Motegi MotoGP: Lorenzo beats Rossi in epic pole duel

Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo will start from pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi after an amazing battle for pole with points-leading teammate Valentino Rossi.

Lorenzo is 14 points behind Rossi in the championship standings, and is riding this weekend with a sprained shoulder.

Rossi had lagged well behind Lorenzo throughout free practice, but jumped right up to his pace level in FP4.

They traded pole position multiple times throughout the 15-minute Q2 session, Lorenzo only sealing it on his very last lap by 0.081s.

Story of the session

Lorenzo set the benchmark of 1m44.768s, but had Rossi following his every move behind him, and was just 0.017s clear of his rival after their opening laps.

Andrea Iannone then briefly took P1 away on 1m44.645s, the Ducatis using another iteration of fairing wings this weekend.

Honda’s Marc Marquez pushed Lorenzo down to fourth with a 1m44.676s, then Andrea Dovizioso grabbed fourth for Ducati with 1m44.757s, with Honda's Dani Pedrosa going on to top both of them.

Rossi then took provisional pole with 1m44.222s, with Lorenzo being pushed down to sixth ahead of the second runs.

Lorenzo rejoined and set the first sub-1m44s lap of the weekend, a 1m43.990s to regain his top spot. Rossi was 0.232s in arrears as he went for his final run, and suffered a big wobble on his first flying lap.

Rossi really got his second lap hooked up, though, and grabbed the top spot with 1m43.871s – by far his quickest lap of the weekend.

But Lorenzo wasn’t to be denied, pipping him by 0.081s on a stunning, last-gasp 1m43.790s.

“I was very happy with the laptime,” said Lorenzo. “I made a massive one.”

Rossi said: “It’s a shame, I thought I had the pole position, but on the other side I’m very positive looking forward to fight with Jorge tomorrow.”

Dovizioso had jumped up to third, just 0.070s ahead of Iannone, but Marquez grabbed third at the Honda-owned track in the closing moments and is hoping for rain tomorrow to beat the Yamahas.

Pedrosa slipped to sixth, ahead of Suzuki’s Aleix Espargaro.

Bradley Smith crashed early on at Turn 5, dropping his Tech 3 Yamaha into the gravel at slow speed.

He later suffered a much faster second crash, fortunate to escape injury as he ploughed into the gravel at well over 100mph.

Results: 2015 Japanese GP qualifying

Jorge Lorenzo  Yamaha YZR-M1  1:43.790 
Valentino Rossi  Yamaha YZR-M1  1:43.871 
Marc Marquez  Honda RC213V  1:44.216 
Andrea Dovizioso  Ducati Desmosedici GP15  1:44.322 
Andrea Iannone  Ducati Desmosedici GP15  1:44.436 
Dani Pedrosa  Honda RC213V  1:44.582 
Aleix Espargaro  Suzuki GSX-RR  1:44.809 
Cal Crutchlow  Honda RC213V  1:44.932 
Bradley Smith  Yamaha YZR-M1  1:45.067 
10  Maverick Viñales  Suzuki GSX-RR  1:45.081 
11  Pol Espargaro  Yamaha YZR-M1  1:45.219 
12  Scott Redding  Honda RC213V  1:45.333 
13  Stefan Bradl  Aprilia RS-GP  1:45.432 
14  Yonny Hernandez  Ducati Desmosedici GP14  1:45.438 
15   Katsuyuki Nakasuga   Yamaha YZR-M1  1:45.496 
16  Alvaro Bautista  Aprilia RS-GP  1:45.608 
17  Danilo Petrucci  Ducati Desmosedici GP14  1:45.691 
18  Hector Barbera  Ducati Desmosedici GP14  1:45.724 
19   Takumi Takahashi   Honda RC213V  1:45.743 
20  Eugene Laverty  Honda RC213V-RS  1:45.751 
21  Nicky Hayden  Honda RC213V-RS  1:45.843 
22  Jack Miller  Honda  1:46.039 
23  Loris Baz  Yamaha Forward  1:46.048 
24  Mike di Meglio  Ducati Desmosedici GP14  1:46.179 
25  Toni Elias  Yamaha Forward  1:46.256 
26   Kosuke Akiyoshi   Honda RC213V-RS  1:47.760 
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About this article
Series MotoGP
Event Japanese GP
Sub-event Saturday qualifying
Track Twin Ring Motegi
Drivers Valentino Rossi , Andrea Dovizioso , Jorge Lorenzo , Marc Marquez , Andrea Iannone
Article type Qualifying report