Casey Stoner conquered rain at Sachsenring - MotoGP photoEnlarge Photo
Qualifying for MotoGP's Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland round on the Sachsenring road course was an exercise in tactics--reading the changing conditions of the wet surface as it went from soaked to damp and making the right decisions on when to ride and when to wait was key to success today.
It was Repsol Honda's Casey Stoner who came out atop the standings in qualifying, waiting until the very last moment to set his quick lap in easing conditions at 1:31.796 and besting Yamaha Factory Racing's Ben Spies to the pole position.
Spies' lap of 1:31.989 was only 0.193 seconds behind the Australian.
"It was actually a very difficult session," Stoner acknowledged. "We switched to our number one bike with a completely different set-up and that felt a lot better--we decided to wait for later in the session as we knew we wouldn't have much hope unless the conditions improved a little. Luckily they did and it ended up being a really good day for us--we'll see what we're capable of tomorrow."
Spies conquered the treacherous conditions even though he's struggled in the wet in the past, particularly at the Sachsenring track.
"I was honestly a bit lost in the last ten minutes of qualifying," the American explained. "My lap timer quit working so I didn't know what times I was doing and what my splits were. I just rode off what I thought was quick and saw P1 on my board a couple of times. In the end I just gave it some stick and hoped I would get on the front row."
There were four different pole sitters in the final 15 seconds of the session. Stoner's teammate Dani Pedrosa, quickest in Friday practice starts third with his lap of 1:32.081 the best the Spaniard would manage. Pedrosa was pleased as he's had difficulties in these types of conditions, "But this time I was more confident every lap and we made it; I thought I got pole in my last flying lap, but anyway to be at the front is key in Sachsenring."
The second row belongs to Cal Crutchlow's Monster Tech3 Yamaha, Yamaha Factory Racing's Jorge Lorenzo - both nursing racing injuries - and rookie Stefan Bradl on the LCR Honda. Nicky Hayden's Ducati, Andrea Dovizioso on the second Monster Tech3 Yamaha and Valentino Rossi on the second factory Ducati make up the third row, with Aleix Espargaro rounding out the top 10 as first of the CRT riders on his Power Electronics Aspar ART, posting a time of 1:33.900, 2.104-seconds back of Stoner.
The wet weather helped a few and hindered many as riders crashed in the difficult conditions. Because of his penalty for causing an accident with Jorge Lorenzo last week, Alvaro Bautista starts the race at the rear of the field in Sunday's race, which could be held under clear conditions.