Stoner pips Simoncelli to pole position

Casey Stoner took his fourth pole position of the season at Silverstone but the Australian was forced to dig deep to see off the challenge of Marco Simoncelli.

The duo dominated the session with Stoner eventually moving into the ascendency with just eight minutes remaining of the hour long session. The Repsol Honda rider looked as confident as ever as he tipped his bike into some of the high speed corners but Simoncelli’s pace, just under 0.2s slower, should worry Stoner given how hard his rival is sure to ride tomorrow as he searches for his first premier class podium.

Reigning world champion, Jorge Lorenzo, ended the session third and just a fraction of a second behind Simoncelli. The Yamaha rider has struggled this weekend but, as ever, has found a way to drag the times of his bike when it matters. Given his unrelenting consistency there is little reason to believe that Lorenzo will not provide a challenge to Stoner and Simoncelli during the race.

Ben Spies and Andrea Dovizioso qualified fourth and fifth but arguably the star of the session was Czech rookie Karel Abraham who set the sixth fastest time and ended the hour long session with a career best sixth on the grid. Abraham added a further feather to his cap as the fastest Ducati on the grid by outpacing Nicky Hayden by over one tenth of a second. Hayden was very impressive yesterday and will be disappointed by seventh but there is no doubt that the biggest disappointment of the session was to see Valentino Rossi languish in 13th. The Italian was almost four seconds off the pace in qualifying and will line up with only Toni Elias and Loris Capirossi behind him on the grid.

Cal Crutchlow crashed at the start of the session and fractured his collarbone. The Englishman had been having his best weekend of the season and had been very confident of a strong qualifying performance.

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