Defending world champion Jorge Lorenzo became the fastest motorcycle rider ever around the Phillip Island circuit today, taking pole position for tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix. The 15-minute qualifying heat began in normal fashion with Lorenzo the first man out on track. Drama immediately unfolded as he collided with a seagull coming over Lukey Heights.
The uninvited passenger did nothing to slow Lorenzo down as he stormed to a provisional pole time of 1’28.681, breaking the pole record set by Casey Stoner in 2008. Rival Marc Marquez was quick to take back the top spot, leaving Lorenzo in second position as he headed back in for the first tyre change with eight minutes remaining of the session.
After allowing most of the pack to enter the track, Lorenzo was back out with four minutes left on the clock. With no seagull to slow him down the Mallorcan was unflappable, dropping under the 1’28 mark with one minute to go and storming to an incredible 1’27.899 second lap for pole position. The time sets a new record as the fastest ever lap by a motorcycle on the Phillip Island circuit.
Valentino Rossi enjoyed another successful qualifying session, delivering his second consecutive front row start with third on the grid for tomorrow’s race. The Italian nine-time world champion was the last rider to leave the pits at the start of the session, waiting to find some clear track for his qualifying efforts. His first laps with the soft tyre were enough to put him in fourth position, 0.817 from provisional pole.
He then returned to the pits with eight minutes remaining for a quick tyre change and was quickly back out with over six minutes left on the clock. Rossi then put the hammer down and dramatically picked up his pace to put in a 1’28.647 to move up a position and take third on the grid for tomorrow’s race.
1st / 1’27.899 / 7 laps
“I had an impact with a bird on the first few laps on the bike, luckily we could take it off and I could make a second attempt without a passenger, maybe because of this I went a little bit faster and was able to make pole position. I’m very happy because I pushed to the limit to make the lap and I made a very good time. We have some problems with the tyre because the new asphalt makes a lot of graining; we’ll see if there are decisions from Dorna or Bridgestone tomorrow for the race. If we can make a good start we will try to get away at the beginning.”
3rd / 1’28.647 / 9 laps
“Coming back in Phillip Island with the new surface is fantastic, especially with this weather and this temperature to be back on the M1 is a great pleasure. To be able to push 100% on the soft front tyre is a fantastic feeling. I’m so happy with this position, it’s the second first row in a row. It looks like in the last races we have found a better solution for qualifying because at the beginning of the season I struggled a lot. I know the race is tomorrow and especially Marc and Jorge and Dani will be very hard to beat. I have to give the maximum, find a good setting and tyre and try to fight for the podium.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“A fantastic qualifying and an unbelievable lap so we are very happy with that. Tomorrow of course is the race and it looks like we have different issues than just one fast lap, we are struggling to decide which tyre we are able to use and get approval to use. This is still in our mind and also in our rider’s. Set up wise we are very pleased and ready to go.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“A really great qualifying result, having both riders on the front row is a great opportunity to start well for the race. We’ve done a great job, the bike has been competitive from the beginning and we have been able to make it even better for qualifying. We had an issue with the tyre so we are now waiting for a decision and we will see how move forward form there.”
Crutchlow sixth, Smith seventh in breathtaking Phillip Island qualifying
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team riders Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith will start tomorrow’s Tissot Australian Grand Prix from sixth and seventh respectively after both mounted a strong challenge for the front row in a record-breaking qualifying session.
Crutchlow was less than 0.2s away from registering his eighth front row start in 2013, while teammate Smith was only 0.132s further behind in seventh position on a challenging day at the spectacular Phillip Island track.
Lap records might have been smashed across the board thanks to impressive grip levels from new asphalt at the coastal venue, but concerns have emerged over excessive rear tyre wear from the allocation made available by official tyre supplier Bridgestone. Crutchlow and Smith were both able to lap just a fraction outside of Casey Stoner’s 2008 pole position benchmark in a record-breaking session that saw factory Yamaha rider, Jorge Lorenzo, obliterate the outright record with a sensational lap of 1.27.899.
Crutchlow’s best lap of 1.28.809 was only 0.061s behind Sepang winner Dani Pedrosa and Smith set a 1.28.941, but unusually high temperatures for the Australian Grand Prix and high grip levels from the new Phillip Island track surface resulted in endurance issues being encountered with all tyre options.
Crutchlow and Smith will now consult with their Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew and Bridgestone technicians over the best selection for tomorrow’s race, which is currently scheduled to run over 27-laps.
Tomorrow’s race is the 16th of this year’s World Championship and is the middle of a flyaway triple-header that started in Malaysia last weekend and concludes in Japan next Sunday.
6th 1.28.809 – 9 laps
“I am pretty disappointed with today’s result because I expected to be higher up than sixth. I wasn’t far off the front row and was pretty close to Valentino in third but the gap to Jorge in pole position is really big and I thought I’d be much closer. I’ve not had enough rear grip and I was lacking confidence to push. I think we can clearly improve the bike and myself. In FP4 I did the whole session on the extra hard tyre on the recommendation of Bridgestone but we know there is a question mark for the race tomorrow. We need to listen to Bridgestone’s advice on what tyre will be raced but I am sure my pace is better than sixth.”
7th 1.28.491 – 9 laps
“It has obviously been quite a confusing day with the soft tyre not being an option for the race tomorrow, but at least we could use it in practice and qualifying. I have been happy with the bike today. It has felt much better and I like how it was reacting. I really concentrated on making sure my first flying lap was a good one and at the end I am really happy to finish with a 28.9 because yesterday I wasn’t even sure if I could get into the 29s. I am not far off the front row at all and we have done a good job. Now we have got to wait and see what happens with the tyre situation for tomorrow’s race because it seems there is a lot of uncertainty around. I am looking forward to the race and my target will be to battle with Cal and Bautista.”
2013 MotoGP Australia
Phillip Island 19/10/2013
1 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 1’27.899
2 Marc Marquez Honda ESP 1’28.120
3 Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 1’28.647
4 Alvaro Bautista Honda ESP 1’28.713
5 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 1’28.748
6 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 1’28.809
7 Bradley Smith Yamaha GBR 1’28.941
8 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 1’29.295
9 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati ITA 1’29.660
10 Andrea Iannone Ducati ITA 1’29.756
11 Colin Edwards FTR Kawasaki USA 1’30.264
12 Randy De Puniet ART FRA 1’30.735
13 Aleix Espargaro ART ESP 1’30.081
14 Claudio Corti FTR Kawasaki ITA 1’30.530
15 Yonny Hernandez ART COL 1’30.641
(Nicky Hayden, 1-1-2008)
Fastest Lap Ever:
(Jorge Lorenzo, 20-10-2013)
Last Years Winner: