Jorge Lorenzo claimed pole position for the Czech Grand Prix after dominating this afternoon‘s qualifying session. His man title rival Dani Pedrosa could only claim third place on the grid following a fall.
Lorenzo had been edged out by Pedrosa in all three practice sessions going into qualifying, but just five minutes into qualifying he had started the stamp his authority on the session by posting a time of 1minute 56.5 seconds. It was the fastest lap-time of the weekend at that point.
He was only warming up though. His next four laps were all under the 1minute 57 seconds bracket, before Lorenzo claimed a new outright track record with a time of 1minute 56.144 seconds.
The session seemed to settle down at this point and no-one seemed to be making drastic improvements. Pedrosa lost the front of his Repsol Honda and slid off at Turn 9. Having made his way back to the pits, he switched over to his second bike and appeared to lack confidence as he tried to improve his time. This did not look like the Pedrosa who had dominated the earlier sessions of the weekend. With four Yamahas on the pace he needed to make drastic improvements.
In the final minutes Lorenzo’s control became utter dominance, as he slashed his previous best by over a third of a second with a 1minute 55.799 seconds lap-time. That initially put him six tenths clear of the field, and with Pedrosa struggling to find a consistent rhythm on his second bike it appeared Yamaha could possibly claim a front-row lockout.
That appeared almost guaranteed when Cal Crutchlow put in a storming lap to claim second. He had managed to match Lorenzo in the first three sectors before eventually finishing just 0.196 away from the eventual Pole Position time. It’s been a good day for Crutchlow, earlier today it was announced that he’d renewed his contract with Tech 3 Yamaha for another year. His recovery from a fall half-way through the session will have filled him with confidence as he bet both his team-mate Dovizioso and the second works Yamaha of Ben Spies to line up alongside Lorenzo.
Ben Spies had looked like he was going to claim third, but an almost stealth-like Dani Pedrosa pipped him after the chequered flag had been waved for the session. This was very much a case of damage limitation for Pedrosa and with his ability to get off the line it could be a situation where he easily is leading by the time they get to the first corner.
Spies will therefore line up fourth on the second works Yamaha, just ahead of the Ducati-bound Andrea Dovizioso. Dovizioso will be happy with a second row grid slot as he’s always been a Sunday performer. Ducati’s Valentino Rossi lines up 6th and will be mildly satisfied that he’s managed to qualify within one second of the Pole Position time.
Local hero Karel Abraham crashed heavily during the session but qualified 9th. He’ll be happy to have been ahead of the CRT bikes having been behind them on numerous occasions this season.
Randy de Puniet was the leading CRT qualifier in 10th with a three tenths of a second gap to his Aspar Aprilia team-mate Aleix Espargaro. Yonny Hernandez kept up his rich vein of form by being the 3rd CRT qualifier. Even though he was a second shy of de Puniet, he did manage a giant-killing of sorts by out-qualifying Toni Elias’ Pramac Ducati prototype.
Pos Rider Team/Bike Time Gap
1. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1m55.799s
2. Cal Crutchlow Tech 3 Yamaha 1m55.995s + 0.196s
3. Dani Pedrosa Honda 1m56.327s + 0.528s
4. Ben Spies Yamaha 1m56.331s + 0.532s
5. Andrea Dovizioso Tech 3 Yamaha 1m56.559s + 0.760s
6. Valentino Rossi Ducati 1m56.735s + 0.936s
7. Stefan Bradl LCR Honda 1m56.827s + 1.028s
8. Alvaro Bautista Gresini Honda 1m57.068s + 1.269s
9. Karel Abraham Cardion Ducati 1m57.773s + 1.974s
10. Randy de Puniet Aspar Aprilia 1m57.844s + 2.045s
11. Aleix Espargaro Aspar Aprilia 1m58.153s + 2.354s
12. Yonny Hernandez Avintia FTR-Kawasaki 1m59.087s + 3.288s
13. Toni Elias Pramac Ducati 1m59.120s + 3.321s
14. Michele Pirro Gresini FTR-Honda 1m59.387s + 3.588s
15. Colin Edwards Forward Suter-BMW 1m59.863s + 4.064s
16. Mattia Pasini Speed Master Aprilia 1m59.865s + 4.066s
17. James Ellison Paul Bird Aprilia 2m00.316s + 4.517s
18. Ivan Silva Avintia Inmotec-Kawasaki 2m00.329s + 4.530s
19. Danilo Petrucci Ioda Aprilia 2m00.854s + 5.055s