MotoGP Sepang Quali Results & Full Report: Lorenzo Fights Off Charging Hayden at the End for Pole


What Happens When It Might Just Be Time to Crown a Champion

3:02am EST — Jorge Lorenzo fought off a late charge from Nicky Hayden to secure pole for the race likely to win him the 2010 MotoGP World Championship.  The American had pole in the final minute, but lost it by a tenth to the Spaniard.  Andrea Dovizioso, Ben Spies, and Casey Stoner rounded out the top five starters for the Malaysian Grand Prix, with Valentino Rossi just edged out in sixth at the end by Stoner.

It was again the Fiat Yamaha show as Rossi led the first practice session and Lorenzo the second.  Rossi led Dovizioso, Lorenzo, Casey Stoner, and Alvaro Bautista as the fastest five on Friday, Stoner bouncing back after a early-session crash, and Rossi taking control after Dovizioso had led much of the session.  In the second session, Lorenzo moved ahead, with Stoner, Rossi, Dovizioso, and Marco Simoncelli the fastest five in the heat and humidity of Malaysia.  Loris Capirossi had a highside very early in the Saturday morning session that injured his right foot, keeping him from setting a time, though he was declared medically clear to qualify.

The hour-long qualifying session began in the damp conditions, not from rain but tropical humidity.  Aleix Espargaro was the first rider to post a lap time, soon followed by the rest of the sixteen riders, Dani Pedrosa still recovering in Spain from his broken collarbone suffered in Japan.  Soon enough, his time was knocked off by Rossi, Aoyama, and Hayden, then Melandri was fastest, followed by de Puniet as Rossi dropped to tenth fastest just a few minutes into the session.  Lorenzo and Stoner moved up as riders were out on their early laps.  Times would be dropping for a while, until the riders were back into the garage for set-up changes.  Ten minutes into the session and the times were dropping too quickly to make note of who was behind Lorenzo, except when Stoner took his fastest position away from him.  Fifteen minutes in had Stoner, Dovizioso, Lorenzo, Rossi, Simoncelli, Edwards, Melandri, Barbera, Spies, and Bautista as the top ten.

The furiousness of early time changes seemed to settle in as Lorenzo led with a 2:02.175 with forty minutes left in qualifying.  Stoner was nearly two tenths slower as Dovizioso, Rossi, and Simoncelli completed the fastest five.  Halfway through the session, Lorenzo, Dovizioso, Stoner, Rossi, Spies, Simoncelli, Edwards, de Puniet, Melandri, and Barbera were the fastest ten, Lorenzo having improved his time by just under five hundredths of a second.  Lorenzo still ed twn minutes later, though Edwards had moved up to fifth, faster than Spies and Simoncelli.  Edwardsa continued his move forward, going second fastest with over sixteen minutes left, as Lorenzo still led with a 2:02.013.  The American was just under two hundredths slower, only to be displaced by Rossi.  At the sixteen minute mark, Lorenzo led Rossi, Edwards, Spies, Stoner, Dovizioso, Hayden, Melandri, Simoncelli, and Aoyama as the top ten. A minute later ans Spies was on top, the first and only man of the weekend to post a 2:01s (2:01.993) time.  Not much changed for a few minutes, though Hayden seemed to have shaken some gremlins and was fifth fastest, ahead of Stoner in sixth, until Lorenzo bettered Spies’ time for provisional pole.

With just ten furious minutes left for qualifying, Lorenzo led Spies, Rossi, Edwards, Hayden, Stoner, Dovizioso, Melandri, Simoncelli, and Aoyama as the top ten starters for the race.  Lorenzo bettered his own time to take a lead of nearly three tenths on Spies.  With six minutes left, Dovizioso jumped up the running order from seventh to second fastest, displacing Spies to third with a 2:01.829.  Then, in a shocking move, Hayden was on the provisional pole with a 2:01.637 and just three minutes left.  In the final moments, though, Lorenzo fought back to take pole by one tenth from the American, depriving the former world champion of his first pole of the season.  Meanwhile, Stoner had edged out Rossi for fifth fastest.  Barbera had an off at the end, but appeared to be uninjured.

Provisional Starting Grid for the 2010 Malaysian Grand Prix:
1. Lorenzo 2:01.537
2. Hayden 2:01.637
3. Dovizioso 2:01.829
4. Spies 2:01.993
5. Stoner 2:02.023
6. Rossi 2:02.030
7. Edwards 2:02.097
8. Bautista 2:02.394
9. Capirossi 2:02.522
10. Melandri 2:02.624
11. Simoncelli  2:02.690
12. Espargaro 2:02.723
13. de Puniet 2:02.775
14. Aoyama 2:02.778
15. Barbera 2:02.928
16. Kallio 2:04.167

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