Lorenzo beats Stoner to Qatar pole
Jorge Lorenzo will start the season-opening Qatar MotoGP from pole position after winning an intriguing battle against Casey Stoner.
As many predicted in the off-season it was game on under lights in Qatar on Saturday night as the two heavy-hitters traded blows.
An exciting battle ensued in the final ten minutes as the duo, with Cal Crutchlow also mixing it up at the front, took turns in the P1 slot
But as the chequered flag was waved it was Lorenzo at the front with a 1:54.634 and Stoner second, 0.221s off the pace.
As the 3 000 flood lights lit up the Losail circuit, the sound of MotoGP engines cut through the night with the 21 riders heading out for the first qualifying session of the season.
Lorenzo set the early pace as he posted a 1:56.133 before losing out to Stoner by almost eight-tenths. Lorenzo closed the gap to three-tenths but could not find that added burst of speed needed to overhaul the reigning World Champ.
Lorenzo headed back out for a second attack on Stoner's P1 time, however, the Spaniard again was not able to even close the gap, averaging six-tenths a lap down.
His teammate Ben Spies had better luck as he climbed to third place before Crutchlow dropped both Yamaha riders factory riders, taking second, just 0.090s behind Stoner. That prompted Stoner's return to the track.
The Aussie, using the softer rear, put in a new fastest lap to extend his lead to four-tenths. But that was soon eclipsed by Lorenzo as the 2010 Champ posted a 1:54.933, taking 0.156s off Stoner's best.
Crutchlow again joined the tussle, taking second place, before Stoner returned to the P1 slot with a 1:54.855. However, his reign was short lived as moments later Lorenzo went two-tenths quicker to secure the season's first pole position.
Spies was fourth despite a late crash, edging Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso with Dani Pedrosa and Hector Barbera next in line.
Valentino Rossi qualified a disappointing 12th after once again lacking pace to run near the front.
The battle to be the fastest CRT rider was again raged between Colin Edwards and Randy de Puniet with the American winning the tussle.
There were several crashes in the session as Ivan Silva went down after just 17 minutes. The CRT rider, in action for BQR, was able to get his bike going and continued on his way.
Fellow CRT rider Danilo Petrucci crashed four minutes later with the Ioda Racing Project rider suffering a huge shunt at Turn Five. He appeared unhurt, walking away unaided.
De Puniet added his name to the list with 20 minutes to go as he lost the front end carrying too much speed through the triple right-hander while Speed Master's Mattia Pasini needed his own lift back to the pits minutes later.
01 Jorge LORENZO Yamaha Factory Racing 1'54.634
02 Casey STONER Repsol Honda Team 1'54.855 0.221
03 Cal CRUTCHLOW Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1'55.022 0.388
04 Ben SPIES Yamaha Factory Racing 1'55.512 0.878
05 Nicky HAYDEN Ducati Team 1'55.637 1.003
06 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1'55.858 1.224
07 Dani PEDROSA Repsol Honda Team 1'55.905 1.271
08 Hector BARBERA Pramac Racing Team 1'55.983 1.349
09 Stefan BRADL LCR Honda MotoGP 1'56.063 1.429
10 Karel ABRAHAM Cardion AB Motoracing 1'56.198 1.564
11 Alvaro BAUTISTA San Carlo Honda Gresini 1'56.521 1.887
12 Valentino ROSSI Ducati Team 1'56.813 2.179
13 Colin EDWARDS NGM Mobile Forward Racing 1'57.644 3.010
14 Randy DE PUNIET Power Electronics Aspar 1'58.266 3.632
15 Aleix ESPARGARO Power Electronics Aspar 1'58.520 3.886
16 Yonny HERNANDEZ Avintia Blusens 1'58.795 4.161
17 Michele PIRRO San Carlo Honda Gresini 1'59.085 4.451
18 Mattia PASINI Speed Master 1'59.195 4.561
19 Danilo PETRUCCI Came IodaRacing Project 1'59.664 5.030
20 Ivan SILVA Avintia Blusens 2'00.493 5.859
21 James ELLISON Paul Bird Motorsport 2'00.757 6.123