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.RiderNationTeamBikeKm/hTimeGap 1st/Prev.
1.99Jorge LORENZOSPAYamaha Factory RacingYamaha327.11’54.634
2.1Casey STONERAUSRepsol Honda TeamHonda331.91’54.8550.221 / 0.221
3.35Cal CRUTCHLOWGBRMonster Yamaha Tech 3Yamaha328.01’55.0220.388 / 0.167
4.11Ben SPIESUSAYamaha Factory RacingYamaha326.11’55.5120.878 / 0.490
5.69Nicky HAYDENUSADucati TeamDucati334.21’55.6371.003 / 0.125
6.4Andrea DOVIZIOSOITAMonster Yamaha Tech 3Yamaha328.91’55.8581.224 / 0.221
7.26Dani PEDROSASPARepsol Honda TeamHonda330.81’55.9051.271 / 0.047
8.8Hector BARBERASPAPramac Racing TeamDucati337.11’55.9831.349 / 0.078
9.6Stefan BRADLGERLCR Honda MotoGPHonda334.01’56.0631.429 / 0.080
10.17Karel ABRAHAMCZECardion AB MotoracingDucati333.51’56.1981.564 / 0.135
11.19Alvaro BAUTISTASPASan Carlo Honda GresiniHonda334.31’56.5211.887 / 0.323
12.46Valentino ROSSIITADucati TeamDucati338.11’56.8132.179 / 0.292
13.5Colin EDWARDSUSANGM Mobile Forward RacingSuter314.81’57.6443.010 / 0.831
14.14Randy DE PUNIETFRAPower Electronics AsparART309.61’58.2663.632 / 0.622
15.41Aleix ESPARGAROSPAPower Electronics AsparART312.11’58.5203.886 / 0.254
16.68Yonny HERNANDEZCOLAvintia BlusensBQR-FTR303.61’58.7954.161 / 0.275
17.51Michele PIRROITASan Carlo Honda GresiniFTR311.11’59.0854.451 / 0.290
18.54Mattia PASINIITASpeed MasterART311.51’59.1954.561 / 0.110
19.9Danilo PETRUCCIITACame IodaRacing ProjectIoda296.81’59.6645.030 / 0.469
20.22Ivan SILVASPAAvintia BlusensBQR-FTR306.12’00.4935.859 / 0.829
21.77James ELLISONGBRPaul Bird MotorsportART309.92’00.7576.123 / 0.264

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One of the few moto journalists based on the East Coast, Ron Lieback joined the motorcycle industry as a freelancer in 2007 and is currently Editor at Large at Ultimate Motorcycling. He is also the author of 365 to Vision: Modern Writer's Guide (How to Produce More Quality Writing in Less Time).