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Motor Racing

Lorenzo poised to extend his lead in championship


MotoGP championship leader Jorge Lorenzo put his Yamaha on pole position yesterday for the Dutch TT at Assen.

The pole was the Spaniard's second in a row, after dominating qualifying at Silverstone last weekend, and left him poised for a fourth win in six races that would extend his 37-point lead over the Italian Andrea Dovizioso, who will start the 80th edition of the Dutch race in sixth place.

"I feel even more comfortable and confident because I've been first in all three practice sessions, despite the other riders pushing hard during qualifying," said Lorenzo of his second pole of the season.

"We can afford to be very calm because of our lead in the standings but the team and I are still working as hard as we can to keep going at this level. We're not relaxing."

Lorenzo's best lap of 1:34.515 was 0.282 quicker than the Frenchman Randy De Puniet, second on the grid for the second race in a row, on the non-works LCR Honda. Australia's Casey Stoner completed the front row for Ducati.

The American rookie Ben Spies was fourth for Yamaha Tech 3, ahead of his compatriot Nicky Hayden on a Ducati.

Spain's Dani Pedrosa, third in the championship for Honda, qualified seventh.

The Italian Marco Melandri could miss the race after crashing his Honda in the second free practice session and dislocating his shoulder.

His compatriot and the world champion Valentino Rossi has already been ruled out for several months after breaking his leg in a crash during practice for his home Italian Grand Prix this month while Japan's Hiroshi Aoyama is also absent.

If Melandri does not start there will be only 14 riders in today's race, meaning that all finishers will score points under a system that rewards the top 15 riders.

In the Moto2 category, Italy's Andrea Iannone starts on pole ahead of Thailand's Ratthapark Wilairot.

Spaniard Marc Marquez will chase his third consecutive win from pole in the 125cc class, with Britain's Bradley Smith second on the grid.