Lorenzo crashes but takes Laguna Seca pole

Lorenzo crashes but takes Laguna Seca pole

Jorge Lorenzo may have crashed his Yamaha twice in the qualifying session for the US Grand Prix at the Laguna Seca Raceway today, but he overcame the incidents to take the pole position for tomorrow's race. Remarkably, the pole is his fifth of...

Jorge Lorenzo may have crashed his Yamaha twice in the qualifying session for the US Grand Prix at the Laguna Seca Raceway today, but he overcame the incidents to take the pole position for tomorrow's race. Remarkably, the pole is his fifth of the year, more than all other riders combined.

Jorge Lorenzo, Fiat Yamaha Team.
Photo by Yamaha Motor Racing.

"I'm disappointed for these two crashes," Lorenzo said. "But I am okay and I am optimistic that I will be able to ride tomorrow."

Lorenzo's first crash was a low-side one at turn 10, a sharp right-hander after the fast Rainey Curve, with some 20 minutes remaining in the qualifying session; the Spaniard quickly ran back to the pits and jumped on his spare Yamaha M1. He wasted no time in getting up to speed on his spare bike, and just eight minutes later clinched the first starting position with a time of 1:21.678.

His day wasn't over yet, though: as he was looking for another fast lap in the dying minutes of the session, he high-sided his bike in a massive crash in the same turn 10. After flying over his handlebars, the Spaniard landed on his right shoulder and slid some 30 metres into the sandtrap.

"When I had my last chance to do a quick lap time I found some slower riders on track, and they wanted to follow me," Lorenzo recalled. "I decided to slow down for a while because I wanted to be alone but the rear tyre was too cold for the speed I was doing. I went into the corner and I crashed."

Lorenzo was was carried away on a stretcher, and was found to have partially dislocated his right shoulder, and heavily bruised his foot. The series medical staff will not decide until tomorrow whether to clear him to race.

That left the field open for Lorenzo's teammate, Valentino Rossi, and Ducati ace Casey Stoner to try to beat Lorenzo's fast time in the dying minutes of the session. The battle was cut short, though, as Stoner also suffered a high-side crash just a minute later, this one in turn three. He, too, was stretchered away, though it appears that he escaped serious injury.

The door was now open for Rossi, and he put his complete focus into cracking the front of the grid. With the chequered flag already out, Il Dottore crossed the line with a time of 1:21.845. Fast, but not quite fast enough for a pole position, and Lorenzo, already speeding away in an ambulance, held on to the top spot for a Yamaha 1-2.

"I just hope that Casey and Jorge are fit and are able to race," said Rossi. "For sure it would be a great battle between us, as our pace on race tyres is very similar."

"I'm very happy with my second position," he continued. "Actually today we did not have two perfect practices and we still have some problems to fix. At the end, especially in the last part of the track I am not strong enough so we have to work on Sunday to improve our setting."

Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso on the works Hondas will start from the second row, fourth and fifth respectively. The two were separated by just two thousandths of a second, but their gap to Stoner was more than two tenths. Toni Elias, on the factory-spec but privateer-run Gresini Honda will fill out the third row, having finished just 0.012 seconds adrift of Dovizioso.

In spite of their extra familiarity with the challenging Laguna Seca track, the top Americams, Colin Edwards (Tech 3 Yamaha) and Nicky Hayden (Ducati) were not able to do better than seventh and eighth, and well off the pace of the front-runners. Edwards clocked a time of 1:22.490, 0.812 off the pole and 0.344 behind Elias, and Hayden was a further five hundredths of a second back.

Chris Vermeulen and Loris Capirossi claimed ninth and tenth places on their works Suzukis.

The race start is set for 2 PM local time tomorrow.

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