Lorenzo on Pole for Qatar MotoGP

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2012 Qatar MotoGP Pole Results

Up until the third and final free practice session on Friday, the reigning MotoGP Champion Casey Stoner was the setting the pace at Losail International Circuit, Qatar, for round 1 of the 2012 MotoGP Championship.

But the Repsol Honda rider fell back to third in Free Practice 3, which was headed up by Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo. In second after FP3 was another Yamaha, the satellite YZR-M1 ridden by Monster Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow, and then Stoner.

And Lorenzo replicated this performance Saturday in qualifying for Qatar MotoGP. While on soft Bridgestone qualifying tires, the Spaniard, a 2010 MotoGP Champion, posted a 1:54.634 aboard the 1000cc YZR-M1. It’s worth noting that last year’s pole-position time aboard the 800cc RC212V of Casey Stoner was a 1:54.137, more than a half-second slower.

Back to 2012, and Stoner wouldn’t allow Lorenzo take the pole by much. The Australian trailed Lorenzo by 0.221 of a second, and was the final rider to post under the 1:55 mark.

Taking the final front-row position was Crutchlow, who trailed Stoner by 0.167 of a second. This was the Brit’s best-ever qualifying position in only his second year in the premier class.

Heading up the second row will be Lorenzo’s teammate, Ben Spies. The American posted a 1:55.512, and suffered a crash during the last five minutes of qualifying, which ended his chances for a better time.

Spies, who was the final rider to post within a second of Lorenzo, was followed 0.125 of a second behind by his fellow American, Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden. As for Hayden’s teammate, nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi, he qualifying in 12th. Taking the final position on the second row was Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Andrea Dovizioso.

Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa will head up the third row, and the Spaniard will be joined by Pramac Racing Ducati’s Hector Barbera and LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl, the reigning Moto2 Champion.

Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati’s Karel Abraham suffered crash towards the end of qualifying, but put in a good-enough time for 10th. Joining him on the fourth row will be San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista and Rossi.

Colin Edwards (NGM Mobile Forward Racing Team) took the honor of qualifying as the fastest CRT machine in 13th, 0.831s behind Rossi, with Power Electronics Aspar duo Randy de Puniet and Aleix Espargaró getting onto the fifth row with the American. The Frenchman escaped a crash 20 minutes from the end unharmed, MotoGP says.

The 21-rider grid will be back on the Qatar circuit at 6 p.m. local time Sunday for a 20-minute warm up ahead of the first race of 2012, which is set for 10 p.m. local time.

SPEED TV will broadcast the race beginning at 3 p.m. EDT Sunday, April 8.

2012 Qatar MotoGP Qualifying Results:

Pos. Num. Rider Nation Team Bike Km/h Time Gap 1st/Prev.
1. 99 Jorge LORENZO SPA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha 327.1 1’54.634
2. 1 Casey STONER AUS Repsol Honda Team Honda 331.9 1’54.855 0.221 / 0.221
3. 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 328.0 1’55.022 0.388 / 0.167
4. 11 Ben SPIES USA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha 326.1 1’55.512 0.878 / 0.490
5. 69 Nicky HAYDEN USA Ducati Team Ducati 334.2 1’55.637 1.003 / 0.125
6. 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 328.9 1’55.858 1.224 / 0.221
7. 26 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 330.8 1’55.905 1.271 / 0.047
8. 8 Hector BARBERA SPA Pramac Racing Team Ducati 337.1 1’55.983 1.349 / 0.078
9. 6 Stefan BRADL GER LCR Honda MotoGP Honda 334.0 1’56.063 1.429 / 0.080
10. 17 Karel ABRAHAM CZE Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati 333.5 1’56.198 1.564 / 0.135
11. 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda 334.3 1’56.521 1.887 / 0.323
12. 46 Valentino ROSSI ITA Ducati Team Ducati 338.1 1’56.813 2.179 / 0.292
13. 5 Colin EDWARDS USA NGM Mobile Forward Racing Suter 314.8 1’57.644 3.010 / 0.831
14. 14 Randy DE PUNIET FRA Power Electronics Aspar ART 309.6 1’58.266 3.632 / 0.622
15. 41 Aleix ESPARGARO SPA Power Electronics Aspar ART 312.1 1’58.520 3.886 / 0.254
16. 68 Yonny HERNANDEZ COL Avintia Blusens BQR-FTR 303.6 1’58.795 4.161 / 0.275
17. 51 Michele PIRRO ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR 311.1 1’59.085 4.451 / 0.290
18. 54 Mattia PASINI ITA Speed Master ART 311.5 1’59.195 4.561 / 0.110
19. 9 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Came IodaRacing Project Ioda 296.8 1’59.664 5.030 / 0.469
20. 22 Ivan SILVA SPA Avintia Blusens BQR-FTR 306.1 2’00.493 5.859 / 0.829
21. 77 James ELLISON GBR Paul Bird Motorsport ART 309.9 2’00.757 6.123 / 0.264