MotoGP: Qualifying Shows Some Surprises at Phillip Island

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With suspicious skies, qualifying for MotoGP’s Australian GP got underway today. With the weather always variable at Phillip Island, riders saw sun, clouds, and a light spitting of rain before taking to the qualifying session. Normally a favorite track with the GP riders, Phillip Island has been plagued with a bumpy and torn-up surface, which dominated the discussion after Friday’s debriefings. With the Australian track announcing that the GP circuit would be resurfaced before the 2013 season, there is at least a remedy on the way, though it doesn’t bode well for the 2012 Australian GP.

Despite the surface conditions, Casey Stoner primarily lead the charge through the Free Practice sessions, though not in as dominant of a fashion as one would have expected. Finishing FP3 just over half a second quicker than Lorenzo, Stoner is still the paddock favorite to win tomorrow’s race, though his chances of clinching the Championship here at home seem slim. Able to keep the Australian within their reach, Jorge Lorenzo and Marco Simoncelli have given Stoner chase, though none of them have been able to take the top position on the timesheet from the Aussie.

In qualifying Lorenzo posted a quick 1:30.991 time that stood throughout half of the session, until Pedrosa took the top spot from his fellow Spaniard. That glory would be short-lived though, as Stoner would enter back into the mix with 14 minutes remaining, taking 8/10ths off Pedrosa’s time. Making further revisions to his time, Stoner dropped the top mark into the 1:29’s with seven minutes remaining in the qualifying session.

Setting pole with a 1:29.975, Stoner once again showed his dominance at Phillip Island, and put .473 seconds between him and Lorenzo during the session. Rounding out the front row was Marco Simoncelli, who like the other two riders has been on a different plane in Australia all race weekend, when compared to the rest of the MotoGP field..

Other notables were Alvaro Bautista and Nicky Hayden, who will bookend Andrea Dovizioso respectively on the second row. The fourth place qualifying for Rizla Suzuki is certainly encouraging, and hopefully bodes well for the squad as we eagerly await news of their 2012 season plans.

Noticeably absent from the mix was Dani Pedrosa, who qualified 8th and well behind his Repsol Honda teammates. Valentino Rossi had a miserable session/day, relegated to 15th throughout most of qualifying, and managing only 13th by the session’s end.

Qualifying Results from the Australian GP at Phillip Island, Australia:

Pos. No. Rider Nation Team Bike Time Diff.
1 27 Casey STONER AUS Repsol Honda Team Honda 1’29.975
2 1 Jorge LORENZO SPA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha 1’30.448 0.473
3 58 Marco SIMONCELLI ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda 1’30.599 0.624
4 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP Suzuki 1’30.714 0.739
5 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Repsol Honda Team Honda 1’30.780 0.805
6 69 Nicky HAYDEN USA Ducati Team Ducati 1’30.792 0.817
7 11 Ben SPIES USA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha 1’30.835 0.860
8 26 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 1’30.871 0.896
9 5 Colin EDWARDS USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 1’31.237 1.262
10 65 Loris CAPIROSSI ITA Pramac Racing Team Ducati 1’31.583 1.608
11 14 Randy DE PUNIET FRA Pramac Racing Team Ducati 1’31.635 1.660
12 7 Hiroshi AOYAMA JPN San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda 1’31.889 1.914
13 46 Valentino ROSSI ITA Ducati Team Ducati 1’31.980 2.005
14 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 1’32.023 2.048
15 17 Karel ABRAHAM CZE Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati 1’32.054 2.079
16 24 Toni ELIAS SPA LCR Honda MotoGP Honda 1’32.503 2.528
6 Damian CUDLIN AUS Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP Ducati 1’36.666 6.691

Source: MotoGP; Photo: Honda