Home > Sport > Motorsport
Saturday October 19, 2013 MYT 7:40:00 PM
Saturday October 19, 2013 MYT 7:54:33 PM
Spain's Jorge Lorenzo is not giving up his MotoGP crown without a fight. He starts from pole at the Australian Motorcycle GP on Sunday.- AFP Photo/Paul Crock
Defending world champion Jorge Lorenzo shattered the Phillip Island lap record in claiming pole position for today’s Australian Grand Prix.
The Spanish Yamaha racer clocked a best lap of one minute and 27.899 seconds — 0.221seconds ahead of championship leader Marc Marquez, also of Spain.
It is Lorenzo’s 28th career MotoGP pole and third of the season and gives him an edge in today’s third-last race of the season as he bids to prevent Marquez from clinching the world title in Australia.
Australia’s two-time world champion Casey Stoner had previously held the Phillip Island lap record of 1:28.665, set in 2008 among his six consecutive Australian MotoGP victories.
Marquez, who leads Lorenzo by 43 points and can wrap up the world title in his rookie season in Sunday’s Australian race, had twice gone under Stoner’s lap record before he was trumped late in the session by Lorenzo.
“Obviously Casey was unbelievably fast around here, so without him here this year it’s easier for everyone in theory, so we will try our best to be competitive all the weekend,” Lorenzo said.
“Today we made it and we improved by seven-tenths (of a second) from our first try, so it’s impressive how fast we can go with new tyres.”
Lorenzo also had some anxious moments when he was hit by a seagull as he was hurtling around the sweeping island circuit.
“I had an impact with a bird on the first few laps on the bike, luckily we could take it off and I could make a second attempt without a passenger, maybe because of this I went a little bit faster and was able to make pole position,” he said.
Marquez, who is bidding to become the first rookie to clinch the premier class championship since American Kenny Roberts in 1978, said he expected a torrid battle with Lorenzo today.
“The target today was trying to finish on the front row of the grid,” he said.
“We knew the Yamaha guys with the new tyres would be strong but tomorrow’s race will be difficult and I will try to do my best and win.”
Seven-time premier class world champion Valentino Rossi was third fastest, some 0.748 seconds down on Lorenzo and will start on the front row along with Spain’s Alvaro Bautista.
“To be able to push 100 percent on the soft front tyre is a fantastic feeling,” Rossi said. “I’m so happy with this position, it’s the second first row in a row.It looks like in the last races we have found a better solution for qualifying because at the beginning of the season I struggled a lot.”
Marquez’s Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa was fifth quickest and will start the race inside the second row. — AFP
Copyright © 1995-2013 Star Publications (M) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)