Jorge Lorenzo showed no after-effects of his morning crash as he left the opposition trailing in qualifying for the United States Grand Prix at Laguna Seca. The World Champion came off his YZR-M1 at the end of FP3 but was back to his brilliant best a couple of hours later, setting three laps good enough for pole.
With 15 minutes left on the clock, the first serious assault on pole position was launched by home favourite Ben Spies who set a 1:21.578, to that point, the fastest lap of the weekend. The Monterey crowd's delight was short lived though as Lorenzo established his authority in the Yamaha ranks with a 1:21.336, quickly followed by a 1:21.221.
The gauntlet was thrown down to the quartet of factory Hondas and Marco Simoncelli wasn't up to the task, falling short by half a second. Casey Stoner's first attempt was unsuccessful too and the Australian was forced to retreat back to the pits.
Spies' challenge ended with five minutes to go after a crash at turn three but the Hondas were finding it tough to shift him from the front row, let alone challenge his teammate. Dani Pedrosa finally managed it in the final minute to take second, still 0.183s away from Lorenzo while Stoner left it even later before setting a 1:21.274 to secure a place on the middle of the front row.
Lorenzo rubbed salt into the wounds though. Moments after setting a 1:21.204, a couple of thousandths shy of his own benchmark, the Spaniard found another two hundredths of a second to put pole position beyond doubt. Stoner and Pedrosa will join him on the front row while Ben Spies will have to make do with a place on the second row.
Marco Simoncelli and Andrea Dovizioso fought out a nip-and-tuck battle for fifth which narrowly fell in the favour of the San Carlo Gresini rider. Simoncelli's best effort was a mere 0.035s quicker than his fellow countryman.
Another Italian will line up just behind in seventh after Valentino Rossi matched his best qualifying performance of the year. The 2008 Laguna winner finally extracted the best of the GP11.1 in qualifying trim to head up the third row with Hector Barbera and Nicky Hayden ensuring a third row lock-out for the Ducatis, although Hayden may well have been able to launch his GP11 further up the grid but for a crash at turn nine.
Cal Crutchlow rounded out the top ten following another outstanding display on the Tech 3 Yamaha. The Briton outqualified teammate Colin Edwards despite his far greater experience of the 3.610km track.
Alvaro Bautista was another rider whose session was blighted by an accident. The Rizla Suzuki man had the third row in his sights before a fall at turn three early on. Although he returned to the track, the Spaniard could do no better than 12th.
The fifth row is led by Karel Abraham with Hiroshi Aoyama and Randy de Puniet alongside. The 15th placed grid slot may well be empty tomorrow though after the Pramac Ducati rider crashed out at turn five in the first half of the session. The Frenchman was taken to the medical centre with a suspected back injury.
Teammate Loris Capirossi is already walking wounded himself and he qualified 16th with LCR Honda duo Toni Elias and Ben Bostrom completing the grid, the American rookie finishing just over a second away from his more experienced teammate.
2011 Red Bull U.S Grand Prix: Qualifying Result
|1||Jorge Lorenzo||SPA||Yamaha||Yamaha Factory Racing||1:21.202|
|2||Casey Stoner||AUS||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||+0.072|
|3||Dani Pedrosa||SPA||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||+0.183|
|4||Ben Spies||USA||Yamaha||Yamaha Factory Racing||+0.376|
|5||Marco Simoncelli||ITA||Honda||San Carlo Honda Gresini||+0.494|
|6||Andrea Dovizioso||ITA||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||+0.529|
|7||Valentino Rossi||ITA||Ducati||Ducati Team||+1.033|
|8||Hector Barbera||SPA||Ducati||Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP||+1.036|
|9||Nicky Hayden||USA||Ducati||Ducati Team||+1.069|
|10||Cal Crutchlow||GBR||Yamaha||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||+1.183|
|11||Colin Edwards||USA||Yamaha||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||+1.318|
|12||Alvaro Bautista||SPA||Suzuki||Rizla Suzuki MotoGP||+1.467|
|13||Karel Abraham||CZE||Ducati||Cardion AB Motoracing||+1.691|
|14||Hiroshi Aoyama||JAP||Honda||San Carlo Honda Gresini||+1.735|
|15||Randy de Puniet||FRA||Ducati||Pramac Racing Team||+1.759|
|16||Loris Capirossi||ITA||Ducati||Pramac Racing Team||+2.674|
|17||Toni Elias||SPA||Honda||LCR Honda MotoGP||+2.954|
|18||Ben Bostrom (WC)||USA||Honda||LCR Honda MotoGP||+4.089|