Valencia GP, qualifying roundup: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo will start his MotoGP World Championship decider against Italian teammate Valentino Rossi in Valencia tomorrow from pole position.
The Mallorcan set the fastest ever MotoGP™ lap around the Comunitat Valenciana – Ricardo Tormo in near perfect conditions (Track temp. 30˚C), a 1’31.011. In the process he smashed Marc Marquez’s Pole Record (1’30.237) from 2013 by over two-tenths of a second. Lorenzo said afterwards it was the most important lap of his life, as he aims to overturn the seven-point advantage Rossi holds in the championship standings in #TheGrandFinale on Sunday. It was his 61st career GP pole position and his 35th in MotoGP™.
Lorenzo set his fastest time on the second of his three runs as he made use of a two-stop strategy. The Spaniard is brilliant at managing races from the front and by starting on pole he has made the task of winning the Championship that much easier, as he aims to make it four wins out of four in Spain for 2015 after winning in Jerez, Barcelona and Aragon. Although don’t write Rossi off yet.
The ‘Doctor’ (+1.460s), who has to start from the back of the grid after the CAS denied his stay of execution on his penalty from Sepang, ended the session in 12th after crashing out on his last flying lap at turn 8. He walked away unhurt. It was only Rossi’s second crash of the season, and served notice to anyone that thought the Italian would not be pushing hard in Q2.
The only man who looked like he might displace Lorenzo at the top was Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez (+0.488s). The Spaniard rode his RC213V to the absolute limit, having a number of huge moments, but even he could not deny Lorenzo in the end. Marquez was the only rider to get within half a second of Lorenzo, as he was another to utilise a two-stop strategy, recording his 16th front row start of 2015 in the process.
Dani Pedrosa made it two Repsol Honda’s on the front row as he qualified in third, but he was +0.505s off the pace of Lorenzo. Pedrosa holds a two-point advantage over Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) in the battle for fourth in the standings, after winning two of the last three races. The Spaniard also has an excellent record at Valencia having won six races across all classes and should be a threat during Sunday’s race.
Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Aleix Espargaro (+0.906s) will start from the head of the front row in fourth in his best qualifying performance since Assen. The Spaniard’s feat was made even more impressive by the fact he was forced to progress through Q1 after ending practice in 11th on the combined timesheets.
LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow (+0.937s) qualified in fifth for the third race in a row, as he was one of only five riders the break the 1’31 barrier in Q2. The Brit had been struggling with grip on Friday but improved to put in his best lap time on his final flying run to start as the leading Satellite rider.
Just 0.064s behind Crutchlow was his compatriot Bradley Smith (+1.001s) on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 M1 in sixth. The British rider secured his first second row start since Misano, as he aims to secure sixth in the standings from Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso.
Iannone (+1.045) heads up the third row after he failed to improve on his best time from Practice that had seen him top the combined timesheets after FP3. Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) will start from eighth, with Dovizioso in ninth and Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) completing the top ten.
Maverick Viñales will start from 11th after he also made it through from Q1 alongside his teammate despite a nasty looking highside during that session, with Ducati Team wildcard Michele Pirro starting from 12th due to Rossi’s penalty.
Avintia Racing’s Hector Barbera will start as the leading Satellite rider in 14th, ahead of the man he leads in the standings by five points, Forward Racing’s Loris Baz, in 15th. American Nicky Hayden qualified in 16th as the leading Open class Honda in his last MotoGP™ race before he moves to WorldSBK in 2016, after he was inducted into the MotoGP™ Hall of Fame on Friday in Valencia.
EG 0,0 Marc VDS’s Scott Redding continued his struggles from practice and could only qualify in 19th, ahead of Australian Jack Miller (LCR Honda) in 20th and Eugene Laverty (Aspar MotoGP Team) in 23rd. Anthony West (AB Motoracing) filling in for the injured Karel Abraham was in 22nd, while Alex De Angelis’ replacement Broc Parkes (E-Motion IodaRacing Team) will start from 25th with Rossi lining up in 26th.
EG 0,0 Marc VDS’s Tito Rabat took his 16th Moto2™ pole position after setting a 1’35.234 at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana, despite still suffering with pain from the injury sustained in training before the Japanese GP. The 2014 Moto2™ champion is aiming to bow out of the intermediate class with a win in his last race in Moto2™ before he moves up to MotoGP™ in 2016.
