Jorge Lorenzo silenced the Italian Grand Prix fans by snatching pole position away from two Italian riders and one Italian bike during Saturday's qualifying session at Mugello.

Prior to qualifying, Casey Stoner had set the fastest lap of the weekend with a 1min 49.323sec, despite a lowside fall, in Saturday morning practice - but Valentino Rossi, second in FP1 and third in FP2, took just seven minutes to break into the 1min 49s this afternoon.

The Fiat Yamaha superstar - chasing an incredible eighth home victory in a row this weekend - kept up his momentum by constantly lowering his best lap time, allowing the Italian to lead an M1 one-two-three, ahead of team-mate Lorenzo and Tech 3's Colin Edwards, as the halfway mark came and went.

Rossi's reign was finally interrupted by Stoner, with 17 minutes to go, when the Ducati star cut 0.073sec under the #46. Stoner gained his advantage in the final part of the track and Rossi's initial attempts to regain pole fell short through that same sector.

That all changed with eight minutes remaining when Rossi set the fastest lap of the weekend to wrestle pole away from Stoner by 0.143sec, much to the delight of the yellow fans lining the hillsides.

A lull in the action followed before the pole contenders returned for their final attack, which began with a shock when Loris Capirossi snatched pole from countryman Rossi by 0.027sec.

Capirossi's Suzuki was still on pole as the final minute began, but Lorenzo lunged 0.134sec under with just seconds remaining. Stoner, who will once again carry Ducati's hopes of a first home Mugello victory on Sunday, then slotted into second place on his last lap.

That left Rossi off the front row and the local hero failed to improve on his last lap, leaving him to start from fourth position on Sunday.

The local fans fell silent while a small group of Lorenzo supporters were seen jumping in delight as the MotoGP World Championship leader, presently one point ahead of Rossi and Stoner, celebrated his second pole of the season.

Capirossi's superb effort means he repeated his 2008 third on the grid, but will be hoping for better than seventh in the race this time around. Capirossi is the only rider on the grid other than Rossi to have won the premier-class race at Mugello.

As is now traditional, Rossi unveiled a special helmet design today. The helmet shows Rossi's gloves painted on the top, as if The Doctor is holding his head.

Behind the top four, Randy de Puniet put his Playboy-backed LCR Honda into an excellent fifth for the home LCR Honda team and took top-satellite honours from Edwards in the process.

Edwards will complete row two in sixth, with factory RCV riders Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa just seventh and eighth, 0.661sec and 1.086sec from pole.

Despite a solid fourth on Friday, Pedrosa has looked increasingly unhappy as the weekend has gone on. The Spaniard was ranked eighth this morning and sat just 16th with 20 minutes of qualifying to go.

The triple 2009 podium finisher, presently just nine points behind Lorenzo in the championship, thus faces a tough task to stay in contact with his title rivals on Sunday - and, despite not falling this weekend, is rumoured to have picked up some form of injury.

Toni Elias fell in the closing minutes, but remained the lead San Carlo Honda Gresini rider in ninth, with rookie Yuki Takahashi a commendable tenth for Scot Honda.

Chris Vermeulen was eleventh on the second GSV-R, with Alex de Angelis a lower than expected 13th on the second Gresini Honda after a promising sixth on Friday.

Former Ducati test rider and 2009 MotoGP rookie Niccolo Canepa, under pressure to show his skills at a track his knows, made a brief appearance in eighth during the second half of the session. The Pramac rider will start a season's best 13th on the grid ahead of James Toseland (Tech 3 Yamaha) and Marco Melandri (Hayate).

The last two places on the grid will be occupied by Ducati riders Nicky Hayden and Mika Kallio, neither of whom have been higher than 15th all weekend.

Grupo Francisco Hernando Ducati rider Sete Gibernau is not present this weekend after fracturing his left collarbone at the French Grand Prix.

1. Lorenzo
2. Stoner
3. Capirossi
4. Rossi
5. de Puniet
6. Edwards
7. Dovizioso
8. Pedrosa
9. Elias
10. Takahashi
11. Vermeulen
12. de Angelis
13. Canepa
14. Toseland
15. Melandri
16. Hayden
17. Kallio


Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment