Jorge Lorenzo set the fastest lap time on Saturday at the Spanish Grand Prix - unfortunately that was in free practice rather than qualifying.

The Fiat Yamaha star was a couple of tenths slower in the sweltering afternoon heat, as he battled to extend his run of four consecutive Jerez poles.

With 20 minutes of the hour left he moved to the top of the standings, but his lead was short-lived as his Spanish rival Dani Pedrosa took over.

Lorenzo improved his time twice more but it was not enough to overhaul his compatriot and he eventually finished 0.285 seconds off the Repsol Honda rider's pole position.

But Lorenzo, who crashed out of fourth in the closing stages of last year's race, is feeling confident for Sunday - when the predicted 100,000 plus Spanish fans could see an exciting battle between their two home favourites.

"I was very fast this morning and I hoped I would be again this afternoon, but we struggled a bit in the increased heat and couldn't keep up quite such a good pace," confirmed Lorenzo, second to team-mate Valentino Rossi at round one in Qatar.

"This morning I could ride exactly how I wanted, which was a great feeling, but in qualifying it wasn't exactly the same. Anyway, my lap time is not so bad and we are on the front row, which is very important.

"I am very excited about tomorrow and I feel confident that I can make a good race in front of the Spanish fans. This is a very special track to race at and I can't wait to hear the crowd!"

"It was a lot warmer this afternoon and the session was hot in more ways than one; there's plenty of good racing rivalry between Jorge and his fellow Spaniard!" remarked Lorenzo's team manager Wilco Zeelenberg.

"We were very fast this morning and not quite as fast this afternoon but it's important to remember that there are no points for qualifying and we're just happy to be on the front row, which was our target today.

"The race conditions will be more like those of this afternoon and we had a good rhythm out there so we will be going for it tomorrow."

Ducati's Casey Stoner will complete the front row with Rossi, riding with a shoulder injury, starting from the head of row two in fourth.

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