Sunday, September 1


DEFENDING World MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo and 2013 championship leader Marc Marquez engaged in an intense back and forth battle for pole position for the Silverstone round of the series that saw them both get under the lap record early on and then break the pole record.

Marquez hit the ground running, topping the first free practice session on Friday morning with a 2m 03.816s lap, then Lorenzo came back with a 2m 02.734s effort to top that afternoon's free practice.

On Saturday morning it was Marquez turn once again and the young Spaniard blazed around the almost six kilometre circuit with a session-topping 2m 02.485s effort, getting under Lorenzo's year old lap record of 2m 02.888s in the process.

Lorenzo wasn't done though and in Saturday afternoon's free practice, he nailed a 2m 02.049s lap to top the time sheets ahead of the qualifying session later in the day. That was a whisker outside Casey Stoner's 2011 pole record of 2m 02.020s and indicated qualifying was going to be very interesting.

It was!

Both Lorenzo and Marquez blew right through the 2m 01s barrier to land in the two minute range, with Marquez stopping the clocks with an astounding 2m 00.691s ahead of Lorenzo's 2m 00.819s effort.  

So just 0.128s separated the two Spaniards as they prepared for Sunday's race.

With less than two minutes remaining in the session, Lorenzo thought he had done enough and would be starting the race from pole position.  But Marquez refused to lay down and in the closing moments of the 15 minute session, snatched it away.

"I thought I had pole position," said Lorenzo, "but when I saw the classification I again saw that Marc was in front of me, so I was a bit disappointed because I had done one of the best laps of my whole career."

Lorenzo had been first to beat Casey Stoner’s 2011 qualifying record of 2011, then went even quicker after Marquez briefly moved ahead. 

"I tried my best but again it wasn’t possible.  Anyway, it is only qualifying.  Second place is a good position and the important thing is tomorrow.  It is going to be a long race, so let’s hope to have good pace to fight for victory."

Although the Mallorcan has missed out on Saturday’s top spot, he heads into race day with the knowledge that he has won two of his three premier class races at Silverstone.

For his part, Marquez said he had not forseen such a frantic, record-breaking qualifying pace.

Although Stoner set his record in the last year of the 800cc formula, last year, in the first year of the 1000cc formula, it was Spaniard Alvaro Bautista who had started from pole at Silverstone with a 2m 03.303s effort, ahead of Ben Spies (Yamaha) and Stoner.

Track temperature may have had a big hand in the difference from last year to this:  in 2012 the track temperature was just 21ºC.  This year it was 35ºC.

“If I’m honest,  I didn’t expect that lap time," Marquez said immediately after setting the new pole record. 

He had managed a record-setting 2m 01.247s lap with his first rear qualifying tyre and “I had many slides and was pushing 100 per cent but, despite that, the lap time was still really good,"  the 20-year-old Spaniard smiled.

"Then, with the second tyre, I thought I could maybe be one or two tenths faster, but it was immediately half a second faster on the first lap. On the second lap, I said, ‘I will not push more because I have already done a good lap time!’  For tomorrow, we will see. It will be interesting to see the race because at this circuit both types of rear tyre are working quite well, so it will be interesting to see which is the best one.”

Behind the two Spaniards, English rider Cal Crutchlow had been the most consistent through practice, ending up taking the final front row starting sport with a 2m 01.425s, also under Stoner's pole record.

In fact, even Dani Pedrosa, who ended up fifth fastest, was under Stoner's old pole record.

However, Lorenzo's team-mate Valentino Rossi could only managed sixth fastest time, and failed to break the record of his nemesis.

Still, as he has shown many times in his long career, qualifying is one thing, the race can be quite another.

After making a strong start on Friday and confident of making another step on Saturday, Rossi starts from the second row of the grid for the race.  Rossi was the second rider out of pit lane as the session started, tailing team-mate Lorenzo onto the circuit.  His first set of rubber delivered a best time of 2m 02.763s before returning to the pits for a new rear.  Back out again just behind Lorenzo, he was able to make a big step, getting down to a 2m 02.109s lap.

Behind him was the Ducati of Andrea Dovizioso with a 2m 02.123s effort while last year's pole man, Alvaro Bautista, was next with a 2m 02.252s best lap.  While that was more than a second under last year's pole, this year it was only good enough for eighth on the grid!

For the full list of qualifying times, click here.