Jerez : MotoGP grid
Jorge Lorenzo´s dream start to his MotoGP career continued in qualifying for the Gran Premio bwin.com de España, with the Spaniard taking pole position for his home race courtesy of an amazing series of laps.
In doing so, the Fiat Yamaha rider
made it two pole positions in as many races in the premier class, an impressive 100% record that proves the 20 year-old is very much the real deal on an 800cc machine.
The 1´38.189 lap that places Lorenzo at the head of Sunday´s grid smashed the previous pole position record –set by Loris Capirossi in 2006- by over eight tenths of a second, and was the last of three blistering hot laps from the reigning 250cc World Champion. After improving his time on the second occasion, Lorenzo pulled a huge wheelie, to the delight of the ecstatic Circuito de Jerez crowd rooting for their hero at this weekend´s race.
Spanish fans will have divided loyalties when the lights go out tomorrow afternoon, with Repsol Honda´s Dani Pedrosa also fighting his way to the front row. On any other day his time would have seen a second pole position at Jerez in as many years for the factory rider but, as it was, not even the 2007 World Championship runner up could get anywhere near Lorenzo´s marker. Pedrosa´s fastest lap was dead-on six tenths slower than his long-time rival.
For the second race in succession, Colin Edwards bolstered the Yamaha representation on the front row. The `Texas Tornado´ was the final rider to breach the 1´39 mark, riding with the older version of the M1 used by the Tech 3 satellite outfit. The man from the lone star state also provided ample entertainment for those in the grandstands, putting in an early contender for save of the season when his elbow and knee were both scraping the asphalt and following that up with a wave to the crowd.
Row two is an equally star-studded affair, with 2006 MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden lining up alongside five-time titlist and frequent Jerez victor Valentino Rossi. The latter –onboard the second Fiat Yamaha M1- was the highest placing Bridgestone rider of the session. The former champions will be joined by LCR Honda´s Randy de Puniet, who suffered a late crash to put a dampener on his afternoon.
In his lowest qualifying finish since Motegi 2007, current World Champion and series leader Casey Stoner had a frustrating time of things and could only manage seventh place on the grid despite using a wealth of qualifying tyres. The Ducati Marlboro star showed rare signs of stress during the session, culminating in a kick aimed at former team-mate Capirossi on his final lap.
Battling bronchitis, Tech 3 Yamaha´s James Toseland will be side-by-side with Stoner on row three, joined by John Hopkins from Kawasaki Racing.
Further crashes came from San Carlo Gresini Honda´s Alex de Angelis and Ducati Marlboro newcomer Marco Melandri, with the Italian factory having a difficult day all round in Jerez.
DORNA / CAPSIS International