MotoGP world champion Jorge Lorenzo claimed his seventh pole of the season without turning a wheel on Saturday afternoon at Estoril.

Relentless heavy rain forced the cancellation of qualifying at the Portuguese circuit, meaning that grid positions were decided by combined free practice times.

First free practice on Friday had been all but abandoned for the same reason, but MotoGP did get two wet sessions in - one on Friday afternoon and the other on Saturday morning.

Lorenzo was fastest in both, despite a big highside in the closing minutes of this morning's session, with his 'pole time' set on Friday afternoon.

It was a proud moment for Lorenzo, whose 42nd pole puts him equal with Jorge Martinez Aspar as the most successful Spanish pole-man of all time.

The pole also continues Lorenzo's amazing form at Estoril, where the Fiat Yamaha rider has won from pole on both his previous MotoGP appearances.

"It was a pity about this today because we needed a bit more time in the very wet conditions to try to improve our setting more, but there was no way we could have ridden this afternoon," said Lorenzo.

"This morning I felt quite good but at the end I was pushing too hard, I thought the other riders were closer to my time and I just went a step too far and crashed. I was lucky, my airbag inflated and I didn't hurt myself.

"Now we have to wait and see how the weather is and we especially hope that warm-up is the same conditions as the race, it will be very, very difficult if not.

"Today I became the Spanish rider with the most poles of all time, joint with Aspar, and this is a great honour for me, I feel very proud."

"Our seventh pole of the season, but without actually qualifying!" added team manager Wilco Zeelenberg. "Jorge had quite a big crash this morning when he was pushing quite hard and lost the rear, but he is fine and this is all that matters.

"We wanted to improve our pace in the wet conditions a bit more; when it's drying up we're okay but when it's really wet we're struggling a bit with the rear feeling, so we need to work on this tomorrow morning if possible. Of course we don't know how the weather will be so we will just have to wait and see."

Lorenzo will be joined on the front row of tomorrow's grid by Ducati's Nicky Hayden and the second Fiat Yamaha of Valentino Rossi.

Hayden's team-mate Casey Stoner, winner of three of the last four races, heads row two.

Like Lorenzo, Stoner and Hayden also fell on Saturday morning.


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