Jorge Lorenzo struck a seagull during qualifying for the Australian MotoGP at Phillip Island - dragging the deceased bird to provisional pole before having it removed from the radiator of his Yamaha at the end of his first run.

Undeterred the reigning double MotoGP champion returned to the circuit to retake the top spot from title leader Marc Marquez by 0.221s, setting a new pole record in the process.

"I had an impact with a bird on the first few laps on the bike, luckily we could take it off and I could make a second attempt without a passenger, maybe because of this I went a little bit faster and was able to make pole position," said Lorenzo. "I'm very happy because I pushed to the limit to make the lap and I made a very good time."

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Lorenzo's team-mate Valentino Rossi will complete the front row - but a sizeable 0.748s from the top - with Gresini Honda's Alvaro Bautista, Marquez's Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa and Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Cal Crutchlow (+0.910s) forming row two.

Rookie Bradley Smith qualified just 0.132s slower than team-mate Crutchlow, with Nicky Hayden maintaining his weekend form as the fastest Ducati rider by 0.354s over team-mate Andrea Dovizioso, who led the Q1 session.

Pramac Ducati's Andrea Iannone took tenth, followed by top CRT riders Colin Edwards (Forward) and Randy de Puniet (Aspar) - who both fell.

Phillip Island has been resurfaced since last year's event - after Friday practice, Bridgestone specified that all riders must use the harder rear for the race due to increased tyre wear.

An extra hard tyre was then offered in FP4, adding to the uncertainty, but this now appears to have been ruled out for the race, meaning the hard tyre is to be used by all. The situation is not as bad as Moto2, where the race distance has been halved due to endurance concerns with the Dunlop rubber, but Bridgestone could not yet entirely rule out requesting a shorter race distance.

"We have some problems with the tyre because the new asphalt makes a lot of graining; we'll see if there are decisions from Dorna or Bridgestone tomorrow for the race," confirmed Lorenzo. "If we can make a good start we will try to get away at the beginning."

For the short qualifying shootout the soft rear tyre was used throughout.

Rookie Marquez has a 43-point advantage over Lorenzo and 54-point lead over Pedrosa. If Marquez is at least 51 points ahead after Sunday's race he will be confirmed as champion with two rounds still to go.

Qualifying 2:
1. Jorge Lorenzo
2. Marc Marquez
3. Valentino Rossi
4. Alvaro Bautista
5. Dani Pedrosa
6. Cal Crutchlow
7. Bradley Smith
8. Nicky Hayden
9. Andrea Dovizioso
10. Andrea Iannone
11. Colin Edwards
12. Randy De Puniet