Late burst gives Lorenzo Japanese pole
MotoGP points leader Jorge Lorenzo stunned his archrival Dani Pedrosa in a record-shattering run in his final lap of qualifying Saturday to clinch pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix.
Lorenzo was sixth behind fellow Spaniard Pedrosa in time attacks with 10 minutes to go in the hour-long session but gave all he had going into his 26th lap as the time was running out.
"I didn't understand how the other riders were going so fast," the 25-year-old Yamaha ace said.
"I needed to push more than 100 percent in the last lap," said Lorenzo, the 2010 world champion, after securing his sixth pole start of the season in which he has already triumphed six times.
"I'm really happy because it's the 50th pole of my career. It's a lot. I'm confident for tomorrow," said the 2010 world champion, who is leading Pedrosa by 33 points with four races to go in the 18-round season.
The winner of each race earns 25 points.
Lorenzo clocked one minute 44.969 seconds in his last attack, smashing the course record of 1:45.267 set by Australian Honda rider Casey Stoner in qualifying here last year.
Pedrosa, Stoner's teammate who has been dominant in the last four races by winning three of them, saw Lorenzo eclipse his best lap time by 0.246 seconds. Britain's Cal Crutchlow on a Yamaha ended up third, 0.042 seconds farther back.
Pedrosa, who beat Lorenzo into second spot at the last GP in Aragon, Spain, complained about chattering, or the issue of vibration when braking.
"I had many problems with chattering in qualifying and we still don't know why," said the 27-year-old who has yet to seal a premier-class championship. "I was in and out all the time to change something on the bike."
"Finally the second place is good enough and I hope we can avoid this chattering in the race tomorrow," said Pedrosa. "The key point will be to choose the correct rear tyre and be consistent for the whole race because the pace will be fast".
Two-time champion Stoner, having missed the last three races after injuring his right ankle in a qualifying accident at the Indianapolis GP in August, posted the seventh best time of 1:45.745.
Stoner, who is third in the current standings but unable to overtake Lorenzo with a gap of more than 100 points, has still promised to go full out to finish his last season in Grand Prix racing on a high.
"Physically I'm a little sore but not so bad. I'm just struggling to lift the bike out of the right-hand corners and it's making setting up the bike more difficult than it should be," the reigning MotoGP champion said.
"My team can see that my lean angles are nowhere near what they usually are. I can't get my foot out of the way. Therefore I can't lean the bike over enough or pick it up quickly on the exit of the corner.
"I'm not sure what to expect tomorrow. I'll try to get another good night's rest and do our best tomorrow".
The top three riders have won all the previous 14 races among themselves.
1. Jorge LORENZO SPA Yamaha Factory Racing 1'44.969
2. Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team 1'45.215 0.246
3. Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1'45.257 0.288
4. Ben SPIES USA Yamaha Factory Racing 1'45.336 0.367
5. Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA San Carlo Honda Gresini 1'45.481 0.512
6. Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1'45.612 0.643
7. Casey STONER AUS Repsol Honda Team 1'45.745 0.776
8. Stefan BRADL GER LCR Honda MotoGP 1'45.848 0.879
9. Valentino ROSSI ITA Ducati Team 1'45.976 1.007
10. Nicky HAYDEN USA Ducati Team 1'46.461 1.492
11. Katsuyuki NAKASUGA JPN Yamaha YSP Racing Team 1'46.780 1.811
12. Hector BARBERA SPA Pramac Racing Team 1'46.881 1.912
13. Aleix ESPARGARO SPA Power Electronics Aspar 1'47.383 2.414
14. Randy DE PUNIET FRA Power Electronics Aspar 1'47.581 2.612
15. Karel ABRAHAM CZE Cardion AB Motoracing 1'47.791 2.822
16. Colin EDWARDS USA NGM Mobile Forward Racing 1'48.125 3.156
17. Yonny HERNANDEZ COL Avintia Blusens 1'48.513 3.544
18. Michele PIRRO ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini 1'48.653 3.684
19. Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Came IodaRacing Project 1'48.831 3.862
20. James ELLISON GBR Paul Bird Motorsport 1'49.023 4.054
21. Roberto ROLFO ITA Speed Master 1'49.183 4.214
22. Ivan SILVA SPA Avintia Blusens 1'49.831 4.862