Lorenzo's pole fuels chase for title

Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo topping qualifying at the Valencia Grand Prix yesterday. The Spaniard, who trails Valentino Rossi by seven points in the standings, can claim his third MotoGP world championship.
Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo topping qualifying at the Valencia Grand Prix yesterday. The Spaniard, who trails Valentino Rossi by seven points in the standings, can claim his third MotoGP world championship.PHOTO: REUTERS

Rossi has to finish 2nd, if Lorenzo wins at Valencia, to deny his Yamaha team-mate

VALENCIA • Jorge Lorenzo stormed to pole position in a circuit record time for today's decisive Valencia Grand Prix to boost his hopes of bagging a third MotoGP world championship.

He smashed defending world champion Marc Marquez's previous track record by over two tenths of a second to claim his fifth pole of the season in 1min 30.011sec.

Marquez and his Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa complete the front row with championship leader Valentino Rossi forced to start from the back of the grid as punishment for kicking Marquez off his bike at the Malaysian Grand Prix two weeks ago.

However, despite not needing to register a qualifying time, Rossi still endured a tough session as he came flying off his bike into the gravel track.

Thankfully, the nine-time world champion was able to walk away from the crash as he prepares for an assault on a record-equalling eighth title in the premier category of motorcycling.

Lorenzo trails Rossi by just seven points in the championship standings, meaning the Italian will need to finish second to deny his Yahama team-mate if Lorenzo wins the race. And Lorenzo hailed his qualifying lap as the best of his career as he attempts to add to the titles he won in 2010 and 2012.

"Without doubt the best lap of my life," he said. "I could try to repeat it 20, 25 or 30 times and it wouldn't go so well. It was perfect.

"I am very happy, above all, because it puts us in a good position for tomorrow. It is important to make a good start and try to get away from the Hondas."

Marquez had posted the best time of the weekend on his first qualifying lap despite, by his own admission, committing a minor error. However, he acknowledged that it would have been hard to deny Lorenzo even with a perfect lap.

"With the first tyres, I made an error, even though it ended up being my best lap," he said. "It could have been even better but, looking at Jorge's time, I'm not sure it could have been that much better."

All eyes will be on whether Marquez is able to pursue Lorenzo after his controversial clash with Rossi a fortnight ago. The bad blood between the two started when Rossi accused Marquez of conspiring against him to help Lorenzo land the title at the Australian Grand Prix last month.

Rossi then said Marquez had "made me lose the championship" when he was slapped with starting from the back of the grid after their clash in Sepang. But Marquez insisted he will be going for his sixth race victory of the season today.

"We have had a good Saturday overall in terms of the rhythm and number of laps we have done," he said. "We will try to be attentive to Jorge so that he doesn't escape and then we can fight for the win towards the end of the race."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 08, 2015, with the headline 'Lorenzo's pole fuels chase for title'. Print Edition | Subscribe