First MotoGP pole for Honda's Marco Simoncelli

04:59, Jun 05 2011
Marco Simoncelli
HAPPY DAYS: Honda Gresini's Marco Simoncelli celebrates posting his first MotoGP pole position in Barcelona.

Honda's Marco Simoncelli grabbed his first MotoGP pole position at the Catalunya Grand Prix in front of a hostile crowd, beating Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo to first place.

The frizzy-haired Italian set the fastest lap at the end of the qualifying session with a time of 1:42.413, just 0.016 of a second ahead of Stoner on another Honda, in cloudy but dry conditions.

Simoncelli was whistled by home fans for his part in the incident which saw local favourite Dani Pedrosa crash and break his collarbone at Le Mans three weeks ago.

The Spaniard has had to miss the race at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya, while Simoncelli has reportedly been given police protection for the duration of his stay after receiving threats.

"The best way to put an end to the accident and the controversy has been to achieve pole position," Simoncelli said.

"I'm very pleased, I didn't expect it. Casey was very fast, faster than me, but I managed to get in some quick final laps. It will be a very tough race tomorrow with Stoner and Lorenzo."

Australian Stoner, who is second in the championship, had been quickest in the three practice sessions and came in ahead of Spanish world champion and overall leader Lorenzo on a Yamaha.

"I'm disappointed with qualifying, we had good pace and should have been able to go a lot faster on new tyres," Stoner said.

"Front row is obviously where we want to be but I'm annoyed we spent the whole session working on the tyres and not improving the bike set up. We are confident with our race pace on hard tyres if the weather stays dry."

The forecast is for some rain on Sunday.

The second row comprised American Ben Spies, Italian Andrea Dovizioso and Britain's Cal Crutchlow. Former champion Valentino Rossi, who took a tumble in the morning, was seventh fastest.

In Moto2, Germany's Stefan Bradl racked up his fifth consecutive pole on a Kalex in front of Spain's Aleix Espargaro and Japan's Yuki Takahashi.

There is an all-Spanish front row for the 125cc race, with championship leader Nicolas Terol taking his fourth pole position in five races on an Aprilia, ahead of Hector Faubel and 16-year-old rookie Maverick Vinales.

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Reuters