Jorge Lorenzo claimed pole position for the 2012 season opener at Qatar in a close battle with rival Casey Stoner.
Jorge Lorenzo spoiled MotoGP rival Casey Stoner’s pole position streak at Qatar. The Factory Yamaha rider bested Stoner during Saturday’s qualifying session at the Losail circuit, the 2010 and 2011 MotoGP champions will start a respective first and second on the grid for tomorrow’s race. Satellite Tech 3 Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow joins the factory men on Row 1.
Lorenzo and Stoner traded hot laps in the frenetic closing minutes of the MotoGP qualifying session, but the Spaniard was able to edge his Australian rival by 0.221. Lorenzo ends Stoner’s run of four consecutive pole positions at the Losail circuit – the two front-runners the only riders able to dip under the 1’55 marker.
Crutchlow impressed on the Tech 3 Yamaha, running much of the session in the front row and briefly holding provisional pole. The British rider comfortably held onto the final front row position ahead of factory Yamaha’s Ben Spies by almost a half second. The Texan will lead Row 2 after having suffered another get-off at Qatar. Spies crashed hard on Friday, and nearly saved his latest lowside in qualifying. The spill spoiled his soft-tire charge for the front row.
The Ducatis were quiet throughout the session, until the very end, with American Nicky Hayden charging up onto Row 2 on the final flying lap. The Kentucky Kid starts alongside Tech 3 Yamaha’s Andrea Dovizioso – the two former Repsol Honda riders getting the better of their former teammate, and still Repsol pilot, Dani Pedrosa, who had a lackluster session in seventh.
Rossi continues to look for solutions on the Desmosedici. The nine-time World Champion qualified 12th for the Qatar GP.
Pramac Racing’s Hector Barbera was the next fastest Ducati in eighth, with another frustrating result for Valentino Rossi. Not only was The Doctor the slowest qualifying Ducati, he was the slowest non-CRT bike in 12th. Rossi’s 1’56.813 is a full two seconds off the pace of his former factory Yamaha teammate, Lorenzo.
It was a rough session for the CRT field with numerous crashes on the new bikes. Randy de Puniet was the most significant casualty, the Team Aspar ART rider following yesterday’s hard crash with another one on Saturday. While the Frenchman seemed less shaken by today’s spill, his Aspar mount was unable to continue the session, this opened the door for Colin Edwards to take top honors in the CRT class aboard the Forward Racing BMW/Suter.
Other CRT riders that went down in qualifying include Avinta’s Ivan Silva, IodaRacing’s Danilo Petrucci, Paul Bird Motorsport’s James Ellsion and Speed Master’s Mattia Pasini – the latter rider’s bike igniting into flames from the crash. Cardion AB Ducati rider Karel Abraham, who qualified 10th, also went down in the closing laps.
2012 MotoGP Qatar Qualifying Results:
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’54.634
2. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1’54.855
3. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1’55.022
4. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1’55.512
5. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1’55.637
6. Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha) 1’55.858
7. Dani Pedrosa (Honda)
8. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 1’55.983
9. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1’56.063
10. Karel Abraham (Ducati) 1’56.198
11. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1’56.521
12. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1’56.813
13. Colin Edwards (Forward) 1’57.644
14. Randy de Puniet (Aspar) 1’58.266
15. Aleix Espargaro (Aspar) 1’58.520
16. Yonny Hernandez (Avintia) 1’58.795
17. Michele Pirro (Gresini) 1’59.085
18. Mattia Pasini (Speed Master) 1’59.195
19. Danilo Petrucci (Ioda) 1’59.884
20. Ivan Silva (Avintia) 2’00.493
21. James Ellison (PBM) 2’00.757