The Spaniard grabs pole in Barcelona to fend off Marquez by just 0.066 in a frantic qualifying session
Less than a fortnight after his first Ducati win – and the announcement he will be leaving the red team for Repsol Honda – Jorge Lorenzo put together “a perfect lap” to claim his first pole position on the Desmosedici.
On a second weekend rich in irony, Lorenzo was fast and as importantly consistently so throughout, while his nearest rival and future team-mate Marc Marquez laid on a feast of up-and-down performance.
Marquez crashed in the morning and missed his place in Q2 for the second time in his career, then accomplished a stunning save in FP4. Nothing daunted, still wearing leathers with the knee scarred by his dragging save, he dominated Q1 then went to the ragged edge in Q2, only knocked off pole by less than a tenth in the final run.
Earlier, second Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso’s challenge to the Spaniard had fallen short by less than two tenths, for his first front row of the season.
Lorenzo had pitted showing signs of fury mid-session, and explained: “We’d had a great weekend, but my first tyre didn’t work, especially on the left, and it would be very easy to crash. I needed to keep calm, so I said: ‘Ok, Jorge, wait for the second tyre.’ That had much more grip, and I could get high corner speed for an almost perfect lap.”
Marquez was showing off his battle scars, and said: “Second is really good, to be very close to the Ducatis. It looks as though they have a little more here.”
This knocked Maverick Vinales to head row two, at a track where the Yamahas seem to have regained a bit of strength. Less than half-a-second off pole, the Movistar rider headed Andrea Iannone (Ecstar Suzuki) – fastest on day one – and Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Ducati).
Rossi (Movistar Yamaha) and Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha) are joined on row three by an on-form Tito Rabat (Avintia Ducati); Cal Crutchlow’s bid for the front row ended with a crash, leaving the Carstrol Honda rider tenth, ahead of a downbeat Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa, just one second off pole, and rookie Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda), through from Q1 for the first time.
By Michael Scott