so we’ll just keep our heads down and see what can happen"Said Lorenzo, 'Well, I'm really excited, I'm very proud to be on the first row in front of my fans and in front of the Spanish crowd. It's special to race here, because it's the last race. Everybody wants to make a good race and I really tried to make a pole position today, but Casey (Stoner) really was very quick. But let's see, let's see tomorrow if we can stay with him and for sure we will try at the maximum."

San Carlo Honda Gresini's Marco Simoncelli earned his first ever front row starting position with a solid third. The Italian had been fourth fastest after free practice one week after nearly securing his first MotoGP podium in Estoril."Yeah, of course, I'm very happy," Simoncelli said. "I'm so happy because from some races ago until now we improve every race step by step and in Portugal we arrive near to the podium. Here the weekend start so good, in every practice in the front. Now I'm happy because also the rhythm for the race seems good, so I hope I will be here also tomorrow."Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha) put in a late charge to jump from ninth to fourth. Rossi wasn't part of the mix until the very end. He came within .086 sec. of knocking his friend Simoncelli off the front row and had only .092 sec on Nicky Hayden, the Ducati Marlboro rider he'll join forces with in 2011.Hayden was the first of the three Americans who qualified in order for the first time this year. Riding with a still tender left ankle, which he re-injured in a sighting lap crash last Sunday in Portugal, Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Ben Spies filled out the second row.On the row just behind came teammate Colin Edwards, sharing the row with Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso.Qualifying the second San Carlo Gresini Honda for the final time, Marco Melandri was 10th fastest.

MotoGP Qualifying:

1. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1:31.799

2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:32.130

3. Marco Simoncelli (Honda) 1:32.244

4. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:32.330

5. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:32.422

6. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1:32.566

7. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:32.579

8. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:32.603

9. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:32.886

10. Marco Melandri (Honda) 1:32.917

 



MotoGP Headlines

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.

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