MOTOGP

Stoner takes Aussie GP pole before home crowd

Casey Stoner (Ducati) delighted his home crowed as he clocked the fastest time of the Australian Grand Prix qualifying session ahead of Italy's Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) and Spain's Dani Pedrosa (Honda).

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AFP - Australian Casey Stoner on a Ducati claimed pole position ahead of world championship leader Valentino Rossi and Spain's Dani Pedrosa for Sunday's Australian MotoGP.

Stoner led for almost the entire hour-long qualifying session and reeled off two fastest laps in the final minutes to finish Saturday with a best-lap time of one minute 30.341 seconds.

The Australian, the 2007 world champion and currently fourth in the championship, had just 0.050sec to spare ahead of Rossi on a Fiat Yamaha, who is bidding for his seventh MotoGP world title this season.

It was Stoner's 17th career MotoGP pole and his second at Phillip Island as he bids for a hattrick of home GP victories on Sunday.

"The bike is working quite well and it's been perfect here over the last couple of years," Stoner said.

"We now have more corner speed and just need to improve on the rear grip."

Rossi, who leads the 2009 championship by 18 points from teammate Jorge Lorenzo, clocked a fastest lap time of 1.30.391 and will start outside of Stoner on the front of Sunday's race grid.

"I'm hoping for a dry track for tomorrow's race and feel the bike is quite fast on its last settings in qualifying," Rossi said.

"I'm faster than Jorge, so I am hoping to fight for victory tomorrow with Casey."

Pedrosa, third in the world championship, was third quickest on his Repsol Honda in 1:31.070, some 0.729sec behind Stoner.

Lorenzo, who needs to be in the points in Sunday's race to keep the pressure on Rossi with just two races left in the season, was fourth fastest in 1:31.071.

Spaniard Pol Espargaro will head the grid in the 125cc class after securing his first pole position of the year in qualifying.

 

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