Jorge Lorenzo marked his 26th birthday with pole position for his home Grand Prix after keeping his cool in a chaotic qualifying session at Jerez. The world champion saw three of his four rivals for pole crash out in the fifteen minute shootout and, as a result, easily outpaced Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez on the two factory Hondas.
Lorenzo was straight into the 1:38s in the quick-fire qualifying session but Crutchlow was on course to threaten the front row before a heavy fall on the brakes into Lorenzo’s own corner, the final hairpin. That was actually his second spill of the day having made a mistake in the untimed FP4 session prior to qualifying proper.
Valentino Rossi was the next to hit trouble, losing the front end of his Yamaha at the Alex Criville corner, destroying his YZR-M1 in the process. The drama didn’t end there as Pedrosa slid off in the final minute as he chased Lorenzo’s benchmark time although it didn’t impact Dani with Marquez unable to challenge his second place.
The chaos elsewhere ensured the front row riders were unchallenged with Crutchlow forced to settle for fourth despite improving fractionally on his spare bike. Rossi’s accident came too late for him to regroup and he was nailed down in fifth with Alvaro Bautista sixth for GO&FUN Gresini.
Nicky Hayden leads the Ducati challenge in seventh with Stefan Bradl splitting him from teammate Andrea Dovizioso. Bradl was forced into early action in Q1 after struggling in practice but the German delivered when the pressure was on, as did Bradley Smith who claimed the other bonus spot in Q2. The British rookie couldn’t get any further up the grid than twelfth though with Hector Barbera and Andrea Iannone outpacing him.
Michael Laverty maintained his solid pace on the PBM machine to qualify 22nd, just a tenth of a second behind teammate Yonny Hernandez.