Lorenzo snatches pole position at Estoril With dark clouds looming over the circuit, it was race winner from Jerez, Lorenzo who claimed his 17th MotoGP pole and the 43rd in his career. The Yamaha rider’s win in Spain was the 15th time he had stood on the top step on the podium, matched Alex Criville’s record of the most wins by a Spanish rider in the premier class. This is a circuit where the Mallorcan has won the last three races from pole position.
The pole position lap time of 1’37.161 was just over one tenth faster than his nearest challenger Simoncelli. After dominating both Friday practices, the Italian rider had continued to lead the timing screens throughout the qualifying hour until he was pipped by the reigning World Champion in the final five minutes. Simoncelli then was on a lap which was a third of a second up on the Yamaha when he crashed into turn 7 which ruled out the possibility of the 24 year old fighting to regain top spot.
The top four riders were separated between 0.223s, with the Repsol Honda duo of Pedrosa and Casey Stoner in third and fourth. The Spaniard’s second place in Jerez was the 90th time he has stood on the rostrum in Grand Prix racing where as Stoner was victim to a much publicized crash at the previous race. The Australian crashed out of this race last season whilst hunting down the leading pack and will be looking to get back into contention for this year’s title in the race tomorrow.
Lorenzo’s Yamaha Factory Racing team mate Ben Spies was fifth fastest, ahead of the third Repsol Honda rider, Andrea Dovizioso on the second row. The Italian won here in 2006 in the 250cc category and was on the rostrum here last season.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 duo of Colin Edwards and Cal Crutchlow were seventh and eighth respectively on the third row. The American was seventh in Portugal last year, but less than four seconds away from a spot on the rostrum. Crutchlow was only a tenth off his team mate on his first appearance at the Estoril circuit in his debut MotoGP season.
The highest placed Ducati was the rider with the best record at the circuit. Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team), who has had ten podium finishes here, was ninth quickest and just edged out the second Ducati of Hector Barberá (Mapfre Aspar Team). The top ten riders were within 1.202s of each other. Rossi’s team mate Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) was in 13th, rookie Karel Abraham (Cardion ab Motoracing) continued his form from the weekend to qualify in 12th.
Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) made improvements after his return to the bike this weekend after his broken femur. The Spaniard finished in 15th, just over two seconds off Lorenzo’s pole lap.
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