Jorge Lorenzo has scored the first pole position of the MotoGP season, setting the fastest time for the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar.
The Yamaha Factory Racing rider scored pole 0.221s ahead of reigning World Champion Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda).
The Spaniard’s time of 1:54.634 gave him the edge over the Australian as the pair swapped the lead in the final few minutes of the one-hour session on Saturday evening.
“I am really happy with tonight’s result,” said Lorenzo.
“I had to push more than 100% to make pole position but I pushed to the limit and managed to make a perfect lap.
“We still have to improve the power on the straight and our maximum speed but in the rest of the track the bike is working really well. Tomorrow will be a tough race and tyres will be very important I think.”
After strong form in the previous two days of practice, Stoner was disappointed with the qualifying performance.
“I’m not really happy with how qualifying went for us, it should have been a lot better especially on the soft tyre which we hadn’t used all weekend,” said Stoner.
“Last night we were happy with what we had improved and with the set-up in general. Then tonight we tried to improve that set-up and we just made it worse and worse.
“In the end we did a full circle and came back to what we had on Thursday night and we have huge chattering problems again. Now we have a lot of work to do to understand what’s gone wrong and where the problem is before tomorrow.
“If we can make a big step forward in warm up then we can challenge for a podium and maybe fight for the win, but if the bike remains as it is at the moment, then we were going to be in for a long hard race.”
Showing the potential of the Yamaha machinery, Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) put in his best-ever MotoGP qualifying display to seal the final front-row spot. The Englishman’s time of 1:55.022 left him just 0.167s short of Stoner in second.
Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing) set the fourth-fastest time before a crash five minutes from the end of qualifying, with Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) in fifth. Andrea Dovizioso will start his first race for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team from the second row after going sixth fastest in QP.
Heading up the third row will be Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda), who will be accompanied by Héctor Barberá (Pramac Racing) and rookie Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda). Karel Abraham (Cardion ab Motoracing) had a crash at the very end of the session but had already qualified in 10th place, and the Czech rider will have Álvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda Gresini) and Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) for company on row four.
Colin Edwards (NGM Mobile Forward Racing Team) took the honour of qualifying as the fastest CRT machine in 13th, 0.831s behind Rossi, with Power Electronics Aspar duo Randy de Puniet and Aleix Espargaró getting onto the fifth row with the American. The Frenchman escaped a crash 20 minutes from the end unharmed.
The MotoGP will start at 10pm local time, which Monday morning Australian time.
COMMERCIALBANK GRAND PRIX OF QATAR : Qualifying
|1||99||Jorge Lorenzo||SPA||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha||327.1||1:54.634|
|2||1||Casey Stoner||AUS||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||331.9||+ 0.221|
|3||35||Cal Crutchlow||GBR||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||328.0||+ 0.388|
|4||11||Ben Spies||USA||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha||326.1||+ 0.878|
|5||69||Nicky Hayden||USA||Ducati Team||Ducati||334.2||+ 1.003|
|6||4||Andrea Dovizioso||ITA||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||328.9||+ 1.224|
|7||26||Dani Pedrosa||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||330.8||+ 1.271|
|8||8||Hector Barbera||SPA||Pramac Racing Team||Ducati||337.1||+ 1.349|
|9||6||Stefan Bradl||GER||LCR Honda MotoGP||Honda||334.0||+ 1.429|
|10||17||Karel Abraham||CZE||Cardion AB Motoracing||Ducati||333.5||+ 1.564|
|11||19||Alvaro Bautista||SPA||San Carlo Honda Gresini||Honda||334.3||+ 1.887|
|12||46||Valentino Rossi||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||338.1||+ 2.179|
|13||5||Colin Edwards||USA||NGM Mobile Forward Racing||Suter||314.8||+ 3.010|
|14||14||Randy de Puniet||FRA||Power Electronics Aspar||ART||309.6||+ 3.632|
|15||41||Aleix Espargaro||SPA||Power Electronics Aspar||ART||312.1||+ 3.886|
|16||68||Yonny Hernandez||COL||Avintia Blusens||BQR-FTR||303.6||+ 4.161|
|17||51||Michele Pirro||ITA||San Carlo Honda Gresini||FTR||311.1||+ 4.451|
|18||54||Mattia Pasini||ITA||Speed Master||ART||311.5||+ 4.561|
|19||9||Danilo Petrucci||ITA||Came IodaRacing Project||Ioda||296.8||+ 5.030|
|20||22||Ivan Silva||SPA||Avintia Blusens||BQR-FTR||306.1||+ 5.859|
|21||77||James Ellison||GBR||Paul Bird Motorsport||ART||309.9||+ 6.123|