Jorge Lorenzo will make his MotoGP debut from pole position at the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar, after clocking the fastest time ever recorded for a World Championship bike at the Losail International Circuit.
The Fiat Yamaha rider took the top spot
in the dying moments of the historic maiden night qualifying session with a 1'53.927 lap, becoming the first rider to break the 1'54 barrier in the process.
The 20 year-old Spaniard marked his momentous achievement with a trademark wheelie, and will be looking to plant his famous ‘Lorenzo's Land' flag in the Qatar gravel tomorrow to celebrate what would be make him one of the youngest ever premier class Grand Prix racewinners.
Lorenzo's late time only just overshadowed another debutant, Tech 3 Yamaha rider and current superbike champion James Toseland. The Briton had a fantastic showing to confirm his superb pace in testing and practice under the floodlights of Losail, making a statement of intent 20 minutes into the session by breaking Valentino Rossi's pole record from 2007. With a third of the session remaining, Toseland fired back immediately when Lorenzo took the top place for the first time, and was unlucky to miss out on a perfect result at only 0.255 slower than his rival.
Colin Edwards completed an all-Yamaha top three, continuing his renaissance as Toseland's team-mate in the Tech 3 Yamaha outfit. His appearance in the top three also makes it a Michelin clean sweep on an excellent day for the French tyre manufacturer, with all seven of their riders in the top ten.
The fastest of the Bridgestone brigade was 2007 MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner, the fastest rider in every practice session prior to the evening shootout. Stoner starts on the second row at Losail for the first time in Qatar, in fourth place.
Randy de Puniet was the fastest Honda rider of the day, just ahead of factory rider Nicky Hayden as the final two participants to go round in under 1'55.
Fiat Yamaha's Valentino Rossi was, in a rare occurrence for the five-time MotoGP World Champion, the lowest placing Yamaha rider, ahead of Repsol Honda's 2007 World Championship runner-up Dani Pedrosa, 800cc newcomer Andrea Dovizioso and Kawasaki's John Hopkins.
DORNA / CAPSIS International