Lorenzo snatches late US pole
Jorge Lorenzo claimed his fourth consecutive pole at Laguna Seca in a dramatic finish to Saturday's qualifying for the US Grand Prix.
Lorenzo and world champion Casey Stoner exchanged fastest laps in the closing stages of the session in an intriguing battle.
Having endured a misty final practice on Saturday morning, the riders had much better conditions at their disposal for qualifying, with the shine shining brightly.
Lorenzo was quickest during the limited practice and he wasted no time in putting his Yamaha Factory Racing bike back at the top of the timesheets with a 1:20.899, breaking below 1:20 for the first time this weekend.
Dani Pedrosa - the man who had set the pace during Friday's running - was hot on his compatriot's heels, just +0.007 behind Lorenzo in his Repsol Honda.
Ben Spies, racing in MotoGP on home soil for the first time, put up a respectable time that was +0.687 off that of his teammate's.
However, the American was denied the opportunity to mount a late challenge after he spun out on the entrance of Turn 3 with less than 15 minutes remaining in the session. Spies appeared groggy after the incident as he was helped out of the gravel but was later seen in the Yamaha garage looking considerably better, but not able to continue.
Stoner spent most of the session just off the front row of the grid but jumped ahead of Spies shortly after the American's accident when he posted a 1:21.004. However, the Australian would have been frustrated not to have gone even faster after he was hampered by traffic.
After a brief trip to the pits, Stoner was back out on track but he had an even tougher proposition to deal with by this stage as Lorenzo put in a 1:20.693, at the time the fastest lap ever at Laguna.
It was Stoner's record that Lorenzo beat and the Australian soon had it back as he put in a beautiful lap of 1:20.628 with just one minute and 42 seconds left to take pole - at least momentarily - despite the presence of Danilo Petrucci at the final corner.
With one final lap at his disposal, Lorenzo appeared to have blown his chance when his first sector time was 0.2 seconds down of that of Stoner. Somehow the championship leader managed to claw back the time and grabbed pole with a 1:20.554.
1. Jorge Lorenzo ESP Yamaha Factory Racing 1:20.554
2. Casey Stoner AUS Repsol Honda + 0.074
3. Dani Pedrosa ESP Repsol Honda + 0.352
4. Ben Spies USA Yamaha Factory Racing + 0.540
5. Cal Crutchlow GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 + 0.714
6. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 + 0.985
7. Alvaro Bautista ESP San Carlo Honda Gresini + 1.178
8. Nicky Hayden USA Ducati Team + 1.180
9. Stefan Bradl GER LCR Honda MotoGP + 1.199
10. Valentino Rossi ITA Ducati Team + 1.990
11. Randy De Puniet FRA Power Electronics Aspar + 2.332
12. Aleix Espargaro ESP Power Electronics Aspar + 2.521
13. Colin Edwards USA NGM Forward Racing + 3.145
14. Karel Abraham CZE Cardion AB Motoracing + 3.150
15. Yonny Hernandez COL Avintia Blusens + 3.215
16. Michele Pirro ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini + 3.323
17. Toni Elias ESP Pramac Racing + 3.344
18. Mattia Pasini ITA Speed Master + 3.463
19. Danilo Petrucci ITA Came IodaRacing + 3.673
20. Ivan Silva ESP Avintia Blusens + 4.006
21. James Ellison GBR Paul Bird Motorsport + 4.161
22. Steve Rapp USA Attack Performance + 6.333