Fiat Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo wasn't even a factor in yesterday's practice runs at Motegi, the site of tomorrow's Japanese Grand Prix. But today was a different story as the young Spaniard jumped to the top of the time sheets to grab pole position for tomorrow's MotoGP.
The pole was Lorenzo's fourth of his rookie season.
"I’m so happy for this pole position because this is how I started my season and it shows that we are returning to how we were," Lorenzo said. "It’s the first pole since Portugal, when I won, and we have had a hard time since then until the last two podiums so this is a great satisfaction for me. I was able to ride so fast all day today, a big improvement from yesterday, and my Michelin tyres worked so well all day so thank you to them. My team have done a great job to set the bike up and this is a fantastic qualifying for us. It’s not the race so now we have to wait for tomorrow, but we’re starting in the best place so I am looking forward to having a great race.”
The battle for pole, as always, came down to the final minutes of the afternoon session with Lorenzo nailing down a 1:45.543 in the final seconds to hold off Marlboro Ducati's Casey Stoner, the Australian set to start from the front row for thre ninth consecutive race.
Repsol Honda's Nicky Hayden will complete row one, the Kentuckian making it two Michelin men on the front row as the French rubber-shod riders flanked Stoner and his Bridgestones.
World Championship leader Valentino Rossi will head the second row, the Italian trying to wrap up the 2008 title in tomorrow's race.
Hayden's teammate Dani Pedrosa will start next to Rossi with Rizla Suzuki's Loris Capirossi joining those two on the second row. Capirossi has won the past three races at Motegi.
Texan Colin Edwards, Randy de Puniet and Shinya Nakano make up the third row for the A-Style Grand Prix of Japan.