Ninth place on Motegi grid for Pol Espargaro
Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team rider Pol Espargaro will begin his quest to finish as the top independent rider in tomorrow’s Japanese GP by bolting from the third row of the grid.
The young Spaniard immediately launched into action in this morning’s all important FP3 practice, as he continued his setup work whilst carrying on the positive momentum from yesterday.
After pushing non-stop in the 45-minute shootout, his fastest time left him 9th in the combined practice standings and therefore, able to pass directly through to Q2.
Here, Espargaro built up his pace and eventually sped to a personal best of 1’45.232, which he set in the final moments of the thrilling session.
This lap saw him qualify in 9th position and just over a second back from the reigning MotoGP World Champion, Jorge Lorenzo. Now, the 25-year-old aims to undertake a rocket start tomorrow and then force his way through the pack to clinch a notable result at Yamaha’s Home GP.
“Overall, I have to be satisfied about qualifying on the third row today, as this session is the one that I have been struggling with the most in the last few races. For example, in Aragon, we were fast for the entire weekend but I ended up on the fourth row by the end of QP2. Therefore, ninth is nothing to be too excited about, but at least it gives us the chance to stay with the top guys at the beginning of the race. The main aim in the opening stage of the GP will be to stay in front of as many Ducatis as possible, because I’m convinced that it will be very tricky to pass them later on, due to their advantage with acceleration. In terms of tyre choices, we have a clear idea about what to use, and fortunately for us, our rhythm over race distance should be better than a single lap performance. We tried a completely different setup in FP4, however, I felt that it wasn’t as beneficial as we expected, so we opted for another direction for qualifying and it took me a few laps to adapt to this new setting. Nevertheless, during the second run, I felt a lot better and I believe we will continue to work with this option in tomorrow’s warm up so that we can put ourselves in the best possible position for the 24 lap battle.”