Casey Stoner’s relentless surge to the MotoGP world title continued this afternoon in the Czech Republic when he denied reigning champion Nicky Hayden pole position in Brno.
Stoner’s best time of 1.56.884 clocked with four minutes remaining was good enough to secure him a third successive pole position, while Repsol Honda rider Hayden claimed his first front row start of the 2007 campaign with second.
Ironically Hayden posted his best time of 1.57.164 while in pursuit of Stoner on the Australian’s pole-setting lap, but the American was still 0.280s slower than Stoner’s Ducati GP7.
Stoner didn’t even take to the track until 17 minutes had elapsed and he first jumped to the top of the timesheets with 14 minutes remaining.
He clocked a 1.57.066 to leap a massive 0.791s ahead of John Hopkins, who had just snatched top spot moments earlier with a lap of 1.57.857.
Hayden claimed second, which was a position he held for the last 13 minutes.
He clocked a 1.57.384 which at that time edged him to within 0.318s of Stoner, while Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa will start third on the grid. He denied Hopkins only his second front row start of the season with just two minutes remaining when he posted a best of 1.57.179. The Spaniard’s best was just 0.015s slower than Hayden. It was Pedrosa’s third straight front row start as Hopkins blew his chance to reclaim a top three placing right at the death.
The factory Suzuki rider posted the fastest time of the session in the first split on his last lap, but he ran wide and crashed out uninjured.
Stoner can take another massive step towards the world title tomorrow with main rival Valentino Rossi only sixth on the grid.
The Italian went from 11th to fifth place in the final minute of the session but a late burst from Randy de Puniet relegated him to sixth. He logged a best time of 1.57.640 to end up 0.756 adrift of Stoner, who holds a massive 44-point lead over the Italian.
Rossi is maintaining his vow of silence in Brno, with the 28-year-old canceling his usual press debriefs for this weekend at least to avoid a barrage of questions about the £40m tax evasion investigation he is facing.