Jorge Lorenzo earned his 50th career pole position and set a new circuit pole record during qualifying at Motegi.
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo
earned his 50th career pole position at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit in Japan, beating out Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa
by 0.246 seconds. Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow
cut over one second off his best practice lap time to finish the session in third.
Lorenzo continued to look comfortable and confident aboard his YZR-M1 and he spent much of the session as the pace-setter, though there were a number of riders to challenge his claim to pole. Pedrosa also held the top time for a period, as did San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista
, Lorenzo’s teammate Ben Spies
as well as Crutchlow. Time had expired while Lorenzo was in the midst of his final lap, and at that point Pedrosa was leading the pack. The Mallorcan pushed hard though and posted 1’44.969, a new pole record for the track.
“I’ve been really fast all weekend with a very good pace but in qualifying, ten minutes to the end I thought I was making a very good lap but I was in sixth position,” said Lorenzo. “I didn’t understand how the other riders were going so fast. I needed to push a bit more, in the second to last lap I made a mistake so in the last lap I had my last chance. I made it so I’m very happy but of course the important thing is the race tomorrow.”
Dani Pedrosa struggled with chatter issues during qualifying at Motegi, but was still able to post the second-fastest time.
Pedrosa’s front row starting position comes in spite of the fact that he was beset by chattering issues throughout qualifying, a problem he hadn’t experienced during the practice sessions earlier in the weekend.
“I had many problems with chattering in qualifying and we still don't know why,” said Pedrosa. “Everything was OK during the free practices but this afternoon, it was hard to do the lap time. Finally the second place is good enough and I hope we can avoid this chattering in the race tomorrow. The key point will be to choose the correct rear tire and be consistent for the whole race because the pace will be fast."
Crutchlow was contending for a top-five position from the start of the session having improved his bike set up from the earlier practice sessions where he struggled to keep within the top-10. He even led the pack for a period in the final minutes.
“I am really happy to be on the front row again and I have to say a big thanks to my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew because they did an amazing job to improve the bike from yesterday,” said Crutchlow. “In the first two practice sessions I was struggling just to make it inside the top-10 and today I was fighting for pole position, so my team did a great job.”
Spies heads up the second row, though for a while he appeared to be a lock for a top-three finish. In the final minutes of the session he crashed, but luckily was able to walk away from the incident unharmed. Bautista held to fifth and was followed by Crutchlow’s teammate Andrea Dovizioso
Casey Stoner remains sore from his ankle injury at Indianapolis and placed seventh in qualifying at Motegi.
Repsol’s Casey Stoner
maintained a top-10 pace through qualifying, but was only able to break into the top-five momentarily in the latter half of the session. He continues to ride with an injured right ankle and has faced a number of mechanical challenges already. His lap times continue to improve as the weekend wears on though and he was able to post the seventh-fastest lap before the end.
“Physically I'm a little sore but not so bad, I'm just struggling to lift the bike out of the right hand corners and it's making setting up the bike more difficult than it should be,” said Stoner. “My team can see that my lean angles are no where near what they usually are. I can't get my foot out of the way, therefore I can't lean the bike over enough or pick it up quickly on the exit of the corner. I'm not sure what to expect tomorrow, I'll try to get another good night's rest and do our best tomorrow."
LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl follows Stoner in eighth. The German rider hit a snag early on when he crashed and was forced back to the pits. Ducati’s Valentino Rossi
improved on his lap time set in practice, but was unable to keep pace with the improvements of the front-runners and finished in ninth. His teammate, Nicky Hayden
, rounds out the top-10.
Wild card rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga of Yamaha YSP Racing Team finished in 11th, followed by Pramac Racing’s Hector Barbera in 12th. Aleix Espargaro of Power Electronics Aspar heads up the CRT effort in 13th with his teammate, Randy de Puniet, right behind in 14th.
MotoGP Motegi Qualifying 2012:
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’44.969
2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1’45.215
3. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1’45.257
4. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1’45.336
5. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1’45.481
6. Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha) 1’45.612
7. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1’45.745
8. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1’45.848
9. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1’45.976
10. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1’46.461
11. Katsuyuki Nakasuga (Yamaha) 1’46.780
12. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 1’46.881
13. Aleix Espargaro (ART) 1’47.383
14. Randy de Puniet (ART) 1’47.581
15. Karel Abraham (Ducati) 1’47.791
16. Colin Edwards (Suter) 1’48.125
17. Yonny Hernandez (BQR) 1’48.513
18. Michele Pirro (FTR) 1’48.653
19. Danilo Petrucci (Ioda-Suter) 1’48.831
20. James Ellison (ART) 1’49.023
21. Roberto Rolfo (ART) 1’49.183
22. Ivan Silva (BQR) 1’49.831