Jorge Lorenzo took pole position with a record-breaking flying lap late in the qualifying session at Sepang.
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo
set a new pole record during qualifying at Sepang, earning the number-one spot late in the session with a final flying lap of 2’00.334. Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa
came up just short of Lorenzo’s lap time and will start from second on the grid. The two will be joined on the front row by Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso
, who trailed Pedrosa’s best time by just 0.039 seconds.
Lorenzo came out on top of a late session battle that saw both Pedrosa and Dovizioso briefly hold the top times. The Mallorcan had come up short against Pedrosa during the earlier practice sessions, citing acceleration issues, and is optimistic that he can further improve his pace if he and his team can correct some additional issues with the rear tire and chatter.
“We made a very good lap at the end of the session with the new ‘qualifying’ tire,” said Lorenzo. “In the middle of the practice we struggled a little bit because we had a bit of chattering and the rear tire wasn’t working as well as it had been in the morning session. We need to still work a little on our pace as it’s not extremely good yet but we have some options for tomorrow. Let’s see what happens, it’s going to be a long race in difficult conditions.”
Pedrosa also struggled with chatter during the session and is hoping the issue will soon be resolved.
“It was hard because we had a lot of chattering this afternoon and it was very difficult to get a clean lap as in some areas the bike was chattering too much, even in the straight,” said Pedrosa. “Nevertheless, we managed to get on the front row again and the second position is good. The pace is high and after missing FP2 yesterday because of the mixed conditions, this morning we've been working hard on the race pace.”
Andrea Dovizioso earned a front-row start and hopes to keep pace with Lorenzo and Pedrosa during Sunday's race.
Dovizioso has continued to improve his bike’s performance over the weekend so far, adapting to the slick track during qualifying to put in laps which would have him running in position to battle for a podium finish in the main event. Sporadic rain showers have made track conditions inconsistent through the practice and qualifying sessions and could drastically affect the race if declared wet, since none of the riders on the grid have been able to test on a full wet track.
“I am very close to Lorenzo and Dani and my goal will be to stay with them for as long as possible tomorrow,” said Dovizioso. “With more rain earlier it meant the track was quite slippery, but normally when that is the case I am very fast and again today I have proved that. Hopefully it will be a dry race tomorrow but if it is raining then it will be the same for everybody and nobody has an advantage because we haven't tested on a full wet track.”
Pedrosa’s teammate Casey Stoner
narrowly missed the front row, qualifying in fourth position. The Australian rider ran into trouble with braking and a few other issues, leaving him frustrated that he’s not yet reached his full potential on track for the round. His physical condition remains a sticking point as well, since he’s uncertain how he will hold up over the course of an entire race.
“It's been a really disappointing weekend, but especially today,” said Stoner. “We've had pace all weekend and the first session looked promising but we've had problems with the brakes and some other small issues. Every step we take to try and improve the bike, we make it worse and it's becoming very frustrating. Our potential is much higher than where we are currently at and now we go into the race without any real direction. Physically I'm not sure how I am going to be as we haven't been able to complete many laps this weekend, our pace is there and I just hope that we can make some small improvements in tomorrow's warm up.”
Nicky Hayden was just one rider among many dealing with chatter during qualifying at Sepang.
Dovizioso’s teammate Cal Crutchlow
trailed Stoner in fifth and posted a flying lap 0.844 off the lead pace set by Lorenzo. Yamaha’s Ben Spies
finished the day in sixth, just a fraction of a second behind the Tech 3 rider. Pramac Racing’s Hector Barbera
heads up the third row with LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl and Ducati’s Nicky Hayden
sitting in seventh and eighth respectively.
Bradl and Hayden were both hindered by chatter as well, with Hayden commenting afterward that “I had so much chatter that both of my hands are still tingling.”
Bradl’s situation was no better because even after attempting to solve the issue, there seemed to be no suitable solution to the chatter problem.
“Today’s qualifying was extremely tough for us because we did not improve our set up before the afternoon session,” said Bradl. “This morning we have tried to find the right way to reduce the chattering because I could not enter the corner and we are losing too much in the middle of the corner and we are struggling to find the solution because we never had such a big chatter issue in the past. In these conditions I do not have enough confidence and this cost me a lot of time that’s why I am too slow in those areas.”
San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista
rounds out the top-10. He crashed late in the session and was unable to push for a higher position on the grid. Luckily he was uninjured in the incident, but his bike was left needing significant attention. Hayden’s teammate Valentino Rossi
placed 11th and struggled with tire choice and chatter thorough qualifying.
Leading the CRT field is Aleix Espargaro of Power Electronics Aspar in 12th, followed by his teammate Randy de Puniet in 13th.
MotoGP Sepang Qualifying 2012:
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2’00.334
2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2’00.528
3. Andrea Dovizioso (Yamah) 2’00.567
4. Casey Stoner (Honda) 2’00.811
5. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 2’01.178
6. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 2’01.185
7. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 2’01.294
8. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 2’01.491
9. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 2’01.526
10. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 2’01.640
11. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 2’01.783
12. Aleix Espargaro (ART) 2’02.842
13. Randy de Puniet (ART) 2’03.389
14. Karel Abraham (Ducati) 2’03.774
15. Michele Pirro (FTR) 2’04.152
16. James Ellison (ART) 2’04.515
17. Danilo Petrucci (Ioda-Suter) 2’04.726
18. Colin Edwards (Suter) 2’04.941
19. Roberto Rolfo (ART) 2’05.100
20. Ivan Silva (BQR) 2’05.921