With the sun shining and thousands pouring into the Circuito de Jerez for the first European qualifying session of the year, the chance of a Spanish rider clinching pole appeared to be high. Ultimately, the front row was locked out by riders from the home nation, with Yamaha Factory Racing’s Lorenzo delivering a best lap time of 1’38.673 to see off Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) by just under three tenths of a second.
Although Lorenzo has looked extremely strong since the start of the weekend, he was aided by high-speed crashes which either disrupted or terminated his closest rivals’ sessions. Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) had tumbled in the final free practice session, whereas Rossi (Yamaha Factory Racing) and Pedrosa’s errors came at almost the same moment as qualifying reached its climax. Crutchlow visited gravel traps in both sessions and was fortunate to rejoin the action and qualify fourth quickest.
Behind Rossi, the second row is completed by GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista who out-qualified Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden, LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl - who had progressed to the pole shootout from Q1 - and Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso. Avintia Blusens’ Hector Barbera led the CRT riders and impressed with a top ten grid position, but he too would be a crasher by the time the chequered flag flew.
11th place was an achievement for Andrea Iannone - as the Energy T.I. Pramac Racing rider had sustained cuts to his left leg in a free practice accident - while Tech 3’s Bradley Smith had been the last man to enter Q2. That left Power Electronics Aspar out of the shootout for the first time in 2013 to the disappointment of Aleix Espargaro, who will start 13th from Ducati wildcard Michele Pirro and Aspar teammate Randy de Puniet.
Row 6 will consist of Blusens’ Hiroshi Aoyama, Came IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci and Gresini’s Bryan Staring on the team’s CRT machine. The NGM Mobile Forward Racing attack will be spearheaded by Claudio Corti from 19th spot, out-qualifying 20th-placed Colin Edwards who crashed in Q1. The grid is completed by PBM pairing Yonny Hernandez and Michael Laverty, plus Lukas Pesek whose Ioda bike was yet another to end the afternoon off the circuit.
Cardion AB Motoracing were not in action for qualifying, as Karel Abraham’s broken right collarbone brought too much pain on Friday. Also on the sidelines is Ignite Pramac Racing’s Ben Spies, who since the race in Texas has been advised by doctors to rest in order to rectify an ongoing problem with a pectoral muscle.
Sunday’s 27-lap Gran Premio bwin de España begins at 2pm local time (GMT +2).
-- From Motogp.com