Assen: Stoner takes pole over Pedrosa
Casey Stoner fought off all comers in qualifying for the A-Style TT Assen, smashing the pole position record along the way.
The fastest lap ever recorded by a motorcycle at Assen gave Casey Stoner a third consecutive pole position in preparation for round nine of the MotoGP World Championship, continuing his outstanding performances of the past seven days.
The Australian was in a class of his own in the first practice sessions for the A-Style TT Assen, but qualifying saw him having to dig even deeper as his two biggest rivals upped their game and lowered their times. A 1´35.520 lap nearly a second quicker than the existing pole position record eventually won out for the reigning World Champion, gunning for his second victory in seven days.
A final lap from Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa very nearly spoiled the party for the Ducati rider, but the Spaniard fell short by just 0.032 as he marked his spot on the front row. The top three in the World Championship and the winners of the last five races look set to do battle once more at the historic Dutch circuit. Pedrosa now leads Stoner by three points in the BMW M Award for combined qualifying results.
The final piece of the front row puzzle was current series leader Valentino Rossi, the first to trouble Stoner during the session. At a loss as to how to beat the previously peerless Australian at Assen after watching the Thursday practice domination, Rossi put the knife between his teeth for some fearless attempts at pole. His final shot, with a new set of Bridgestone qualifiers, was not quite enough, and in the end only 0.139 separated the front row trio.
2006 racewinner Nicky Hayden will head the second line at tomorrow’s race, ahead of LCR Honda’s Randy de Puniet and Tech 3 Yamaha rider Colin Edwards. The front two rows all rode round under the previous 1´36.411 pole record.
Second Fiat Yamaha man Jorge Lorenzo is accompanied by 2007 poleman Chris Vermeulen and 2006 race runner-up Shinya Nakano on the third row.
Toni Elias looks set to start his first ever MotoGP race at Assen after completing the qualifying session without incident. The only crashes were a pair of falls by John Hopkins, the latter a particularly high speed lowside.
1 Casey STONER Marlboro Team Ducati 1'35.520
2 Dani PEDROSA Repsol Honda Team 1'35.552
3 Valentino ROSSI Fiat Yamaha Team 1'35.659
4 Nicky HAYDEN Repsol Honda Team 1'35.975
5 Randy DE PUNIET LCR Honda 1'35.985
6 Colin EDWARDS Tech 3 Yamaha 1'36.278
7 Jorge LORENZO Fiat Yamaha Team 1'36.532
8 Chris VERMEULEN Rizla Suzuki 1'36.768
9 Shinya NAKANO San Carlo Honda Gresini 1'36.804
10 Sylvain GUINTOLI Alice Team Ducati 1'36.823
11 Andrea DOVIZIOSO JiR Team Scot Honda 1'36.899
12 Alex DE ANGELIS San Carlo Honda Gresini 1'36.948
13 James TOSELAND Tech 3 Yamaha 1'36.978
14 Toni ELIAS Alice Team Ducati 1'37.287
15 John HOPKINS Racing Team Kawasaki 1'37.643
16 Anthony WEST Racing Team Kawasaki 1'37.793
17 Marco MELANDRI Marlboro Team Ducati 1'38.726