Yamaha Factory Racing rider Jorge Lorenzo made his 2012 intentions clear tonight scoring a scorching pole position at the Losail circuit for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Qatar. The 2010 World Champion was on top form, pushing his YZR-M1 to the limit, taking full advantage of Bridgestone’s softer compound tyre to put himself 0.221 seconds clear of second place rider Casey Stoner. Lorenzo was also delighted to be joined on the front row by fellow Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow.
Teammate Ben Spies had also been delivering impressively quick laps on the softer tyre and was on target for a front row start until a fall minutes from the end of the session. The Texan was unhurt and walked away but had to settle for fourth and a second row start for tomorrow’s race with a best lap time of 1’55.512, 0.878 from pole.
Position 1st – Time 1.56.634 – Laps 23
“I am really happy with tonight’s result. I had to push more than 100% to make pole position but I pushed to the limit and managed to make a perfect lap. We still have to improve the power on the straight and our maximum speed but in the rest of the track the bike is working really well. Tomorrow will be a tough race and tyres will be very important I think. A big thank you to Yamaha and my team for giving me such a good bike!”
Position 4th – Time 1.55.512 – Laps 20
“We were on a good lap until the crash, I just lost the front. I’ve been complaining the last couple of days that the front end just didn’t have the right feeling that I wanted. As I was trying to get away from the bike when I was sliding something got caught up and I went with it. I was looking at the front wheel for a while and thought about trying to get back on when I couldn’t get away from it! We’ll try to make the bike better now, I know if we can fix it we can be up front. The M1 is clearly going round the track fast and I feel good on it apart from that. We’ve got some good ideas to try in warm up so we’ll see.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“A fantastic start to the season, last year we struggled many times to qualify well. Jorge delivered a great pole and was over two tenths quicker than Casey which is impressive. We have a good feeling and we’re looking forward to tomorrow to see what we can do.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“There’s no better way to start the season than starting from pole, Jorge put in a really impressive lap. Despite the crash Ben managed to keep fourth place on the grid, second row is not so bad. We’ll work a bit more tonight to try to fix one area with the front and in the warm up we hope to get the feeling we are looking for. If all that comes together we have all the conditions for a good race.”
Crutchlow lights up Losail with maiden MotoGP front row
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Cal Crutchlow lit up the Losail International Circuit tonight by storming to a sensational place on the front row of the grid for the opening round of the new 1000cc MotoGP World Championship.
After finishing in a fantastic second position in practice last night, the 26-year-old delivered superbly when the pressure was on in the decisive final moments of qualifying to come close to snatching a dramatic pole position.
The British rider, whose previous best qualifying result was sixth position in 2011, was in contention for the front row throughout an incident-packed 60-minute session.
The former World Supersport champion was able to reel off fast and consistent times on the hard compound Bridgestone rear tyre in race trim before commencing his attack on soft tyres in the final 20 minutes.
A stunning lap of 1.55.505 rocketed him into second position and at that stage he was just 0.090s behind reigning World Champion Casey Stoner. He briefly dropped back to third as Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo upped their pace, but Crutchlow wasn’t finished and he pushed his YZR-M1 1000cc to the limit to set an inspired lap of 1.55.022. That was only 0.029s off pole position in the closing stages and by the end of the session he was third, almost 0.5s clear of Ben Spies in fourth and only 0.388s away from Lorenzo’s impressive pole time of 1.54.634.
Andrea Dovizioso played a major part in helping Yamaha enjoy a brilliant first qualifying session in the new 1000cc era, with the Italian sixth quickest. All four Yamaha YZR-M1 machines were inside the top six.
Dovizioso secured his place on the second row of the grid thanks to a competitive time of 1.55.857, although changes to the set-up his YZR-M1 machine didn’t deliver the improve performance he had been expecting on soft tyres. The 26-year-old was still able to lap consistently inside the top six on both hard and soft compound Bridgestone tyres and he is confident he will be in the podium hunt in the 22-lap race.
Position 2nd – Time 1.55.022 – Laps 22
“I’m really happy and I think we can go into the race now with a lot more confidence. It is a great feeling to be on the front row with Casey and Jorge because everybody is aware of how fast they are. It has felt like a long time coming to get a result like this but this is a fantastic reward for all the effort my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew put in over the winter. They worked with me a lot to help me learn how to ride in MotoGP and tonight is a great pay-off. I’m happy with my performance but fair play to Jorge because he did a phenomenal job and that’s an awesome lap time. But I always knew what I could do once we started putting the soft tyres in and I thought I’d have a crack at the front row. The big positive aside from my first front row in MotoGP is my race pace is going to be good enough to finish in the top six and that remains my goal. There’s no doubt we are getting the absolute maximum out of the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 package and all I will do tomorrow night is try my best. I’d say per lap I am three or four-tenths off the pa ce Casey and Jorge are capable of, but that’s a lot better than what it was last year.”
Position 6th – Time 1.55.858 – Laps 25
“Tonight didn’t go as well as I had hoped but it was a part of the learning process that we need to go through to improve for the future. I’m not going to be disappointed to finish sixth but I think we were a little bit unlucky tonight. I was a little bit inexperienced with the bike in the crucial final minutes of qualifying and we need to build a better understanding between the team and myself. But that is completely normal and we know we will get better. We made a modification to the bike from last night and unfortunately it didn’t give us the improvement we had anticipated, particularly with the soft tyres. I’m sure that for the race we will be quite a bit faster by switching back to the set -up of last night. I’m still full of optimism because my race pace on the hard tyres is not so far away from Lorenzo, but it is vital to start from as close to the front as possible because I think the tyres will lose grip quite quickly. The key will be to ride smooth to save the tyres and then we will see what happens in the final stages of the race.”
2012 MotoGP Qatar
Losail Circuit 07/04/2012
1 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 1’54.634
2 Casey Stoner Honda AUS 1’54.885
3 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 1’55.022
4 Ben Spies Yamaha USA 1’55.512
5 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 1’55.637
6 Andrea Dovizioso Yamaha ITA 1’55.858
7 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 1’55.905
8 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 1’55.983
9 Stefan Bradl Honda GER 1’56.063
10 Karel Abraham Ducati CZE 1’56.198
11 Alvaro Bautista Suzuki ESP 1’56.521
12 Valentino Rossi Ducati ITA 1’56.813
13 Colin Edwards Suter USA 1’57.644
14 Randy De Puniet ART FRA 1’58.266
15 Aleix Espargaro ART ESP 1’58.520
(Casey Stoner, 01/01/2009)
Fastest Lap Ever:
(Jorge Lorenzo, 09/03/2008)
Last Years Winner: