Gran Premio Red Bull de España, Jerez: Qualifying roundup – MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) smashed the previous pole lap record at the newly-resurfaced Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto, taking pole position for the first time since the 2016 British GP at Silverstone in some style as he topped the session and then went even faster. Fellow Honda rider Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) – the winner at Jerez in 2017 – put in another stunner to take second despite his ongoing recovery from a broken wrist sustained in Argentina, with Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) in third to make it eight times in a row the Frenchman will be starting the race from the front row. Reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) lines up fifth.
It was a tense final shootout at the end of the session, and many eyes were on Marquez as the number 93 pushed and consistently lit up the first sectors red – and then just lost out before the line. Unable to improve on his initial fast lap, the six-time World Champion was pushed off the front row and then down to fifth as Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) – the previous pole lap record holder – lit it up to take fourth and head up Row 2 at the venue at which he took his first podium for Ducati. It’s a big leap forward after a tough start to the season, with the five-time World Champion consistently the quickest Borgo Panigale machine for much of the weekend and only 0.013s off the front row.
Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and teammate Andrea Iannone, after topping FP4 in reverse order, line up sixth and seventh respectively – with the Hamamatsu factory a threat for the front throughout. Rins, who is racing in his first Spanish GP in the premier class after missing the event in 2017 due to injury, was only 0.007 off Marquez and just 0.003 ahead of Iannone.
Championship leader Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) lines up eighth after he was left heading through – and going fastest in – Q1, but the gap was small once again, with the Italian only 0.042 off his compatriot ahead of him. Fellow Italian on Borgo Panigale machinery Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) completes the third row.
It was a more difficult day for Movistar Yamaha MotoGP, however. Valentino Rossi will line up tenth after just edging out his teammate by 0.014, with Maverick Viñales therefore lining up P11. Viñales, along with Dovizioso, was a graduate of Q1.
Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) lines up twelfth ahead of Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), who was just left behind in Q1 by 0.040 seconds, with some solid rookie performances from Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) and Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) completing the top fifteen.
There we have it – the grid for the Spanish GP. With Crutchlow on pole, master-of-Jerez Pedrosa in the middle of the front row and no-holds-barred Zarco just alongside, it will be a stunning start…not even counting lightning-fast starter Lorenzo in fourth, and the reigning Champion with a point to prove shooting through from fifth. The top twelve are covered by eight tenths…
Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40) sealed his first ever World Championship pole position at the Gran Premio Red Bull de España, setting a new pole lap record at the Circuto de Jerez – Angel Nieto circuit along the way. Home hero and 2017 winner Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) battled hard to get his third pole position of the season, however the Spaniard missed out by just 0.071 in P2. Championship leader Francesco Bagnaia (SKY Racing Team VR46) was a further 0.068 seconds back in third, securing his second front row start of the season.
The top three were the fastest men on track for the majority of the session, as all of them lit up the sectors with red indicators throughout – with Baldassarri breaking the pole lap record after just 15 minutes. Meanwhile, there were a total of eight fallers at Turn 9 during qualifying, as track temperatures soared in southern Spain.
Sam Lowes (Swiss Innovative Investors), Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2), Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) – who fell again at Turn 2 shortly after – all took a trip through the gravel trap at the tricky right hander. All riders who fell during the session were ok.
Despite his late tumble, Navarro confirmed he has great pace this weekend by qualifying fourth on the grid, as 2016 Moto3™ Jerez race winner Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) secured P5. Reigning Moto3™ World Champion Joan Mir (EG 0,0 Marc VDS rider) – who is suffering with a stomach bug this weekend – launches from sixth on Sunday.
Xavi Vierge (Dynavolt Intact GP) heads the third row of the grid in seventh, with Sam Lowes lining up in P8, the former winner at the track failing to improve his time after crashing midway through the session. Romano Fenati (Marinelli Snipers Team) was once again inside the top ten in ninth, he starts ahead of Argentina race winner Pasini in P10.
Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) has work to do from P14 on the grid, with the heroic Marcel Schrӧtter (Dynavolt Intact GP) taking the checkered flag in P17 as he continues to recover from ligament damage in his shoulder.
The battle for victory tomorrow looks incredibly tight, who will come out on top? Watch the intermediate class race live at 12:20 local time (GMT +2).
Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) grabbed his 11th career pole position on Saturday at the Gran Premio Red Bull de España, with Philipp Oettl (Südmetall Schedl GP Racing) in second – earning his first front row since Qatar last year. Martin’s fellow Del Conca Gresini rider Fabio Di Giannantonio jumped up to third on his final run after some last-minute front-end changes; his first front row start of the season.
The session started with a huge crash for Darryn Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) at Turn 4 after colliding with the back of Livio Loi (Reale Avintia Academy) on the exit of the corner. Unfortunately, the South African dislocated his left shoulder and will miss tomorrow’s 22 lap race, declared unfit.
There was plenty of cat and mouse action going on throughout the session, with Martin initially coming back into the pits to escape the melee of riders. The Spaniard didn’t have it all his own way during the session though, with Oettl setting a scorching pace to go 0.531 seconds clear of the rest with 20 minutes left on the clock. However, with just over 10 minutes to go, Martin pounced – setting a 1:46.193 to go 0.153 seconds clear of the German.
Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse), meanwhile, was up at the sharp end again in qualifying, he’ll spearhead the second row in P4. His compatriot Marco Bezzecchi (Redox PruestelGP) continues his great start to 2018 in fifth, with Angel Nieto Team Moto3 rider Andrea Migno making it an all-Italian second row in P6.
The fastest rookie in Jerez qualifying was Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0), with P7 his best grid position so far this year and his previous form at the venue in the Moto3™ Junior World Championship coming to the fore. Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing) lines up eighth for Sunday’s race, with teammate Lorenzo Dalla Porta rounding out the third row. Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) was the leading Japanese rider in P10, with fellow countryman Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) a solid 11th and SKY Racing Team VR46 rookie Dennis Foggia in 12th.
Makar Yurchenko (CIP – Green Power), despite a late crash, was able to qualify P13 after a good afternoon’s work for the rookie and some much improved form this weekend, with reiging Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup Champion Kazuki Masaki (RBA BOE Skull Rider) a slender 0.002 back in P14.
One of the biggest headlines was Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) qualifying in 15th, the Spaniard with a huge task ahead of him on Sunday when the lights go out at 11:00 (GMT +2).