Pole! Jorge Lorenzo was on superb form at Motegi today, taking an impressive pole position on his first visit to Japan as a Yamaha rider. The 21-year-old will head the field for his Factory's home race tomorrow whilst his Fiat Yamaha team-mate...
Jorge Lorenzo was on superb form at Motegi today, taking an impressive pole position on his first visit to Japan as a Yamaha rider. The 21-year-old will head the field for his Factory's home race tomorrow whilst his Fiat Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi, who will be bidding to seal his eighth World Championship crown, will start from fourth.
Lorenzo struggled in the dry yesterday afternoon but some overnight set-up changes to his M1 reaped rich rewards today and the Spaniard was in very different shape from this morning, finishing the early session in second. This afternoon saw him sustain an even higher level of performance, improving with three out of four of his Michelin qualifying tyres and holding off Casey Stoner, Nicky Hayden and Rossi to hang on to pole position. With his challengers already back in the pits he had pole in the bag for his final run but was nonetheless able to improve once again, setting a best lap of 1'45.543 and bettering the previous pole record by 0.181 seconds.
Lorenzo began his MotoGP career this season with three straight poles, culminating in a win from the third one in Portugal. He has started from third at the last two races and finished in the same position for both, meaning he has been on the podium each time he has started on the front row this season. He will be looking to keep this record intact when the lights go out at 1400 local time tomorrow.
Position: 1st Time: 1'54.543 Laps: 27
"I'm so happy for this pole position because this is how I started my season and it shows that we are returning to how we were. It's the first pole since Portugal, when I won, and we have had a hard time since then until the last two podiums so this is a great satisfaction for me. I was able to ride so fast all day today, a big improvement from yesterday, and my Michelin tyres worked so well all day so thank you to them. My team have done a great job to set the bike up and this is a fantastic qualifying for us. It's not the race so now we have to wait for tomorrow, but we're starting in the best place so I am looking forward to having a great race."
"This morning's session gave us a lot of confidence for this afternoon's qualifying. Today, with more temperature in the ground and an improved set-up, we were able to be very fast and consistent. Many thanks to Michelin for very good qualifying tyres; they worked incredibly well today and gave Jorge the chance to fly. It was very exciting for the team to watch him riding like this. We are confident that tomorrow we will have the chance to fight for podium."
Rossi - Second Row Start
Valentino Rossi will contest his first 'match point' of the 2008 championship from the head of the second row tomorrow, having qualified fourth at Motegi today. Rossi's Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo sealed an impressive pole position today and will lead the field, with Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden behind him.
After the changeable weather of yesterday, today was bright and sunny and Rossi was in good shape this morning and finished the session third. This afternoon he signalled his intentions with twenty minutes to go by going to the top of the time sheets with his first Bridgestone qualifying tyre, although he was displaced soon after by Stoner, who was then knocked off by Lorenzo in turn. Despite improving with his next two tyres Rossi was unable to make a dent in his team-mate's time and he than ran into traffic on his last run, meaning he was unable to improve a final time and was edged off the front row by Nicky Hayden at the end.
Finishing on the podium will be enough for the Italian to secure his eighth world championship tomorrow, although he can also take the title from further down the order depending on where Casey Stoner finishes. Tomorrow's 24-lap race gets underway at 1400 local time.
Position: 4th Time: 1'46.060 Laps: 26
"Honestly I'm a bit disappointed because the front row was our target today, but anyway fourth isn't too bad! Unfortunately we spent a bit too much time with the race tyres and started our qualifying sequence a few minutes late, this meant that I was maybe one or two minutes late going out with my last tyre and I got a bit caught up with traffic when de Angelis fell. Anyway, our race pace is quite good so I am confident that we can be in the fight, although we will have to get a good start. We have one or two small problems that we need to work on so we will use the warm-up to check a few things and I think we can improve a little bit more. I am not thinking about the championship right now, I will just aim for the podium and see what happens."
"I think our starting position could have been a little bit better, as there was some traffic on the last lap which didn't allow Valentino to improve on his final run. For tomorrow the race pace is good and we're definitely in the mix but there are three or four riders with a good pace so it will definitely be a hard fight tomorrow. Our target will be to stay in the fight and finish on the podium. Congratulations to Jorge and his team for making a return to pole."