Sachsenring MotoGP: Casey Stoner tops thrilling wet qualifying

By Matthew Birt -

MotoGP

 07 July 2012 15:20

Reigning world champion Casey Stoner will start tomorrow’s German MotoGP race from pole position after a rain-lashed but thrilling qualifying session.


The tight and twisty Sachsenring circuit was hammered by monsoon conditions throughout the session but it was Stoner who snatched pole in a pulsating finale.


In the final 20 seconds, Cal Crutchlow, Dani Pedrosa and Ben Spies all sat in pole position before Australian Stoner put his Repsol Honda RC213V on top of the timesheets with a stunning final lap of 1.31.796.


That put him 0.193s clear of Texan Spies and made up for a setback when his number one RC213V machine suffered a mechanical failure earlier in the session.
Spies put himself on the top of the leaderboard numerous times in a captivating final few minutes but he secured his second front row start in the last three races with a 1.31.989.


That put the factory Yamaha rider 0.092s ahead of Pedrosa, who is chasing a third straight Sachsenring victory in tomorrow’s 30-lap clash.


British rider Crutchlow must have thought his best lap of 1.32.288 was enough to secure him a fourth front row start of 2012 but he will start fourth after finishing just 0.207s behind Spaniard Pedrosa.

Jorge Lorenzo will start from fifth place having missed the front row for only the third time this season. The Spaniard, who starts tomorrow’s race level on points with Stoner, set a best time of 1.32.381 to edge out home favourite Stefan Bradl.


The German gave thousands of drenched German fans something to cheer as he competed for pole position throughout the session.


It looked like the LCR Honda rider might grab a maiden pole as he led when conditions deteriorated even further with more than 20 minutes left on the clock. Conditions marginally improved in the final minutes and the current Moto2 world champion dropped back to sixth.


American Nicky Hayden must have thought he was going to be on the front row as he was a regular fixture in the top three until the final stages.


But his best lap of 1.32.795 put him in seventh ahead of Crutchlow’s team-mate Andrea Dovizioso.


Valentino Rossi is unlikely to be thrilled with his lowly ninth place on the grid given Ducati’s GP12 is normally a competitive package in wet conditions.


Rossi’s best Ducati result came in the wet at Le Mans earlier this season but the Italian was 1.421s behind Stoner with a best lap of 1.33.217.


CRT rider Aleix Espargaro completed the top 10.


San Carlo Gresini Honda rider Alvaro Bautista was 11th with a best time of 1.34.088.
But the Spaniard will start the 30-lap race from the back of the grid having been penalised for causing the controversial first corner collision with Lorenzo a week ago in Assen.


Paul Bird Motorsport Aprilia ART rider James Ellison will start from 20th on the grid. The Cumbrian clocked a best time of 1.36.355 to finish over 4.5s off the best pace.