Lorenzo takes Valencia pole for MotoGP finale as Rossi crashes

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Jorge Lorenzo will start the final race of the 2015 MotoGP season in Valencia from pole position after producing a near-perfect lap in Saturday’s qualifying session.

Lorenzo arrives in Valencia trailing Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi by seven points at the top of the riders’ championship.

Rossi will start tomorrow’s race from the back of the grid after sparking controversy at the last race in Malaysia when he appeared to kick Honda’s Marc Marquez and cause the Spaniard to fall from his bike.

The Italian chose to take part in qualifying regardless, but ended the session in the gravel after falling on his final flying lap and sliding off the track.

Lorenzo showed no signs of cracking under the pressure of the title decider, producing a stunning first effort of 1:30.011 in qualifying to set a new lap record in Valencia.

A second lap from Lorenzo late on yielded no improvement, but would also have been good enough for pole had his first not counted.

Marquez put up the most stringent challenge to Lorenzo at the front of the pack, finishing 0.488 seconds behind in second place. Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa lapped just 0.017 seconds slower to slot into third place and complete the front row of the grid.

Aleix Espargaro continued Suzuki’s good qualifying form to finish fourth ahead of Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith, while Ducati’s Andrea Iannone struggled to keep up his practice pace, leaving him seventh on the grid for tomorrow’s race.

American rider Nicky Hayden will start his last MotoGP race from 16th on Sunday ahead of his move into the World Superbike Championship for 2016.