Jorge Lorenzo surprised by Casey Stoner’s home race pace

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Jorge Lorenzo might be standing on the brink of his second MotoGP world title, but his hopes of capturing the crown from the top step of the podium seem extremely remote, despite qualifying in second position on the grid at Phillip Island earlier today.

The Spaniard has written off his chances of defeating home favourite Casey Stoner after the Australian blitzed to a stunning pole position in front a massive crowd at a cool and cloudy Phillip Island.

Stoner bounced back from an early crash at Turn 4 to score his first pole position since the Sachsenring race in Germany back in July.

His best lap of 1.29.623 put him a commanding 0.517s clear of Lorenzo, though the gap was smaller than in practice when the Repsol Honda rider decimated the field by close to a second.

Lorenzo’s best lap of 1.30.140 put him 0.435s ahead of Repsol Honda rival Dani Pedrosa, and if the race result is a repeat of today’s qualifying then Lorenzo will be crowned world champion.

The factory Yamaha rider starts the 27-lap race with a 23-point lead over his compatriot and Lorenzo will focus solely on Pedrosa, with Stoner virtually unbeatable on the fast and flowing Phillip Island track.

Stoner is seeking a sixth straight win in his final appearance in front of his loyal home support and Lorenzo said: “We know it will be difficult to fight with Casey here but I was really surprised with his pace. He is going really fast. It seems his injury is not holding him back and he is one step ahead. In qualifying we closed the gap to 0.5s. I am getting closer to my goal, which is the championship, but I must keep calm tomorrow. Second place in qualifying is really important for the race for a good start and arrive in Turn One in a good position to try and stay with Casey for as many laps as possible. But Casey is really on another planet here. He’s riding so comfortably, sliding a lot and full throttle always so it’s very difficult to be with him.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt