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
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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