Stoner recovers from fall to take pole

by Robert Smith, Agence France-Presse

Posted at Oct 27 2012 05:14 PM | Updated as of Oct 28 2012 01:14 AM

PHILLIP ISLAND, Australia - Home hero Casey Stoner overcame a nasty tumble to grab pole position on Saturday in his pursuit of a sixth consecutive win in the Australian MotoGP at Phillip Island.

The Australian Repsol Honda rider again dominated his rivals with a blistering best lap time of one minute 29.623 seconds to start off the inside of the front row for Sunday's penultimate race of the season.

Stoner, on the mend from recent leg surgery, grabbed his 39th career MotoGP pole despite being flipped off his bike early in the qualifying session, before going on to post faster lap times on his replacement bike.

Stoner, who is in his farewell season after announcing his retirement, has been a class apart on his home track this week, reeling off six lap times below 1min 30sec, something beyond his rivals.

Roared on by a record 40,000 fans, Stoner held a significant 0.517sec advantage over his nearest rival and world championship leader Jorge Lorenzo (1:30.140) on a Yamaha.

Stoner's Spanish team-mate and championship contender Dani Pedrosa (1:30.575) was almost a second behind the flying Australian as third fastest.

"I went out on a hard tyre and on my 'out' lap, as I was peeling into the turn, the bike decided to flip me," Stoner said.

"I tried to make sure I kept my leg out of the way as I came off, fortunately it didn't get caught up.

"My left hip is hurting a little as I landed on it but hopefully we shouldn't have any issues with it tomorrow."

Stoner is not long back from surgery on torn ligaments and fractures to his ankle, tibia and fibula he suffered in a crash during qualifying for the Indianapolis MotoGP in mid-August.

The Australian's hopes of defending his world title were ruined by that and he is out of contention, well back in third spot on the championship standings with two races left this season.

"The bike feels pretty good for race pace, we would have liked to have done some more work in this afternoon's session but we lost time after the crash," he said.

Lorenzo leads Pedrosa by 23 points in the championship and can take his second MotoGP world title with victory on Sunday.

"Casey is really on another planet here, he's riding so comfortably, sliding a lot and full throttle always so it's very difficult to be with him," Lorenzo said.

"We are closer now though. In qualifying I made a really good lap with the soft tyre.

"Second place is a good position to be in for tomorrow, it's important to be just behind Casey into the first corner and to follow his wheel for at least two laps as fast as we can be.

"It's a very important day tomorrow and I have to keep calm and not make any mistakes."

Pedrosa, who must finish a couple of spots ahead of Lorenzo to keep the championship alive to the final race in Valencia on November 11, said he was confident of matching it with Lorenzo in the race.

"Casey is unreachable, he's on another level and doing an amazing job this weekend, but my pace is quite similar to Jorge's, so I hope to be at least constant for the fight with him," Pedrosa said.

Yamaha's British rider Cal Crutchlow was fourth fastest, ahead of German Stefan Bradl on a Honda, with Yamaha's Andrea Dovizioso sixth.

Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi was well back in eighth spot, some two seconds behind Stoner.

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