MotoGP: Jorge Lorenzo Smokes Track Record In Qualifying At Jerez

Jorge Lorenzo has led every session but one thus far this weekend in extreme heat at Circuit of Jerez, culminating in a spectacular pole-position-winning lap for Sunday’s premier-class race.

Several riders, including Lorenzo and his factory Yamaha teammate, Valentino Rossi, used a three-stop qualifying strategy popularized last season by Marc Marquez. Lorenzo returned to the track for the final time in the waning moments of the 15-minute session.

“A lot of people said that I had a crisis and I was down,” Lorenzo said afterward. “It was one of my worst moments, but just two days later I rode this impressive lap time. That shows in racing you can’t say things like, ‘This guy is down; he’s finished’ because the next day he’s going to be at the front.”

Lorenzo’s blistering run resulted in not only pole but also an outright Jerez lap record: 1 minute, 37.910 seconds. Marquez set the previous record last year. “I rode many impressive lap times in my career,” Lorenzo said, “but this one is special. The race is going to be another story. Our pace is very good, though, and I feel comfortable with the softer tire when it’s dropping.”

Last year’s race winner, Marquez, and Ducati’s Andrea Iannone, will join the Lorenzo on the front row of the 25-rider grid. “We knew it would be hard work to get onto the front row,” said Marquez, who is nursing a still-mending fractured left pinky. “We also know that tomorrow will be a difficult race, and it will be hard to finish the 27 laps. Today I was able to ride without painkillers, but tomorrow I will be using them.”

Earning his second front-row start of the season, Iannone was 0.355 seconds quicker than his teammate, Andrea Dovizioso, in eighth. “It is never easy to get into this position,” he said, “because all the riders are trying to push to their limit. It is a really important result because tomorrow it will be essential to start from the front.”

Lorenzo has qualified on the front row for all eight of his premier-class appearances at Jerez, including five pole positions. Championship-leader Rossi will start from fifth position, middle of the second row.

“This qualifying was not so bad,” he said, “because we improved one position in the last stint. I had to decide which front tire to use, and maybe I made a mistake. I continued with the soft, but for the second stint the second rear tire had an issue on the right, so I think I could have done a little bit better.”

Further down the field, Nicky Hayden has struggled all weekend. “Yesterday afternoon we found a good way to take things,” he said, “but today we seem to have taken a step back in the final free practice sessions.”

The American qualified 18th, one spot behind his Aspar teammate, Eugene Laverty, albeit ahead of the other open-class Hondas. “We went back to the setup we had before, and in qualifying I felt more comfortable—the best feeling of the weekend so far.

“We still have to improve our line through the fast corners,” Hayden added, “which if we had done so today would have taken us into the 1-minute, 39-second target we had for today. It will be a tough race tomorrow. I hope we can score a few points.”

On Sunday, officials will hold a minute of silence to remember victims of the recent earthquake in Nepal and honor six-time world champion Geoff Duke, who died on Friday at age 92.

Jorge Lorenzo has led every session but one thus far this weekend in extreme heat at Circuit of Jerez, culminating in a spectacular pole-position-winning lap for Sunday’s premier-class race.

Several riders, including Lorenzo and his factory Yamaha teammate, Valentino Rossi, used a three-stop qualifying strategy popularized last season by Marc Marquez. Lorenzo returned to the track for the final time in the waning moments of the 15-minute session.

“A lot of people said that I had a crisis and I was down,” Lorenzo said afterward. “It was one of my worst moments, but just two days later I rode this impressive lap time. That shows in racing you can’t say things like, ‘This guy is down; he’s finished’ because the next day he’s going to be at the front.”

Lorenzo’s blistering run resulted in not only pole but also an outright Jerez lap record: 1 minute, 37.910 seconds. Marquez set the previous record last year. “I rode many impressive lap times in my career,” Lorenzo said, “but this one is special. The race is going to be another story. Our pace is very good, though, and I feel comfortable with the softer tire when it’s dropping.”

Last year’s race winner, Marquez, and Ducati’s Andrea Iannone, will join the Lorenzo on the front row of the 25-rider grid. “We knew it would be hard work to get onto the front row,” said Marquez, who is nursing a still-mending fractured left pinky. “We also know that tomorrow will be a difficult race, and it will be hard to finish the 27 laps. Today I was able to ride without painkillers, but tomorrow I will be using them.”

Earning his second front-row start of the season, Iannone was 0.355 seconds quicker than his teammate, Andrea Dovizioso, in eighth. “It is never easy to get into this position,” he said, “because all the riders are trying to push to their limit. It is a really important result because tomorrow it will be essential to start from the front.”

Lorenzo has qualified on the front row for all eight of his premier-class appearances at Jerez, including five pole positions. Championship-leader Rossi will start from fifth position, middle of the second row.

“This qualifying was not so bad,” he said, “because we improved one position in the last stint. I had to decide which front tire to use, and maybe I made a mistake. I continued with the soft, but for the second stint the second rear tire had an issue on the right, so I think I could have done a little bit better.”

Further down the field, Nicky Hayden has struggled all weekend. “Yesterday afternoon we found a good way to take things,” he said, “but today we seem to have taken a step back in the final free practice sessions.”

The American qualified 18th, one spot behind his Aspar teammate, Eugene Laverty, albeit ahead of the other open-class Hondas. “We went back to the setup we had before, and in qualifying I felt more comfortable—the best feeling of the weekend so far.

“We still have to improve our line through the fast corners,” Hayden added, “which if we had done so today would have taken us into the 1-minute, 39-second target we had for today. It will be a tough race tomorrow. I hope we can score a few points.”

On Sunday, officials will hold a minute of silence to remember victims of the recent earthquake in Nepal and honor six-time world champion Geoff Duke, who died on Friday at age 92.

“A 1:37.9 with these temperatures is very impressive,” Jerez pole-position-winner Jorge Lorenzo said. “Marc Marquez will be strong tomorrow, as always, and the Ducatis, too.”

“We had prepared three sets of tires to use in the qualifying session,” Marc Marquez said. “After the crash in FP4, however, I preferred not to push things and we used just the two.”

“We were unable to get the best out of our potential in qualifying,” Andrea Iannone said, “but we have a good pace, and I think I can do a good race tomorrow.”

“We had two sets of new tires for qualifying practice 2,” Pol Espargaro said, “which meant that we opted to do two runs only. During the second, my first lap was really strong but unfortunately, I made a slight mistake and ran wide in the third sector. Everything is so tight in this championship, so even the smallest mistakes can cost you a lot of positions.”

“Starting from the second row is not so bad for tomorrow,” Valentino Rossi said. “I am especially happy because yesterday was quite difficult. Today we improved the bike a lot, but we are still not at the top.”

“It was a positive day,” Aprilia’s Alvaro Bautista said, “partly because of all the data we were able to acquire. On my flying lap, I simply tried to be as precise as possible, riding the bike that I felt most confident on, but we can even improve more on this, especially in the acceleration phase where I’m still lacking a lot of grip.”

“We went back to the setup we had before,” Nicky Hayden said, “and in qualifying, I felt more comfortable. Fortunately we were able to improve in the areas we expected. Mainly we gained grip.”

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