Pedrosa on pole as Stoner hurt in crash
Spain’s Dani Pedrosa claimed pole position for Sunday’s Indianapolis Grand Prix while Australian Casey Stoner struggled with a right ankle injury after a qualifying crash.
Pedrosa, on a Honda, rode the fastest lap at 1min 38.813sec over the 2,621-mile, 16-turn layout at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during a crash-filled qualifying session on Saturday.
“It was tough and tricky because it was very slippery and we could see many crashes,” Pedrosa said. “It was important to keep focused. The back end was sliding a lot, so it was tough.
“But at the end, it was good because we could get on pole.”
Pedrosa ranks second in the overall season points chase behind countryman Jorge Lorenzo, who finished second qualifying on his Yamaha, while Andrea Dovizioso of Italy was third.
“This is not one of the best tracks in our championships,” Dovizioso said.
Lorenzo banged his fist against his Yamaha in frustration when he realized he had finished second to Pedrosa, but he outlined his plan for the race.
“I think the important thing tomorrow is to finish,” Lorenzo said.
“We modified the bike a lot with some weight on the rear to enter the corners with more confidence. I felt great as a result. We don’t have a bad pace but not as good as Dani yet. We need to improve a little.”
Reigning world champion Stoner, third on this year’s points list in a season he says will be his last, was stretchered off the track after a crash on his Honda, suffering a marginal fracture in his right ankle.
Last year’s winner at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was thrown over his motorcycle’s handlebars and across the track in turn 13.
He qualified sixth but his status for the race will be decided by a re-evaluation early Sunday.
Americans Ben Spies and Nicky Hayden were also injured in qualifying crashes, with Hayden suffering a concussion and two broken bones in his right hand and being ruled out of the race.
“The track surface is pretty tricky,” Spies said. “It seems to have caught a few people.” Spies, the 2010 Indy pole starter, qualified fourth despite also being claimed by a crash in turn 13. His bike skidded out and he suffered a bruised shoulder but was approved to race.
“My shoulder is really sore after that crash,” Spies said. “It’s pretty painful... It’s frustrating as we’ve been going really well all weekend and I’ve been feeling really confident with the bike.”
Moments after Spies crashed, Hayden went flying when his machine spun.
Spies and Hayden have made it to the podium twice at Indianapolis. Spies won the pole in 2010 and took third a year ago. Hayden was runner-up in 2008 and third in 2009.