Reigning MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo became the first MotoGP rider to take pole position under the new qualifying format tonight at the Losail International Circuit for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Qatar. The new quick-fire format allowing just 15 minutes for the riders to deliver their best lap proved an intense session. Lorenzo was quick to move to the top of the time sheets with a fats lap only to be relegated to third by rival Dani Pedrosa and then fellow Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow. The Champion then responded with a stunning 1’54.714 second lap, over two tenths clear of Crutchlow in second to take his first pole of the season.
Having set a threatening pace over the practice sessions Valentino Rossi looked promising for a strong qualifying session. Unfortunately the Italian nine-time World Champion was held up in traffic on his second outing with a fresh tyre and was unable to make it to the front row for tomorrow’s race. Rossi will start his first Grand Prix back with Yamaha from the fourth row in seventh place.
Jorge Lorenzo - 1st, Time - 1'54.714
“I’m really happy, for three or four laps we pushed to the limit. I knew Cal was really fast over one lap so I had to push to the maximum. I’m very happy with this pole position. The important thing is that the Yamaha works here at this track. I think for the first time of the new qualifying format it has been very positive and for the fans it is very good to watch. For the riders you are a little more nervous and you have less time to make a fast lap. I knew I was competitive but the ten minutes before the qualifying we had some problems with the set up of the bike so it was more difficult to make the time. We had to change to yesterday’s setting. The important thing is it make a good start tomorrow. The last simulations I made were better than yesterday so I’m quite confident for the start. If there are problems in the first laps we have to be patient and wait for the middle of the race.”
Valentino Rossi - 7th, Time - 1'55.711
“The qualifying was not fantastic for us, especially as we lost the second row. Our performance during free practice was better than this, we’ll wait for tomorrow. Unfortunately in the qualifying session with the second tyre where we had to improve I was stuck in traffic so I could not improve my lap time and I lost some positions. For sure tomorrow it becomes more difficult to start from further behind but we have a good pace so we can be quite competitive.”
Wilco Zeelenberg - Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“The new qualifying system has been run for the first time and Jorge got the pole. It was very exciting I have to say. Everything is focused on just 15 minutes so you are more nervous than with an hour qualification. He did very well and was happy with his performance and with the bike also. We are looking forward to tomorrow’s race. There are three or four guys who are strong, but we will try to win the race and if not be on the podium! The first challenge is the start and we'll see from there.”
Massimo Meregalli - Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“There’s no better way to start the season than with a pole. The lap that Jorge did was amazing. He could have gone even faster but anyway what he has done is really great. The pace he has is really good and I think we can be pretty optimistic for tomorrow. Unfortunately Vale had some traffic during his last tyre and that compromised his possibility to do two fast laps. He has to start from the third row but he is a fighter and what we have seen from the last two days means we know he can do well. We are ready for tomorrow.”
Crutchlow storms to stunning front row in Qatar
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Cal Crutchlow will start the 2013 MotoGP World Championship from the front row of the grid in Qatar tomorrow night after he starred in a dramatic and tense new qualifying format. A new qualifying system, which saw the fastest 12 riders go into a 15-minute shootout for pole position in QP2, created some pulsating action on track and British rider Crutchlow was in contention for a career first pole throughout at the floodlit Losail International Circuit. His third lap was a blistering 1.54.916 that put him 0.248s clear of Dani Pedrosa and the in-form 27-year-old, who topped the timesheets in the fourth and final practice session earlier this evening, looked certain to further improve his fast pace. Crutchlow launched a determined attack on his second Bridgestone soft compound rear tyre but he was unable to improve his pace. Such was his sensational speed he still managed to claim his eighth front row start in MotoGP by taking second behind reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo. Crutchlow was only 0.202s behind Lorenzo and the former World Supersport Champion is confident he has the pace in full race trim to challenge for a third MotoGP podium in tomorrow night’s eagerly anticipated 22-lap race.
Just as impressive as Crutchlow’s outstanding ride was the performance of Monster Yamaha Tech 3 teammate Bradley Smith in his first MotoGP qualifying session. He’d performed brilliantly last night in FP3 to ensure he was seeded straight through to tonight’s QP2 session. Tonight was only the second time Smith has been thrust into full blown time attack mode and he delivered superbly when it mattered to finish in a fantastic ninth position. A best lap of 1.56.315 on the fourth of his eight laps completed secured him a place on the third row of the grid with Alvaro Bautista and nine-times World Champion Valentino Rossi. He is now confident that he can mark his MotoGP debut with a strong ride into the top 10.
Cal Crutchlow - 2nd, Time - 1'54.917
“It is a very positive way to be starting the first race from the front row of the grid and thanks to my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team because I had a great bike underneath me tonight. I was confident going into QP2 of being able to challenge for the front row because I was fastest in FP4 and the bike felt like it was working really well. I must admit the 15-minute format is really exciting and I think it is great for the Championship and for the fans. I’d have liked it to have been only 10 minutes long because that would have put me on pole position! But credit to Jorge because he pulled a brilliant time out of the bag, though I am really satisfied because starting from the front row is always important. It is going to be a very difficult race but I am ready for it. I think there are six of us that can be fighting for the podium and I will cer tainly be giving it my all to make sure I am one of them.”
Bradley Smith - 9th, Time - 1'56.315
“I was really happy to make it into QP2, so to claim a place on the third row for my first MotoGP race is an incredible feeling. I’m particularly pleased because I only used one soft tyre in the 15-minute session and it looks like everybody else set their best time on their second soft tyre. I used an extra one last night in FP3 to make sure I made into the top 10 for QP2 and I want to keep another soft tyre for the Warm-up session to give me some feeling ahead of the race tomorrow night. So to be on the third row is better than I expected and to be in front of Nicky (Hayden) is a bonus. Hopefully tomorrow night I will be able to get in a battle. That’s the best way for me to learn how to ride this bike more and gain more experience, and I don’t have a target other than that."