Motul Grand Prix of Japan, Motegi: Qualifying roundup – MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3

 In MotoGP, News



Movistar Yamaha’s Lorenzo enjoyed an incredible duel with Rossi during the 15-minute Q2 session, eventually coming out on top by just 0.081s. The Spaniard, who has topped every session so far at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan, ended up setting the fastest ever lap by a MotoGP™ bike around the 4.8km Twin Ring Motegi despite the cloudy and cool conditions (Track temp. 25˚C). Lorenzo set a 1’43.790 on his final flying lap, knocking over seven-tenths off Andrea Dovizioso’s 2014 Pole Record (1’44.502). The man who trails Rossi by just 14 points in the standings utilised a two-stop strategy after experiencing some front-end issues on his first run.

Rossi knew he had to put in a good qualifying performance to not let Lorenzo get away at the front during Sunday’s race, after Lorenzo has led from flag to flag during his 6 wins this season. The Italian managed to take over a second off his best time in practice to start from second on the grid in only his fourth front row start of the season and best Qualifying performance since Assen. It was also the first time the Movistar Yamaha team have managed a 1-2 in Qualifying this season and the two teammates were the only ones to break the 1’44 barrier.

Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez (+0.426s) impressed despite riding with a broken bone in his left hand to finish third fastest. It is the 13th time this season the reigning MotoGP™ champion has been on the front row.

The Ducati Team duo of Andrea Dovizioso (+0.532s) and Andrea Iannone (+0.646s) were next up in fourth and fifth respectively as they made use of an extra set of aerodynamic winglets on their GP15’s and the extra soft tyre. It was Dovizioso’s best qualifying performance since the Catalan GP, while Iannone showed no ill effects of his re-dislocated shoulder to start from the second row for the sixth time this season.

Marquez’s teammate Dani Pedrosa (+0.792s) will start from the back of the second row after improving his time best time from practice by over 1.3 seconds in Q2. It is the third consecutive time that the Spaniard has lined up on the second row of the grid this year.

Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Aleix Espargaro was seventh as he also benefitted from the extra soft tyre, ahead of Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) on the leading Satellite bike in eighth. Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Bradley Smith will start from 9th, despite crashing twice during the session. The Brit went down at turn 5 and the turn 12 after also crashing in FP3, but still managed to complete 5 laps in the session.

Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) completed the top ten after making it through from Q1 along side EG 0,0 Marc VDS’s Scott Redding, who will start from 12th.
Wildcard Katsuyuki Nagasuka (Yamaha Factory Racing Team) will start from 15th, with Hector Barbera on the Avintia Racing Ducati the leading open class rider in 18th. Aspar MotoGP Team’s Eugene Laverty and Nicky Hayden will start from 20th and 21st respectively as just 0.092s separated the teammates.

E-Motion IodaRacing Team’s Alex De Angelis had earlier brought out the red flag in FP4 as he crashed heavily between turns 9 & 10 and was airlifted to Dokkyo Hospital for treatment.



Ajo Motorsport’s Zarco set the fastest ever lap by a Moto2™ bike around the Twin Ring Motegi, a 1’50.339, shaving over half a second off Tito Rabat’s 2014 Pole Record (1’50.854). The Frenchman managed to set this time despite cooler conditions on Saturday afternoon (Track temp. 23˚C) to finish 0.171s ahead of Derendinger Racing Interwetten Thomas Luthi. It was Luthi’s first front row start since Argentina.

AGR Team’s Jonas Folger (+0.577s) was a further 0.406s back from Luthi as he completed the front row in his best Qualifying performance since the Catalan GP. Speed Up Racing’s Sam Lowes (+0.614s) heads up the second row in fourth. The British rider managed to set the exact same time as Paginas Amarillas HP40’s Alex Rins (5th), but starts ahead of the Spaniard due to his next best lap. Rins missed out on the front row for the first time in six races.

Petronas Raceline Malaysia Hafizh Syahrin equalled his best Qualifying performance of the season and will start from the back of the second row in sixth, but was 0.947s off the pace of Zarco.

Idemitsu Honda Team Asia Takaaki Nakagami will start from seventh at his home grand prix ahead of Axel Pons (AGR Team), Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Racing) who completed the top ten. Reigning Moto2™ World Champion Tito Rabat is sitting out the rest of the weekend after being declared unfit at the end of FP1 with his broken left radius, hence why Zarco was crowned champion on Friday.



Sky Racing Team VR46’s Fenati set a 1’56.484 in the much cooler conditions (27˚C) of Saturday afternoon at an overcast Twin Ring Motegi. The Italian broke Danny Kent’s 2014 Pole Record (1’56.555) in the process despite crashing late on in the session at turn 5.

The grid was revised after Qualifying as a number of penalties were handing out by Race Direction for riding slowly on the racing line in FP3 and Qualifying. This means that Ongetta-Rivacold’s Niccolo Antonelli (+0.403s) will line up in second despite qualifying 4th on the timesheets and even though he crashed out of the session at turn 5 in the dying moments. It is Antonelli’s fourth front row start of the season, but first since his pole at Brno.

Gresini Racing Team Moto3’s Enea Bastianini (+0.443s) completes the front row in third ahead of the man leading the standings, Danny Kent (+0.514s) on the Leopard Racing Honda in fourth. Both men launched successful appeals after also originally receiving a 3-place grid penalty for riding slowly on the racing line in FP3 and therefore escaped any punishment.

Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Miguel Oliveira (+0.173s) will start from fifth after receiving a 3-place penalty during Qualifying after originally setting a time good enough for second. Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Jorge Navarro (+0.236s) was also hit with such a penalty, relegating him from third to sixth.

Isaac Viñales (RBA Racing Team), Livio Loi (RW Racing GP), Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Francesco Bagnaia (Mapfre Team Mahindra) completed the top ten.

Jakub Kornfeil (Drive M7 SIC) will start from 11th after qualifying in 8th, but receiving a three-place grid penalty for riding slowly on the racing line in FP3, along with Alexis Masbou who will start from 22nd.

Scotsman John McPhee (SAXOPRINT RTG) could only qualify in 24th position, while Fabio Quartararo (Estrella Galicia 0,0) on his return from injury will start in 29th.



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