Motegi MotoGP Qualifying | Lorenzo Tops Marquez for Pole

Yamaha Factory Racing's Jorge Lorenzo

2013 Motegi MotoGP Qualifying Results

With rain from Typhoon Francisco plaguing the Twin Ring Motegi circuit, all Friday and Saturday practice sessions were canceled.

Instead, Race Direction arrived with a contingency plan for Saturday, which consisted of one single, 75-minute qualifying session instead of the usual 15-minute Q1 and Q2 sessions.  This was the first time all weekend that the 25-rider grid was on the track, and each rider was on Bridgestone rain tires.

And when the 75-minute qualifying session was complete, Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo earned the pole. This was the reigning MotoGP Champion’s fourth pole of 2013. This gives the Spaniard the most optimal starting position to keep the title from the man he trails by eight points heading into the penultimate round – Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez.

Lorenzo posted a 1:53.471 around the 2.983-mile circuit; to put this wet time into perspective, Lorenzo, who finished second last year at Motegi, holds the Best Pole with a 1:44.969.

Even in the rainy conditions Lorenzo was untouchable, and only one rider posted a time within a second of him. That rider? Easy to guess – Marc Marquez. The 20-year-old rookie was 0.658 of a second behind Lorenzo.

Taking the final front-row starting position was Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden. This was the first time since 2012 Jerez MotoGP that the American will start from the front row. The Kentuckian, who has signed with the Power Electronics Aspar CRT squad for 2014-2015, was 1.068 seconds behind Lorenzo.

Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: “I’m really happy, it was not so simple because my last memory of the rain was Assen. At the beginning I was a little bit scared and didn’t want to crash. We were lucky to have the extended qualifying time to get used to the track.

“Little by little I got confidence and finally I felt really good with the bike and the grip of the track, especially under braking. It doesn’t matter if it’s wet or dry tomorrow, it’s not my problem to think about it, I have to ride in whatever conditions we have. A wet race would be better for the championship though!”

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V MotoGP) says: “Today was a different kind of qualifying session, like those from the past with a lot of track time, as we had an hour and fifteen minutes. It is the first time that I’ve ridden here in MotoGP at Motegi and in addition it was wet and I didn’t have time to set the bike up, but nevertheless I think we had a good session. We achieved our aim of a spot on the front row. Tomorrow’s race is forecast to be dry, and it will be interesting as nobody has had time to find a good setup.”

Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team GP13 MotoGP) says: “We know our GP13 works well in the wet, and it’s nice to be on the front row here in Japan. If I’m honest, I’m a bit disappointed because at times in the session I was very fast and really had good feeling; I thought even pole position was a possibility, but in the last part of the session, the other guys really stepped it up, and as the track dried out, I wasn’t able to improve.

“Maybe I should’ve put on a new front tyre for the last exit, but it’s nice to be able to smile, and the important thing is to try to take advantage of the front row in the race. We know it’s going to be much more difficult if it’s dry, but I’ll try to get a good start and put up a fight for as long as I can. Thanks to the team for being pros and continuing to give me their best.”

Heading up the second row is the only other rider with a mathematical chance of earning the 2013 MotoGP title – Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa. Last year’s Motegi MotoGP winner, who was 1.071 seconds behind Lorenzo, will be joined by nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi (Yamaha Factory Racing) and the other Ducati Team rider, Andrea Dovizioso.

Although he suffered a crash at turn seven, GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista will start on top of the third row in seventh. The RC213V pilot will be joined on the third row by LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl, who returns to action after fracturing his ankle at Sepang, and the man who earned the top CRT honors last week at Phillip Island, Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro.

Completing the top 10 was Ignite Pramac Racing Ducati’s Yonny Hernandez, who finished ahead of Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow and wildcard rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga aboard the Yamaha YSP Racing Team’s YZR-M1. Crutchlow’s teammate Bradley Smith also struggled, qualifying 13th.

With dry weather expected on Sunday, the grid will get an extended, 50-minute free practice session to further tune their perspective machines. The 24-lap race is set for 2 p.m. local time.

Marquez could possibly clinch the title if he leaves Motegi with a 26-point lead. This would make him the youngest rookie to win a MotoGP Championship since Freddie Spencer 35 years ago.

Fox Sports 1 will broadcast Motegi MotoGP at 4 p.m. EDT Sunday, Oct. 27.

The other big news on Saturday came from the Ignite Pramac Racing Ducati squad. It’s rider, Ben Spies, announced his retirement from motorcycle racing. The American only competed in two rounds, and was out with injury all season. Here’s the report.

2013 Motegi MotoGP Qualifying Results:

199Jorge LORENZOSPAYamaha Factory RacingYamaha293.81’53.471
293Marc MARQUEZSPARepsol Honda TeamHonda301.51’54.1290.658 / 0.658
369Nicky HAYDENUSADucati TeamDucati293.71’54.5391.068 / 0.410
426Dani PEDROSASPARepsol Honda TeamHonda300.81’54.5421.071 / 0.003
546Valentino ROSSIITAYamaha Factory RacingYamaha295.81’54.7321.261 / 0.190
64Andrea DOVIZIOSOITADucati TeamDucati295.81’55.0361.565 / 0.304
719Alvaro BAUTISTASPAGO&FUN Honda GresiniHonda299.61’55.1351.664 / 0.099
86Stefan BRADLGERLCR Honda MotoGPHonda299.01’55.6102.139 / 0.475
941Aleix ESPARGAROSPAPower Electronics AsparART288.71’55.7192.248 / 0.109
1068Yonny HERNANDEZCOLIgnite Pramac RacingDucati294.21’55.9982.527 / 0.279
1135Cal CRUTCHLOWGBRMonster Yamaha Tech 3Yamaha293.71’56.0582.587 / 0.060
1221Katsuyuki NAKASUGAJPNYamaha YSP Racing TeamYamaha294.01’56.1252.654 / 0.067
1338Bradley SMITHGBRMonster Yamaha Tech 3Yamaha289.31’57.1143.643 / 0.989
145Colin EDWARDSUSANGM Mobile Forward RacingFTR Kawasaki284.21’57.2973.826 / 0.183
1529Andrea IANNONEITAEnergy T.I. Pramac RacingDucati288.91’57.3473.876 / 0.050
169Danilo PETRUCCIITACame IodaRacing ProjectIoda-Suter281.81’57.5404.069 / 0.193
1714Randy DE PUNIETFRAPower Electronics AsparART281.71’57.7154.244 / 0.175
187Hiroshi AOYAMAJPNAvintia BlusensFTR287.61’57.9944.523 / 0.279
1970Michael LAVERTYGBRPaul Bird MotorsportART283.71’58.5405.069 / 0.546
2023Luca SCASSAITACardion AB MotoracingART281.91’58.8025.331 / 0.262
2171Claudio CORTIITANGM Mobile Forward RacingFTR Kawasaki282.31’59.6176.146 / 0.815
228Hector BARBERASPAAvintia BlusensFTR284.41’59.6466.175 / 0.029
2350Damian CUDLINAUSPaul Bird MotorsportPBM280.52’00.9827.511 / 1.336
67Bryan STARINGAUSGO&FUN Honda GresiniFTR Honda274.92’02.7129.241 / 1.730
52Lukas PESEKCZECame IodaRacing ProjectIoda-Suter277.92’02.9329.461 / 0.220