Spanish Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo has taken pole for Sunday’s Czech Republic MotoGP in Brno after setting a new lap record in qualifying.
Reigning champion Marc Marquez on a Honda and championship leader Valentino Rossi, Lorenzo’s Yamaha teammate, will complete the front row.
28-year-old Lorenzo, the 2010 and 2012 champion, clocked 1min 54.989sec on the 5.4-kilometre circuit in the southern Czech city, wiping off his own record from Saturday morning’s practice.
Fellow Spaniard Marquez, the 2013 and 2014 champion, stayed just 0.074sec behind Lorenzo while Italian star Rossi trailed by 0.364sec on a hot and dry afternoon.
Rossi leads the overall standings with 195 points after 10 out of the season’s 18 MotoGP races, ahead of Lorenzo on 186 and Marquez with 139.
“Before the qualifying I thought a lap time similar to the other time I made this morning was enough to make a pole position but I was wrong,” said Lorenzo, the last non-Honda rider to win at Brno in 2010.
“I improved a little bit on braking, I improved a little bit on opening the throttle.”
Marquez, who won at Brno in 2013, said he could see Lorenzo was too fast for him midway through the session.
“Already there I understood, OK, today the pole position will be difficult,” said the 22-year-old, who won the last two MotoGP races.
“We must be happy because yesterday we were really far … and today we were closer and closer, maybe not close enough, but for the race distance I feel happy.”
Rossi, the nine-time world champion across all categories, said qualifying on the front row was “very, very important” after a series of lacklustre qualifying performances.
“Jorge and Marc are very fast from the beginning and if you start behind, it becomes impossible to stay with them,” said the 36-year-old legend, who has won five top-class races at Brno, the last one in 2009.
“I’m very happy with this result, also because we worked very well with the team and already from this morning we found a good way but this afternoon we improved the setting.
“It’s very important to start from the front row because it will be a very hard race,” added Rossi, who has made it on to the podium in all races so far this season.
Italian Ducati duo Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso took the fourth and sixth places respectively, with Britain’s Yamaha rider Bradley Smith sandwiched between them.
Last year’s Brno winner Dani Pedrosa, Marquez’s teammate and compatriot, only managed ninth spot after a heavy crash in Friday’s practice.
Weather might be an issue on Sunday as forecasters predict storms following an unprecedented heat wave that sent track temperatures soaring to 50 degrees Celsius on Friday.
In the Moto2 class, French rider Johann Zarco, the championship leader, took the pole position ahead of defending champion Tito Rabat of Spain and another Spaniard Alex Rins, all of them on Kalex bikes.
And in Moto3, Italy’s Niccolo Antonelli on a Honda earned his first pole position of the season ahead of two other Honda riders, championship leader Danny Kent of Britain and Spain’s Jorge Navarro.