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Page last updated at 11:12 GMT, Saturday, 16 October 2010 12:12 UK

Casey Stoner on pole for Australian MotoGP

Australian Grand Prix, Phillip Island
Date: 16-17 October
Saturday 16 October: Qualifying, 0250-0600, BBC Red Button/online
Sunday 17 October: 125cc & Moto2, 0250-0505, BBC Red Button/online, MotoGP, 0545-0700, BBC Two/online, MotoGP repeat, 1245-1400, BBC Two

Casey Stoner
Stoner is ending the season with a flourish

Casey Stoner celebrated his 25th birthday by taking pole in qualifying for Sunday's Australian MotoGP.

The Ducati rider clocked the fastest lap of one minute 30.107 seconds in the final minutes just before rain began to slow his rivals at Phillip Island.

The Australian is chasing a fourth consecutive win in his home race.

New world champion Jorge Lorenzo will start second, American Yamaha rider Ben Spies third and Valentino Rossi eighth but Dani Pedrosa will be absent.

Pedrosa took part in qualifying on his return from a broken collarbone but failed to make the top 10 and was later pulled out of Sunday's race by his Repsol Honda team.

The Spaniard, a distant second in the standings behind Lorenzo, said: "Having ridden in the three practice sessions here it's clear that it is really impossible for me to maintain a high pace because I lose strength in my arm and controlling the bike gets increasingly difficult.

"To ride around three seconds off the pace in the race and maybe collect just a few points wouldn't make much sense.


"I don't want to take more risks so that I can recover in time for Estoril [on 31 October]."

The qualifying session saw Spain's Lorenzo briefly threatened to spoil Stoner's party when he recorded the fastest lap with fewer than 15 minutes remaining.

But the Australian bettered his time twice in chilly conditions to underscore his mastery of the circuit.

"It was a little bit hard with the rain and that coming," said Stoner. "It was pushing a lot more wind at the end of the session so we were lucky to even drop the lap times.

"We were trying a few different things and got the rear of the bike to work a little bit smoother over the bumps, but even then with that extra grip the bike still wanted to throw me off every chance it got."

Lorenzo said: "I wanted pole today but the weather and Casey stopped me - he is so quick here."

"The conditions were really risky because it was so cold and also incredibly windy and it was hard to stay on the bike sometimes."

Seven-time MotoGP champion Rossi, who has finished second to Stoner for the last two years in Australia, said: "I was really unlucky today because with each of the softer tyres, when I think I could have improved a bit, I had problems.

Valentino Rossi
Rossi struggled for pace in the low temperatures

"The conditions aren't good and it's a great pity because this is a fantastic track but you can't enjoy it in this cold, as it takes so long for the tyres to get to the right temperature."

Riders have called for the Australian race to be moved closer to the start of the season in March when conditions are warmer.

Temperatures for Friday's practice session hovered around 10C, lessening the grip gained by tyres.

Rossi is only one point ahead of Stoner in third place in the championship, behind Lorenzo and Spain's Dani Pedrosa heading into the final three races.

Ducati riders Hector Barbera of Spain and American Nicky Hayden both crashed but emerged unscathed.

Australian MotoGP qualifying:

1. Casey Stoner (Aus/Ducati) 1:30.107

2. Jorge Lorenzo (Spa/Yamaha) at 0.668

3. Ben Spies (USA/Yamaha) 1.279

4. Marco Simoncelli (Ita/Honda) 1.295

5. Colin Edwards (USA/Yamaha) 1.308

6. Nicky Hayden (USA/Ducati) 1.423

7. Randy De Puniet (Fra/Honda) 1.447

8. Valentino Rossi (Ita/Yamaha) 1.520

9. Andrea Dovizioso (Ita/Honda) 1.911

10. Marco Melandri (Ita/Honda) 2.260

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see also
Steve Parrish's MotoGP column
14 Oct 10 |  MotoGP
Pedrosa fit for Australian MotoGP
13 Oct 10 |  MotoGP
Lorenzo takes MotoGP world title
10 Oct 10 |  MotoGP
Stoner seals Japanese MotoGP win
03 Oct 10 |  MotoGP
Stoner holds off Pedrosa for win
19 Sep 10 |  MotoGP

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