Jorge Lorenzo nabbed his first pole position of the year at Estoril – the 17th of his MotoGP career.
Jorge Lorenzo nabbed his first pole position of the 2011 season during qualifying at Estoril. The championship points leader edged out Gresini Honda’s Marco Simoncelli. Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa rounds out the first-row starters for Sunday’s race.
Lorenzo’s pole position is his 17th in MotoGP, 43rd of his Grand Prix career and fourth consecutive at Estoril. But the reigning champ earned the front position thanks, in part, to Simoncelli error. The satellite Honda rider, fastest during both Friday practice sessions, topped the timesheet most of qualifying and was on pace to best Lorenzo’s late-session challenge when he crashed. The misfortune echoes Simoncelli’s disappointing result at Jerez, where the Italian was en route to a victory before high-siding out of the race.
Pedrosa’s third-fastest time slots the Repsol man one position ahead of his teammate, Casey Stoner, with the Aussie heading Row 2. Lorenzo’s paddock-mate, Ben Spies, earned fifth on the starting grid with the third Repsol rider, Andrea Dovizioso, sixth-fastest.
Tech 3 Yamaha duo Colin Edwards and Cal Crutchlow take up the seventh and eighth positions. As for the six-rider Ducati contingent, the top-qualifying Desmosedici is Valentino Rossi, who completes Row 3. The Doctor was 1.1 seconds off the pace of his former factory Yamaha teammate.
Qualifying out of the top-10, Nicky Hayden was a disappointing 13th on the factory Ducati. The Kentucky Kid placed one position ahead of Pramac Racing’s Loris Capirossi. Capirex actually led the damp morning practice session on Saturday, the old vet a half-second quicker than the youngsters.
Alvaro Bautista, the lone Suzuki rider, was more than two seconds off the leader’s pace, but will start on Sunday as he returns from a broken femur at the Qatar opener. The Spaniard’s grid position of 15th still managed to best Randy de Puniet and former Estoril GP winner, LCR Honda’s Toni Elias.
The Repsol Honda duo of Pedrosa (26) and Stoner (27) will press forward on Sunday from third and fourth on the grid.
2011 MotoGP Estoril Qualifying:
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’37.161
2. Marco Simoncelli (Honda) 1’37.294
3. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1’37.324
4. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1’37.384
5. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1’37.866
6. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1’38.073
7. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1’38.080
8. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1’38.189
9. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1’38.271
10. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 1’38.363
11. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda) 1’38.497
12. Karel Abraham (Ducati) 1’38.786
13. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1’38.922
14. Loris Capirossi (Ducati) 1’38.934
15. Alvaro Bautista (Suzuki) 1’39.172
16. Randy de Puniet (Ducati) 1’39.378
17. Toni Elias (Honda) 1’39.894