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Stoner beats Hondas to Barcelona pole

Casey Stoner (Ducati) celebrates Catalunya poleCasey Stoner took his first pole position of the year at Barcelona ahead of tomorrow's MotoGP of Catalunya.

The Ducati Marlboro rider, who has won only one race this season after dominating the championship in 2007, was the only Bridgestone rider in the top seven positions.

The Australian set his blistering lap of 1:41.186 just after the time in the 60-minute session expired. That came a handful of seconds after Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa took provisional pole away from teammate Nicky Hayden.

The American managed to slot back into third in the closing seconds, pushing LCR Honda's Randy de Puniet to the second row of the grid.

The Frenchman will be lined up with the Tech 3 Yamahas of Colin Edwards and James Toseland. These top six riders all managed to hold provisional pole at some point through the session.

JiR Honda's Andrea Dovizioso will lead the third row of the grid, ahead of the first Bridgestone runner behind Stoner, Rizla Suzuki rider Chris Vermeulen.

The Australian qualified one position better than championship leader Valentino Rossi, who struggled with his qualifying tyres and, even after switching to his spare Fiat Yamaha, could do no better than ninth fastest, 1.2 behind Stoner.

San Marino's Alex de Angelis rounds up the top ten, despite stopping his Gresini Honda on the side of the track with two minutes of the session remaining.

Stoner's teammate Marco Melandri had yet another session to forget after crashing out in the gravel as a consequence of losing the front of his Ducati in the final four minutes of the session. His time 2.5 seconds behind pole leaves him in penultimate place on the grid.

Pos  Rider             Bike           Time
 1.  Casey Stoner      Ducati    (B)  1:41.186
 2.  Dani Pedrosa      Honda     (M)  1:41.269  + 0.083
 3.  Nicky Hayden      Honda     (M)  1:41.437  + 0.251
 4.  Randy de Puniet   Honda     (M)  1:41.571  + 0.385
 5.  Colin Edwards     Yamaha    (M)  1:41.609  + 0.423
 6.  James Toseland    Yamaha    (M)  1:41.820  + 0.634
 7.  Andrea Dovizioso  Honda     (M)  1:42.053  + 0.867
 8.  Chris Vermeulen   Suzuki    (B)  1:42.365  + 1.179
 9.  Valentino Rossi   Yamaha    (B)  1:42.427  + 1.241
10.  Alex de Angelis   Honda     (B)  1:42.580  + 1.394
11.  Toni Elias        Ducati    (B)  1:42.622  + 1.457
12.  Shinya Nakano     Honda     (B)  1:42.643  + 1.462
13.  Loris Capirossi   Suzuki    (B)  1:42.648  + 1.622
14.  John Hopkins      Kawasaki  (B)  1:42.819  + 1.633
15.  Sylvain Guintoli  Ducati    (B)  1:43.204  + 2.018
16.  Marco Melandri    Ducati    (B)  1:43.719  + 2.533
17.  Anthony West      Kawasaki  (B)  1:44.558  + 3.372

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