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Jorge Lorenzo very much laid down the gauntlet by storming to his 50th pole position for Sunday’s Japanese MotoGP. The championship leader beat title rival Dani Pedrosa as Britain’s Cal Crutchlow returned from below par practice sessions to seize a front row slot. Casey Stoner will start seventh on his return from injury.
Pedrosa had set the pace throughout practice and seemed the likely contender for the top spot, but Lorenzo responded brilliantly with a lap time which breaks the track record: 1:44.969. Crutchlow was more than happen with his seventh front row start of the year, not least as the Coventry-born rider narrowly escaped a large accident.
Row 2 is the exciting combination of Ben Spies on the second Yamaha from Álvaro Bautista and Andrea Dovizioso for Gresini and Tech 3, respectively. Stoner had certainly desired more but was left to lament being eight tenths of a second off the leading pace, heading up Stefan Bradl and Valentino Rossi on the third row.
“I’ve been really fast all weekend with very good pace, but ten minutes to the end of qualifying I thought I was doing a very good lap but was only in sixth position!" Lorenzo admitted.
"I didn’t understand how the other riders were going so fast. I needed to push a bit more and on the second to last lap I made a mistake, so on the last lap I had my last chance. I made it so I’m very happy, but of course the important thing is the race.”
Having led the CRT runners all weekend-long, there was no change in fortunes for Aleix Espargaró whose Aspar will come from 13th on the grid and just one place in front of team-mate Randy de Puniet. Behind, there were crashes for Michele Pirro, James Ellison and Karel Abraham from which all were able to walk away.
Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix starts at 2pm local time (BST +8)
Yamaha Factory Racing
|2.||D. Pedrosa||Repsol Honda||01:45.215||24|
|3.||C. Crutchlow||Tech 3||01:45.257||23|
|6.||A. Dovizioso||Tech 3||01:45.612||22|
|7.||C. Stoner||Repsol Honda||01:45.745||20|
|8.||S. Bradl||LCR Honda||01:45.848||23|
|Yamaha Factory Racing|
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|2012 Japanese MotoGP Grand Prix|
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|3 May||Lorenzo stays ahead in second practice|
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|19 May||Latest MotoGP photos: Sunday at Le Mans|
|19 May||Pedrosa takes second win of the season|
|18 May||Latest MotoGP photos: Saturday at Le Mans|
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|More Jorge Lorenzo photos|