MotoGP: Qualifying with a Message at the Malaysian GP

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With the weather constantly the x-factor in the 2012 MotoGP Championship, the Malaysian GP unsurprisingly has seen Mother Nature play an integral part at Sepang. Limiting on-track practice time, things were surprisingly dry for MotoGP’s qualifying session, though riders came out of the pits immediately to bank some solid lap times. As the session wore on though, and the weather held, a display of talent proceeded, and another track record succumbed to the 1,000cc prototype machines.

The story from MotoGP’s qualifying session is not that Jorge Lorenzo was the fastest man on the track, though he was, but rather how the Spanish rider rode during the session is what should be talked about amongst GP fans. Trouncing the Best Lap Record at Sepang, and setting an outright circuit record in the process, Lorenzo had things buttoned up for a pole-position start in the Malaysian GP with extra time to spare — though, that wouldn’t be enough for the factory Yamaha rider.

Ahead in the championship, Lorenzo needs only to keep tabs on rival Dani Pedrosa over the next three races in order to be assured of another World Championship title. With Pedrosa showing a whole new racing persona, and his teammate Casey Stoner returning back to racing from his foot injury — and now showing again his racing pace — there remains a considerable amount of doubt to worry Lorenzo, and so an example had to be made.

Dropping the Best Lap Record by almost a tenth of a second, Lorenzo was not content to stop there, despite Dani Pedrosa accepting his second-place starting position. Dropping his time again by another tenth of a second, Lorenzo shattered the course record, and his fist-pumps afterwards showed something more than the time sheets let on. Lorenzo needed this shift in the momentum.

With Dani Pedrosa winning plenty of races that started with Lorenzo on pole, the Repsol Honda rider seemed able to hunt, stalk, and kill his prey at will on the Honda RC213V, now that the V4 machine has come to grips with its chattering issues. Holding the momentum in the series, question marks started to form as to whether Pedrosa could overcome Lorenzo’s seemingly insurmountable lead. “Pedrobot” even seemed to be winning over fans and critics alike with his new-found hunger on the race course, and the riding that came with it.

Using a soft front tire to make the difference, it remains to be seen how much of an actual advantage there is come race day, but on the psychological battlefield, Lorenzo has fired an impressive first volley. Sunday awaits Pedrosa’s response in kind.

Qualifying Results from the Malaysian GP at Sepang, Malaysia:

Pos. Rider Nation Team Bike KM/H Time Diff.
1 Jorge LORENZO SPA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha 323.8 2’00.334
2 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 325.9 2’00.528 0.194
3 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 324.6 2’00.567 0.233
4 Casey STONER AUS Repsol Honda Team Honda 321.6 2’00.811 0.477
5 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 320.0 2’01.178 0.844
6 Ben SPIES USA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha 320.3 2’01.185 0.851
7 Hector BARBERA SPA Pramac Racing Team Ducati 316.4 2’01.294 0.960
8 Stefan BRADL GER LCR Honda MotoGP Honda 322.6 2’01.491 1.157
9 Nicky HAYDEN USA Ducati Team Ducati 323.3 2’01.526 1.192
10 Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda 320.3 2’01.640 1.306
11 Valentino ROSSI ITA Ducati Team Ducati 322.8 2’01.783 1.449
12 Aleix ESPARGARO SPA Power Electronics Aspar ART 304.7 2’02.842 2.508
13 Randy DE PUNIET FRA Power Electronics Aspar ART 306.2 2’03.389 3.055
14 Karel ABRAHAM CZE Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati 313.6 2’03.774 3.440
15 Michele PIRRO ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR 300.5 2’04.152 3.818
16 James ELLISON GBR Paul Bird Motorsport ART 303.9 2’04.515 4.181
17 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Came IodaRacing Project Ioda-Suter 300.8 2’04.726 4.392
18 Colin EDWARDS USA NGM Mobile Forward Racing Suter 306.1 2’04.941 4.607
19 Roberto ROLFO ITA Speed Master ART 303.1 2’05.100 4.766
20 Ivan SILVA SPA Avintia Blusens BQR 299.1 2’05.921 5.587

Source: MotoGP; Photo: Yamaha Racing