Jorge Lorenzo denied Marc Marquez pole position for the Phillip Island MotoGP race in a superb qualifying battle.
Lorenzo’s pole came despite a collision with a seagull on his first run of Q2.
As the resurfaced track offered sufficient grip for record lap times, Lorenzo put in a 1m28.527s on his opening pole shot. That time was achieved even though his Yamaha collected an unfortunate seagull during the lap, with the bird’s remains lodged in the bike’s fairing for the rest of the run.
Lorenzo’s first time was not sufficient to resist Marquez, who then stole provisional pole with a 1m28.384s. The Honda rider extended his margin as he did a 1m28.120s when he went out for a second run at the end of the session.
But Lorenzo was not defeated yet. Now without the seagull attached, be blasted in a 1m27.899s to take pole back again. He then hinted at an even better time on a second lap before running out of tyre grip.
Lorenzo must prevent Marquez from outscoring him by eight points in Sunday’s race to keep the championship alive.
Valentino Rossi continued his strong weekend as he put the second works Yamaha on the front row, albeit seven and a half tenths slower than his teammate.
Despite setting the pace in practice three and four, Dani Pedrosa could only manage fifth, behind Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista.
Tech 3 duo Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith were next up, separated by just 0.132sec in a strong performance by the rookie.
Ducati riders Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone both had to battle through Q1 in order to line up behind eighth-placed Nicky Hayden.
CRT produced the upset practice had suggested was possible, as Aleix Espargaro was overshadowed by Colin Edwards and Randy de Puniet.
Espargaro failed to get beyond Q1, having a spat with Yonny Hernandez along the way, as Edwards and de Puniet progressed to the final segment of qualifying. Both crashed once they got there, with Edwards doing enough to beat de Puniet to 11th before his fall at the final corner.
Pos Rider Team/Bike Time Gap 1. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1m27.899s 2. Marc Marquez Honda 1m28.120s +0.221s 3. Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1m28.647s +0.748s 4. Alvaro Bautista Gresini Honda 1m28.713s +0.814s 5. Dani Pedrosa Honda 1m28.748s +0.849s 6. Cal Crutchlow Tech 3 Yamaha 1m28.809s +0.910s 7. Bradley Smith Tech 3 Yamaha 1m28.941s +1.042s 8. Nicky Hayden Ducati 1m29.295s +1.396s 9. Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 1m29.660s +1.761s10. Andrea Iannone Pramac Ducati 1m29.756s +1.857s11. Colin Edwards Forward FTR-Kawasaki 1m30.264s +2.365s12. Randy de Puniet Aspar Aprilia 1m30.735s +2.836s13. Aleix Espargaro Aspar Aprilia 1m30.081s Q114. Claudio Corti Forward FTR-Kawasaki 1m30.530s Q115. Yonny Hernandez Pramac Ducati 1m30.641s Q116. Hiroshi Aoyama Avintia FTR-Kawasaki 1m30.733s Q117. Danilo Petrucci Ioda-Suter-BMW 1m30.894s Q118. Michael Laverty PBM Aprilia 1m30.979s Q119. Hector Barbera Avintia FTR-Kawasaki 1m31.061s Q120. Luca Scassa Cardion Aprilia 1m31.093s Q121. Bryan Staring Gresini FTR-Honda 1m31.775s Q122. Lukas Pesek Ioda-Suter-BMW 1m32.474s Q123. Damian Cudlin PBM-Aprilia 1m33.007s Q1