Jorge Lorenzo earned pole position late in the qualifying session at Aragon, beating out Dani Pedrosa by 0.088.
Weather finally began to cooperate with the MotoGP grid during qualifying at Aragon, though even without the rain, temperatures remained lower than is typical at the Spanish circuit and grey skies loomed overhead. At the end of the day, Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo secured pole position by just 0.088 over Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa. The two Spaniards rallied late in the session to oust longtime pace-setter Cal Crutchlow of Tech 3 Yamaha to third on the grid, followed by Lorenzo’s teammate Ben Spies in fourth.
“I feel happy, I really thought Cal would take pole position because his lap time was really quick but finally we managed to improve our lap time with the last qualifying tire,” said Lorenzo. “It’s important to be on the front row in pole position but tomorrow is what counts, we have to do a lot of laps and it’s going to be a long race. Let’s see how the weather is, we all hope it’s not going to rain, it’s much better if it’s dry.”
Due to the uncertainty of conditions, all riders hit the track as soon as the session started to get in as much lap time as possible. Pedrosa ran into trouble early on, crashing his RC213V within the first 10 minutes of qualifying after losing the front in Turn 14. Luckily he was able to walk away relatively unscathed, though his bike appeared to be mangled. Technicians later found that most of the damage was cosmetic and the integral components of his machine were unharmed.
Dani Pedrosa crashed in the opening minutes of qualifying, but was able to return and finish second-fastest at Aragon.
“After the crash I had at the beginning of the session —I guess due to cold tires because I was not pushing at all —we only had one bike left with 50 minutes remaining,” said Pedrosa. “I lost some time there and when I went out with the second bike I realized that I had to remain calm because it was the only bike I had for the rest of qualifying and also the only front tire. At the beginning, I was cautious trying to set a decent lap time and towards the end I just forgot about everything and pushed harder for the front row.”
Not long after Pedrosa’s fall, Avinta Blusens’ Yonny Hernandez went down in similar fashion through the same turn and, as with Pedrosa, he walked away in good health despite the damage done to the bike. Mid-session, Ducati’s Valentino Rossi also went down, low-siding in Turn 2 and sliding off track.
Lorenzo, Spies and LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl all took turns in the lead position through the first half of qualifying until just prior to Rossi’s crash when Crutchlow moved into the top spot, where he held steady for much of the session. He was the first rider to move below 1’50 but in the end couldn’t hold off the charges by Lorenzo and Pedrosa in the final minutes. The Repsol rider gained the lead with just under four minutes remaining, then lost the top spot to Lorenzo two minutes after. Crutchlow was able to improve his time on his final lap, but it wasn’t enough regain pole. Despite missing out on his first MotoGP pole, Crutchlow was pleased to earn a front row start in the first dry session of the weekend.
Cal Crutchlow held the lead pace for most of the qualifying session at Aragon, only to lose pole in the final minutes.
“I think we did a very good job today to finis h on the front row when this session was the first time we have been able to work on the settings in the dry,” said Crutchlow. “My main aim for the session was to get the bike set-up for the race and immediately out of the box I was fast and all through the session I was able to steadily improve my pace. I’m confident going into tomorrow’s race because the bike feels good, despite the fact that we missed a lot of dry track time, so credit to my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew because they did a fantastic job again.”
Bradl held to fifth and is joined by Crutchlow’s teammate Andrea Dovizioso on the second row. Pedrosa’s teammate, Jonathan Rea, who is replacing the injured Casey Stoner, trailed the lead pace by just over one second and will head up the third row on Sunday. Since it’s rumored that Stoner will return for the following round in Japan, this will likely be Rea’s final MotoGP ride for the foreseeable future. The World Superbike rider is looking to make every moment count.
“Towards the end of the session we started to get going and find our rhythm, the lap time was ok and I see a few areas where I can improve, but we are closing the gap, now just a second from the pole time which I’m pleased with,” said Rea. “In general I’m really happy with the bike and with the set up so hopefully tomorrow I can be closer to the front guys than I was in Misano. It looks like my last ride so I want to go out tomorrow and make every single lap count.”
Jonathan Rea, riding in place of the injured Casey Stoner, will head up the third row on Sunday at Aragon.
Rossi follows Rea in eighth and his teammate Nicky Hayden qualified ninth. Hayden had some trouble of his own late in the session, going down after losing the front end.
“It wasn’t a great day,” said Hayden. “In qualifying, at times we weren’t too far off, but then when we put in my last tire at the end, I lost the front in the middle of the last corner. I picked it up, but I was headed right for the wall. I just touched the brakes, and with slicks on wet grass, that was it. We certainly could have done without that, but luckily it wasn’t a big one. This was the first time I was able to really ride the new chassis in the dry, but I need more setup time with it. We’ll regroup and see what we come up with for tomorrow.”
Pramac Racing’s Hector Barbera finished with the 10th time, followed by top CRT qualifier Aleix Espargaro of Power Electronics Aspar. San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista finished the day in 12th with Espargaro’s teammate Randy de Puniet in 13th. American rider Colin Edwards of NGM Mobile Forward Racing will start from 17th on the grid come Sunday as he continues to struggle to find the pace aboard his Suter-BMW powered machine.
MotoGP Aragon Qualifying Results 2012:
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’49.404
2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1’49.492
3. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1’49.576
4. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1’49.748
5. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1’50.034
6. Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha) 1’50.241
7. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1’50.410
8. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1’50.949
9. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1’51.013
10. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 1’51.072
11. Aleix Espargaro (ART) 1’51.082
12. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1’51.155
13. Randy de Puniet (ART) 1’51.459
14. Karel Abraham (Ducati) 1’51.521
15. Michele Pirro (FTR) 1’52.606
16. Mattia Pasini (ART) 1’52.638
17. Colin Edwards (Suter) 1’52.853
18. Danilo Petrucci (Ioda-Suter) 1’53.140
19. Yonny Hernandez (BQR) 1’53.233
20. James Ellison (ART) 1’53.719
21. David Salom (BQR) 1’55.290