MotoGP: Jorge Lorenzo takes dramatic Japanese GP pole
Japanese Grand Prix
- Venue: Twin Ring circuit, Motegi
- Sunday 14 October: Moto2 & 3 races: 02:55-05:05, Red Button; MotoGP race on BBC2 05:30-07:00 and BBC Sport website. Repeated BBC2 12:30-14:00.
Jorge Lorenzo broke the track record to snatch pole from title rival Dani Pedrosa for Sunday's Japanese MotoGP.
Repsol Honda rider Pedrosa's time of one minute, 45.215 seconds looked set to be the fastest of the day.
But Yamaha's Lorenzo blazed round the Motegi circuit in 1:44.969 in the closing stages of the session to take his place at the front of the grid at the expense of his fellow Spaniard.
Britain's Cal Crutchlow of Tech 3 Yamaha will start from third place.
- Jorge Lorenzo (Spa) - 290 points
- Dani Pedrosa (Spa) - 257 points
- Casey Stoner (Aus) - 186 points
- Andrea Dovizioso (Ita) - 179 points
- Cal Crutchlow (GB) - 135 points
Crutchlow did well to avoid a crash as he finished 0.288 seconds behind Lorenzo to complete the front-row line-up.
World Championship leader Lorenzo was lying fourth before posting the pole time on his 26th lap.
"I didn't understand how the other riders were going so fast," said Lorenzo, the 2010 world champion. "I needed to push more than 100% in the last lap.
"I'm very happy with the pole and the performance of the bike and the pace we had. I'm confident for tomorrow."
Yamaha's US rider Ben Spies finished fourth fastest despite a late crash. He is joined on row two by Honda's Alvaro Bautista and Crutchlow's team-mate Andrea Dovizioso.
Reigning champion Casey Stoner will start from seventh place on his return from ankle surgery.
"I'm not feeling 100% so I wanted to get a reasonable feeling with it before I start pushing," said Stoner, who missed the last three races after a high-speed crash during practice at Indianapolis in August.
"At the moment the acceleration points are causing me most difficulty. There are many areas at this circuit where the bike wants to wheelie.
"You need to keep your body and weight over the front of the bike.
"Unfortunately my foot doesn't want to bend far enough to help me move forward so I'm having to pull myself forward, which is giving me issues with my arms as they are working a lot harder than usual.
"We'll keep working tomorrow and see what we can do."
Meanwhile, Britain's Danny Kent landed his first ever pole position in the Moto3 class.
The 18-year-old Red Bull rider held off the challenge of Spaniard Maverick Vinales and championship leader and team-mate Sandro Cortese.
"I thought Sandro would get back at me in the last couple of laps as he has done so many times this season," said Kent.
"This time he didn't manage it and I'm delighted with my first pole but know I must repeat qualifying in the race tomorrow."
Motegi qualifying times :
1 Jorge Lorenzo (Spa) Yamaha 1min 44.969 seconds,
2 Dani Pedrosa (Spa) Honda 1:45.215
3 Cal Crutchlow (Gbr) Yamaha 1:45.257
4 Ben Spies (USA) Yamaha 1:45.336
5 Alvaro Bautista (Spa) Honda 1:45.481
6 Andrea Dovizioso (Ita) Yamaha 1:45.612
7 Casey Stoner (Aus) Honda 1:45.745
8 Stefan Bradl (Ger) Honda 1:45.848
9 Valentino Rossi (Ita) Ducati 1:45.976
10 Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati 1:46.461