LOSAIL, Qatar — In a dramatic qualifying session under lights, MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo claimed the pole for the season-opening Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar.
The Yamaha Factory Racing rider will share the front row with Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow and Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa.
Saturday marked the debut of MotoGP’s new-look qualifying format, whereby the top 12 riders go head-to-head in a 15-minute shootout for the top spot. Maintaining his 100 percent front row record at the Losail Int’l Circuit, Lorenzo sealed his seventh career pole at the track with a best effort of 1:54.714.
Crutchlow, the leading British representative, starts his campaign in strong fashion and missed out on pole by two tenths of a second, having abandoned his final run at turn one. Pedrosa has had a quiet weekend so far, concentrating on race pace, but sealed a front row placing as he pipped Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso — on the Italian’s first ride for the marque — by nine thousandths of a second.
LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl and Repsol’s 20-year-old newcomer Marc Márquez (who was fastest on Friday) will complete the second row, ahead of Valentino Rossi who could manage no more than seventh position on his high-profile return to Yamaha. Making up the rest of the third row will be Spain’s Álvaro Bautista and England’s Bradley Smith for GO&FUN Honda Gresini and Tech 3, respectively.
Americans Nicky Hayden (Ducati) and Ben Spies (Primac Racing) were 11th and 13th, respectively.