Jorge Lorenzo says his record 36th MotoGP pole position was the perfect way to begin the defence of his world title in Qatar as the Movistar Yamaha rider targets a maximum points haul in the opening race of 2016 on Sunday.
Lorenzo defied predictions to set his fastest time on his first flying lap on the Michelin tyres, lapping in 1m 54.543s to establish an early benchmark, which remained unsurpassed through the 15-minute Q2 shootout.
He took the top spot by only 0.091 seconds from Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez and is now focused on making the best start possible to his quest to retain the premier class crown under the floodlights in Doha at the Losail International Circuit.
“I'm pleased to have the record and pleased to start in that way. Obviously tomorrow is the important day and the day that you get the points, so it is important to start at least with some points and not with a zero, not with a crash,” said Lorenzo, who survived a big moment in the final five minutes of the session after his pit stop.
“It's the first practice with this new Michelin, with the new electronics and we needed to be careful to understand what we could do. I tried to make two fast laps in the first try and probably the strategy was to be a little slower in the first lap and try to make the fast lap time in the second lap.
“When we changed tyres, the rear tyre was not working at the same level as the first one. I don't know the reason but it was giving me a different feeling, but anyway I tried to keep pushing to make the fast lap and improve on the other time, but when I entered the first corner I almost crashed because I lost the rear,” he added.
“I cancelled the lap and I didn't have any more chance to improve because I was too late to pass the finish line and have another chance. Anyway, my first lap was enough to be in pole position and Marc [Marquez] improved three tenths after the chequered flag, so I am very happy to stay there.”
The Mallorcan is taking confidence from his performance and will no doubt aim to replicate the fast starts that characterised his race wins in 2015.
“We have a little advantage tomorrow and it's always good to start with the little metres that give you more confidence that you can do a good start,” Lorenzo said.
“We are improving a little bit and as a rider I try to adapt to my best because with the electronics are the same for everyone and you cannot do so much improvement. For sure, it's going to be important tomorrow to choose the best tyres for the conditions and the rear tyre will be important tomorrow on the first laps and also for the long race.
“The juice of the rear tyre especially will be very important tomorrow, so we are still have to decide which one we are going to use,” he added.
“But I think they are quite similar and don't change so much and with both you can do a good race if you are competitive, so let's see.”
Asked if there was a peak time to set a succession of fast laps when the Michelins are performing at their optimum, Lorenzo said he was still unsure over the performance of the rubber in a race situation.
“We still don't know. In the race simulation I did in the test I could almost make the fast lap in the last lap for me, so it is very difficult to make the fastest lap in the first lap, or second one, so I think in the middle or even in the last laps it will be possible to do it,” he said.
“Finally we discovered that with this Michelin rear tyre you can keep a constant pace going in the race and I think this is the pace that we are going to see tomorrow.”
Lorenzo angered Valentino Rossi earlier in the day during FP4 when his the Italian felt he had been hampered by his team-mate, who was exiting pit lane.
However, the triple MotoGP world champion argued that he had done nothing wrong and said he was left with no option other than to continue into the first corner on the white inside line.
“Well in my opinion he has no reason to complain,” he said.
“Everybody knows when you exit the pits and you cannot stop to let them past because there was some riders entering the first corner, and you are already in the corner, the only thing you can do is try and stay in the white line and this is what I did.
“I could not be in the air, or in the gravel, so what can I do? He was still angry with me and I don't know the reason, you will have to ask him.”