Catalunya MotoGP: Jorge Lorenzo takes third successive pole
Jorge Lorenzo stormed to his third successive pole position at the end of a thrilling MotoGP qualifying session at a scorching hot Catalunya circuit this afternoon.
The Spaniard, who is aiming for a fifth win in seven races in tomorrow’s 25-lap race, secured pole with a brilliant performance on Bridgestone’s soft compound tyre.
In a thrilling finish to the session, Lorenzo first jumped to the top of the timesheets with nine minutes remaining.
He briefly lost top spot to Casey Stoner in the final three minutes but the Fiat Yamaha rider surged back to the top with a lap of 1.42.292 to put the 23-year-old 0.118s clear of the Australian.
And Lorenzo, who holds a commanding 47-point lead over bitter Spanish rival Dani Pedrosa going into tomorrow’s race, went faster again on his last lap to clock a best of 1.42.046.
That put him 0.364s clear of Stoner, who starts from the front row of the grid for the fourth time this season.
Stoner seemed to struggle for speed on the hard compound Bridgestone rear tyre and was fighting to get himself in the top six at one stage.
But a lap of 1.42.410 helped him secure his best grid position since he was on pole in the season’s opening race at Qatar back in April.
Stoner, who has yet to win a race in 2010, took second from Randy de Puniet.
The French rider continued his superb form to claim his third successive front row start. The LCR Honda led the way for long periods of the session but secured his third place with a last flying lap of 1.42.512. That was just 0.102s behind Stoner as de Puniet was once again the top non-factory rider.
His late attack cost Dani Pedrosa a front row start in his home race. The Repsol Honda rider jumped to third with just over a minute remaining. But his best time of 1.42.592 was just 0.080s slower than former factory Kawasaki rider de Puniet.
Ben Spies was fifth quickest with a best time of 1.42.710 and that was less than two tenths away from equalling his best MotoGP qualifying result achieved in the Dutch TT at Assen eight days ago.
Andrea Dovizioso’s long quest for a MotoGP front row continues as he had to settle for sixth place with Loris Capirossi taking seventh on the factory Suzuki GSV-R.
1. Jorge Lorenzo ESP Fiat Yamaha Team 1m 42.046s
2. Casey Stoner AUS Ducati Marlboro Team 1m 42.410s
3. Randy de Puniet FRA LCR Honda MotoGP 1m 42.512s
4. Dani Pedrosa ESP Repsol Honda Team 1m 42.592s
5. Ben Spies USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1m 42.710s
6. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Repsol Honda Team 1m 42.866s
7. Loris Capirossi ITA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1m 42.903s
8. Aleix Espargaro ESP Pramac Racing 1m 42.931s
9. Marco Simoncelli ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini 1m 42.994s
10. Alvaro Bautista ESP Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1m 43.025s
11. Colin Edwards USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1m 43.059s
12. Nicky Hayden USA Ducati Marlboro Team 1m 43.068s
13. Hector Barbera ESP Paginas Amarillas Aspar 1m 43.417s
14. Marco Melandri ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini 1m 43.621s
15. Mika Kallio FIN Pramac Racing 1m 43.685s
16. Kousuke Akiyoshi JPN Interwetten Honda MotoGP 1m 45.577s
17. Wataru Yoshikawa JPN Fiat Yamaha Team 1m 45.759s