Moto GP

Seventh pole for Stoner at Indy

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Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V) set the absolute fastest lap by a motorcycle in a very warm qualifying session for Sunday's Indianapolis Grand Prix at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Yamaha riders Ben Spies and Jorge Lorenzo filled out the front row with Dani Pedrosa fourth in front of team-mate Andrea Dovizioso.

Qualifying was held in a brilliant, warm sunshine, with Stoner setting the early pace on a track that continued to improve after a recent paving.

The riders had been highly critical of the infield, which was repaved, but as more rubber was laid down the track got progressively faster until it yielded a record time.

In the morning practice session, the championship leader had raced to the fastest ever time by a motorcycle at ?The Brickyard,? eclipsing the qualifying mark set by Pedrosa in 2009, and he continued his form in qualifying.

Stoner was fastest in every sector and nearly unassailable. Every time Spies would slightly close the gap, Stoner upped the pace. By the end of the hour he had compiled the six fastest laps.

His best of 1m, 38.850s came late in the session and cemented his seventh pole position of the season. In the first 12 races, Stoner has only been off the front row once, in Estoril.

Not only was the Australian fastest over one lap, but his Repsol Honda RC212V reached the fastest trap speed of all, 323.5Km/h, over 201mph.

"I'm very happy with pole here in Indy, the team have been doing a great job under difficult conditions this weekend, but the race is tomorrow and we will keep working right up until the last moment to try and get the set up right," Stoner said.

"Obviously without the bumps from previous years the track is performing a lot better, but the lack of consistency in the grip levels are causing issues, everyone is loosing the front and it doesn't give you a lot of confidence, when you hit these patches the bike just seems to drop away from you.

"We haven't changed too much since FP1, just a few small steps and trying to get the front tyre to work more as with such little grip, we are destroying it. For race distance we're looking pretty good, we did more than race distance on soft front and soft rear and had good stability, we'll wait and see what the conditions are like for tomorrow and decide from there," the Australian concluded.
Ben Spies was second fastest at his home GP
Yamaha Factory Racing riders Ben Spies and Jorge Lorenzo scored the first double Yamaha front row witht he American second fastest followed by his team mate. Local hero Spies continued to impress with the strong form in evidence from the beginning of the weekend. The qualifying session saw him quickly up to impressive speed.

"It was good today, we didn't have a fast lap in the end but we got on the front row," Spies said,

"We did over 30 laps on a set of tyres and went quite quick at the end, still able to do 39s which is good. The last couple of laps we tried our hardest to catch Casey but with five minutes to go I think I ripped my tank spacer off that holds me back on the bike which didn't help. I wasn't disappointed as I knew we had a gap to fourth so we'd be on the front row. It wasn't the perfect session and Casey was just too fast. I think the race will be different; the tyres will be pretty greasy after ten laps but my bike's working really well on used tyres so we'll see what happens."

Reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo finally made a breakthrough mid-qualifying after struggling for the first three sessions to find a competitive set up on the newly surfaced Indianapolis track. A big set up change to his YZR-M1 with less than half the session to go changed his fortunes, allowing him to climb quickly up to third behind his team mate with two quick laps in succession. Lorenzo will now use the valuable warm up time tomorrow morning to test the consistency of the set up before the race.

"Qualifying was much better than the other three practices so far this weekend. I improved a lot and had a lot more confidence with the front, we changed one bike completely which worked," Lorenzo said. "We are much more confident for tomorrow now. I would like to be closer to Casey, but seven tenths is better than one second and a half. It's going to be a very tough race for everybody. The front tyre, especially on the left side is graining from the fourth lap so it's going to be a complicated ride. Let's see what happens."

Pedrosa had been on the front row until very late in the hour when Lorenzo edged him out. The difference between the two Spaniards was .318s. Pedrosa isn?t at 100% fitness following an injury-interrupted season, but his physical conditioning shouldn?t play a part in Sunday?s 12th round of the MotoGP World Championship. Pedrosa failed to finish the previous Czech Grand Prix in Brno, but before that he?d been quite strong, winning in Germany and finishing third in the USGP.

"We had some issues in the session with the front tyre, I didn't feel very comfortable with it and we couldn't get the most from it," the Repsol Honda rider explained.

