Jorge Lorenzo has cast doubt on his Malaysian MotoGP victory hopes after he was easily beaten by Fiat Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi in today’s qualifying session.
Lorenzo was struggling to post competitive times on Bridgestone’s harder compound rear race tyre in hot temperatures today, the Spaniard ending qualifying a massive 0.569s adrift of Rossi.
Lorenzo, who is the only rider still mathematically capable of defeating Rossi to the 2009 world title, blamed set-up issues for his failure to get closer to the 30-year-old, who was in scintillating form to clock the fastest motorcycle lap ever recorded at Sepang.
Lorenzo eventually clocked a best time of 2.01.087 on his last lap using the slightly softer Bridgestone rear race tyre option. That secured him second on the grid ahead of Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa and 2007 world champion Casey Stoner.
But the 22-year-old was not satisfied with his pace, particularly on race rubber and he said: “It hasn’t been a very good day for us, especially with the race tyre. At the end of the practice we made a good fast lap with the soft tyre, but with the hard one we were quite slow.
"We just don't have the same levels of grip and confidence that we had before and it's hard to understand why. We didn't make the step we expected and we are lacking pace compared to our rivals. We started very well yesterday, but it seems every time we touch the bike a little bit, it feels worse. We have something to try in the warm-up to be better and maybe it’s possible to do a podium.”
Lorenzo starts tomorrow’s 21-lap race a massive 38-points adrift of Rossi and he said he would only try and fight for the victory in the final two rounds, with his championship prospects ruined by a first corner crash in Australia last weekend.
He added: “Unfortunately I crashed a lot of times this year, so the championship is almost finished. But I would like to fight for the win tomorrow and in Valencia.”