Jorge Lorenzo secured pole position in record breaking fashion at Phillip Island ahead of Marc Marquez.
Race Direction also announced changes to Sunday’s race, necessitated by tire concerns. Bridgestone cannot guarantee the safety of its tire at the Australian circuit beyond 14 laps, so Race Direction is requiring at least one mandatory pit stop in the 26-lap race. During the stop riders will switch to their backup machines sporting fresh tires to complete the race. No rider is permitted to exceed Bridgestone’s 14-lap maximum, so riders who pit before 12 laps will have to make a second pit stop to conclude the race. Race Direction has also mandated what tire selections the prototype and CRT machines can use during the race.
Lorenzo’s record-setting pace is made the more impressive by the fact that he struck a seagull during the qualifying session.
“I had an impact with a bird on the first few laps on the bike, luckily we could take it off and I could make a second attempt without a passenger, maybe because of this I went a little bit faster and was able to make pole position. I’m very happy because I pushed to the limit to make the lap and I made a very good time.”
Marquez enjoys a comfortable 43-point advantage in the championship with three races remaining and could secure the title at Phillip Island if Lorenzo stumbles. The rookie had another fall during Saturday’s practice session, his second of the weekend, but was able to keep Lorenzo in his sights during qualifying and stay on the front row.
“The goal today was to get a front row start for tomorrow, and we achieved it. We knew that Jorge [Lorenzo] and Valentino [Rossi] would be very fast over a single lap with the new soft tire compound, something that they showed today. Jorge, Dani [Pedrosa] and Valentino have a great pace, but I think I can stick with them,” said Marquez. “After the issues with tires the race will now be a flag-to-flag, which for me is the first time so it will be interesting –even if I would have preferred a shorter race but this is the decision from Race Direction. We shall see if in the warm up we can try out some last minute things and then we will give 100%, as always.”
Rossi, who has secured more than one of his seven MotoGP titles at the Australian circuit, lapped a half second slower than Marquez but slipped ahead of Alvaro Bautista for the final spot on Row 1. The satellite Honda rider bested fellow Spaniard and factory Honda man Pedrosa for fourth, with Tech 3 Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow in sixth.
The second Tech 3 rider, Bradley Smith, heads Row 3, followed by a trio of Ducati’s led by Nicky Hayden, then Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone. Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards was the fastest CRT on the grid, qualifying 11th.
Two-time MotoGP champ Casey Stoner was in attendance at Phillip Island, as the Aussie was inducted as a MotoGP Legend. Stoner joins the likes of fellow countrymen Wayne Gardner and Mick Doohan.
2013 MotoGP Phillip Island Qualifying Results:
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’27.899
2. Marc Marquez (Honda) 1’28.120
3. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1’28.647
4. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1’28.713
5. Daniel Pedrosa (Honda) 1’28.748
6. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1’28.809
7. Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 1’28.941
8. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1’29.295
9. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 1’29.660
10. Andrea Iannone (Ducati) 1’29.756
11. Colin Edwards (Forward) 1’30.264
12. Randy De Puniet (Aspar) 1’30.735
13. Aleix Espargaro (Aspar) 1’30.081
14. Claudio Corti (Forward) 1’30.530
15. Yonny Hernandez (Blusens) 1’30.641