Lorenzo earns Spanish pole - MotoGP photoEnlarge Photo
Changing weather conditions at Jerez de la Frontera gave qualifying for the Gran Premio bwin de Espana MotoGP troops many challenges and psychological battles with the drying track and nearby dark clouds.
There had been two wet practice sessions prior to Saturday's qualifying, and it was Yamaha Factory Racing's Jorge Lorenzo who took best advantage of the drying track, waiting until his final, 24th tour to take pole position (1:39.532) over fellow Spanish countryman Dani Pedrosa's Repsol Honda, whose lap of 1:39.667 was only 0.135 seconds in arrears. Nicky Hayden's Ducati is the final bike on the front row after the American and 2006 champion posted a lap of 1:40.563.
“We are very happy with this pole position because it was a strange session," Lorenzo said. "There were a lot of water patches and it was very dangerous. You had to pay a lot of attention, it would have been easy to crash and get injured. Thank you to the team for working hard to keep giving the right set up in changing conditions.”
Pedrosa called it a "really good qualifying session; it was very difficult to know how much to push because there were some wet spots and it was easy to make mistakes. I'm quite impressed with the time and very happy to be on the front row, but tomorrow we have to be ready for a tough race in any conditions. I want to have a good race here in front of my fans," he said.
Hayden is on the front row - Ducati photoEnlarge Photo
Riding on a mainly dry track Hayden thought conditions were "strange, different compared to what we've had the whole weekend. It certainly helped that we tested here in the dry not too long ago, as we had a relatively good base setup," the Kentucky kid said.
Behind this trio on the second row came Cal Crutchlow's Monster Tech3 Yaaha, reigning champion Casey Stoner on the second Repsol Honda and Ben Spies, Yamaha teammate to Lorenzo. The third row encompasses the second Monster Tech3 Yamaha of Andrea Dovizioso, Alvaro Bautista on the San Carlo Honda Gresini and the LCR Honda of Stefan Bradl.
The two biggest surprises were Randy de Puniet coming tenth with the CRT team, Power Electronics Aspar, a bit more than two seconds behind Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi in 13th, chiefly complaining of his inability to "chief maximum lean angle" and losing too much ground in the process, no matter what he did.
The weather is sure to play a part in Sunday's second race of the MotoGP season; this qualifying session marks the fist time since the Valencia MotoGP round in 2010 that there are three separate manufacturers on the front row for a race.