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
|1||Jorge Lorenzo||Yamaha YZR-M1||1:43.790|
|2||Valentino Rossi||Yamaha YZR-M1||1:43.871|
|3||Marc Marquez||Honda RC213V||1:44.216|
|4||Andrea Dovizioso||Ducati Desmosedici GP15||1:44.322|
|5||Andrea Iannone||Ducati Desmosedici GP15||1:44.436|
|6||Dani Pedrosa||Honda RC213V||1:44.582|
|7||Aleix Espargaro||Suzuki GSX-RR||1:44.809|
|8||Cal Crutchlow||Honda RC213V||1:44.932|
|9||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|
|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|