Early 2012 MotoGP championship leader Jorge Lorenzo was brave in several ways as he conquered qualifying for his home Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez on Saturday.
First there was the danger of damp patches on track, which all riders faced. But the Factory Yamaha rider was also rewarded for holding his nerve as dark clouds and then spots of rain fell at the halfway mark of the one hour session.
Many of his rivals rushed out in response, but Lorenzo - only eighth at the time - remained in the pits to make vital set-up changes and also saved his tyres for what proved to be an epic pole exchange with countryman Dani Pedrosa.
During the last 19 minutes Lorenzo and Honda rider Pedrosa swapped pole six times - and improved provisional pole on a further three occasions - before Lorenzo got the better of his opponent by just 0.135s on his penultimate lap.
“We are very happy with this pole position because it was a strange session,” said Lorenzo. “There were a lot of water patches and it was very dangerous. You had to pay a lot of attention, it would have been easy to crash and get injured.
“Anyway we start in first position so let's see what happens in the race. Thank you to the team for working hard to keep giving the right set up in changing conditions.”
Team manager Wilco Zeelenberg admitted the session had been something of a gamble.
“That was a great qualifying session for everybody, especially for us, grabbing pole after gambling a bit and starting and stopping a lot to make changes,” said the Dutchman. “The circumstances were changing constantly as were the positions.
“At the beginning we were a little bit afraid because we thought rain was coming but we were lucky and it stayed dry or we could have been tenth or twelfth. The riders all took some risks so it's great to be on pole for the second time in a row.”
Lorenzo won from pole at the Qatar season opener and was victorious in the wet at Jerez last year.