Laguna Seca: Lorenzo pole then ambulance at Laguna Seca.

Jorge Lorenzo has taken his fourth pole position of the 2009 MotoGP season during qualifying for the US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca, but finished the session in the back of an ambulance after a huge highside - a fate also shared by fellow title contender Casey Stoner. 

    Lorenzo's accident, which left the Fiat Yamaha star with what looks like right knee damage, was the Fiat Yamaha star's second heavy fall of the day, having previously lost the front of his factory M1 through the penultimate corner with 22 minutes to go. 

    Lorenzo's second accident took place at the same fast right-hander with just three minutes remaining, as he returned to the track to protect his pole position. This time the 22-year-old was launched high into the air after his rear wheel lost traction, then landed heavily on his right shoulder before tumbling through the gravel. 

    The #99 tried to stand up but couldn't put any weight on his injured leg and an ambulance was called. Later pictures showed a composed but clearly worried Lorenzo gesturing at his leg to Dr Costa of the Clinica Mobile and additional shoulder damage is a real possibility. Lorenzo crashed out of last year's US GP on the very first lap, injuring his ankle. 

    No sooner had Lorenzo's accident occurred than fellow title contender Casey Stoner, who had briefly taken pole from Lorenzo after his first fall, suffered an almost identical accident at the Turn Three right hander. 

    Stoner, already battling an undiagnosed energy-sapping illness, also hit the asphalt hard following a huge highside and had to be removed from the track on a stretcher. Fortunately he was later declared 'OK' and walked to the medical centre. 

    With his nearest championship rivals on the sidelines, world championship leader Valentino Rossi snatched second place - with a time 0.167sec behind Lorenzo - on his very last lap. Rossi, winner of the last two events, will start round eight five points in front of Lorenzo and nine ahead of Stoner. 

    Honda riders Dani Pedrosa, Andrea Dovizioso and Toni Elias have disputed fourth, fifth and sixth in both practice sessions, and that pattern continued in qualifying with Pedrosa's Repsol machine 0.435sec from Lorenzo and just 0.022sec in front of team-mate Dovizioso. Elias put his Gresini-run factory bike just 0.011sec behind Dovizioso for an all-RCV second row. 

    The leading American on Independence Day was Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Colin Edwards, but the 35-year-old looked mortified with his seventh position, 0.8sec from pole, at the end of the session.

    Edwards will be joined on row three by countryman Nicky Hayden (Ducati) and Australian Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) - who fell without harm on Friday, then much more heavily this morning. Loris Capirossi was just 0.029sec slower than his GSV-R team-mate to complete the top ten. 

    Valentino Rossi was the only one of the three MotoGP title contenders not to be heading for the medical centre at the end of qualifying at Laguna Seca, after huge accidents for Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner.

    Both suffered highsides in the closing minutes of the hour, while holding first and second, but - despite their absence - Rossi was only able to gain one place before the chequered flag, passing Stoner for second on the grid behind Fiat Yamaha team-mate Lorenzo.

    “Firstly I want to say that I hope Lorenzo and Stoner are okay for the race tomorrow, because it should be a great battle between the three of us,” said Rossi.

    Rossi, who had been fastest in Friday practice, dropped to third in Saturday practice and had been down in 14th after 20 minutes of the qualifying hour.

    The reigning six time world champion was unable to find the perfect setting for his M1, noticeably losing time in the final sector of the 3.6km track, and spent the much of the session in third before his last flying lap put him within 0.167secs of Lorenzo.

    “I am happy about this session because we have had two practices today when we haven't been in perfect shape and we have struggled in some areas, especially in the last sector where we are still not strong enough,” he confessed.

    “I was finding it quite hard to ride at the maximum there today and control the bike how I wanted, so we need to try to improve a bit more. It depends how the other two are but I hope they're okay and then we can have an exciting race,” Rossi repeated.

Any copying and use the material without coordination with administration of the site is strictly forbidden.