After qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix, the first opportunity for Jorge Lorenzo to seal his first premier class world title, it was the Spaniard who came out on top after just getting ahead of Nicky Hayden on his penultimate lap. With...
After qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix, the first opportunity for Jorge Lorenzo to seal his first premier class world title, it was the Spaniard who came out on top after just getting ahead of Nicky Hayden on his penultimate lap. With Pedrosa absent from this grand prix, all Lorenzo needs is a top nine finish to clinch the title but with his first pole since Laguna Seca in July he starts tomorrow in the best shape.
Track conditions today had improved since yesterday, as the laptimes demonstrate, and the top seven riders were all under the existing lap record but Lorenzo's pole time was one second shy of the benchmark last year, set on exactly the same compound Bridgestone tyres, indicating that the track surface is still not ideal.
With one minute to go of the hour-long session, Ducati Team's Nicky Hayden was running strongly in provisional pole, before Lorenzo's penultimate effort left the American just 0.1seconds adrift. It is Hayden's best qualifying result of the season. Starting tomorrow's race from the outside of the front row is Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso, who has qualified in the top three for the third time this season and for the second race in succession after his pole position in Japan. Ben Spies, Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi make up the second row of the grid.
The top three riders all used the softer option rear Bridgestone slicks but Lorenzo used the softer front whereas Hayden and Dovizioso favoured the harder option. Race tyre choice is still looking mixed for tomorrow with both front and rear options offering good performance at Sepang. Again the temperature and humidity were high today, making it very demanding for the riders, the bikes and the tyres, and whilst the harder option slicks provide more durability and stability in these conditions, the softer option also seems viable for the race.
Masao Azuma - Chief Field Engineer, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department
"We can see from the improvement in times that track conditions were much better today than yesterday and the field is really quite close, much closer than last year, although it seems that the surface is still more slippery than in the past. The top 15 riders are within 1.4seconds today, whereas last year only the top five were covered by the same gap. Also, in the middle of the session, when many riders were using the harder specs they are likely to use in tomorrow's race, the top 14 riders were within one second which is a good sign for a close race. In this morning's practice session some riders conducted long runs on both the harder and softer slicks and consistency was good. If it stays dry, I think both will be suitable for the race tomorrow with riders choosing between the improved durability of the harder option and the enhanced peak grip of the softer spec. so I hope for an exciting 150th race for Bridgestone."