Casey Stoner set the fastest ever lap of the Mugello circuit in Italy today and then said he could have gone even faster in better conditions.
Earlier light rain that disrupted the 125GP session had only just dispersed when the MotoGP qualifying session commenced under grey and gloomy conditions.
The field was able to start on slick tyres but just after the halfway stage yet more rain prevented riders from lowering their times, leaving Aussie Stoner to claim his fifth pole position of the 2011 campaign.
Benefitting from the increased grip levels offered by a new surface at Mugello, Stoner had set a best time of 1.48.034 to top the timesheets ahead of Assen winner Ben Spies and home favourite Marco Simoncelli.
Stoner’s best lap was the fastest in history on two wheels at the spectacular Mugello track, but he reckons it is possible to drop times down to a 1.47 flat in more favourable conditions.
The Repsol Honda rider, who goes into tomorrow’s 23-lap race holding a 28-point lead over reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo, said: "We managed to get a few laps in at the beginning. I wasn’t too happy this morning with our set-up. We were still fast enough but not really comfortable enough doing the pace we were, so we tried a couple of different things on both bikes this afternoon. The two bikes this morning were completely different and on one bike I was getting too much oversteer.
"The turning was good but it wanted to close on me and I didn't have a lot of confidence in the front. The second bike was pushing wide and wouldn't turn, so in the afternoon we just balanced both bikes out to try and find a strong point. The set-up we made in bike two was big step forward with more grip and feeling going into the turns and gave me the stability I needed in the front. The first bike, because of the extra little bit of rain, we decided to go with the soft front and the soft rear even though we prefer the harder front.
"When I went out I could do a pretty good lap time but we just wanted to make sure we had a good time in case the rain did come. But we couldn’t get the bike to work with the soft front tyre, so we put a hard front on the other bike and tried something different as well and we managed to get something that was working really well. We already nine or ten laps on the tyre when I did my fastest lap and I’m pretty impressed with that. The tyres at the beginning of their life are fantastic around this track and they were already starting to go off a little bit, but I could still manage to go faster. I think with everything being ideal with a perfect lap you could do a 47.0. There’s a lot of time to be had with a good set of tyres."