Czech GP, Brno: Qualifying round up – MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo obliterated the lap record at the Automotodrom Brno to take an incredible pole position at the bwin Grand Prix Ceské Republiky.
The two-time MotoGP™ World Champion secured his second pole of the season with Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez and championship leader Valentino Rossi completing the front row.
Unlike on Friday when track temperatures reached over 50˚C, conditions were almost ideal for Q2 at the iconic Brno track. A track temperature of 42˚C and a light breeze meant grip levels were at their optimum, and the thousands of fans at the 5.2km Autodromo Brno were treated to one of the most exciting qualifying sessions of the year. As always, the outcome came down to the final few seconds of the session when riders popped in a fresh softer option rear tyre and headed out on their last flying laps.
Lorenzo had already broken Cal Crutchlow’s 2013 pole record in FP3 (1’55.527), and after his first run found himself on top of the timesheets with a 1’55.238. Things would just get better for the Spaniard on his second run, as he managed to set the fastest ever lap by a motorcycle around the circuit, and the first under the 1’55 barrier. His record-breaking 1’54.989 securing his 31st pole position in his MotoGP™ career in the process. Lorenzo is aiming to take his first win at Brno since 2010 as he looks to close the 9-point gap in the standings to his teammate Rossi.
Marc Marquez followed up his back-to-back wins at Indianapolis and the Sachsenring by qualifying in second. The reigning MotoGP™ World Champion missing out on pole by just 0.074s as he also decimated the previous pole record. Marquez won at Brno in 2013, although last year he finished fourth, and is currently third in the championship standings having closed the gap to Rossi at the top to 56 points.
Current championship leader Valentino Rossi had to dig deep in an effort to cure his qualifying woes, but it paid off and he will start Sunday’s race from the back of the front row. The Italian had completed a Yamaha 1-2 behind Lorenzo in FP3 & FP4, but could not quite match the pace of his teammate in Q2, finishing 0.364s behind Lorenzo. Rossi will be delighted to be starting from the front row after conceding too much time to Lorenzo and Marquez at the start of the Indianapolis GP when he had to start from eighth.
Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone (+0.401s) stuck with the older version of his GP15 to set the fourth fastest time on his very last lap. The Italian had received an updated version of the Desmosedici for Brno with a new engine and fairing, but opted for the older model for the entirety of the session.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Bradley Smith was the leading Satellite rider, and will start from the middle of the second row after putting in his best qualifying performance of the season. Smith has shown an impressive race pace throughout the weekend and found himself just 0.471s behind Lorenzo in fifth.
Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso (+0.946s) was almost a further 0.5s back as he made use of his updated GP15 to secure sixth on the grid. Maverick Viñales on the Team Suzuki Ecstar GSX-RR once again out qualified his more experienced teammate and will start from seventh.
Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) had earlier made it through as the fastest rider from Q1 and will start from eighth. A rather battered and bruised Dani Pedrosa on the Repsol Honda recovered from his crash in FP2 to set the ninth fastest time.
CWM LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow had to settle for tenth, after he was also forced to battle it out in Q1. The British rider will start from the front of the fourth row, with Avintia Racing’s Hector Barbera in eleventh on the leading Open class bike after he made it directly through to Q2 for the first time this season. Octo Pramac Racing’s Yonny Hernandez, who also made it through automatically to Q2, completes the fourth row.
Scott Redding will start from 14th on the grid after failing to make it through to Q2, while Irishman Eugene Laverty (Aspar MotoGP Team) is the leading Open Honda rider in 20th.
Ajo Motorsport rider Johann Zarco secured his fifth pole position of the season in ideal conditions at the bwin Grand Prix Ceské Republiky. The Frenchman, who currently enjoys a 71-point lead in the Moto2™ World Championship, set a 2’01.614 to break Tito Rabat’s 2014 pole record (2’01.911) in the process.
Zarco finished 0.259s ahead of Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS’s Rabat, with the Spaniard missing out on pole after just missing out on top spot in FP3. Rabat also went under his pole record from last year, as the top four riders all set times under the 2’02 barrier.
Indianapolis race winner, Paginas Amarillas HP40’s Alex Rins (+0.287s), completes the front row. Rins was just 0.028s off the pace of Rabat and it should be an incredible battle between the three in the World Championship rankings on Sunday.
Dynavolt Intact GP’s Sandro Cortese (+0.376s) will start from the front of the second row in fourth, as he matched his best qualifying performance of the season (Qatar). Derendinger Racing Interwetten’s Thomas Luthi (+0.464s) was fifth fastest, ahead of his compatriot Dominique Aegerter (+0.828s) on the Technomag Racing Interwetten Kalex.
Reigning Moto3™ World Champion Alex Marquez (Paginas Amarillas HP40) put in his best qualifying performance of the season and will start from seventh.
Franco Morbidelli (Italtrans Racing Team), Axel Pons (AGR Team) and his teammate Jonas Folger complete the top ten with the returning Forward Racing’s Lorenzo Baldassari and Simone Corsi in 11th and 12th respectively.
Speed Up Racing’s Sam Lowes will be forced to start the race from 13th, his worst qualifying performance of the season, after he suffered a major technical malfunction and he was forced to miss the last ten minutes of the session.
Ongetta-Rivacold’s Niccolo Antonelli claimed his first pole position of the season at the bwin Grand Prix Ceské Republiky in a dramatic conclusion to the session where the top 18 riders on the grid were separated by less than a second.
The Italian left it late to set a 2’07.700, which was actually slower than the fastest time set by Danny Kent in FP3. This was due to the track temperature rising from the morning to 44˚C by Qualifying, which meant there was less grip available as the surface became greasy. It was Antonelli’s second career Moto3™ pole position after Valencia in 2014, and comes after the 19 year old announced he had extended his contract with his team for 2016.
Championship leader Danny Kent was just 0.002s back, and will start from the middle of the front row. Leopard Racing’s British rider had been frustrated during the session, as he was followed by a huge train of riders looking to get a tow. Eventually he managed to shake them all off, apart from Romano Fenati who was determined to follow the Brit, to set a flying lap right at the end of the session. Fenati’s tactic ended up backfiring spectacularly though as he ended up qualifying down in 19th having spent too much time trying to sneak a tow and not managing to set a flying lap.
Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Jorge Navarro completes the front row as amazingly just 0.031s separated the top three. His teammate, 16-year-old Frenchman Fabio Quartararo (+0.148s), will start from the front of the second row.
Alexis Masbou (+0.219s) on the SAXOPRINT RTG Honda was fifth on the timesheets, with the Red Bull KTM Ajo duo of Brad Binder (+0.448s) and Karel Hanika (+0.449s) in sixth and seventh respectively.
Kent’s teammate Efren Vazquez will start from the middle of the third row in eighth, while Jorge Martin on the Mapfre Team Mahindra and SAXOPRINT RTG’s John McPhee completed the top ten.
The man second in the championship standings, Enea Bastianini found himself down in fifteenth and will start from the back of the fifth row. Drive M7 SIC’s Zulfahmi Khairuddin, who had started on the front row last time out at Indianapolis, did not have a great session and will have to start from 33rd on the grid.
CIP Racing’s Tatsuki Suzuki unfortunately crashed during the session at turn 3 and after visiting the Medical Centre it was revealed he had fractured his 5th metatarsal in his left foot and will be assessed in the morning.