Stoner starts on pole for Jerez GP

Casey Stoner maintained his excellent early-season form by clinching pole at the Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez.

The Australian, winner in Qatar last month, clocked one minute 38.757 secs, 0.158 quicker than Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa.

And world champion Jorge Lorenzo was in third to complete the same front row as the season opener last month.

Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi crashed in qualifying and could only finish in 12th place.

The Italian was forced to use his spare bike following an early crash in the qualifying session, but the 32-year-old was well off the pace.

Ducati team-mate Nicky Hayden also struggled to match the Hondas, finishing up in 11th place on the starting grid.

Lorenzo’s Yamaha team-mate Ben Spies will line up in fourth spot on the grid, just in front of Gresini Honda’s Marco Simoncelli and the Repsol of Andrea Dovizioso.

But none of the riders could come close to the pace of the Repsol Hondas of Stoner and Pederosa.

The 25-year-old Stoner has only ever finished once on the podium in Andalucia in 2009 but the 2007 world champion set an intimidating marker for his rivals under overcast skies.

“I was trying to go for another lap and made a small mistake on the brakes and nearly ran into the wall,” he said after securing his 28th career pole.

“For sure this is not my best track, but we’re feeling ready for the race.”

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