Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo left it until the last moment this afternoon to smash the Sepang track record with a scorching pole position run ahead of tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Malaysia, his third successive pole in a row. The Championship leader had shown good pace from the start of the session but dropped off the provisional front row as a flurry of late laps saw a number of riders including Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa take the top spot. As the last minutes ticked away Lorenzo reclaimed the top spot from Pedrosa with a stunning 2’00.438 then immediately followed it with a flying final effort to deliver a new pole record for the Sepang circuit of 2’00.334.
Fellow Yamaha Factory rider Ben Spies was quick to get on the pace in the session, climbing to fourth just off the front row and looking threatening to break into the top three. As the session wound down a succession of hot laps and pole position changes from rivals saw him drop to fifth and then sixth for a second row start on tomorrow’s grid.
Position 1st – Time: 2’00.334 – Laps 23
“We made a very good lap at the end of the session with the new ‘qualifying’ tyre. In the middle of the practice we struggled a little bit because we had a bit of chattering and the rear tyre wasn’t working as well as it had been in the morning session. We need to still work a little on our pace as it’s not extremely good yet but we have some options for tomorrow. Let’s see what happens, it’s going to be a long race in difficult conditions.”
Position 6th – Time: 2’01.185 – Laps 22
“Qualifying was good, we had good pace in early in the session but when it came down to putting in that one fast lap we didn’t quite have enough. We also wanted to bring the bike back in one piece and not a broken one like we’ve done a few times this year. We’re looking forward to tomorrow and getting stuck into the race.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“Pole again, number 51! It hasn’t been the best qualifying session of the year so to get pole at the end is great. We had some problems initially and Jorge had to go in and out a few times. He did his qualifying stints on the soft front tyre which is quite unusual so let’s see what we can solve to make us better for tomorrow.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“Another impressive pole position from Jorge, he really wanted to show everyone that he’s not here to get second place if he can help it. Overall no major problems so far this weekend and there’s pretty good pace on both sides of the garage. A lot is going to depend on the weather conditions tomorrow; it’s going to be a really tough race. Hopefully we will see a great spectacle!”
Dovizioso secures front row at scorching hot Sepang
Andrea Dovizioso extended the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team’s outstanding qualifying record in 2012 by securing the French squad’s 10th front row start of the season at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia this afternoon.
For the sixth race in succession, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team will be represented on the front row after Dovizioso battled for pole position throughout a closely fought qualifying session in searing heat and humidity at Sepang.
Dovizioso’s silky smooth riding style helped him adjust brilliantly to slippery track conditions after earlier rain and his fastest lap of 2.00.567 put him on the top of the timesheets in the final stages of the session.
But in-form Spanish duo Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa were able to improve their pace in a dramatic finish.
Dovizioso’s best pace was only 0.039s behind Pedrosa in second and having made significant progress in improving rear grip with his YZR-M1 machine, the Italian rider will start tomorrow’s 20-lap race confident he will be in the hunt for a seventh podium finish.
Cal Crutchlow was reasonably satisfied with his afternoon’s work, despite seeing his sensational run of four successive front row starts come to an end this afternoon.
The British rider will start from the middle of the second row in fifth position after a stunning last lap of 2.01.178 put him inside the top six on the grid for the 14th time in 16 races.
After battling for the podium right down to the last lap in the previous two races, Crutchlow is optimistic he will be in contention for the top three again to boost his hopes of securing fifth position on the overall World Championship standings.
Position 3rd – Time 2’00.567 – Laps 19
“I am very happy with today’s front row because it is confirmation of how strong we have been all weekend. I have to say a big thanks to my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew because in every session we have made progress with the set-up of the bike and for qualifying we made another big improvement. It is always good to be on the front row but the pleasing aspect is my race pace. I am very close to Lorenzo and Dani and my goal will be to stay with them for as long as possible tomorrow. With more rain earlier it meant the track was quite slippery, but normally when that is the case I am very fast and again today I have proved that. Hopefully it will be a dry race tomorrow but if it is raining then it will be the same for everybody and nobody has an advantage because we haven’t tested on a full wet track.”
Position 5th – Time: 2’01.178 – Laps 21
“After qualifying on the front row at the last four races I should be pretty disappointed with fifth position and I am. To be honest I am not happy with the performance of the bike and I had the same issue that struck in qualifying last weekend in Japan. I had a big vibration and all the changes we made to improve the situation didn ‘t work. It felt like I had zero grip and we can see the problems on the data but we still haven’t been able to identify what is causing the vibration. We have a lot of work to do tonight and I will be sitting down with my crew and analysing a lot of data to come up with a plan for the race. If the situation remains the same for the race it will be really difficult and demanding. As always I will try my best and the main goal will be to claw back some of the points I lost to Alvaro and Valentino with the bad luck in Japan.”
2012 MotoGP Malaysia
1 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 2’00.334
2 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 2’00.528
3 Andrea Dovizioso Yamaha ITA 2’00.567
4 Casey Stoner Honda AUS 2’00.811
5 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 2’01.178
6 Ben Spies Yamaha USA 2’01.185
7 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 2’01.294
8 Stefan Bradl Honda GER 2’01.491
9 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 2’01.526
10 Alvaro Bautista Honda ESP 2’01.640
11 Valentino Rossi Ducati ITA 2’01.783
12 Aleix Espargaro ART ESP 2’02.842
13 Randy De Puniet ART FRA 2’03.389
14 Karel Abraham Ducati CZE 2’03.774
15 Michele Pirro FTR ITA 2’04.152
(Casey Stoner, 1/1/2007)
Fastest Lap Ever:
(Jorge Lorenzo, 10/25/2012)