Stoner edges Rossi to take pole

WORLD champion Casey Stoner battled with flu-like symptoms to claim his sixth successive pole position at the Czech Republic Grand Prix.

The Ducati rider, who fell ill with fever and cramp during the free practice, posted the fastest time of 2min 11.657sec on a wet Brno circuit, pipping standings leader Valentino Rossi, of Yamaha, by 1.189sec.

Kawasaki's John Hopkins marked an excellent return from injury to take third, 1.302sec behind Stoner and the American will start Sunday's race on the front row.

Suzuki's Australian, wet-weather specialist Chris Vermeulen, will start on the second row at fourth fastest.

Stoner's sixth pole in a row is the longest run of successive top starts since fellow Australian Mick Doohan notched up a massive 12 in a row during the 1990s.

“The conditions were especially difficult today but my bike was well prepared and stuck to the track well,'' said Stoner.

“I posted the best time at the start of the session,'' he said.

“After that the conditions got worse and I didn't want to take any risks.''

Rossi fell during his session but afterwards played down the spill.

“It was nothing, I'm happy with my result in pretty difficult conditions,'' he said.

“The race is sure going to be interesting.''

From correspondents in Brno, Czech Republic