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Stoner on pole at Estoril

Casey Stoner takes close pole position for the Portuguese MotoGP at Estoril, Cal Crutchlow third.
Casey Stoner led a front row covered by just 0.1s during an interrupted qualifying session for the Portuguese MotoGP at Estoril, which also saw the second front-row start of the year for Cal Crutchlow.

The session was briefly red-flagged with eleven minutes of the hour remaining following a nasty accident involving CRT riders Randy de Puniet and Colin Edwards.

de Puniet lost the front of his Aprilia, which then slid quickly across the asphalt and wiped out the unsuspecting Edwards, who was off the racing line on an out-lap. de Puniet eventually walked away, but Edwards remained stationary on the edge of the track after landing hard on his left shoulder.

The 38-year-old Texan was carried away on a stretcher during the red flag period. A later update confirmed that he has suffered a broken collarbone and he will therefore miss the race.

World championship leader Jorge Lorenzo was on target for a perfect fifth consecutive Estoril pole at the time of the red flag, but would be left angry after dropping from first to fourth following the restart.

Reigning world champion Stoner was first to topple longtime leader Lorenzo, before Tech 3 Yamaha rider Crutchlow produced a superb final sector to claim pole with six-minutes to go.

But Stoner - out of shape regularly during the session - wasn't to be denied, moving back ahead by 0.1s, with Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa then slotting into second with a lap just 0.013s slower than the Australian.

By contrast Lorenzo was unable to improve, his quickest lap of the afternoon being on lap 10 of 29 - leaving the Spaniard shaking his head in frustration, then making a quick exit to the back of the Yamaha garage.

Lorenzo will be joined on row two by team-mate Ben Spies, who tripped over slower riders on several occasions during the session, and San Carlo Honda Gresini's Alvaro Bautista.




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