MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo celebrated his 26th birthday in style by taking a home pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez.
While three of his main pole rivals were caught out by the hot and slippery conditions, Lorenzo kept his cool and steered his Factory Yamaha to a second pole of the year by 0.247s during the Q2 shootout.
Lorenzo will lead an all-Spanish Sunday front row ahead of Repsol Honda riders Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez.
“I'm happy with this pole position, it's a good present for my birthday!” said Lorenzo, who also had the final corner of the circuit officially renamed in his honour on Saturday (pictured).
“I knew the track was not perfect, it's very warm and there were a lot of crashes in Moto2 and the previous qualifying. I just tried to make the perfect lap, unfortunately I couldn't; I made a mistake in two braking zones and went wide and lost some tenths. Anyway, in the other corners I was really quick and at the limit so it was enough to make it.
“Tomorrow I think the pace will be much slower, because the tyre drops. We hope to improve the bike a little bit to get more comfortable with race pace. Anyway I think we can fight for the win or at least for the podium tomorrow.”
Team manager Wilco Zeelenberg also expects tyre wear to play a critical role in the outcome of the race.
“The conditions are very hot and the tyre life is limited so we need to find the best balance possible for the race,” said the Dutchman. “This means that the race can go any way, the guy who has less problems will win but I don't think the fastest guy in the beginning will be able to win.
“It's difficult to judge which bike is going to be better over long distance as we're not riding 24 laps under the same conditions with the same tyre.”
Lorenzo's team-mate Valentino Rossi was one of the high profile qualifying fallers, alongside Pedrosa and Cal Crutchlow, and will start from fifth on the grid.