Despite the weather attempting to ruin qualifying, Jorge Lorenzo emerged triumphant and will start from the front in the AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan.
Due to the weather, the qualifying period was amended to a single 75-minute session, replacing the standard 15-minute Q1 and Q2 periods.
Lorenzo's intensity gave him his second pole position in the space of a week, which was made more impressive by the fact that no one past third place got within a second of his time.
|AirAsia Grand Prix OF Japan MotoGP Qualifying Classification 2013|
|1||99||Jorge LORENZO||SPA||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha||293.8||1'53.471|
|2||93||Marc MARQUEZ||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||301.5||1'54.129||0.658 / 0.658|
|3||69||Nicky HAYDEN||USA||Ducati Team||Ducati||293.7||1'54.539||1.068 / 0.410|
|4||26||Dani PEDROSA||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||300.8||1'54.542||1.071 / 0.003|
|5||46||Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha||295.8||1'54.732||1.261 / 0.190|
|6||4||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||295.8||1'55.036||1.565 / 0.304|
|7||19||Alvaro BAUTISTA||SPA||GO&FUN Honda Gresini||Honda||299.6||1'55.135||1.664 / 0.099|
|8||6||Stefan BRADL||GER||LCR Honda MotoGP||Honda||299.0||1'55.610||2.139 / 0.475|
|9||41||Aleix ESPARGARO||SPA||Power Electronics Aspar||ART||288.7||1'55.719||2.248 / 0.109|
|10||68||Yonny HERNANDEZ||COL||Ignite Pramac Racing||Ducati||294.2||1'55.998||2.527 / 0.279|
|11||35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||GBR||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||293.7||1'56.058||2.587 / 0.060|
|12||21||Katsuyuki NAKASUGA||JPN||Yamaha YSP Racing Team||Yamaha||294.0||1'56.125||2.654 / 0.067|
|13||38||Bradley SMITH||GBR||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||289.3||1'57.114||3.643 / 0.989|
|14||5||Colin EDWARDS||USA||NGM Mobile Forward Racing||FTR Kawasaki||284.2||1'57.297||3.826 / 0.183|
|15||29||Andrea IANNONE||ITA||Energy T.I. Pramac Racing||Ducati||288.9||1'57.347||3.876 / 0.050|
|16||9||Danilo PETRUCCI||ITA||Came IodaRacing Project||Ioda-Suter||281.8||1'57.540||4.069 / 0.193|
|17||14||Randy DE PUNIET||FRA||Power Electronics Aspar||ART||281.7||1'57.715||4.244 / 0.175|
|18||7||Hiroshi AOYAMA||JPN||Avintia Blusens||FTR||287.6||1'57.994||4.523 / 0.279|
|19||70||Michael LAVERTY||GBR||Paul Bird Motorsport||ART||283.7||1'58.540||5.069 / 0.546|
|20||23||Luca SCASSA||ITA||Cardion AB Motoracing||ART||281.9||1'58.802||5.331 / 0.262|
|21||71||Claudio CORTI||ITA||NGM Mobile Forward Racing||FTR Kawasaki||282.3||1'59.617||6.146 / 0.815|
|22||8||Hector BARBERA||SPA||Avintia Blusens||FTR||284.4||1'59.646||6.175 / 0.029|
|23||50||Damian CUDLIN||AUS||Paul Bird Motorsport||PBM||280.5||2'00.982||7.511 / 1.336|
|67||Bryan STARING||AUS||GO&FUN Honda Gresini||FTR Honda||274.9||2'02.712||9.241 / 1.730|
|52||Lukas PESEK||CZE||Came IodaRacing Project||Ioda-Suter||277.9||2'02.932||9.461 / 0.220|
The day began on a very wet track, with some remnants still remaining of the fog and rain that had cancelled all previous practices.
Nicky Hayden threatened to steal pole for Ducati with a strong showing, but as the track continued to dry out he was dethroned by Dani Pedrosa and his Honda.
However, when Lorenzo took to the track he immediately assumed the top spot, only stretching his lead with each trip round the circuit.
His countryman and title rival Marc Marquez had a mixed day, taking a couple of trips into the gravel but still managing to post a time 0.658 of a second back from Lorenzo.
Marquez will be well aware of the importance of this race to his title hopes. The 20-year-old's remarkable rookie season will be capped off with a championship if he can outscore Lorenzo by eight points in Japan.
The Repsol Honda rider will be keen to make amends for the Australian round, which saw him disqualified after failing to pit at the required time. Due to tyre safety concerns, riders were instructed to change bikes midrace.
Because he didn't abide by this, Marquez scored no points for the race, while Lorenzo gained the maximum 25. This changed the race to the title dramatically and gave Lorenzo a bigger window to attack in Japan.
Marquez has become an incredibly popular figure in a short space of time, but his choice of shirt for Japan left a lot to be desired, and frankly shouldn't have been allowed near anyone with a camera:
Prior to Australia, it seemed that the title was going to no one but Marquez. Following the race, Lorenzo admitted to BBC Sport that he had been very lucky in Australia:
Without the mistake from Marc I think he would have been first or second—now the championship has changed so much.
Before the race we had no chance - a 2% or 3% chance - and now it's 20% or 30%.
Nevertheless, Lorenzo needed no luck on the Motegi Circuit, and his dominant times reflected that. He will be unwilling to give up his status as World Champion without a fight.