Moto GP

Lorenzo leads Spanish top three in Qatar qualifying

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Lorenzo leads Spanish top three in Qatar qualifying
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider Jorge Lorenzo continued his strong form today during the Qualifying 2 session, returning to the top of the time sheets again under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit.

He secured the 62nd pole position of his career with a 1'54.543s lap, making him the new leader in the all time pole position classification.

Q2 was a great unknown for the riders with the new Michelin tyres, most riders feeling the new French rubber would take five or six laps before they were in an ideal operating condition. But come Q2, riders were able to immediately push and set some of their best times of the weekend during their opening assault.

All riders opted for a two run strategy, most coming in with just over five minutes of the session remaining. It proved tense till the end as a multitude of riders were setting red sectors until the flag came out.
Lorenzo leads Spanish top three in Qatar qualifying
Jorge Lorenzo took pole for the 36th time in his premier class career,
For the 36th time in his premier class career, Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) will line up in pole position. The Majorcan set a 1‰Ûª54.543 on his second lap to secure the first pole of 2016. He had been pushing for a fast time during his second run but a moment forced him to sit up, ending his chances of improving. Lorenzo now heads into the race looking for his first podium finish in Qatar since 2013. His title defence has gotten off to a perfect start, but the triple MotoGP‰ã¢ World Champion now needs to convert his pole to a strong race result as he has a gaggle of riders right behind.

"It's not bad to have this record for most pole positions on the first weekend of the championship," Lorenzo said. "Today it has been quite difficult to keep calm and try not to crash, because sometimes you have a good feeling with one rear tyre and you put in another and you have a different feeling.

"This is what happened on my second try, I almost crashed on the first lap, but luckily on my first try, my first lap was enough to keep the pole position. I expected to be a little bit faster and that everyone would come closer to the 1'54.0s, but finally this 1'54.5s was enough to be on pole."
Lorenzo leads Spanish top three in Qatar qualifying
After his woes during free practice Marc Marquez was a suprise second fastest.
After Thursday few would have expected Marc Marquez to start on the front row, yet alone challenge for pole position. Due to the hard work of his team and Marquez‰Ûªs undeniable ability to push any motorcycle to its limit, the Spaniard set a 1‰Ûª54.634s to line up second on the grid. Unsure of whether he had beaten the chequered flag or not, Marquez continued to push and claims to have produced a 1‰Ûª54.2, a time that would have seen him on pole if he had beaten the flag.

"I am happy. At first I thought I had taken pole, but when I got back the team told me that the chequered flag had already been shown before I began my lap," The Repsol Honda rider said. "On the display I saw 1:54.2 and thought it was the pole time, but it didn‰Ûªt count. We are satisfied with the feeling we have with the bike and how everything in general is going. At the end of Q2 we had a scare when making a practice start. Something happened and now we have to see what it was. We'll see tomorrow if we can keep this pace up, which I think will be good for the race."
Lorenzo leads Spanish top three in Qatar qualifying
Maverick Vi̱ales was the third Spaniard in the top three to make it a Spanish lockout
Completing an all Spanish front row was Team Suzuki Ecstar's Maverick Vi̱ales who managed a 1‰Ûª54.693 on his final lap of the session, 0.004s back on second. This is Vi̱ales‰Ûª second front row start in the premier class, his second place start at the Catalan GP in 2015 producing a sixth place finish. Under a tenth of a second split the front row, one of the tightest Qualifying sessions in recent years.

‰ÛÏI‰Ûªm very happy, we did an incredible job and finally we are taking some of the profits from all the hard work we have done in the winter," Vi̱ales said. :This is only qualifying and the race is tomorrow, therefore I‰Ûªm keeping my feet on the ground, but being in third place is a very good sensation and makes me proud.

"It means a lot that last year here, I started in 12th while now I am in third, it shows that we have worked hard and I want to thank Suzuki for the development job they have done in the winter and also to my team that gives me full support. The extraordinary last lap is the result of the hard work I have done in the winter with my training, but also the calmness I have now: I am exploiting the experience I gained last year and also the engine we have now, which is a huge step forward.‰Û
Lorenzo leads Spanish top three in Qatar qualifying
Andrea Iannone looked good for the top three but was blocked on his hot lap.
Ducati's Andrea Iannone had been on track for a front row start until Vi̱ales bumped him back. Known for his aggressive style, a second row start will likely not hinder Iannone come Sunday as both he and Lorenzo have been able to make the new Michelin tyres work within just a few laps.

Fresh off announcing a new two-year contract with Yamaha, Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) completed the top five. He, Vi̱ales and Iannone were some of the last riders to set their fastest times, Rossi losing out in the final sector.

In sixth was Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), making it an all-Spanish front row followed by an all-Italian second row. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team), Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) and Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) were on the third row, making for another entirely Spanish row.

Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) completed the top 12, and formed an entirely British fourth row. All of the top 12 were within 0.965s, the new tyres and electronics producing a stunning show for all the fans both at the track and watching the action.

Interestingly, Marquez had the best sector times in both T1 and T2 with Lorenzo fastest in only T3.

With a top speed of 349.7km/h, Andrea Iannone proved that the Ducati is still a force to be reckoned with on the straights. His teammate, Andrea Dovizioso, was the second fastest rider down the kilometre long straight, hitting 344 km/h, Lorenzo the 10th fastest rider in a straight line during the Q2 session. Top end speed could play a defining role in the race with the finish line being a substantial distance from the final corner.

There was an unfortunate fall during Q1 for Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar) as he slid off at Turn 1, sprinting back to the pits for his second bike. He was able to head back out with four minutes of Q1 remaining. Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) suffered a late fall during the session at Turn 14. Both were unhurt. There were not crashes during Q2.

Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) will not race on Sunday following complications with his right hand injury and will not be replaced.

Sunday the 20th of March will see the first race of the year, starting at 21:00 Local Time at the Losail International Circuit.

Main Photo: Jorge Lorenzo
Credit: Yamaha Racing

Qualifying Results - Qatar - Round 1
1 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 01'54.543
2 Marc Marquez Honda ESP 01'54.634
3 Maverick Vi̱ales Suzuki ESP 01'54.638
4 Andrea Iannone Ducati ITA 01'54.693
5 Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 01'54.815
6 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati ITA 01'54.963
7 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 01'55.078
8 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 01'55.165
9 Pol Espargaro Yamaha ESP 01'55.302
10 Cal Crutchlow Honda GBR 01'55.352
11 Bradley Smith Yamaha GBR 01'55.414
12 Scott Redding Ducati GBR 01'55.508
13 Yonny Hernandez Ducati COL 01'56.157
14 Eugene Laverty Ducati GBR 01'56.186
15 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki ESP 01'56.238
16 Loris Baz Ducati FRA 01'56.375
17 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia ESP 01'56.595
18 Jack Miller Honda AUS 01'56.620
19 Tito Rabat Honda ESP 01'57.108
20 Stefan Bradl Aprilia DEU 01'57.216
21 Danilo Petrucci Ducati ITA 01'55.931

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