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Motegi MotoGP: Jorge Lorenzo captures pole with record last-gasp effort

Jorge Lorenzo takes Motegi poleJorge Lorenzo captured his sixth pole position of the MotoGP season with a last-gasp, record effort in qualifying at Motegi.

The Spaniard's 1m44.969s, set as the chequered flag fell, was comfortably faster than the rest of the field, led by his main title rival Dani Pedrosa.

The Honda rider had staged his own late rally, flying to the top of the timesheets with four minutes remaining. His best, a 1m45.215s, was itself a new record before Lorenzo blazed clear.

While pole position therefore boiled down to the typical protagonists, that scenario had looked unlikely earlier on as the session came alive with 20 minutes to run.

Ben Spies was the catalyst, jumping half a second clear with a 1m45.506s, at the time comfortably the fastest lap of the weekend.

Within moments Gresini's Alvaro Bautista, Tech 3 Yamaha's Andrea Dovizioso and Honda's Casey Stoner - riding through the pain of his Indianapolis injuries - had all responded and moved into the top four.

Cal Crutchlow then made his move, posting a new best - a 1m45.275s - to take provisional pole. At that moment, Lorenzo and Pedrosa were on the fringes of the second row and doing little to threaten.

New rubber provided the boost both needed however, culminating in a thrilling climax to an unpredictable session.

There was nearly further drama when Spies, running fourth, crashed at Turn 10 just as Lorenzo began his quick lap. The marshals managed to clear his bike however and Lorenzo was unobstructed en route to his pole time.

Spies was able to hang on to fourth, just fractions behind Crutchlow.

Bautista likewise kept fifth from Dovizioso, while Stoner - who had run as high as second - was relegated to seventh late on.

That was still enough to beat LCR's Stefan Bradl, who ran through the gravel early on, and works Ducati pair Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden, ninth and 10th respectively.

Pos  Rider               Team/Bike             Time       Gap
 1.  Jorge Lorenzo       Yamaha                1m44.969s
 2.  Dani Pedrosa        Honda                 1m45.215s  + 0.246s
 3.  Cal Crutchlow       Tech 3 Yamaha         1m45.257s  + 0.288s
 4.  Ben Spies           Yamaha                1m45.336s  + 0.367s
 5.  Alvaro Bautista     Gresini Honda         1m45.481s  + 0.512s
 6.  Andrea Dovizioso    Tech 3 Yamaha         1m45.612s  + 0.643s
 7.  Casey Stoner        Honda                 1m45.745s  + 0.776s
 8.  Stefan Bradl        LCR Honda             1m45.848s  + 0.879s
 9.  Valentino Rossi     Ducati                1m45.976s  + 1.007s
10.  Nicky Hayden        Ducati                1m46.461s  + 1.492s
11.  Katsuyuki Nakasuga  Yamaha                1m46.780s  + 1.811s
12.  Hector Barbera      Pramac Ducati         1m46.881s  + 1.912s
13.  Aleix Espargaro     Aspar Aprilia         1m47.383s  + 2.414s
14.  Randy de Puniet     Aspar Aprilia         1m47.581s  + 2.612s
15.  Karel Abraham       Cardion Ducati        1m47.791s  + 2.822s
16.  Colin Edwards       Forward Suter-BMW     1m48.125s  + 3.156s
17.  Yonny Hernandez     Avintia FTR-Kawasaki  1m48.513s  + 3.544s
18.  Michele Pirro       Gresini FTR-Honda     1m48.653s  + 3.684s
19.  Danilo Petrucci     Ioda Suter-BMW        1m48.831s  + 3.862s
20.  James Ellison       Paul Bird Aprilia     1m49.023s  + 4.054s
21.  Roberto Rolfo       Speed Master Aprilia  1m49.183s  + 4.214s
22.  Ivan Silva          Avintia FTR-Kawasaki  1m49.831s  + 4.862s
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