Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo took second on the grid for Sunday’s Gran Premio Iveco de Aragon race in an intense Q2 battle at the Motorland circuit.
The defending World Champion was the first rider to set a fast time in the second qualifying session, putting down a 1’48.241 to set the early pace at the front. He went on to improve with a 1’48.201 before relinquishing the top spot to Stefan Bradl with nine minutes remaining and returning to the pits for a fresh rear qualifying tyre.
Lorenzo went back out on track with just over five minutes remaining and became one of the key protagonists in a close fight for pole that saw multiple riders firing into the red as the lap times dropped into the 1’47s. Provisional pole for Lorenzo was taken again then lost in the last seconds by just 0.01s to rival Marc Marquez.
"I knew I made a really good lap and I hoped to be in first position but I knew the other riders would be very close or in front of me," stated Lorenzo on Saturday afternoon. "Finally by one hundredth of a second I lost it. One thing is to make one fast lap, another is to make fast laps for the whole race. In the last practice before qualifying we found something extra for pace so we are stronger in one lap and also for the pace for the race. If the race remains in dry conditions it will be a good race."
Meanwhile, Lorenzo’s teammate Valentino Rossi took fourth on the grid, just 0.158 seconds from pole position.
The nine-time World Champion immediately fired off a 1’48.415 early in Q2 before improving again with a 1’48.366. Rossi then returned to the pits for fresh rubber and was back out again with five minutes remaining. The improvements continued as he began to threaten for provisional pole with red splits, dropping to a final time of 1’47.962 to take fourth on the grid, just 0.005 seconds behind Dani Pedrosa in third.
Afterwards the Italian enthused, "I have a good feeling and I’ve improved my pace a lot and braking ability also. We have also improved the rear grip over long distance. I’m so happy because it was a great qualifying for me and I enjoyed it a lot. The level was very high and we were just one tenth from pole position, so we are all together."
He added, "We have to see what the conditions are tomorrow; for sure today they helped us. With a few less degrees we are more competitive with the Yamaha. My pace is very similar to Jorge and Marquez and Pedrosa but we know that they are very fast so to try and stay with them I have to improve again tomorrow."