Persistent torrential rain at the bwin Grande Prémio de Portugal at Estoril led to the qualifying sessions for the MotoGP, Moto2 and 125cc categories being cancelled on Saturday.
With excessive standing water on the track surface, gusting winds and constant heavy rain, and after attempts to reschedule the qualifying programme, race direction was eventually forced to decide at 2:30pm local time to call off the qualifying sessions, meaning that the starting grids for each race will be based on the combined times from the three free practice sessions.
In MotoGP Jorge Lorenzo (Fiat Yamaha) will start from pole position, his seventh of the season, with Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) and Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha) completing the front row.
“It was a pity about this today because we needed a bit more time in the very wet conditions to try to improve our setting more, but there was no way we could have ridden this afternoon,” Lorenzo said. “This morning I felt quite good but at the end I was pushing too hard, I thought the other riders were closer to my time and I just went a step too far and crashed.
“I was lucky, my airbag inflated and I didn’t hurt myself. Now we have to wait and see how the weather is and we especially hope that warm-up is the same conditions as the race, it will be very, very difficult if not.
“Today I became the Spanish rider with the most poles of all time, joint with Aspar, and this is a great honour for me, I feel very proud.”
The Italian himself started from pole at Motegi in 2009 after the qualification session was cancelled in similar circumstances.
The new MotoGP World Champion Lorenzo agreed that race direction had made the correct decision.
“The conditions out there were very bad,” Lorenzo said. “With the wind and so much water on the track it would have been very hard to ride, so maybe it was better to cancel the practice.
“For us it’s good because we have now taken our seventh pole position of this year, but maybe this was one of the easiest poles we’ll ever get! Now we just have to see tomorrow what the weather does.”
Casey Stoner (Ducati Team), Ben Spies (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini) will comprise the second row, with the top six all taking their positions on the starting grid courtesy of their times from Friday afternoon’s practice.
Returning from his collarbone injury, Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) will start from 12th position with his countryman Carlos Checa, in to replace Mika Kallio at Pramac Racing, set to start 17th in his first GP since 2007.
In the Moto2 class Gabor Talmacsi (Fimmco Speed Up) will start from pole for the first time this season, ahead of Julián Simón (Mapfre Aspar), Toni Elías (Gresini Racing) and Kenan Sofuoglu (Technomag-CIP), meaning the Turkish rider will start his first grand prix from the front row.
Andrea Iannone (Fimmco Speed Up), who is battling Simón for runner-up spot in the Championship, will start from down in 35th place.
In the 125cc class Bradley Smith (Bancaja Aspar) will head up the grid for the third time this year, with fellow Brit Danny Webb (Andalucia Cajasol), rookie Alberto Moncayo (Andalucia Cajasol) and one of the three riders still able to win the 2010 title – Nico Terol (Bancaja Aspar) – on the front row.
Championship leader Marc Márquez (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) – who could claim the title this weekend – and the third rider still in the fight for the 125cc crown Pol Espargaró (Tuenti Racing) will start from 11th and 12th respectively.
All three title rivals have crashed out in the rain at least once this weekend making Sunday’s race even more riveting should it be under wet conditions.