Casey Stoner takes pole for MotoGP opener

Casey Stoner will start tonight’s opening round of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship in Qatar from pole position.

Having dominated all three practice sessions, the Australian ended qualifying 0.2s ahead of Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa.

Stoner has won three of the last four races held at the Losail venue, and said he does not believe Qatar will necessarily indicative of the season-long form.

“I think the season is the biggest thing I’m looking forward to – the consistency we’ve shown in pre-season testing is something that’s really given us a lot of confidence,” said Stoner.

“This weekend we’ve made small steps, but it is a track where we’ve done very well in the past, so we’re not holding too much on this circuit, for sure.”

Reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo will also start on the front row, despite trailing Stoner by a considerable 0.8s.

Lorenzo’s former team-mate Valentino Rossi continued to struggle on the Ducati, and will start ninth.

Just 16 bikes will start the race, after Suzuki’s Alvaro Bautista broke his left femur in a practice crash.

1 Casey Stoner Honda 1m54.137s
2 Dani Pedrosa Honda 1m54.342s
3 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1m54.947s
4 Marco Simoncelli Gresini Honda 1m54.988s
5 Ben Spies Yamaha 1m55.095s
6 Hector Barbera Aspar Ducati 1m55.223s
7 Andrea Dovizioso Honda 1m55.229s
8 Cal Crutchlow Tech 3 Yamaha 1m55.578s
9 Valentino Rossi Ducati 1m55.637s
10 Colin Edwards Tech 3 Yamaha 1m55.647s
11 Randy de Puniet Pramac Ducati 1m55.656s
12 Hiroshi Aoyama Gresini Honda 1m55.724s
13 Nicky Hayden Ducati 1m55.881s
14 Loris Capirossi Pramac Ducati 1m56.323s
15 Karel Abraham Cardion Ducati 1m56.665s
16 Toni Elias LCR Honda 1m57.992s

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