Dovizioso smashes lap record to grab Motegi pole

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Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso has smashed the Motegi MotoGP outright lap record on his way to only his second-ever Grand Prix pole position using the extra-soft rear tyre to fend off a charge from Valentino Rossi. Dovizioso put in a 1’44.502 compared to Pedrosa’s 2012 record of 1’45.589 but Rossi was only 0.055s slower on the softest of his allocation which is a compound harder than Ducati man is allowed. The Doctor was on course for pole on his last lap but caught caught up behind Alvaro Bautista in the last sector and that slowed him enough allow Dovi’s time to stand. Pedrosa, meanwhile, managed to secure the final front-row slot with a 1’54.755 despite crashing on his last lap, losing the front on the exit of the tunnel just before the final complex. He walked away from the crash but looked to have hurt a finger in the fall. Team-mate and world champion-elect Marc Marquez was pushed to the second row by Dovizioso’s despite looking ragged during his two runs. His fastest lap was 1’44.775 but the Honda is struggling in the second sector where the young Spaniard lost time before getting it all back again. He managed to top the session but just didn’t have the pace to remain there. Jorge Lorenzo was as fast as team-mate Rossi in the first run, in fact towing The Doctor around, but as the pace got hotter after pitstops, the former world champion just couldn’t raise his game and ended up in fifth with Andrea Iannone in sixth. Monster Yamaha’s Pol Espargaro ended in seventh place, one ahead of Britain’s Cal Crutchlow who finished just four-tenths off the pace and ahead of Stefan Bradl, who he replaces in the LCR Honda team next season. Bradley Smith rounds out the top ten with Aleix Espargaro and Bautista who came through from qualifying two and only did one run in the second timed session in order to conserve tyres for tomorrow’s warm-up and race. Yonny Hernandez was in the running for a slot in Q2 but was just denied by Bautista while Nicky Hayden finished top production Honda, just ahead of Scott Redding in 15th place. Michael Laverty, whose ageing PBM is struggling for speed at Motegi, ended in 22nd.