MotoGP world championship leader Jorge Lorenzo claimed his fourth successive pole position of the season in Germany today after a dramatic qualifying session at the Sachsenring circuit.
Less than four minutes of the session remained when the Fiat Yamaha rider surged to the top of the timesheets with a best lap of 1.21.817 that deposed compatriot Dani Pedrosa.
Lorenzo’s best time was good enough to fend off a late rally from Australian rider Casey Stoner.
Stoner looked like he was going to claim his first pole position since the opening round of the campaign in Qatar when he was faster than Lorenzo in the second and third sections of the tight and twisty circuit.
But he came across Colin Edwards and lost precious time and missed out on pole position by just 0.024s. The 2007 world champion ended with a best time of 1.21.841.
Pedrosa was third to claim his first front row start since last month’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Lorenzo might have set himself up for a sixth win in eight races tomorrow but he was involved in the major talking point of the session after he innocently instigated a dramatic chain of events with 26 minutes remaining.
The Spaniard had just cut leader Pedrosa’s advantage to under two-tenths-of-a-second when his factory Yamaha YZR-M1 suffered a spectacular engine blow-up on the start/finish straight.
Flames burst out of the side of his bike and slow motion TV replays picked up oil being dropped all over the track as the Spaniard cruised to pull off track before the tight first corner.
The incident then involved the luckless American Ben Spies and French rider Randy de Puniet.
Spies was first into the braking zone and he had no chance to keep control of his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 as he hit Lorenzo’s oil trail.
The Texan was lucky as just seconds later de Puniet’s LCR Honda came flying into the gravel tap after the 29-year-old also crashed out. The former factory Kawasaki rider struck Spies’ stricken YZR-M1 as he hurtled through the gravel trap.
He was immediately grimacing in pain and TV pictures later showed him struggling to remove his right boot in the LCR Honda garage.
He was unable to restart the session and ended up seventh fastest with a best time of 1.22.610. He has been declared fit to start tomorrow’s 30-lap race after medical checks at the Sachsenring circuit.
Spies was fit enough to return to his spare YZR-M1 machine and he ended with the 13th quickest time. He logged a best of 1.23.028 to finish just 1.211s off pole position and less than three-hundredths-of-a-second outside the top ten.
Reigning world champion Valentino Rossi will start his comeback race from fifth on the grid after an impressive performance on his factory YZR-M1.
The Italian, who only broke his right leg six weeks ago today in a practice crash at Mugello, was outside of the top ten for the opening half of the session before he upped his pace.
He was as high as fourth with 27 minutes remaining and he eventually posted a best time of 1.22.395 that saw him finish just behind compatriot Andrea Dovizioso.
The big surprise of the session was Spanish rookie Hector Barbera. He’d never qualified in the top ten in the opening seven races but a lap of 1.22.454 put him one place nine-times world champion Rossi in sixth.