Jorge Lorenzo admitted he needed to get every last bit of speed out of his Yamaha YZR-M1 to beat Cal Crutchlow to pole in Qatar. The world champion pipped Tech 3’s Crutchlow by two tenths of a second in a new qualifying format which seems to have been universally approved and the Spaniard said the new shorter session increased the tension for teams, riders and spectators.
“I’m really happy, for three or four laps we pushed to the limit. I knew Cal was really fast over one lap so I had to push to the maximum. I’m very happy with this pole position. The important thing is that the Yamaha works here at this track. I think for the first time of the new qualifying format it has been very positive and for the fans it is very good to watch. For the riders you are a little more nervous and you have less time to make a fast lap. I knew I was competitive but the ten minutes before the qualifying we had some problems with the set-up of the bike so it was more difficult to make the time. We had to change to yesterday’s setting. The important thing is to make a good start tomorrow. The last simulations I made were better than yesterday so I’m quite confident for the start. If there are problems in the first laps we have to be patient and wait for the middle of the race.”
Teammate Valentino Rossi didn’t enjoy the new-look qualifying quite as much, ending up in seventh place and the Italian blamed traffic on his last run for the one-second deficit to Lorenzo.
“The qualifying was not fantastic for us, especially as we lost the second row. Our performance during free practice was better than this, we’ll wait for tomorrow. Unfortunately in the qualifying session with the second tyre where we had to improve I was stuck in traffic so I could not improve my lap time and I lost some positions. For sure tomorrow it becomes more difficult to start from further behind but we have a good pace so we can be quite competitive.”