MOTEGI, Japan – Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo delivered a quality performance en route to capturing the pole for the MotoGP event at the Twin Ring Motegi Saturday afternoon.
Following Friday’s cancellation of practice sessions due to weather conditions at the AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan, the premier class riders were given a special 75-minute qualifying heat on Saturday afternoon.
Defending World Champion Lorenzo made full use of the extended session, getting straight out onto the wet circuit to start working on his race set up. Having initially swapped the top spot with rival Marc Marquez early in the session, he then dropped down the time sheets.
After some work on set-up he was back, rising quickly to second, a tenth of a second from Marquez on top. The P1 position continued to change hands until, with 15 minutes to go, Lorenzo put the hammer down and delivered a perfect 1:53.965 lap to go over half a second clear of the pack.
Whilst his rivals were able to improve, so was he, dropping even further to a 1:53.471 in the final seconds to secure the pole .65 of a second ahead of Marquez.
“I’m really happy, it was not so simple because my last memory of the rain was Assen,” Lorenzo said. “At the beginning I was a little bit scared and didn’t want to crash. We were lucky to have the extended qualifying time to get used to the track. Little by little I got confidence and finally I felt really good with the bike and the grip of the track, especially under braking.”
Behind Lorenzo and championship leader Marquez in third was American Nicky Hayden, who scored his best qualifying position of the season.
Dani Pedrosa, Valentino Rossi and Andrea Dovizioso make up the second row. Alvaro Bautista will line up seventh – despite a crash in turn seven – followed by the returning Stefan Bradl and Aleix Espargaro.