"I was not going super-fast and I lost the first row, but I'm not worried about the position. We would like to be closer to Casey and Ben - they have been very fast and consistent - so I hope to find something more tomorrow morning in the warm-up to help us fight for the podium. The race will be hard because it's very hot out there, and it will also be a big challenge for the tyres, but I hope we perform better in the race.?

Andrea Dovizioso is in the middle of the second row after qualifying only .077s behind Pedrosa. Dovizioso, like many riders, was concerned about tyre wear. The added traction of the new surface caused problems with the front tyre, which many riders were trying to solve through set-up. Dovizioso didn?t believe he was on Stoner's pace, but was certain he could fight to join him on the podium.

"Starting from the second row tomorrow is not too bad. It will be important to have a good start and ride consistently, trying to manage the tyres for the twenty-eight lap race. The rear grip is too strong compared with the front, which causes the front tyre to overheat, this remains the main issue so we need to continue working with the set up to rectify this," the Italian explained.

Colin Edwards will start his bid for a top six finish in front of his home fans from 6th and the second row of the grid after he equalled his best qualifying performance of 2011 this afternoon.

The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider was able to transfer his stunning practice form into the 60-minute qualifying session and he will start tomorrow's 28-lap race from sixth position on the grid.

Throughout the three practice sessions, Edwards was consistently running inside the top six and a fastest lap of 1.40.098 in a sun-drenched qualifying session saw him finish just over 0.1s away from claiming fourth spot on the grid.

With the new infield tarmac offering vastly improved levels of grip with more rubber laid down on the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway today, Edwards was able to lap 1.2s faster than his best time in qualifying for last year's race.

The 37-year-old Texan is now optimistic that he can battle for a third top six result of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship to strengthen his bid to finish the campaign as the leading non-factory rider.

"The weekend has been great so far and now I'm really looking forward to the race tomorrow. I haven't been out of the top six in every session and everything has been working fantastic. "Edwards said.. "The bike has felt the best it has for a few races and now I'm excited for the race. I need a good start but I'll be looking to have a good fight wi th Dovizioso and Simoncelli. In this heat it is going to be a long and tough race, but I'll be giving it my all for the American fans."

Marco Simoncelli, Nicky Hayden and Alvaro Bautista will make up the third row.

Simoncelli suffered from tyre problems and will be looking for a fix overnight. Nicky Hayden was able to improve his situation by over a second and a half compared to Friday, posting the eighth-best time to grab 8th spot for the start while Bautista was happy with his speed but looking to move up from 9th during the race.

Hector Barbera, Cal Crutchlow and Randy De Puniet will make up the fourth row while Hiroshi Aoyama , Valentino Rossi and Toni Elias round out the field.

Rossi's terrible weekend continued when the Italian crashed in the opening lap of qualifying.

"We took a nice step forward this morning that we hoped to confirm in qualifying, and instead I fell right away," Rossi lamented.

"We really could have done without that crash, but the front closed right when I touched the brake. From there, the whole session was difficult because the second bike had a slightly different setup. I lost one pair of new tyres and I had to start with a set of used ones. I wasn't able to get back the feeling from this morning, when the bike felt better and I could push harder. It's really a shame because we wanted to try to start from the second row again, like at Brno, and instead we'll have to work hard tomorrow. Anyway, we'll give our best effort in the race because we weren't so far off this morning."

Main Photo: Casey Stoner Credit: HRC

2011 MotoGP Qualifying - United States - Indianapolis 27/08/2011
1 Casey Stoner Honda AUS 1'38.850
2 Ben Spies Yamaha USA 1'39.373
3 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 1'39.629
4 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 1'39.947
5 Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 1'40.024
6 Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 1'40.098
7 Marco Simoncelli Honda ITA 1'40.204
8 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 1'40.244
9 Alvaro Bautista Suzuki ESP 1'40.333
10 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 1'40.360
11 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 1'40.620
12 Randy De Puniet Ducati FRA 1'40.815
13 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda JPN 1'40.925
14 Valentino Rossi Ducati ITA 1'40.975
15 Toni Elias Honda ESP 1'41.030

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