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Page last updated at 21:48 GMT, Saturday, 10 April 2010 22:48 UK

Stoner claims pole for MotoGP season opener in Qatar

Qatar MotoGP, Losail
Date: 10-11 April
Saturday 10 April: Qualifying: 1950-2300, BBC Red Button/online
Sunday 11 April: 125cc and Moto2 races: 1750-2005, BBC Red Button/online Race live: 2045-2200, BBC Three/online; Rerun: 0000-0130, BBC Two

Ducati rider Casey Stoner
Stoner has a great record in Qatar despite not liking the circuit

Casey Stoner put last year's health problems behind him in fine style as he qualified on pole for the opening race of the 2010 MotoGP season in Qatar.

The Australian Ducati rider, who suffered with anaemia and an inflamed stomach lining, set a fastest lap of one minute 55.007 seconds.

Defending champion Valentino Rossi was second, three-tenths of a second off the pace, with Jorge Lorenzo in third.

Stoner and Lorenzo are expected to be Rossi's main title rivals this year.

Stoner has won all three previous races at the desert circuit, despite claiming not to particularly like the venue.

He recorded the best lap time at the final pre-season testing session, in Qatar, and can take further confidence from the fact his pole position lap time was two-tenths of a second faster than the lap which secured him pole position in the race last year.

Rossi and Lorenzo both recorded their fastest laps towards the end of qualifying, but Stoner had done enough to ensure he will start Sunday night's floodlit race ahead of the Fiat Yamaha pair.

Randy de Puniet took fourth spot ahead of veteran Loris Capirossi, who will start his record 300th grand prix from fifth spot after a late surge.

World 250cc champion Hiroshi Aoyama was the best-placed newcomer, in 10th place, while World Superbikes champion Ben Spies starts from 11th spot.

Pole 'perfect start' for Stoner

Mika Kallio (12th) and Marco Simoncelli (15th) both had early crashes, while Suzuki newcomer Alvaro Bautista could not improve on 13th place after over-balancing and sliding off in spectacular fashion.

Stoner said he was happy with how things had gone but he was taking nothing for granted in Sunday's race.

"I don't know what to expect going into the race - you don't know what people can find in the warm-up, it takes one little change to change everything," he said.

"In general we've got quite a strong bike, we're happy with where we are so we'll see what happens."

In qualifying for the 125cc race, Great Britain's Bradley Smith had to settle for ninth place.

Marc Marquez will start on pole after maintaining his fine pre-season form, with Pol Espargaro in second place and Nico Terol third.

And Toni Elias will start on pole in the inaugural Moto2 race, ahead of Julian Simon and Stefan Bradl.

Scott Redding will start in 17th place.

Qatar Grand Prix qualifying result:

1 C Stoner (Aus) Ducati 1:55.007
2 V Rossi (It) Fiat Yamaha 1:55.362
3 J Lorenzo (Sp) Fiat Yamaha 1:55.520
4 R de Puniet (Fr) LCR Honda 1:55.831
5 L Capirossi (It) Suzuki 1:55.899
6 A Dovizioso (It) Repsol Honda 1:55.963
7 D Pedrosa (Sp) Repsol Honda 1:55.990
8 C Edwards (US) Tech 3 Yamaha 1:56.005
9 N Hayden (US) Ducati 1:56.163
10 H Aoyama (Jpn) Honda 1:56.227
11 B Spies (US) Tech 3 Yamaha 1:56.271
12 M Kallio (Fin) Pramac Racing 1:56.283
13 A Bautista (Sp) Suzuki 1:56.450
14 A Espargaro (Sp) Pramac Racing 1:56.652
15 M Simoncelli (It) San Carlo Honda Gresini 1:56.957
16 H Barbera (Sp) Aspa Ducati 1:57.130
17 M Melandri (It) San Carlo Gresini Honda 1:57.325

125cc qualifying result:

1 M Marquez (Spn) Red Bull Derbi 2:06.651
2 P Esparagaro (Spn) Tuenti Racing Derbi 2:07.110
3 N Terol (Spn) Bancaja Aspar Aprilia 2:07.136

9 B Smith (GB) Bancaja Aspar Team Aprilia 2:08.835

Moto2 qualifying result:

1 T Elias (Spn) Gresini Racing 2:01.904
2 J Simon (Spn) Mapfre Aspar Team RSV 2:02.032
3 S Bradl (Ger) Viessmann Kiefer Racing Suter 2:02.038

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see also
Stoner mystery illness diagnosed
15 Jul 09 |  MotoGP
Matt Roberts' MotoGP column
10 Apr 10 |  MotoGP
Lorenzo 'not 100% fit' for Qatar
08 Apr 10 |  MotoGP
What makes Rossi great
08 Apr 10 |  MotoGP
All set for Rossi v Stoner again
02 Apr 10 |  MotoGP
Redding aims for top five finish
07 Apr 10 |  Motorsport
MotoGP keen to expand into Asia
06 Apr 10 |  MotoGP
Stoner sets pace in Qatar testing
19 Mar 10 |  MotoGP
Rossi dominates testing in Sepang
26 Feb 10 |  MotoGP
Rossi sets pace in opening test
05 Feb 10 |  MotoGP
Cool Rossi crowned world champion
25 Oct 09 |  MotoGP

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