MONTMELO, SPAIN, JULY 2: World Championship leader Jorge Lorenzo continued on his torrid run with the fastest time in Friday qualifying for Sunday's Catalunya Grand Prix north of Barcelona.On a day when temperatures reached nearly 100 degrees, and track temperatures soared, the Fiat Yamaha-riding Majorcan was at his best. He went to the top of the order in the fifth and ninth minutes, before settling in with a fast lap on the 14th. About five minutes later, Ducati Marlboro's Casey Stoner was almost suddenly on top.Stoner was languishing almost at the bottom of the 17-rider field - only two older Japanese test riders were slower - until he fired out of the garage with less than 20 minutes to run.His first flying lap shot him from 15th to ninth, then on the next lap from ninth to first. The next two laps Stoner lowered his lap time, but it wouldn't be enough.Just past the halfway mark in the 60-minute session, Lorenzo went to the top with a lap of 1:43.405. He lowered it on each of his next two laps, finishing with a best of 1:43.259 with over 24 minutes remaining.Stoner upped his pace with about 13 minutes to run, turning a pair of fast laps, the second of which came within .153 of a second of Lorenzo, but no closer.Lorenzo has tomorrow morning's practice and Saturday qualifying to match his pole time of 1:41.974 from last year."Today was a good practice," Lorenzo said after setting his time on the harder Bridgestone rear tire. "We went very fast suddenly. Maybe I expected to improve more my lap time at the end, but we couldn't because the rear tire was quite old at the end and was sliding a lot, so we couldn't make '42. So for tomorrow my target is to ride in 42-high in some laps and I think if we can get this time we will be quite prepared."Is the most spinning tarmac, most sliding tarmac for sure. We don't have so much grip and the rear tire is always sliding and spinning. But you know, for everyone I think. Everyone has more or less the same problem."Fastest time was after 36 minutes. Surprised no one went faster.Yeah, because I think everyone are with the same tire. They didn't put the same tire and there was so much heat and the tires were sliding. It was difficult to improve the previous lap times.Asked if he could match his pole time from 2009, he was confident. "The lap time will be there in the pole position," he said. "We will work on the rear a little bit. We must find a setting to bring us more constant lap times, because after five laps the rear tire drops a little bitsRepsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa was an early third in his home race. The Spaniard, whose family roots are in Sabadell, about 12 miles away, is hoping to make amends after not being in full health at last year's race.Italian Andrea Dovizioso put the second Repsol Honda fourth, a tenth slower than Pedrosa and a little faster than Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Ben Spies. Spies had also been near the bottom of the time sheets for much of the hour before a late session burst sent him up to fifth. The time 1:43.854 looks good on paper, but it was his only lap in the 43s after spending most of the session in the mid to low-1:45s.Pramac Racing's Aleix Espargaro (Ducati) was sixth fastest, and top Ducati until Stoner's run, with Frenchman Randy de Puniet a close seventh on the LCR Honda.Ducati Marlboro's Nicky Hayden leapt up the order near the end of the session to take the eighth fastest time. Like Stoner, Hayden struggled early in the session and took a bit longer to get up to speed. Hayden lapped in the 1:46s and 1:45s until his final two runs when he dipped into the 1:44s. His final lap of 1:44.440 was his best.Hayden was followed in the order by Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini), the last rider in the top 10.

Results:

1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:43.259

2. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1:43.412

3. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:43.631

4. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:43.725

5. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1:43.854

6. Aleix Espargaro (Ducati) 1:44.136

7. Randy de Puniet (Honda) 1:44.196

8. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:44.440

9. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:44.551

10. Marco Simoncelli (Honda) 1:44.634

MotoGP Headlines

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.

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