Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo left it until the last minute this afternoon to clinch a sensational pole position start for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Japan at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit. The Championship leader was the first rider to break under the 1’47 second mark but was quickly followed by a number of rivals all pushing the lap times down. Provisional pole was repeatedly taken from one rider to another with Lorenzo waiting until the last moment with his last lap to deliver an unbeatable 1’44.969 to take pole position. The lap is a new pole record for the track and makes the 50th pole of his career.
Fellow Yamaha Factory rider Ben Spies was also on top form this afternoon, echoing his teammate’s pace to join the front three riders scrapping for pole position. Just after mid-way through the session the Texan was on provisional pole nearly half a second clear of the pack. As the final minutes passed a front row looked definite and a Factory one-two a real possibility until a small mistake dropped him to fourth on the grid, just 0.367 from pole.
Position 1st – Time: 1’44.969 – Laps 26
“I’ve been really fast all weekend with a very good pace but in qualifying, ten minutes to the end I thought I was making a very good lap but I was in sixth position! I didn’t understand how the other riders were going so fast. I needed to push a bit more, in the second to last lap I made a mistake so in 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 tomorrow.”
Position 4th – Time: 1’45.336 – Laps 24
“It was a good session for us, we made a small mistake at the end but the pace of the bike is good. By the time we got to the third rear tyre the front was a little bit past the limit but we were still pushing because I thought we could get on the front row. On the second tyre I made a small mistake on the hot lap which is a shame because I think that lap could have been close to pole, definitely the front row anyway and maybe a Factory Yamaha one-two. Fourth is good though as we now have a starting position so I’ll give it my best for a good start and get on the back of the guys and see what we can do.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“A great qualifying, pole is very important. It was a very intense session. There were a lot of pole position changes at the end and we dropped a few places. For Jorge to come back and do that lap in the last minute was very exciting. The team has worked really hard this weekend to deliver a really competitive bike from the start.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“There’s no better way to start the race than from pole, especially at a Honda circuit. Jorge made an impressive lap, he had a good rhythm then the last lap was amazing. Unfortunately Ben fell during what was possibly his best lap. Anyway he has a good feeling and is satisfied with the bike set up and tyres so I think it’s going to be a really interesting race.”
Crutchlow secures front row after fantastic qualifying for Yamaha
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Cal Crutchlow stormed to the front row of the grid for the fourth race in succession after a dramatic conclusion to today’s MotoGP qualifying session at the Twin Ring Motegi track in Japan.
After two difficult practice sessions yesterday, Crutchlow brilliantly capitalised on overnight set-up tweaks that transformed the performance of his YZR-M1 machine to battle for pole position throughout a thrilling qualifying session.
The 26-year-old thought he had secured a stunning maiden MotoGP pole position when he surged to the top of the timesheets with a lap of 1.45.257. That lap time was confirmation of the fantastic set-up work carried out by his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew, with Crutchlow’s pace almost 1.2s quicker than his practice benchmark.
Crutchlow eventually secured third position on the grid and when he lines up for tomorrow’s 24-lap race, it will be the sixth time in 2012 that he will do so from the front row. And today’s result was further proof of Crutchlow’s qualifying prowess, with the 2009 World Supersport sharing the front row with dominant Spanish duo Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa for the fourth race in a row.
Andrea Dovizioso remains optimistic that he will be a leading protagonist in tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Japan after he qualified on the second row in sixth.
The Italian was fourth fastest after practice and confident that he could challenge for a place on the front row, but he lost precious time on track after encountering excessive front brake disc temperature that required a mid-session change.
Dovizioso ended the session with a best lap of 1.45.612 to complete an impressive qualifying performance from Yamaha in its crucial home race. Four YZR-M1 machines will start tomorrow’s action from inside the top six, once again demonstrating the fantastic work carried out by Yamaha’s technical staff in the inaugural 1000cc MotoGP World Championship.
