(Reuters) – Maverick Vinales secured pole position for the opening grand prix of the 2019 MotoGP season in Qatar on Saturday but only after dramatic sessions which featured a series of crashes, headed by two spills for Jorge Lorenzo.
Honda’s former triple world champion Lorenzo described himself as being “in pain everywhere” after a crash in the morning’s third practice and, after being given medical clearance to compete in qualifying, another in Q1.
Still not fully recovered from a wrist injury he suffered during training, the Spaniard will start at the back of the field.
Explaining how he was suffering from pain in his back, wrist, fingers and feet, Lorenzo said he believed the difficult cold and windy conditions at the Losail circuit would make Sunday’s race “a survival test for everyone”.
Tito Rabat, Johann Zarco and Jack Miller also crashed in qualifying on the same second turn where Lorenzo suffered one of his tumbles.
Spain’s Yamaha rider Vinales, though, clocked a 1 minute 53.546 seconds lap to lead the qualifiers, 0.198sec faster than Italian Andrea Dovizioso (1:53.744) who pipped Spanish world champion Marc Marquez (1:53.745) for third.
Marquez conceded that conditions were “scary” for the riders and said the race’s evening start time on Sunday could still prove problematic for the field.
(Reporting by Ian Chadband, editing by Ed Osmond)