Casey Stoner proved he was human.
Then, perhaps that he’s superhuman.
Stoner claimed pole position at the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix in extraordinary style on Saturday, clocking his best lap after being flipped off his bike at high speed.
Already carrying an ankle injury, the Australian dusted himself off, got on a new bike, then immediately clocked a flying sub-1min 30sec lap time to give himself the best possible shot at a sixth successive win at Phillip Island in Sunday’s race.
He backed up that amazing effort with even quicker laps for the rest of the session.
His best of 1:29.623 put him on pole ahead of Yamaha’s championship leader Jorge Lorenzo (1:30.140) and Stoner’s Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa (1:30.525).
Another record attendance of more than 40,000 watched Stoner on Saturday in his home MotoGP farewell before he retires.
He started the day with more head-shakingly quick laps in morning practice, following on from dominating both practice sessions on Friday.
But after a fast early qualifying lap, all held their breath as Stoner was bucked off a bike which trailed desperately close to his injured leg as both slid off the circuit.
After limping away and visiting the pits to get some new wheels, Stoner then came out and did what no one else has yet been able to do at Phillip Island this weekend - break 1min 30sec.
He has now done it six times this weekend - auguring well for his shots at history and destiny on Sunday.
Lorenzo leads Pedrosa by 23 points in the championship going into the penultimate race of the season.
They are the only two riders who can win the MotoGP title.
Australian Kris McLaren, making his MotoGP debut as a late replacement rider for the Avintia team, failed to qualify inside the cutoff time for Sunday’s race.
McLaren, from Leongatha in Victoria, had a fall just prior to Stoner’s.
He improved markedly on his Friday practice times, but was still the slowest of the 20 riders.