Jorge Lorenzo smashed the outright lap record today in qualifying for the Tissot Australian Grand Prix with the Yamaha Factory Racing rider literally allowing nothing get in his way in his quest for his third pole position of the season while main championship rival Marc Marquez starts from second place and seven times MotoGP Champion Valentino Rossi in third setting up a tantalizing front row for tomorrow’s race.
I had an impact with a bird. Luckily we could take it off and I could make a second attempt without a passenger.
Alvaro Bautista heads up the second row with the GO&Fun Honda Gresini rider pushing so hard that he ran of the track on his final charge and settling for a best time of 1m 28.713s. Dani Pedrosa was uncharacteristically off the pace somewhat today and set the 5th fastest time of 1m 28.748s with the Repsol Honda man one place ahead of Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Cal Crutchlow on a best time of 1m 28.809s. Bradley Smith will start from 7th place on the second Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine on a best lap of 1m 28.941s with factory Ducati teammates Nicky Hayden (1m 29.295s) and Andrea Dovizioso (1m 29.660s) in 8th and 9th starting positions.
Andrea Iannone made it through to Q2 and starts from 10th tomorrow with the Energy TI Pramac Racing rider setting a best lap of 1m 29.756s while Colin Edwards set the 11th best time of 1m 30.264s for the NGM Mobile Forward Racing team and the American walked away unhurt from an accident during qualifying as did Randy De Puniet on the Power Electronics Aspar machine with the Frenchman also unhurt and his best lap of 1m 30.735s sees the CRT rider start from 12th.
The final two places in the top 20 were taken by Avintia Blusens rider Hector Barbera (1m 31.061s) and Luca Scassa (Cardion AB Motoracing) with a 1m 31.093s lap. GO&Fun Honda Gresini CRT rider Bryan Staring starts his home race from 21st with a 1m 31.775s while Lukas Pesek will start from 22nd for the Came IodaRacing Project team on a best lap of 1m 32.474s and Staring’s countryman Damian Cudlin in the final place on the grid with a 1m 33.007s lap for the Paul Bird Motorsport team.
Lorenzo was nearly out of the final qualifying session just as it began with the two time MotoGP Champion colliding with a seagull but he was lucky it did no damage to his YZR-M1. Speaking afterwards Lorenzo said, “I had an impact with a bird on the first few laps on the bike, luckily we could take it off and I could make a second attempt without a passenger, maybe because of this I went a little bit faster and was able to make pole position. I’m very happy because I pushed to the limit to make the lap and I made a very good time. We have some problems with the tire because the new asphalt makes a lot of graining; we’ll see if there are decisions from Dorna or Bridgestone tomorrow for the race. If we can make a good start we will try to get away at the beginning.”
Marquez sealed his 11th front row start today and a fall in the third free practice session this morning did nothing to slow the championship leader down. He said, “The goal today was to get a front row start for tomorrow, and we achieved it. We knew that Jorge and Valentino would be very fast over a single lap with the new soft tire compound, something that they showed today. Jorge, Dani and Valentino have a great pace, but I think I can stick with them. After the issues with tyres the race will now be a flag-to-flag, which for me is the first time so it will be interesting - even if I would have preferred a shorter race but this is the decision from Race Direction. We shall see if in the warm-up we can try out some last minute things and then we will give 100%, as always.”