Lorenzo wins Sepang qualifying battle
Jorge Lorenzo clinched his seventh pole position of the season in Malaysia on Saturday, edging title rival Dani Pedrosa as he set a lap qualifying lap record.
With threatening clouds overhead the riders were quickly out onto track while news broke that Yonny Hernandez will not contest the rest of the weekend having broken his collarbone at the previous outing in Japan.
Lorenzo emerged as the early pace-setter, clocking a 2:01.535 before he was overhauled by Andrea Dovizioso and then Pedrosa.
This sparked a brief battle between the two title protagonists for the top spot with Pedrosa holding the position after the first half an hour.
His Honda teammate Casey Stoner was having a chatter (vibration after braking) troubles with his No 1 bike and swapped over to the No 2 before the halfway stage. That, though, didn't seem to make any difference and he remained fifth.
However, with the rain having washed away most of the weekend's practice sessions much of the first 40 minutes was spent working on race set-up with the riders having put in an early banker before getting down to the hard yards.
With 15 minutes remaining in the hour-long session qualifying finally got under way.
Dovizioso was the first to throw down his challenge, hitting the front with a 2:00.800. Pedrosa responded by going 0.166s quicker while Stoner slotted into third place ahead of Lorenzo. The Championship leader didn't take long to move up to second, 0.130s behind his title rival.
Dovizioso returned to the front but it was a brief stay as seconds later Pedrosa posted a 2:00.528 only for Lorenzo to pip him at the final hurdle - and then go even quicker as he signalled his intent with a 2:00.334.
Pedrosa finished 0.194s down on Lorenzo but will go into Sunday's Malaysian MotoGP with the knowledge that the last four times Lorenzo had pole it was Pedrosa who won.
Dovizioso will line up third and on the front row ahead of Stoner, Cal Crutchlow and Ben Spies.
It was a disappointing afternoon for the factory Ducati team with Nicky Hayden ninth while Valentino Rossi, who won his last MotoGP race at this track, was only 11th. They sandwiched Alvaro Bautista, the session's only crasher.
Aleix Espargaro was the top CRT rider in 12th place.
1 Jorge LORENZO SPA Yamaha Factory Racing 2'00.334
2 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team 2'00.528 0.194
3 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 2'00.567 0.233
4 Casey STONER AUS Repsol Honda Team 2'00.811 0.477
5 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 2'01.178 0.844
6 Ben SPIES USA Yamaha Factory Racing 2'01.185 0.851
7 Hector BARBERA SPA Pramac Racing Team 2'01.294 0.960
8 Stefan BRADL GER LCR Honda MotoGP 2'01.491 1.157
9 Nicky HAYDEN USA Ducati Team Ducati 1.192
10 Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA San Carlo Honda Gresini 2'01.640 1.306
11 Valentino ROSSI ITA Ducati Team 2'01.783 1.449
12 Aleix ESPARGARO SPA Power Electronics Aspar 2'02.842 2.508
13 Randy DE PUNIET FRA Power Electronics Aspar 2'03.389 3.055
14 Karel ABRAHAM CZE Cardion AB Motoracing 2'03.774 3.440
15 Michele PIRRO ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini 2'04.152 3.818
16 James ELLISON GBR Paul Bird Motorsport 2'04.515 4.181
17 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Came IodaRacing Project 2'04.726 4.392
18 Colin EDWARDS USA NGM Mobile Forward Racing 2'04.941 4.607
19 Roberto ROLFO ITA Speed Master 2'05.100 4.766
20 Ivan SILVA SPA Avintia Blusens BQR 5.587
Yonny HERNANDEZ COL Avintia Blusens BQR