PHILLIP ISLAND, Australia — Jorge Lorenzo has clinched pole position for the Tissot Australian Grand Prix, beating Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi to the top spot in a highly dramatic shootout at Phillip Island.
With only three rounds remaining in the 2013 MotoGP season and Marquez able to clinch an historic premier class title win this weekend, the qualifying session at Phillip Island proved to be one of the most incident-packed of the year.
Ultimately, Lorenzo clinched his third pole of the campaign — his first since Jerez in May — courtesy of a best lap of 1:27.899, but this was only after the reigning World Champion’s Yamaha Factory Racing bike clipped a seagull.
“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,” Lorenzo said. “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.”
The margin at the front was two tenths of a second, with Marquez able to secure the world crown on Sunday if he ends the race with a point advantage of 51 or more.
The 20-year-old newcomer has now also amassed a points margin large enough to become unassailable in the BMW M Award, successfully winning the prize on his first attempt.
In third place, Rossi – who on only three occasions in his career has failed to finish on the podium at Phillip Island – will start on the front row for the second consecutive race, ahead of GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista who qualified fourth but went off-track at the end of qualifying. Fifth will be Sepang winner Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) – who is the only rider other than Marquez and Lorenzo who retains a mathematical possibility of winning the championship – from Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Cal Crutchlow, who will start sixth.
Row three will be occupied by Tech3’s Bradley Smith plus Ducati Team pairing Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso.