Reining MotoGP world champion Jorge Lorenzo will start second on the grid for the Australian Grand Prix, after qualifying 0.473sec behind home hero Casey Stoner.

Honda star Stoner, who has his first chance to wrap-up the 2011 title on Sunday, has won at Philip Island for the past four years - and led every track session so far this weekend.

Lorenzo is therefore realistic about his victory chances, although a place on the podium on Sunday would be enough to at least delay Stoner's championship celebrations.

"It will be really difficult to beat Casey tomorrow," said Lorenzo with a wry smile. "He's really fast in his home track and has the bike working well. For me it's difficult. I'm trying so much to improve, but the most likely probability is to finish second tomorrow. However it is a long race so anything can happen. Let's see."

Factory Yamaha team-mate Ben Spies crashed out on his third qualifying lap in dramatic fashion, low siding at over 250km/hr and sliding off into the gravel.

After a check with the medical centre the Texan was back on his second bike with heavily bruised ribs and body, venturing out on track to score a third row start with seventh on the grid.

"I got a little bit off line in qualifying this afternoon and hit a big bump, losing the front," explained Spies. "It's unfortunate as we were trying a different bike set up which was looking pretty good. It happened on the third lap, according to the data I came off at 270km/hr so I went through the gravel trap pretty quick!

"My knees, ribs and elbows are all pretty banged up but that's normal, that's how it is. The bike is working well so we need a good start; we're in a good position on the grid for it so we'll see what happens."


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