Jorge Lorenzo maintained his perfect 2009 front row record during qualifying for round twelve at Indianapolis and is confident he can challenge pole sitter Dani Pedrosa for victory in the race.
Lorenzo was the only rider to head Pedrosa after the first 15 minutes of qualifying, but still ended up 0.506sec behind the Repsol Honda rider.
Nevertheless, the 22-year-old was 0.373sec faster than Fiat Yamaha team-mate and runaway title leader Valentino Rossi - who only claimed a front row start on his very last lap - and is confident of fighting for his first victory since round four at Le Mans.
“I'm happy about this qualifying session because we made a big step with our setting from this morning when we were too far from [Pedrosa],” said Lorenzo. “Now we are closer although we hope to improve a little bit more for tomorrow in certain parts of the track. But our race pace is good and confidence is high.”
Lorenzo has lost points to Rossi at the last six rounds, most significantly by falling from the lead in the last two races, and is now a distant 50 points behind the #46.
“I crashed because I wanted to win, but now the philosophy is different,” explained the double 2009 race winner. “Now we have to concentrate on finishing races and try to be second in the championship.
“Also I have made a decision about my future, so I am more focused now,” he said of his new Yamaha contract.
Lorenzo will start Sunday's race with a 12 point lead over the absent Casey Stoner and 27 point advantage over fourth in the championship Pedrosa, which could be set to shrink.
“We still have some work to do because Pedrosa looks very strong and we need to close the gap to him,” said team manager Daniele Romagnoli, “but we're confident that we can improve the package a bit more and set Jorge up for a great race tomorrow.”