Qatar MotoGP: Lorenzo takes pole after qualifying thriller

Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo will start the season-opening MotoGP round in Qatar from pole position after a thrilling qualifying session that went down to the closing moments.

Lorenzo set his pole time on his first run, but a big mistake on his second attempt left him prone to attack.

Ducati’s Andrea Iannone looked like the man most likely to topple him, but he caught the Pramac Ducati of Scott Redding in the second half of his lap, leaving him a distraught and frustrated figure as his potential pole lap was ruined.

Iannone will start on the second row, as Honda’s Marc Marquez and Suzuki’s Maverick Vinales annexed the final spots on the front row. Marquez went off into the gravel practising his start at the end of the session.

Yamaha's Valentino Rossi will start fifth, ahead of the second works Ducati of Andrea Dovizioso.

Lorenzo and Rossi spat in FP4

Before the session, Lorenzo and Rossi had an argument at the end of the FP4 session, after Rossi appeared to complain that Lorenzo held him up.

The pair stopped alongside each other before they practised starts, with Rossi waving his arms in complaint and Lorenzo shrugging back.

Story of the Q2 session

After Marquez and Rossi laid down early banker laps, Lorenzo slammed in 1m54.543s – taking top spot by almost 1.5s at the time with the fastest lap of the weekend so far.

Marquez responded with 1m54.943s, 0.4s down on Lorenzo. This was deposed by Andrea Iannone’s 1m54.872s, 0.329s off Lorenzo’s benchmark.

Lorenzo then rattled off a 1m54.588s on his second lap, which was also good enough for pole.

Marquez retook P2 with 1m54.634s, just 0.091s off pole on his fourth lap on his tyres – staying out a lap longer than most of his rivals.

Rossi was down in 10th initially, almost a second off the pace after his first run using a hard front tyre.

Second time attacks

Marquez set a new fastest first sector on the first lap of his second run, but his laptime fell away and he was two tenths off his first-run time.

Lorenzo aborted his second run after a huge moment, as Iannone threw caution to the wind on his final lap. Quickest in the first and second sectors, he lost time by catching Scott Redding’s Ducati and will start fourth.

Vinales jumped to third on his last lap, a 1.54.638s.

Rossi climbed to seventh on his first flyer, and was briefly fourth before being knocked back to fifth by Iannone.

Last year’s polesitter Dovizioso was down in P7 after first run, and jumped to fourth on 1m54.963s. He slipped back behind Vinales and Rossi in the closing moments, and will start sixth.

Honda’s Dani Pedrosa will start seventh, ahead of leading privateer Hector Barbera, Pol Espargaro, Cal Crutchlow, Bradley Smith and Scott Redding.

Disaster for Aleix Espargaro in Q1

Crutchlow and Smith progressed from the first session, Crutchlow lapping in 1m55.291s compared to Smith’s 1m55.490s.

The main shock of the session was Aleix Espargaro crashing his Suzuki at Turn 1. He sprinted back to the pits to try again on his spare bike, but could do no better than fifth – which means he will start 15th – behind Yonny Hernandez and Eugene Laverty.

Results: MotoGP 2016 Qatar GP qualifying

PosRiderBikeTime
SpainJorge Lorenzo  Yamaha YZR-M1  1:54.543 
SpainMarc Marquez  Honda RC213V  1:54.634 
SpainMaverick Viñales  Suzuki GSX-RR  1:54.638 
ItalyAndrea Iannone  Ducati GP16  1:54.693 
ItalyValentino Rossi  Yamaha YZR-M1  1:54.815 
ItalyAndrea Dovizioso  Ducati GP16  1:54.963 
SpainDani Pedrosa  Honda RC213V  1:55.078 
SpainHector Barbera  Ducati GP14  1:55.165 
SpainPol Espargaro  Yamaha YZR-M1  1:55.302 
10  United KingdomCal Crutchlow  Honda RC213V  1:55.352 
11  United KingdomBradley Smith  Yamaha YZR-M1  1:55.414 
12  United KingdomScott Redding  Ducati GP15  1:55.508 
13  ColombiaYonny Hernandez  Ducati GP14  1:56.157 
14  IrelandEugene Laverty  Ducati GP14  1:56.186 
15  SpainAleix Espargaro  Suzuki GSX-RR  1:56.238 
16  FranceLoris Baz  Ducati GP14  1:56.375 
17  SpainAlvaro Bautista  Aprilia RS-GP  1:56.595 
18  AustraliaJack Miller  Honda RC213V  1:56.620 
19  SpainTito Rabat  Honda RC213V  1:57.108 
20  GermanyStefan Bradl  Aprilia RS-GP  1:57.216

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Event Qatar GP
Track Losail International Circuit
Drivers Valentino Rossi , Andrea Dovizioso , Jorge Lorenzo , Marc Marquez , Maverick Viñales
Teams Yamaha Factory Racing , Repsol Honda Team , Team Suzuki MotoGP
Article type Qualifying report