Dani Pedrosa rode the fastest ever two-wheeled lap of the Ricardo Tormo circuit to snatch pole position for tomorrow’s season finale at Valencia. The Spaniard became the first rider to under 1m31s, taking away Valentino Rossi’s six-year-old qualifying record set on a 990cc Yamaha.
The achievement was all the more impressive considering the MotoGP class hadn’t enjoyed any fully-dry track time prior to qualifying. Lorenzo set the early pace on a 1:32.099 but understandably, the riders were concentrating on some much-needed set-up work as opposed to outright lap times.
The first to go for gold on soft tyres was Stefan Bradl, fifteen minutes from time, and the German jumped straight up to second place, just a tenth behind Lorenzo but his fellow Honda riders were also on track in qualifying trim. Casey Stoner raised the bar straight away with a 1:31.568 with most of the time made up in the final sector. It certainly appeared to Honda territory as the likes of Lorenzo and Cal Crutchlow couldn’t match him through there.
As a result, Crutchlow’s promising lap only moved him up to second, which quickly became third as Pedrosa snuck ahead of him, but Lorenzo had managed to pull out a big enough margin through the first half of the lap to pip Stoner at the line, setting a 1:31.483 four minutes from the end.
Casey immediately returned to the track for the final qualifying run of his career and started it in typical fashion with the fastest lap of the day, a 1:31.428, but the goalposts would be significantly moved by his teammate moments later with Pedrosa pulling out half a second, an unthinkable margin around such a tight circuit.
Lorenzo produced the kind of brilliance that clinched him the MotoGP title by snatching second on his final lap, splitting the Repsol Hondas, while Cal Crutchlow rounded off an excellent season of Saturday performances with fourth. Rookie of the Year Stefan Bradl was fifth, splitting Crutchlow from his Tech 3 teammate Andrea Dovizioso, while Nicky Hayden edged out Alvaro Bautista and Hector Barbera for seventh.
Aleix Espargaro broke into the top ten for Aspar, beating Valentino Rossi in the process with the Italian’s pain at Ducati soon at an end. James Ellison will start a disappointing twentieth with only Hiroshi Aoyama and Claudio Corti behind him.