MOTEGI, JAPAN, OCT 13 - Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo stole the pole position for Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix by setting the fastest lap by a motorcycle around the Twin Ring Motegi in final qualifying on a cooling Saturday afternoon.
Lorenzo was down in fourth when the final minute started behind Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa, Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Cal Crutchlow, and teammate Ben Spies. Spies took himself out of pole contention with a crash in the hairpin as time was running out. Neither Pedrosa nor Crutchlow had anything at the end. Crutchlow's bike developed what he called a "massive vibration," denying him his first pole position. Instead he'll start third, on the podium for the sixth time this year.
"I was disappointed not to get pole," Crutchlow said. "I think this was a good opportunity, but we had something broken on the bike it seems we don't know what it is. We need to look into the data"
Lorenzo saved everything for the end. The world championship leader was ahead at all three splits and blazed across the line with a new qualifying record of 1:44.969 mins. after time had expired. Repsol Honda's Casey Stoner had set the previous qualifying record of 1:45.267 mins. last year.
"Yeah, the session has been really, really quick," Lorenzo said. "Everyone, every fast rider went very fast. And I made 45.3, but I wasn't in pole position. I imagine I was in pole position, but I was in fourth. So I had push maximum, more than 100% on the last lap to make pole position.
"So really happy with the pole, with the performance on the bike, with the pace I have. And I think tomorrow is going to be a very interesting race."
The pole was Lorenzo's sixth and taken with some cushion. Second fastest Pedrosa was .246 sec. behind with Crutchlow third, another .042 secs. back.
Lorenzo goes into Sunday's 15th round of the MotoGP World Championship with a 33 point cushion on Pedrosa.
"It was a difficult session for me, because I had many problems during the session, especially with the chattering," Pedrosa said. "I couldn't find out the way to get away with that and it was all the time in and out of the pits. I didn't really do many laps on track and towards the end I was not so good in the standing, so I had to push any way.
"I did my best out of the situation, so finally second place is good. Just hoping to get better for tomorrow and not to have this chattering."
By falling on the last lap Spies killed his chances of being on the front row. Instead he'll start fourth on the row two pole. Next to him are two satellite machines, San Carlo Honda Gresini's Alvaro Bautista and Andrea Dovizioso on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 bike.
Repsol Honda's Stoner qualified seventh fastest in his return to the grand prix field. Stoner's lap time was a 1:45.745.
A tenth slower was LCR Honda MotoGP's Stefan Bradl, the Germany rookie who crashed early in the session. And another tenth back was Valentino Rossi on the first of the Ducati Marlboro machines. Teammate Nicky Hayden was just behind in the order, but half a second slower and nearly 1.5 secs. behind Lorenzo.
Motegi MotoGP Qualifying Results:
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:44.969
2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:45.215
3. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1:45.257
4. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1:45.336
5. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1:45.481
6. Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha) 1:45.612
7. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1:45.745
8. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1:45.848
9. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1:45.976
10. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:46.461
16. Colin Edwards (Suter-BMW) 1:48.125