Ajo Motorsport’s 2015 Moto2™ World Champion Johann Zarco secured his 13th front row start of the season as he finished just 0.138s off the pace of Rabat in second. This sets up a brilliant showdown between the two champions, with Zarco choosing Saturday to debut the new 2016 Kalex frame that he hinted he will use in the race come Sunday.
Paginas Amarillas HP40’s Alex Rins (+0.207s) qualified in third to record his third successive front row start. Rookie of the year Rins currently leads Rabat by just eight points in the battle for second in the championship standings, as he looks to bounce back from his DNF at Sepang.
Derendinger Racing Interwetten’s Thomas Luthi (+0.298s) will start from the head of the second row in fourth. The Swiss rider had earlier topped the combined timesheets after FP3, but will have to start from the second row for the ninth time this season.
Forward Racing’s Lorenzo Baldassarri (+0.460s) will start from fifth for the second race in a row, as he equalled his best qualifying performance of the season. It was a brilliant turnaround for the Italian after he had ended practice in 17th overall.
QMMF Racing Team’s Julian Simon (+0.494s) recorded his best qualifying result of the season in sixth as he finished as the leading Speed Up rider.
Axel Pons (AGR Team) will start from seventh despite a crash late on in the session, with Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) and Simone Corsi (Forward racing) completing the third row.
Speed Up Racing’s Sam Lowes will start from tenth on the grid after he recovered from crashing heavily at the start of the session, while there were also crashes for Alex Marquez (14th), Xavier Simeon (23rd) and Robin Mulhauser (26th).
Dominique Aegerter (Technomag Racing Interwetten) was forced to pull out of the GP after FP2 due to the pain he was suffering from his previous injuries and was replaced by Josh Hook, who finished the session in 30th.
Azlan Shah (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) and Louis Rossi (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) pulled out of the GP after they were both involved in a heavy crash during FP3.
In the Moto3™ title fight it was advantage Miguel Oliveira (4th) as he managed to out qualify his rival Danny Kent (18th), but it was SAXOPRINT RTG’s John McPhee who celebrated signing a new contract with his team by claiming his second career Moto3™ pole position at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana.
The Scotsman had been seventh after practice but improved to take pole with a 1’39.364, despite crashing towards the end of the session. His time was not the fastest from the weekend, but it was good enough for pole in an incredibly tight session that saw just one second separate the top 23 riders.
Sky Racing Team VR46’s Romano Fenati (+0.086s) will start from the front row for just the third time this season after he qualified in second. The Italian was also the leading KTM rider at a track the manufacturer has never lost at in the Moto3™ class.
Leopard Racing’s Efren Vazquez was just a further 0.013s further back in third, as only 0.099s separated the front row. It will be Vazquez’s second front row start of the season, after he also qualified in third at the Australian GP.
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Miguel Oliveira (+0.139s), who trails Kent by 24 points in the championship standings, left it late to snatch fourth. It is the first time the Portuguese rider has not been on the front row since the Japanese GP.
Estrella Galicia 0,0’s local hero Jorge Navarro (+0.161s) will start from the middle of the second row in fifth. It is the man who hails from Valencia’s fifth second row start of 2015.
Gresini Racing Team Moto3’s Enea Bastianini (+0.217s) completed the second row in sixth, ahead of his compatriot Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold), with the Red Bull KTM Ajo duo of Karel Hanika and Brad Binder in eighth and ninth respectively, despite the former crashing early on in the session.
Hiroki Ono (Leopard Racing) completed the top ten as his teammate, and championship leader, Kent (+0.649s) had to settle for 18th after making a mess of his tactics during the session. Kent has seen Oliveira close his lead in the standings from 110 points after Silverstone to just 24, and despite knowing he just needs to finish in the top 14, hasn’t made it any easier for himself.
Fabio Quartararo (Estrella Galicia 0,0) will start from 11th on his return from the injury that has seen him miss the last five races. Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA Racing Team) was earlier given a three-place grid penalty for riding slowly on the racing line in FP3, but it didn’t make any difference as he qualified in last anyway after a big crash in the same session.