Chasing his third home grand prix  win in succession, Ducati Marlboro's Casey Stoner stole the pole position with a pair of blistering laps at the end of a cool, overcast qualifying session at Phillip Island, site of Sunday's Australian Grand Prix.Stoner, who's still recovering from a fatiguing illness that forced him to take a two-month break, dominated the session, only losing the top spot with 6:29 mins. to go when Fiat Yamaha's Valentino Rossi went faster, but by a scant .075 secs. Stoner, a day removed from his 24th birthday, fired back just over two minutes on with a time of 1:30.386 mins. that was a mere .005 secs. up on Rossi. Then, after time had expired, Stoner improved his time to 1:30.341 mins. to finish the hour with a gap still of only .050 secs. to Rossi.The pole was Stoner's second of the year and first since the opening GP in Qatar.Rossi's best lap came on the 26th of his 30 laps. When he tried for one last go at the end, he didn't have the tires to take back the pole. He'll start second on the grid in his bid to increase his championship lead on teammate Jorge Lorenzo, fourth today. Rossi heads into Sunday's race, one of three remaining, with an 18 point cushion.Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa recovered from a mid-session crash to take third at the very end. Pedrosa lost the front end entering the Southern Loop near the halfway point just after he'd taken over the third fastest time."I just touched the brake and, boom, I crashed," Pedrosa said.Forced onto his ‘B' bike, and also dropped down the time sheets, Pedrosa took third from Lorenzo by only .001 sec. in the final half minute.Lorenzo was forced back to the second row for the first time this season. The Majorcan enters the race not on top form-he had food poisoning on Friday-and .730 secs. slower than Stoner.Joining Lorenzo on the second row is Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Colin Edwards, only .025 sec. back, and San Carlo Honda Gresini's Alex De Angelis. De Angelis also set his best time on his backup after crashing in turn one only 13 minutes into the session, and also after just moving into third place.Ducati Marlboro's Nicky Hayden spent much of the time in the top five, but moved down the order as the hour went on. He was in eighth before moving up one spot, past Pramac Racing's Mika Kallio, with his final lap. That put Hayden on the row three pole. But being nearly a second behind Stoner will have the Kentuckian searching for an overnight solution.LCR Honda's Randy De Puniet also leapfrogged Kallio, to take eighth, with the Finn at the end of row three.Repsol Honda's Andrea Dovizioso leads off row four from San Carlo Honda Gresini's Toni Elias and Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider James Toseland.

Results:

1. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1:30.386

2. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:30.391

3. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:31.070

4. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:31.071

5. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:31.096

6. Alex De Angelis (Honda) 1:31.260

7. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:31.325

8. Randy De Puniet (Honda) 1:31.380

9. Mika Kallio (Ducati) 1:31.384

10. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:31.472

 

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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