Jorge Lorenzo has clinched pole position for the Tissot Australian Grand Prix, ahead of Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi after a highly dramatic shootout at Phillip Island.
The Yamaha Factory Racing rider clinched his third pole of the campaign – his first since Jerez in May – courtesy of a best lap of 1’27.899, but this was only after his bike clipped a seagull.
Jorge Lorenzo: “I had an impact with a bird on the first few laps on the bike, luckily we could take it off and I could make a second attempt without a passenger, maybe because of this I went a little bit faster and was able to make pole position. I’m very happy because I pushed to the limit to make the lap and I made a very good time. We have some problems with the tyre because the new asphalt makes a lot of graining; we’ll see if there are decisions from Dorna or Bridgestone tomorrow for the race. If we can make a good start we will try to get away at the beginning.”
Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez will be able to secure the world crown on Sunday if he ends the race with a points advantage of 51 or more. The 20-year-old rookie has now also amassed a points margin large enough to become unassailable in the BMW M Award, successfully winning the prize on his first attempt.
Lorenzo’s team-mate, Valentino Ross will start on the front row for the second consecutive race, ahead of GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista who qualified fourth but went off-track at the end of qualifying. Fifth will be Sepang winner Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) – who is the only rider other than Marquez and Lorenzo with a mathematical possibility of winning the championship. Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Cal Crutchlow, will start from sixth position.
Valentino Rossi: “Coming back in Phillip Island with the new surface is fantastic, especially with this weather and this temperature to be back on the M1 is a great pleasure. To be able to push 100% on the soft front tyre is a fantastic feeling. I’m so happy with this position, it’s the second first row in a row. It looks like in the last races we have found a better solution for qualifying because at the beginning of the season I struggled a lot. I know the race is tomorrow and especially Marc and Jorge and Dani will be very hard to beat. I have to give the maximum, find a good setting and tyre and try to fight for the podium.”
Row 3 will be occupied by Tech3’s Bradley Smith plus Ducati Team pairing Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso. Tenth on the grid will be Energy T.I. Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone, who entered the Q2 shootout from Q1, as was also the case with Dovizioso. It was towards the end of Q1 when Iannone was involved in an on-track disagreement with Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro, who failed to feature in Q2.
Colin Edwards set the CRT pace as he qualified 11th for NGM Mobile Forward Racing, ahead of Randy de Puniet, while the Frenchman’s team-mate Espargaro will be 13th on the grid; both de Puniet and Edwards suffered incidents in the Q2 shootout.
Australian Bryan Staring will start his home race 21st on the Gresini CRT bike, while fellow countryman Damian Cudlin who is taking over from Yonny Hernandez at PBM will start from 23rd position.
Honda LCR’s Stefan Bradl has withdrawn after testing his newly fractured ankle in Friday morning practice.
Hernandez continues to replace Ben Spies at Pramac Ducati, and World Supersport-ace Scassa replaces the injured Karel Abraham at Cardion AB.
Phillip Island has been resurfaced since last year’s event – after Friday practice, Bridgestone specified that all riders must use the harder rear for the race due to increased tyre wear. However, the short qualifying shootout meant that the softer rear was used without issue.
Final Qualifying Results – Phillip Island
1. Jorge Lorenzo ESP Yamaha Factory Racing (YZR-M1) 1m 27.899s (Lap 6/7)
2. Marc Marquez ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 1m 28.120s (6/8)
3. Valentino Rossi ITA Yamaha Factory Racing (YZR-M1) 1m 28.647s (7/9)
4. Alvaro Bautista ESP Go&Fun Honda Gresini (RC213V) 1m 28.713s (7/9)
5. Dani Pedrosa ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 1m 28.748s (9/9)
6. Cal Crutchlow GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 1m 28.809s (8/9)
7. Bradley Smith GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 1m 28.941s (7/9)
8. Nicky Hayden USA Ducati Team (GP13) 1m 29.295s (7/8)
9. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Ducati Team (GP13) 1m 29.660s (8/9)
10. Andrea Iannone ITA Energy T.I. Pramac Racing (GP13) 1m 29.756s (8/9)
11. Colin Edwards USA NGM Forward Racing (FTR-Kawasaki CRT)* 1m 30.264s (2/2)
12. Randy De Puniet FRA Power Electronics Aspar (ART CRT) 1m 30.735s (6/7)
13. Aleix Espargaro ESP Power Electronics Aspar (ART CRT) 1m 30.081s (2/7)
14. Claudio Corti ITA NGM Forward Racing (FTR-Kawasaki CRT)* 1m 30.530s (2/7)
15. Yonny Hernandez COL Ignite Pramac Racing (GP13) 1m 30.641s (7/9)
16. Hiroshi Aoyama JPN Avintia Blusens (FTR-Kawasaki CRT)* 1m 30.733s (3/8)
17. Danilo Petrucci ITA Came IodaRacing Project (Suter-BMW CRT)* 1m 30.894s (7/8)
18. Michael Laverty GBR Paul Bird Motorsport (ART CRT) 1m 30.979s (4/9)
19. Hector Barbera ESP Avintia Blusens (FTR-Kawasaki CRT)* 1m 31.061s (3/8)
20. Luca Scassa ITA Cardion AB Motoracing (ART CRT) 1m 31.093s (7/9)
21. Bryan Staring AUS Go&Fun Honda Gresini (FTR-Honda CRT) 1m 31.775s (3/8)
22. Lukas Pesek CZE Came IodaRacing Project (Suter-BMW CRT)* 1m 32.474s (8/8)
23. Damian Cudlin AUS Paul Bird Motorsport (PBM-ART CRT)* 1m 33.007s (3/8)
* Standard ECU.
Fastest practice time: Dani Pedrosa ESP Honda 1m 28.959s (FP3)
Official Australian MotoGP records:
Best lap: Casey Stoner AUS Ducati 1m 28.665s (2008)
Fastest race lap: Nicky Hayden USA Honda1m 30.059s (2008)