Position 3rd – Time: 1’45.257 – Laps 23
“I am really happy to be on the front row again and I have to say a big thanks to my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew because they did an amazing job to improve the bike from yesterday. In the first two practice sessions I was struggling just to make it inside the top 10 and today I was fighting for pole position, so my team did a great job. I’m actually a bit disappointed not to get my first pole position because I felt today was a good opportunity to get it. I was fast right from the start of the session and I felt much more confident with the hard rear tyre, so that is a big bonus for the race. To be honest though I am not sure whether to race the hard or the soft rear tyre. I haven’t made a final decision yet and maybe I’ll have to flip a coin. The pleasing aspect today is that I am not only fast but I’m also consistent, so hopefully I’ll be in the podium fight tomorrow, which would be a great way to start this busy period to the end of the Championship. It is great to see the YZR-M1 so competitive here in Japan, so hopefully all four of us can put on a good show for the Yamaha fans tomorrow.”
Position 6th – Time: 1’45.612 – Laps 22
“I have been very fast and strong in practice, so I have to say I am a little disappointed to only qualify in sixth place. I had a few issues this afternoon but the main one was the front brake discs were overheating. There are so many really severe braking points at this track that the disc temperature is the highest of the Championship. We had to change the discs during the session and that cost me some time. That could play a very important role in tomorrow’s race because we have to do 24 laps consecutively at full race speed. I am still confident that I will be fighting for the podium because I didn’t feel I got in one very good lap. I don’t think sixth is a true reflection of my potential but it is fantastic to see Yamaha so strong again. This is a very big race for Yamaha in Japan and it would be great to finish on the podium .”
Katsuyuki Nakasuga of the Yamaha YSP Racing Team qualifies 11th
During the official qualifying, Katsuyuki Nakasuga of the Yamaha YSP Racing Team improved his times with each run and ended the qualifying in 11th position.
After the free practice held on Friday, Nakasuga said that he wanted to break into the 1’46min range in qualifying. This morning he recorded 1’47.737 to rank 13th fastest. The Japanese MotoGP development rider, who also participates in the All Japan Superbike Championship and FIM Endurance World Championship, appeared to be making his shift from the YZF-R1 to the YZR-M1 smoothly, bettering his morning time during the afternoon qualifying session to 1’47. In the end he managed to improve on his best time from yesterday by about one second to a best of 1’46.780, which will put him on the fourth row of the starting grid for tomorrow’s race.
Position 11th – Time: 1’46.780 – Laps 23
“At the start of the qualifying, I was having trouble getting my lap times down, and I realized how hard it actually is to break the 1’47 barrier and get down into the 1’46 range. But, after changing the engine control mapping for the second half of the qualifying, I was able to push with a better feeling and get the 1’46 time I wanted. Still, it made me realize that you really have to concentrate hard to break 1’47. The 1’44 range time that Jorge Lorenzo ran to win pole position is the kind of time that only one of the best riders in the world can run when pushing to the limit. For me right now it is an unbelievable time. During the free practice and qualifying sessions we managed to progress and because I ran a race simulation we were able choose the tires for the race as well. My target in the race is to improve on my 6th place at the Valencia GP last year.”
Koji Tsuya – Yamaha YSP Racing Team Supervisor
“Just like yesterday, Nakasuga gave us precise feedback after each run like the development rider he is. During qualifying we had priority on running long and consistently in a way that would prepare us for the race, including tire choice. Since we qualified in the 1’46 range, I think we ended the session successfully. For tomorrow’s race, I hope Nakasuga will finish the race and try for the highest place he can.”
2012 MotoGP Japan
Twin Ring Motegi 13/10/2012
1 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 1’44.969
2 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 1’45.215
3 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 1’45.257
4 Ben Spies Yamaha USA 1’45.336
5 Alvaro Bautista Honda ESP 1’45.481
6 Andrea Dovizioso Yamaha ITA 1’45.612
7 Casey Stoner Honda AUS 1’45.745
8 Stefan Bradl Honda GER 1’45.848
9 Valentino Rossi Ducati ITA 1’45.976
10 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 1’46.461
11 Katsuyuki Nakasuga Yamaha JPN 1’46.780
12 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 1’46.881
13 Aleix Espargaro ART ESP 1’47.383
14 Randy De Puniet ART FRA 1’47.581
15 Karel Abraham Ducati CZE 1’47.791
(Daniel Pedrosa, 1/1/2011)
Fastest Lap Ever:
(Jorge Lorenzo, 10/14/2012)
Last Years Winner: