Sizzling Stoner seals Motegi pole

    Honda rider Casey Stoner is on track to defend his Japan Grand Prix title on Sunday.

    Story highlights

    • Casey Stoner will start Sunday's Japan Grand Prix at front of the grid
    • Honda star sets new lap record at Motegi as he heads off Jorge Lorenzo
    • Riders have raised more than $140,000 for the "We are for Japan" campaign
    • Stars had initially refused to compete in Japan due to radiation fears
    MotoGP championship leader Casey Stoner claimed his 10th pole position of 2011 on Saturday to boost his bid for a ninth victory this season at the Japan Grand Prix.
    After 14 of 18 meetings, the Australian holds a 44-point lead over world champion Jorge Lorenzo, who will start Sunday's race second on the grid for Yamaha at Motegi.
    He broke Lorenzo's 2008 lap record with a time of one minute 45.267 seconds to earn his first pole at the circuit, where he won last year's race.
    Stoner's teammate Andrea Dovizioso qualified third ahead of another Honda rider, Dani Pedrosa, while American Ben Spies claimed fifth for Yamaha.
    Honda's Marco Simoncelli completed the third row for Honda, while fellow Italian and seven-time world champion Valentino Rossi was seventh for Ducati.
    Hiroshi Aoyama, in 11th, was the highest-placed Japanese rider for what will be an emotional day.
    Motorcycling's top names had initially refused to travel to Motegi due to health fears after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was damaged during March's earthquake and tsunami.
    They backed down after MotoGP officials refused to cancel the race, but Stoner arrived late to reduce any exposure to radiation and Lorenzo told reporters that he had been washing with bottled water despite experts insisting the Motegi area is safe from any fallout.
    But the riders have helped raise $140,000 for the "We are for Japan" campaign, with Aoyama to present the check to local officials before the race.
    "Everything has gone very well so far this weekend. We've been fastest in all but one session, so it's been fantastic," 2007 world champion Stoner told the MotoGP website.
    "We'll have to watch the weather as this will affect the set-up. There's also a chance of rain, so it could get complicated. Jorge has been riding fantastic, as has Dovi and Dani, but there is no doubt that the Honda suits this track."