MOTEGI, Japan — It was Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo who romped to pole position for Sunday’s AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan during a hard-fought and incident-packed qualifying session at the Twin Ring Motegi ahead of Dani Pedrosa and Cal Crutchlow.
Setting a track record lap of one minute and 44.969 seconds, Lorenzo pushed Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa into second on the grid after the Spaniard had looked to be taking pole shortly before the end.
“I’ve been really fast all weekend with a very good pace but in qualifying, ten minutes to the end I thought I was making a very good lap but I was in sixth position,” said Lorenzo. “I didn’t understand how the other riders were going so fast. I needed to push a bit more, in the second to last lap I made a mistake so in the last lap I had my last chance. I made it so I’m very happy but of course the important thing is the race tomorrow.”
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow completes the row in third, with the Brit doing very well to save a near crash after scoring his seventh front row start this season.
Heading row two is Yamaha’s Ben Spies, who suffered an awkward crash in the dying seconds of the session, yet did not obstruct anyone on their hot lap. Lining up next to him in fifth is San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista, after his and the team’s suspension set-up work looked to be yielding the positive results they were looking for.
Six spot is occupied by Crutchlow’s teammate Andrea Dovizioso, who appeared to be on-course for a higher grid spot, but could not squeeze out those extra tenths needed.
Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner heads the third row in seventh, with the Australian still struggling slightly with the bike on his return from injury. Alongside him in eighth is LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl, who’s session got off to a bad start with a crash, although the German managed to head back out for the latter part of qualifying.
Ninth position went to Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi.
There were numerous other crashes throughout the session with San Carlo’s Michele Pirro dropping his bike early on, with Paul Bird Motorsport’s James Ellison and Cardion AB Racing’s Karel Abraham also following suit at the end of the session. Fortunately none of the riders were seriously hurt in the crashes.