Valentino Rossi claimed his fifth pole of the 2009 MotoGP season at Brno on Saturday by just 0.050sec from team-mate and title rival Jorge Lorenzo, despite a fast crash in the closing minutes.
The accident meant Rossi was helpless to defend his position, but Lorenzo couldn't topple the reigning six time MotoGP champion and 2009 title leader, who starts Sunday's eleventh round with a 25 point advantage.
After the session, Rossi made clear that his health was more important than pole, and feels he had a lucky escape, having apparently suffered only a sore thumb in the incident.
“Pole position is great, but the most important thing is that I'm okay after the crash,” said Rossi, who lost the front of his Fiat Yamaha on entry to a right hander. “I have a bit of pain in my right thumb but that's all, so I think I've been quite lucky. I'll get it checked out at the Clinica Mobile later but I don't think it's anything bad.
“This weekend just one of the [two] front Bridgestone tyre compounds is working well for us, and I had already done 16 laps on the front tyre. For sure it is a big stretch. On the data I braked like before but maybe the front tyre had a little less grip and I lost the front. It was my mistake.
“Anyway, we did a great job in the session and being on pole again is important. The pace is impressive, there is a big improvement on last year. Tomorrow I think the battle will be especially with Jorge and possibly with Dani [Pedrosa],” he added.
“We're in pole but Valentino's crash was unfortunate, on a lap that might have been even faster!” stated team manager Davide Brivio. “The most important thing is that he is okay, which is a big relief for us all. By the end of the session we'd found a good setting and it looks like tomorrow could be another big battle, let's hope we're a part of it! Lorenzo and Pedrosa are very motivated and look very strong so let's see what happens.”
Repsol Honda rider Pedrosa qualified third, 0.383sec behind Rossi.