Casey Stoner took his first pole since the season opener in Qatar with the top time in qualifying on Saturday at the Gran Premio A-Style de Aragón.
The Australian became the first and only rider to get under the 1:49 mark so far this weekend on board his Ducati Desmosedici GP10, when he posted a best time of 1:48.942 on his penultimate lap of the session to beat local heroes Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa to the inaugural pole at MotoGP’s newest venue.
“We’ve been trying different things for the last few weekends to try and get the bike more competitive without really making any progress but it looks like we might have found something here,” Stoner said. “We’ve changed the weight distribution a little bit and it has given me more grip and confidence.
“Maybe it’s just the fact the bike suits this place but either way we’ve got to be happy to be back on pole for the first time since Qatar.”
Championship leader Jorge Lorenzo will start from the front row of the grid for the 15th successive race after maintaining his fantastic qualifying record, which stretches back to the Malaysian round last year. The Fiat Yamaha rider was 0.309s off Stoner with a best time of 1:49.251.
Dani Pedrosa contended for pole throughout the session and the Repsol Honda rider appeared to be en route to taking top spot when he went through the second split on his final lap 0.215s up on Stoner, but the Spaniard was pushing hard and ran wide, eventually placing third at a fraction over four-tenths of a second off the top time.
Consistency has been Nicky Hayden’s strong point this weekend and he only missed out on a front row start by 0.163s, ending the session in fourth place. Ben Spies (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was impressive in fifth as he placed his M1 alongside his fellow American’s Ducati, whilst Randy de Puniet continued to go from strength to strength as he qualified his LCR Honda machine in sixth.
Heading up the third row after coming in seventh on the timesheet Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha) was 1.075s from Stoner, with Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) and Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini) both within a tenth of a second of the reigning World Champion. Héctor Barberá (Páginas Amarillas Aspar) completed the top ten.
Andrea Iannone put in a fine last lap in the Moto2 qualifying session to take his fifth pole of the season. The Italian’s effort of 1:55.148 delivered him top spot on the timesheet ahead of Scott Redding by a margin of 0.041s.
Britain’s 17 year-old Marc VDS Racing rider looked all set for his first-ever World Championship pole as he led for the final stages of the session, but a third successive front-row start will not be of any disappointment to the Brit.
Following him was Alex de Angelis (JiR Moto2) at just five-thousandths of a second behind, with Julián Simón (Mapfre Aspar) – currently second in the Championship standings – completing the front row of the grid.
A slow-speed fall for Simone Corsi (JiR Moto2) did little to dent his confidence and he closed the session in fifth position with another Italian, Claudio Corti (Forward Racing) following closely behind. Gabor Talmacsi (Fimmco Speed Up) was seventh and an impressive substitute ride from Michele Pirro for the Gresini Racing team saw the Italian secure a second-row start.
Championship leader Toni Elías (Gresini Racing) qualified in 12th place at 0.690s off Iannone’s pace and had a minor crash at turn one, whilst Thomas Lüthi (Interwetten Moriwaki) who is currently third in the standings will start from 20th on grid. British wild card Kev Coghlan (Monlau Joe Darcey) qualified in 13th.
There were falls during the session for Axel Pons (Tenerife 40 Pons), Raffaele de Rosa (Tech 3 Racing) and Karel Abraham (Cardio ab Motoracing), all of whom were uninjured.
Marc Márquez shaped up for the 125cc race in the perfect manner by securing his eighth pole position of the 2010 campaign. The Red Bull Ajo Motorsport rider’s effort of 1:59.335 left him 0.563s clear of the remainder of his competitors in a clinical display.
Riding behind his team-mate, Sandro Cortese (Avant Mitsubishi Ajo) literally followed Márquez onto the front row with his effort of 1:59.898, with Nico Terol forced to settle for third. Terol is currently second in the championship, nine points adrift of Márquez, and was the third and final rider to get under 2:00 as he came in 0.635s off his rival’s time.
Efrén Vázquez (Tuenti Racing) secured his best qualification since the second round at Jerez by completing the front row with the fourth best time.
Pol Espargaró still holds hopes of challenging Márquez and Terol at the top of the Championship but the Tuenti Racing rider will start from the head of the second row after placing fifth in the session, with Bradley Smith (Bancaja Aspar), Randy Krummenacher (Stipa-Molenaar) and Johann Zarco (WTR Team San Marino) joining him.
Jonas Folger (Ongetta Team), Tomoyoshi Koyama (Racing Team Germany), Esteve Rabat (Blusens-STX) and Danny Webb (Andalucia Cajasol) all secured starts from the third row.