Jorge Lorenzo took a commanding pole position as the weather-disrupted Motegi MotoGP weekend went straight into qualifying.
With all the practice sessions having been canceled due to either fog or rain, the usual qualifying format was shelved in favor of a single 75-minute session that would both set the grid and give riders some practice time. This began on a very wet track, but was drying throughout.
As the pole fight began to get serious, Nicky Hayden gave Ducati a brief spell on the provisional top spot before being deposed by Dani Pedrosa’s Honda. But when Lorenzo hooked up a lap, the Yamaha team leader blew his rivals away by six tenths of a second. He then extended that margin to a full second on his next run.
Lorenzo’s title rival Marc Marquez was down in fifth at that point having taken a trip through the gravel. He recovered to second, 0.6s down on Lorenzo, before sliding off track again.
Hayden hung on to third to keep Ducati on the front row. Pedrosa fell back to fourth, ahead of Valentino Rossi and Hayden’s team-mate Andrea Dovizioso.
Alvaro Bautista had been in the top five heading into the final stages, but sidelined his Gresini Honda with a crash and was left in seventh.
The recovering Stefan Bradl took eighth on his return following the fractured ankle he suffered at Sepang two weeks ago.
CRT pacesetter Aleix Espargaro and Pramac Ducati’s Yonny Hernandez completed the top 10, as Tech 3 teammates Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith struggled to 11th and 13th, split by Yamaha wildcard Katsuyuki Nakasuga.
Pos Rider Team/Bike Time Gap 1. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1m53.471s 2. Marc Marquez Honda 1m54.129s +0.658s 3. Nicky Hayden Ducati 1m54.539s +1.068s 4. Dani Pedrosa Honda 1m54.542s +1.071s 5. Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1m54.732s +1.261s 6. Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 1m55.036s +1.565s 7. Alvaro Bautista Gresini Honda 1m55.135s +1.664s 8. Stefan Bradl LCR Honda 1m55.610s +2.139s 9. Aleix Espargaro Aspar Aprilia 1m55.719s +2.248s10. Yonny Hernandez Pramac Ducati 1m55.998s +2.527s11. Cal Crutchlow Tech 3 Yamaha 1m56.058s +2.587s12. Katsuyuki Nakasuga Yamaha 1m56.125s +2.654s13. Bradley Smith Tech 3 Yamaha 1m57.114s +3.643s14. Colin Edwards Forward FTR-Kawasaki 1m57.297s +3.826s15. Andrea Iannone Pramac Ducati 1m57.347s +3.876s16. Danilo Petrucci Ioda-Suter-BMW 1m57.540s +4.069s17. Randy de Puniet Aspar Aprilia 1m57.715s +4.244s18. Hiroshi Aoyama Avintia FTR-Kawasaki 1m57.994s +4.523s19. Michael Laverty PBM Aprilia 1m58.540s +5.069s20. Luca Scassa Cardion Aprilia 1m58.802s +5.331s21. Claudio Corti Forward FTR-Kawasaki 1m59.617s +6.146s22. Hector Barbera Avintia FTR-Kawasaki 1m59.646s +6.175s23. Damian Cudlin PBM-Aprilia 2m00.982s +7.511s24. Bryan Staring Gresini FTR-Honda 2m02.712s +9.241s25. Lukas Pesek Ioda-Suter-BMW 2m02.932s +9.461s