MotoGP: Lorenzo gearing up for flag-to-flag win?

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Jorge Lorenzo broke his own 2016 pole lap record at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli in an adrenaline-fuelled qualifying on the Adriatic, searing around the venue in a 1:31.629 to lower his own fastest lap time and secure Ducati’s first pole at the venue since 2008. Jack Miller put in a stunner at his team’s home race to take second and qualify as top independent rider, with Maverick Viñales locking out the front row after a last lunge for the front.

One key name missing from that trio is Marc Marquez, top qualifier this season so far, who did not make it onto the front row after crashing. Lorenzo’s ominous form was certainly a key headline but the drama for the Championship leader lit up the session. Crashing on his second run in a relatively fast lowside, the Repsol Honda rider was straight to his feet without pause for thought and sprinting to get a lift back to the pits. Once back in the paddock on the back of a scooter, he hit the ground running again to run through his Repsol Honda garage from front to back, straight back on his other machine and heading back out again.

The first sector looked like it might it be possible to still end up on pole as it lit up red, but the reigning champion then lost some time and it wasn’t to be. So he’ll line up fifth – his worst qualifying in the premier class at the venue – and he’ll have some serious company in the form of Andrea Dovizioso, who’s just alongside him in fourth.

Behind Dovizioso and Marquez, Cal Crutchlow was sixth and completes the second row, suffering a low-drama crash near the end of the session. And the Brit broke some local hearts, with Valentino Rossi pushed down to head up the third row.

Rossi has had a weekend of ups and downs so far at his home venue, just making it into that all-important top ten on Friday and continuing to work hard on Saturday to get race ready. In qualifying the rider from Tavullia was hovering around the second row, before just losing out in that last-minute shuffle. Row three is completed by last year’s podium finisher Danilo Petrucci and fellow independent rider Johann Zarco.

Alex Rins was tenth fastest and top Hamamatsu machine after teammate Andrea Iannone just failed to make it through to Q2 – he starts 13th – with two-time Misano winner Dani Pedrosa in 11th. Franco Morbidelli completes the top 12. Behind Iannone, wildcard compatriot Michele Pirro took 14th after a crash hampered his chances in Q1, and Alvaro Bautista completed the top 15.

Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer