Jorge Lorenzo secured his third successive pole position with a stunning late attack in qualifying at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia this afternoon.
The Spaniard produced two blistering laps at the end of the 60-minute session to finish with a best time of 2.00.334 that put him 0.194s clear of title rival Dani Pedrosa.
The factory Yamaha rider will now be hoping for a different outcome than the previous two races that he has started pole position from at the Motorland Aragon and Twin Ring Motegi.
The 2010 world champion has led both but been unable to match Pedrosa’s speed in the second half of the race and the Repsol Honda rider starts tomorrow’s 20-lap race looking to further cut into Lorenzo’s 28-point advantage in the title hunt.
Pedrosa’s best lap of 2.00.528 saw him take second from Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Andrea Dovizioso by just 0.039s.
Italian Dovizioso’s best lap of 2.00.567 secured him a third front row start of the campaign and sixth in a row for the French-based Tech 3 squad.
Casey Stoner missed out on what would have been a terrific front row by just 0.244s. The Aussie is still lacking strength and movement in the right ankle he badly damaged in Indianapolis but his best lap of 2.00.811 put him fourth.
Cal Crutchlow, who was hunting a fifth consecutive front row start, will start from the middle of the second row after his last lap of 2.01.178 moved him ahead of factory Yamaha rival Ben Spies by just 0.007s.
It was another tough day for Valentino Rossi, who has won six races at Sepang in his career.
The Italian crashed on his first flying lap in this morning’s final practice session when he lost the front of his Ducati GP12 at the first corner. The nine-times world champion got as high as seventh in qualifying but eventually dropped back to a lowly 11th.
Rossi’s best time of 2.01.783 left him 1.449s off the best pace.
British rider James Ellison will start from 16th on the grid after he set a best time of 2.04.515 on his Paul Bird Motorsport ART machine.