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Jorge Lorenzo ends Honda's MotoGP pole run with storming Laguna Seca performance for Yamaha

Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha, Laguna Seca 2012Jorge Lorenzo put Yamaha back on pole position for the first time since Jerez in April with a brilliant performance in MotoGP qualifying at Laguna Seca.

Championship leader Lorenzo had to dig deep and produce a record 1m20.554s lap of the California track in the closing seconds to deny Honda duo Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa.

Lorenzo's Yamaha had been quickest for most of the session. Going into the closing stages, the points leader's margin over Pedrosa was just 0.007s, but two improvements stretched the gap to first 0.025s, then 0.213s.

Stoner had not yet been able to show his hand, though, having encountered traffic on a promising run. He then came across CRT rider Danilo Petrucci at the final corner on his next attempt, yet still managed a 1m20.628s to depose Lorenzo.

When Lorenzo's next lap was 0.2 seconds down on Stoner at the first split, it all looked to be over. But Lorenzo made up that deficit and more over the remainder of the lap, conjuring up a 1m20.554s to claim Laguna pole for a fourth straight year, and halt Honda's string of consecutive poles at seven. Stoner and Pedrosa completed the front row.

Lorenzo's team-mate Ben Spies crashed heavily at Turn 3 late on. Although he was able to rejoin on his spare bike, he could not hang on to the front row grid slot he occupied pre-fall, dropping back to fourth ahead of the Tech 3 Yamahas of Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso.

The Ducatis were back in eighth and 10th, Nicky Hayden ahead of Valentino Rossi once again, behind Alvaro Bautista's Gresini Honda and split by Stefan Bradl's LCR Honda.

Aspar took another CRT one-two, as Randy de Puniet led Aleix Espargaro in 11th and 12th.

Returnees Karel Abraham, back after injury at Cardion AB, and Toni Elias, standing in for the injured Hector Barbera at Pramac, qualified only 14th and 17th respectively.

Apart from Spies, the only other crasher was Mattia Pasini, who had a violent accident at the fast downhill Turn 10. He walked away unhurt.

Pos  Rider             Team/Bike                 Time       Gap
 1.  Jorge Lorenzo     Yamaha                    1m20.554s
 2.  Casey Stoner      Honda                     1m20.628s  + 0.074s
 3.  Dani Pedrosa      Honda                     1m20.906s  + 0.352s
 4.  Ben Spies         Yamaha                    1m21.094s  + 0.540s
 5.  Cal Crutchlow     Tech 3 Yamaha             1m21.268s  + 0.714s
 6.  Andrea Dovizioso  Tech 3 Yamaha             1m21.539s  + 0.985s
 7.  Alvaro Bautista   Gresini Honda             1m21.732s  + 1.178s
 8.  Nicky Hayden      Ducati                    1m21.734s  + 1.180s
 9.  Stefan Bradl      LCR Honda                 1m21.753s  + 1.199s
10.  Valentino Rossi   Ducati                    1m22.544s  + 1.990s
11.  Randy de Puniet   Aspar Aprilia             1m22.886s  + 2.332s
12.  Aleix Espargaro   Aspar Aprilia             1m23.075s  + 2.521s
13.  Colin Edwards     Forward Suter-BMW         1m23.699s  + 3.145s
14.  Karel Abraham     Cardion Ducati            1m23.704s  + 3.150s
15.  Yonny Hernandez   Avintia FTR-Kawasaki      1m23.769s  + 3.215s
16.  Michele Pirro     Gresini FTR-Honda         1m23.877s  + 3.323s
17.  Toni Elias        Pramac Ducati             1m23.898s  + 3.344s
18.  Mattia Pasini     Speed Master Aprilia      1m24.017s  + 3.463s
19.  Danilo Petrucci   Ioda-Aprilia              1m24.227s  + 3.673s
20.  Ivan Silva        Avintia Inmotec-Kawasaki  1m24.560s  + 4.006s
21.  James Ellison     Paul Bird Aprilia         1m24.715s  + 4.161s
22.  Steve Rapp        Attack-Kawasaki           1m26.887s  + 6.333s
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