debuted an all-new two tier qualifying format under the lights at Losail, but the end result was a familiar one as Factory Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo
secured pole position for the 2013 season opener. The defending champ will share the front row with satellite M1 rider Cal Crutchlow and Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa.
The new qualifying process consisted of two 15-minute sessions. The final Q2 session consisted of the top 10 riders from the combined times of the three Free Practice sessions, as well as the top two riders from the preceding Q1 session. The opening Q1 session was filled by all 12 CRT machines, as well as the two Pramac Ducati prototypes.
Lorenzo is no stranger to Losail qualifying success, with seven career pole positions and a 100% front row record at the Qatar circuit.
“I’m really happy, for three or four laps we pushed to the limit,” said Lorenzo in a team press release. “I knew Cal was really fast over one lap so I had to push to the maximum. I’m very happy with this pole position. The important thing is that the Yamaha works here at this track. I think for the first time of the new qualifying format it has been very positive and for the fans it is very good to watch.”
Crutchlow pressed his Factory Yamaha rival during the session. The British rider, who impressed as the fastest in the final pre-season test of the year, continued to keep his name up at the top of the charts throughout the practice sessions. Crutchlow fell two-tenths short of Lorenzo’s best, 1’54.714.
Pedrosa was conspicuously not finishing near the top of the timesheets in practice, but rebounded with a solid front row result in Q2. The Spaniard narrowly edged out his former Respol teammate, Andrea Dovizioso, who made an impressive qualifying result aboard his new Ducati mount to lead Row 2. Dovi will be joined on the second row by a pair of RC213Vs, LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl and Repsol rookie Marc Marquez.
Dovizioso’s success on the Ducati contrasts Valentino Rossi’s seventh-place result aboard the Yamaha. The Doctor claims traffic kept him from getting onto Row 2, as the nine-time world champion looks to return to race-winning form in 2013 after a disastrous two-year stint with Ducati.
“The qualifying was not fantastic for us, especially as we lost the second row,” explained Rossi. “Our performance during free practice was better than this, we’ll wait for tomorrow. Unfortunately in the qualifying session with the second tire where we had to improve I was stuck in traffic so I could not improve my lap time and I lost some positions."
Following Rossi are Gresini Honda’s Alvaro Bautista and Tech 3 Yamaha rookie Bradley Smith. Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone rounded out the top 10 and showed up factory Ducati man Nicky Hayden by one spot in the rankings.
The final Q2 spot was filled by CRT rider Aleix Espargaro, who nipped the final factory prototype, Ben Spies’ Pramac Ducati in the opening Q1 session. Spies, who endured a dismal and unlucky 2012 with Factory Yamaha, also suffered a crash during the end of Saturday’s Free Practice session and will start Sunday’s race from Row 5.
“The session was going okay for us at first. We were just working on race setup with old tires on from yesterday, and we actually started to get faster and gain some confidence. Then I just got into turn 2 too hot and I grabbed a lot of front brake and went down at pretty good speed,” said Spies. “Fortunately, we were able to get up and go out with the second bike. The problem was that the back of the bike had a completely different setting, and I couldn’t get up to the same speed that I was at before and get into Q2. Overall, it was good to get back on the bike, and it was good that we were getting up to speed. I’m sorry for the team, and we’ll come back tomorrow.”
2013 MotoGP Qatar Qualifying Results:
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory) 1'54.714
2. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha Tech3) 1'54.916
3. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) 1'55.151
4. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) 1'55.160
5. Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda) 1'55.477
6. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) 1'55.645
7. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha Factory) 1'55.711
8. Alvaro Bautista (Gresini Honda) 1'55.870
9. Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech3) 1'56.315
10. Andrea Iannone (Pramac Racing) 1'56.523
11. Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 1'56.667
12. Aleix Espargaro (Aspar) 1'57.064
13. Ben Spies (Pramac) 1'57.440
14. Randy De Puniet (Aspar) 1'57.551
15. Lukas Pesek (Came IodaRacing) 1'57.926
16. Yonny Hernandez (Paul Bird Motorsport)1'58.058
17. Hiroshi Aoyama (Avintia Blusens) 1'58.263
18. Karel Abraham (Cardion AB) 1'58.271
19. Colin Edwards (Forward Racing) 1'58.361
20. Danilo Petrucci (Came Iodaracing) 1'58.486
21. Claudio Corti (Forward Racing) 1'58.755
22. Hector Barbera (Avintia Blusens) 1'58.806
23. Bryan Staring (Gresini Honda) 1'58.912
24. Michael Laverty (Paul Bird Motorsport) 1'59.572