STONER TAKES FIRST POLE OF 2010, HAYDEN ON THIRD ROW
The Desmosedici GP10 machine of Ducati Marlboro rider Casey Stoner will start the 2010 MotoGP World Championship from the front of the grid tomorrow night following a sensational qualifying performance from the Australian
at the Grand Prix of Qatar.
The brilliance of Stoner's performance was not necessarily in his decisive lap - a 1'55.007 -- but in the fact that he set a virtually identical time of 1'55.024 on race rubber with 16 laps already on the tyre. A minor gear shifter problem on a second softer tyre in the closing stages meant that he was unable to raise the bar as his rivals launched their usual late challenge for supremacy but it proved unnecessary as the gap behind him only closed to 0.355 seconds.
After lapping fifth fastest yesterday Stoner's team-mate Nicky Hayden was disappointed to qualify ninth, although the American showed good pace in each sector of the track and remains optimistic of a strong challenge when the first race of the season gets underway at 11pm local time (GMT+3) tomorrow.
CASEY STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team) 1st (1'55.007)
"It is only the start of a very long season but it is the perfect start and I'm really pleased. This bike needs a little bit more time to set up because of the characteristics of the new engine so we'll see how we go at other tracks but it definitely likes this circuit and the team have done a great job. Unfortunately my gear shifter got stuck coming out of turn two on what I'm sure would have been a faster. To have set a virtually identical time on the hard tyre is obviously encouraging for the race but the only objective here is to start the season on the right foot and take some solid points to Japan."
NICKY HAYDEN -- (Ducati Marlboro Team) 9th (1'56.163)
"We made some changes to the front that have definitely helped me out in the fast corners today but we struggled to put everything together for a whole lap. I did a couple of 1'56.1s but as hard as we tried we couldn't quite drop into the 55s, even though looking at my ideal lap the potential is definitely there. Tomorrow we need to unlock that potential although starting from ninth place, out on the dirt, is not a good place to be -- one of the worst, actually. We set our best time on a soft tyre so at least that means we're making progress in that area, which was a target. We still need to improve more tomorrow though."