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Sizzling Stoner on pole for MotoGP season-opener in Qatar

Australian motorcyclist Casey Stoner won the 2009 Qatar MotoGP after starting from first on the grid.
Australian motorcyclist Casey Stoner won the 2009 Qatar MotoGP after starting from first on the grid.
  • Australian rider Casey Stoner will seek to emulate his 2009 victory from pole in Qatar
  • The 2007 world champion helps his new team Honda to fill top-two qualifying places
  • He is joined on the front row by Dani Pedrosa and world champion Jorge Lorenzo
  • Seven-time world champion Valentino Rossi back in ninth in his debut for Ducati
  • Casey Stoner
  • MotoGP
  • Dani Pedrosa
  • Valentino Rossi
  • Qatar

(CNN) -- Former world champion Casey Stoner claimed the 27th pole position of his career on Saturday to ensure he will start the new MotoGP season at the head of the grid in Qatar.

The Australian, who dominated the three practice sessions at Losail with his new Repsol Honda team, set the fastest time of one minute 54.137 seconds.

His teammate Dani Pedrosa will line up on the front row of the grid in Qatar for the first time on Sunday after finishing second, while Yamaha's reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo took the final place -- 0.810 seconds behind Stoner.

Stoner is the only rider to have ever won from pole position in Qatar, doing so in 2009.

Stoner dominates Qatar practice as Rossi struggles

His replacement at Ducati, seven-time world champion Valentino Rossi, again struggled with the Italian qualifying ninth fastest as he again battled the lingering effects of last season's shoulder problems.

Rossi's American teammate Nicky Hayden, another former world champion, was way back in 13th.

Lorenzo, who was runner-up last year after starting back on the grid, saw new young American teammate Ben Spies qualify in fifth behind Marco Simoncelli of the San Carlo Honda Gresini outfit.

British rookie Cal Crutchlow was eighth, outshining his senior Monster Yamaha Tech teammate Carl Edwards in 10th.

Meanwhile, Bridgestone will continue to be MotoGP's tire supplier until 2014 after agreeing a new deal announced on Saturday, having been involved with motorcycling's elite class since 2009.