Stoner beats Rossi for pole
As he has done on so many occasions this season, Casey Stoner played the spoiler in today’s qualifying session for the Cinzano GP San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini, snatching what seemed to be surefire pole for local favorite Valentino Rossi.
With Rossi having left it late to clock his fastest lap of the Misano circuit, something special was required of the 21 year old Australian if he was to start his fourth consecutive race from pole. The Ducati rider duly obliged by putting down his 1’33.918 lap to become the only man to go round the new track in under 1’34.
Few would have believed that even Stoner could knock Rossi off the top of the tree, and the Italian seemed to be one of the most convinced that he would be starting tomorrow’s race from the head of the grid. The Yamaha factory rider pumped his fist in elation as he completed his hot lap, saluting the thousands of supporters to his cause in attendance today, Rossi then completed his in lap at a leisurely pace, watching his rival on the circuit’s big screen in disbelief as Stoner subsequently answered his challenge.
The current series leader and the former five-time MotoGP World Champion will be joined on tomorrow’s front row by the reigning title holder, as Nicky Hayden put himself on the front row for the second consecutive race. ‘Trick Daddy’ gave a late surge onboard his Honda RC212V to establish a prime spot amongst the frontrunners at a tight circuit.
With a lack of practice time due to the cancellation of yesterday’s sessions, qualifying tires were only really used in the final 15 minutes of the afternoon. The rest of the hour was dedicated to race settings, during which Randy de Puniet led the way for a large portion of the proceedings. The Frenchman was also one of the first to put on qualifying rubber, and eventually finished just six hundredths of a second away from a front row start.
John Hopkins and Dani Pedrosa completed a top six made up of five different factories and evenly split between Bridgestone and Michelin.
Spanish veteran Carlos Checa, Chris Vermeulen and Colin Edwards will start from the third line of attack, in what is sure to be an exciting return to Misano.
Rider Team Time
1 Casey Stoner Ducati Marlboro Team 1m 33.918s
2 Valentino Rossi Fiat Yamaha Team 1m 34.094s
3 Nicky Hayden Repsol Honda Team 1m 34.469s
4 Randy de Puniet Kawasaki Racing Team 1m 34.506s
5 John Hopkins Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1m 34.536s
6 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda Team 1m 34.580s
7 Carlos Checa Honda LCR 1m 34.628s
8 Chris Vermeulen Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1m 34.717s
9 Colin Edwards Fiat Yamaha Team 1m 34.768s
10 Anthony West Kawasaki Racing Team 1m 34.939s
11 Sylvain Guintoli Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3 1m 35.202s
12 Marco Melandri Honda Gresini 1m 35.236s
13 Loris Capirossi Ducati Marlboro Team 1m 35.283s
14 Shinya Nakano Konica Minolta Honda 1m 35.389s
15 Toni Elias Honda Gresini 1m 35.632s
16 Makoto Tamada Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3 1m 35.865s
17 Alex Barros Pramac d'Antin 1m 35.897s
18 Kurtis Roberts Team Roberts 1m 36.605s
19 Alex Hofmann Pramac d'Antin 1m 36.659