MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2012
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC213V) will start from the pole position for his assault on a record sixth consecutive Australian Grand Prix win after rebounding from an early crash to set the fastest time on a cold and blustery day on his beloved Phillip Island Circuit. Team-mate Dani Pedrosa will join him on the front row after qualifying third.
Stoner was the leader almost from the start of the one-hour session, held in typically changing Phillip Island weather. And he was on top when he fell for the first time since his return to racing at the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi. Ironically, he fell on the entry of Honda Corner, a hairpin right, one of the few rights on the heavily left-biased track. Fortunately, Stoner was able to avoid the tumbling motorcycle in the gravel trap and did no further damage to his surgically repaired right ankle. That was evident when he bounded to his feet to return to his pit box.
After only a five minute respite he was out on his second bike. He would improve his lap time three more times, finishing with a best of 1m, 29.623s to capture his fifth pole position and first since the U.S. Grand Prix before the summer break. Stoner was then denied a chance to further lower his pole time when a light rain fell in the waning moments of qualifying.
Having earlier announced that he would be retiring at the end of his final campaign, Stoner is determined to go out with a victory in front of what promises to be a record crowd of his fellow countrymen.
Pedrosa was not able to challenge for the pole after encountering a few problems. First was that he was not able to get heat into the hard rear tyre option. Then came the realisation that he had chosen the wrong motorcycle for his final charge at pole. On the last run he finally got feeling into his tyres and was able to set his best lap time.
Having won five of the past six races, Pedrosa goes into Sunday’s race hopeful of further cutting into the championship lead of Jorge Lorenzo, the Yamaha rider who qualified second.
Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP RC213V) was also denied a faster lap time by the rain at the end of the hour that interrupted progress the team was making. In his first visit to Phillip Island on a MotoGP machine, the German had vastly improved from Friday’s practices and gaining confidence with every corner when the rain stopped his momentum. Now he will start the race from the middle of the second row in fifth place.
Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC213V) qualified seventh on an eventful day. The Spaniard struck a sea gull in morning practice, with the bird getting the worst of it. Bautista continued on and continued to improve his time in qualifying, right up until the rain forced him to settle for seventh. Bautista will line up on the row three pole.
Michele Pirro (San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR-Honda) was 14th fastest this afternoon and the third fastest of the CRT machines. The Italian, who was racing a MotoGP machine for the first time at Phillip Island, is hopeful he and the team can find a solution in morning warm-up that will allow him to more effectively exit the corners.
As it was last weekend in Malaysia, the weather here was constantly changing. But rather than tropical heat and showers, Phillip Island was plagued by a cold, howling wind, and intermittent cold showers. Rain affected every qualifying session, including Moto2.
Pol Espargaro (Tuenti Movil HP 40-Kalex) took the pole position as he tries to keep his slim championship hopes alive in the Honda-powered Moto2 class. Espargaro’s lap time of 1m, 33.705s came mid-session, before the rain began to fall. In the second half of the session no one challenged him and Espargaro had his seventh pole.
But that may not be enough to prevent fellow Spaniard Marc Marquez (Team Catalunya Caixa Repsol-Suter) from winning his second world championship. Marquez, who qualified third, needs only two points in the final two races to add the Moto2 championship to his earlier 125cc world title. Wanting to take the title back to Spain, Marquez said he was going to be “calm” and stay out of trouble.
In between the title rivals came Brit Scot Redding on the Marc VDS Racing Team-Kalex. Like Espargaro, Redding’s best time came prior to the rains. His time missed the mark of Espargaro by .559s, with Redding admitting that Espargaro would be difficult to beat.
Thomas Luthi (Interwetten-Paddock Suter) leads off the second row in front of Takaaki Nakagami (Italtrans Racing Team-Kalex), with Randy Krummenacher (GP Team Switzerland-Kalex) third. At the head of row three is Johan Zarco (JiR Moto2-Motobi). Alongside him are Andrea Iannone (Speed Master-Speed Up) and Anthony West, the popular Australian rain wizard on the QMMF Racing Team-Speed Up machine.
Efren Vazquez (JHK t-shirt Lagisse-FTR Honda) qualified on the front row for the third time this season in Moto3. Vazquez was third fastest behind recently crowned world champion Sandro Cortese and Jonas Folger.
Miguel Oliveira (Estrella Galicia 0,0-Suter Honda) starts on row two in sixth, with Maverick Vinales (Blusens Avintia-FTR Honda) eighth. The Spanish teen-ager had left the team in Sepang, but returned this week. Vinales apologised profusely for his behaviour and vowed to finish out the season.
|1||Casey STONER (Repsol Honda Team)|
|2||Jorge LORENZO (Yamaha Factory Racing)|
|3||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)|
|4||Cal CRUTCHLOW (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|5||Stefan BRADL (LCR Honda MotoGP)|
|6||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|7||Alvaro BAUTISTA (Team San Carlo Honda Gresini)|
|8||Valentino ROSSI (Ducati Team)|
|9||Randy DE PUNIET (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|10||Nicky HAYDEN (Ducati Team)|
|11||Karel ABRAHAM (Cardion AB Motoracing)|
|12||Aleix ESPARGARO (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|13||Hector BARBERA (Pramac Racing Team)|
|14||Michele PIRRO (Team San Carlo Honda Gresini)|
|15||Danilo PETRUCCI (Came IodaRacing Project)|
|1||Pol ESPARGARO (Tuenti Movil HP 40)|
|2||Scott REDDING (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|3||Marc MARQUEZ (Team Catalunya Caixa Repsol)|
|4||Thomas LUTHI (Interwetten-Paddock)|
|5||Takaaki NAKAGAMI (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|6||Randy KRUMMENACHER (GP Team Switzerland)|
|7||Johann ZARCO (JIR Moto2)|
|8||Andrea IANNONE (Speed Master)|
|9||Anthony WEST (QMMF Racing Team)|
|10||Esteve RABAT (Tuenti Movil HP 40)|
|11||Simone CORSI (Came IodaRacing Project)|
|12||Dominique AEGERTER (Technomag-CIP)|
|13||Axel PONS (Tuenti Movil HP 40)|
|14||Mika KALLIO (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|15||Bradley SMITH (Tech 3 Racing)|
|1||Sandro CORTESE (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|2||Jonas FOLGER (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3)|
|3||Efren VAZQUEZ (JHK t-shirt Laglisse)|
|4||Danny KENT (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|5||Zulfahmi KHAIRUDDIN (AirAsia-Sic-Ajo)|
|6||Miguel OLIVEIRA (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|7||Arthur SISSIS (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|8||Maverick VIÑALES (Blusens Avintia)|
|9||Luis SALOM (RW Racing GP)|
|10||Alessandro TONUCCI (Team Italia FMI)|
|11||Alberto MONCAYO (Andalucia JHK t-shirt Laglisse)|
|12||Louis ROSSI (Racing Team Germany)|
|13||Jakub KORNFEIL (Redox-Ongetta-Centro Seta)|
|14||Romano FENATI (Team Italia FMI)|
|15||Niklas AJO (TT Motion Events Racing)|