Jorge Lorenzo boosted his hopes of securing a third MotoGP crown by claiming pole position for the title deciding Valencia finale.
The Yamaha rider set a blistering pace posting a new circuit lap record to take arguably the most important pole position of his career.
Lorenzo’s stunning 1:30.011s effort proved to be 0.4s quicker than his nearest rival Marc Marquez, with the sister Honda of Dani Pedrosa in third.
The pole has swung the title race in Lorenzo’s favour with rival Valentino Rossi forced to start from the rear of the grid, virtue of his penalty for the Sepang clash with Marquez.
“I think it is the most important pole (of my career) and I think it was the best lap of my life,” said Lorenzo.
“I’m very happy with the pole position and the grid for tomorrow so we will see if Sunday is more or less the same as today.”
Marquez had set the pace from the outset but he had no answer to Lorenzo’s incredible pace as the title contender eclipsed the outgoing world champion with five minutes remaining.
Hamstrung by a grid penalty, Rossi, who holds seven point lead over Lorenzo, struggled for pace before ending the session in the gravel trap after losing control of his Yamaha at Turn 8.
Suzuki’s Aleix Espargaro was fourth fastest ahead of LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith on the Tech 3 Yamaha.
Andrea Iannone was the best of the Ducati riders in seventh, while Pol Espargaro, Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci completed the top 10.
Courtesy of Rossi’s penalty, Australia’s Jack Miller will start from 20th on the grid with fellow countrymen Anthony West in 22nd and Broc Parkes in 25th position.
Result: MotoGP Grand Prix of Valencia Qualifying
|5||Cal Crutchlow||LCR Honda||1:30.948s||+0.937s|
|6||Bradley Smith||Tech 3 Yamaha||1:31.012s||+1.001s|
|8||Pol Espargaró||Tech 3 Yamaha||1:31.080s||+1.069s|
|10||Danilo Petrucci||Pramac Ducati||1:31.292s||+1.281s|
|12||Michele Pirro||Ducati||1:31.780s||+1.769s Q1|
|13||Stefan Bradl||Gresini Aprilia||1:31.824s||+1.813s Q1|
|14||Héctor Barberá||Avintia Ducati||1:31.851s||+1.840s Q1|
|15||Loris Baz||Forward Yamaha||1:31.856s||+1.845s Q1|
|16||Nicky Hayden||Aspar Honda||1:32.083s||+2.072s Q1|
|17||Yonny Hernández||Pramac Ducati||1:32.142s||+2.131s Q1|
|18||Álvaro Bautista||Gresini Aprilia||1:32.282s||+2.271s Q1|
|19||Scott Redding||Marc VDS Honda||1:32.448s||+2.437s Q1|
|20||Jack Miller||LCR Honda||1:32.564s||+2.553s Q1|
|21||Mike Di Meglio||Avintia Ducati||1:32.716s||+2.705s Q1|
|22||Anthony West||AB Honda||1:33.049s||+3.038s Q1|
|23||Eugene Laverty||Aspar Honda||1:33.066s||+3.055s Q1|
|24||Toni Elías||Forward Yamaha||1:33.092s||+3.081s Q1|
|25||Broc Parkes||ART/Aprilia||1:33.577s||+3.566s Q1|
|26||Valentino Rossi||Yamaha||1:31.471s||+1.460s Penalty|