On-form Lorenzo powers Ducati to Catalunya MotoGP pole

Ducati rider Jorge Lorenzo bagged his first pole since 2016 after topping Saturday's qualifying times for the Catalunya MotoGP

Montmeló (Spain) (AFP) – Fresh from his morale boosing victory at Mugello, Ducati rider Jorge Lorenzo bagged his first pole since 2016 after topping Saturday’s qualifying times for the Catalunya MotoGP.

The Spaniard, a four-time previous winner on the Spanish circuit, may only be tenth in the world standings but clocked a fastest lap time of 1min 38.68sec to grab pole position, his last coming in Valencia in November 2016 when riding for Yamaha

Championship leader Marc Marquez, on a Honda, was second fastest, with Lorenzo’s teammate Andrea Dovozioso, who won at Montmelo last year, third.

“When the qualification got underway I was struggling to find the right grip, but once we changed the tyres everything changed,” said Lorenzo, who hails from Mallorca.

“From then on I was able to attack halfway into a corner, letting the brakes go early and pick up some real speed on the straights,” said Lorenzo

“It’s my first pole position with Ducati, let’s see what happens tomorrow.”

Lorenzo was given a rapturous ovation in Italy last time out as up to 200,000 fans over the weekend lauded a Ducati GP win, with the racer leaping around the podium in joy.

Reigning world champion Marquez suffered two crashes on the track at Catalunya in the first qualifying session.

The unflappable champion was eventually upbeat about finishing second.

“This second place is good for Honda, it shows we are very close to the two Ducatis,” said Marquez.

Valentino Rossi started on pole in Italy, and the veteran Italian has seven wins at Catalunya, but starts in seventh on Sunday.

Last year’s winner at the track was Dovizioso and the Ducati rider, often better in real racing that qualifying, starts on the front row after finishing third.

Frenchman Fabio Quartararo of Speed Up starts on pole in the Moto2 category while Italy’s Enea Bastianini powered his Honda to pole in the Moto 3 race.