MotoGP world champion Jorge Lorenzo has taken his and Yamaha's first pole position of the 2011 season, in Portugal.

It means Lorenzo - leading the championship after victory last time at Jerez - has qualified on pole for all four of his MotoGP appearances at Estoril.

The Factory Yamaha rider will now be aiming to claim a similarly perfect fourth successive Estoril victory on Sunday.

After a damp final practice, the qualifying hour took place on a dry track, although temperatures were cooler than yesterday and the threat of rain ever present.

Marco Simoncelli led most of the session - and enjoyed an advantage of over 0.7sec heading into the closing stages - but the Italian was demoted by Lorenzo with five minutes to go, then denied a chance to respond when he crashed out moments later.

Nevertheless Simoncelli, still in search of his first MotoGP podium after falling from the lead last time in Jerez, was only 0.133sec behind Lorenzo and second place marks his best ever MotoGP start.

Completing the front row will be Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa, second to Lorenzo in the championship.

The Spaniard, riding in his first event since shoulder surgery, lapped 0.163sec behind Lorenzo to push team-mate Casey Stoner down to row two on his very last lap.

Stoner, on pole for the first two races of the year, hasn't looked as comfortable on his Repsol Honda at Estoril but was still only 0.233sec from pole.

By contrast, fifth fastest Ben Spies - looking to make his first Estoril start after crashing on the way to the grid last year - was 0.705sec behind Lorenzo, while Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) claimed the final place on row two.

That position had been held by rookie Cal Crutchlow with a minute to go, but the Englishman then lost out to not only Dovizioso but also his own Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team-mate Colin Edwards.

Starting behind Crutchlow in ninth will be seven time MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi, in a session that saw all Ducati riders struggle. Rossi lapped 1.110sec slower than former team-mate Lorenzo.

Aspar Ducati's Hector Barbera completed the top ten, followed by Simoncelli's team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama and Cardion AB Ducati rookie Karel Abraham. Rossi's factory team-mate Nicky Hayden was only 13th.

Loris Capirossi, who led the way in the damp this morning, qualified his Pramac Ducati in 14th place.

Rizla Suzuki's Alvaro Bautista - returning to action after breaking his left femur during practice for round one in Qatar on March 18 - beat two riders to claim 15th.

Starting behind the Spaniard will be Pramac's Randy de Puniet and Honda LCR's Toni Elias, who struggles more than most to generate heat in the tyres.

Sunday's timetable sees the Moto2 race first, followed by MotoGP and then 125cc.

A one-day test takes place at the track on Monday.

Qualifying:

1. Lorenzo
2. Simoncelli
3. Pedrosa
4. Stoner
5. Spies
6. Dovizioso
7. Edwards
8. Crutchlow
9. Rossi
10. Barbera
11. Aoyama
12. Abraham
13. Hayden
14. Capirossi
15. Bautista
16. de Puniet
17. Elias

 

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