Indianapolis Grand Prix, Qualifying Round-up: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez continued his dominance of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to make it three pole positions in a row at the legendary US circuit.
The reigning MotoGP ™ World Champion has won the last two races at the circuit from pole position, and signs are ominous that he might do the same this weekend after he was the only rider to break the 1’32 barrier during Q2. The day got even better for Repsol Honda as Dani Pedrosa (+0.171s) managed to finish second fastest and secure a 1-2 on the grid for the Factory Team.
Marquez set a 1’31.884 on his just his second flying lap during the session to claim his fifth pole of the season in near perfect conditions at the ‘Brickyard’ as the sun broke through the clouds and the track temperature reached 40ºC. Try as they might, no one else had an answer to the Spaniard’s pace in a frantic end to the session, and it was only Pedrosa who managed to get within three-tenths of the reigning MotoGP™ World Champion.
Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo (+0.302s) will start from the back of the front row despite using a two-stop strategy as he looks to close the 13-point gap at the top of the standings to his teammate Valentino Rossi. Cal Crutchlow (+0.324s) was the leading Satellite rider and will start from the head of the second row in fourth on the CWM LCR Honda.
The big surprise of the session was the pace of Octo Pramac Racing’s Danilo Petrucci (+0.359s), who finished fastest in Q1 and managed to carry that pace into Q2 to start from fifth on the grid as the fastest Ducati in his best ever MotoGP™ qualifying performance. Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Bradley Smith (+0.385s), who had been second fastest overall in practice, will start the race from sixth ahead of the Factory GP15 of Andrea Iannone in seventh.
Current championship leader Valentino Rossi was third on the timesheets with 7 mins to go, but was knocked down to 8th by the end of the session and will have to work hard to try and preserve his advantage in the championship standings on Sunday. The Italian won’t be panicking just yet though as two of his race win this season (Qatar and Argentina) have both come from 8th on the grid.
Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Maverick Viñales completes the third row in ninth while Andrea Dovizioso on the second GP15 will start from tenth on the grid, with the Italian having to fight his way through Q2 after finishing 11th on the combined timesheets after practice.
Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and his brother Aleix (Team Suzuki Ecstar) make up the rest of the fourth row in 11th and 12th respectively, with less than a second separating the top 12 riders. To give you an indication how close it was, Scott Redding (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) only just missed out on making it through to Q2 by 0.079s and will start from 13th.
Avintia Racing’s Hector Barbera was the leading Open class rider in 14th, with Australian Jack Miller (CWM LCR Honda) in 16th. Stefan Bradl (17th) out qualified his teammate Alvaro Bautista (18th) on his debut for Aprilia Racing Team Gresini while the Aspar MotoGP Team duo of Eugene Laverty and Nicky Hayden will start from 19th and 20th on the grid respectively.
Paginas Amarillas HP40’s rookie Alex Rins claimed his second pole position of the season at the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix in an incredibly tight Moto2™ Qualifying that saw less than a second separate the top 18 riders.
Rins set the fastest ever lap time by a Moto3™ bike at the circuit, a 1’36.549, to decimate Mika Kallio’s previous pole record from last year (1’36.883) and finish 0.137s ahead of Tito Rabat on the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Kalex.
Reigning Moto2™ champion Rabat has shown excellent race pace throughout the weekend as he tries to close the 65-point gap in the standings to Johann Zarco. Last year’s Moto2™ runner-up, Italtrans Racing Team’s Mika Kallio, completes the front row as he put in his best qualifying performance of the season to finish just 0.316s off the pace of Rins.
Derendinger Racing Interwetten’s Thomas Luthi (+0.337s) will start from the head of the second row, ahead of Jonas Folger (+0.456s) on the AGR Team Kalex in fifth.
Idemitsu Honda Team Asia’s Takaaki Nakagami (+0473s) completes the second row, while Speed Up Racing’s Sam Lowes will have to start from seventh after crashing at turn 7 with 20 minutes left and missing a big chunk of the session.
Championship leader Johann Zarco will be forced to start from the middle of the third row after he could only manage to set the eighth fastest time on his Ajo Motorsport Kalex, with the Frenchman recorded his worst qualifying performance since Jerez (9th).
Franco Morbidelli (Italtrans Racing Team) and Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) completed the top ten with race winner last time out, Xavier Simeon (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2), down in 16th. Tech 3’s Xavi Vierge on his debut as the permanent replacement for Ricky Cardus will start Sunday’s race from 25th on the grid.
Leopard Racing’s runaway Moto3™ World Championship leader Danny Kent took his fourth pole position of the 2015 season after recording the fastest-ever lap by a Moto3™ bike at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Kent didn’t dominate like he has done at some circuits this year and it was a much more typically competitive Moto3™ session as just 0.108s split the front row and less than nine-tenths of a second separated the top 19 riders.
The British rider, like many others, started the session in race trim to work on his setup for Sunday, before switching onto some fresh rubber to set a 1’40.703 with 18 minutes to go. Despite a frantic last few seconds that almost saw Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Miguel Oliveira takeover top spot, Kent held on to take pole position by 0.088s from the Portuguese rider in ideal conditions (44ºC track temperature) at the ‘Brickyard’.
Drive M7 SIC’s Zulfahmi Khairuddin (+0.108s) pulled off the surprise of the day to secure his first ever Moto3™ front row start after benefitting from a Niccolo Antonelli tow to finish in third. Kent’s closest championship rival, Enea Bastianini (+0.172s) on the Gresini Racing Team Moto3 Honda, will start from the front of the second row after setting a time good enough for fourth.
Estrella Galicia 0,0’s rookie Fabio Quartararo (+0.359s) and Brad Binder (+0.389s) on the Red Bull KTM Ajo complete the second row with Kent’s teammate Efren Vazquez starting from the head of the third row. Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold), Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Jorge Martin (Mapfre Team Mahindra) round out the top ten.
SAXOPRINT RTG’s Scottish rider John McPhee will have to start from back of the sixth row in 18th, while debutant Lorenzo Dalla Porta on the Husqvarna Factory Laglisse bike will line up on the grid in 30th place. Schedl GP Racing’s Phillip Oettl had been seventh fastest overall heading into Qualifying, but a big crash at turn 7 on just his fifth lap ended his participation in the session, and he will start from the back of the grid in 34th.