2013 Motegi MotoGP Saturday Press Releases

Press releases from the MotoGP teams after a very wet, extended single qualifying session at Motegi:

Lorenzo Masters Wet Motegi for Perfect Pole

Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo delivered a stunning performance in this afternoon’s extended MotoGP qualifying session to take pole position for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Japan.

Following yesterday’s cancellation of practice sessions due to weather conditions, the premier class were today given a special 75-minute qualifying heat, allowing the drama of the Japanese round to finally move to the track.

Defending world champion Lorenzo made full use of the extended session, getting straight out onto the wet circuit to start working on his race set up. Having initially swapped the top spot with rival Marc Marquez early in the session he dropped down the timesheets. After some work on the set up he was back, rising quickly to 2nd after a third of the time had gone, 0.1seconds from Marquez in top. The top positions continued to change until with 15 minutes to go, when Lorenzo put the hammer down and delivered a perfect 1’53.965 to go over half a second clear at the top. Whilst his rivals were able to improve, so was he, dropping even further to a 1’53.471 in the final seconds to secure pole 0.65 ahead of Marquez.

Teammate Valentino Rossi was also looking comfortable around the Motegi circuit. The nine-time world champion was one of the few who climbed to the top of the timesheets early in the session with a 1’59.304. He continued to be a key protagonist, regularly swapping positions in the top four places with his rivals. With 30 minutes remaining Rossi had taken provisional second on the grid, just 0.12 seconds from Pedrosa on pole. The last minutes as usual saw a flurry of activity as his teammate took a stunning pole position. Rossi eventually took fifth on the second row at the end of the session with a 1’54.732 second lap.

Jorge Lorenzo

1st / 1'53.471 / 25 laps

“I’m really happy, it was not so simple because my last memory of the rain was Assen. At the beginning I was a little bit scared and didn't want to crash. We were lucky to have the extended qualifying time to get used to the track. Little by little I got confidence and finally I felt really good with the bike and the grip of the track, especially under braking. It doesn't matter if it’s wet or dry tomorrow, it’s not my problem to think about it, I have to ride in whatever conditions we have. A wet race would be better for the championship though!”

Valentino Rossi

5th / 1'54.732 / 29 laps

“The result is not so bad, I hoped to arrive on the front row, I’m not so far but I am behind. I was in a better shape when it was full wet and felt better with the bike. When there was less water on the track and some places were quite dry I was able to improve my time a little but not enough for the front row. Tomorrow will be a surprise because if it is dry we will have to make the best set up in the morning warm up and try to arrive competitively for the race!”

Wilco Zeelenberg - Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager

“A very special weekend so far with only one qualifying practice in two days, but pole position! Jorge has a very good feeling with the bike in the wet conditions after his dramatic wet crash in Assen, it was important for Jorge to recover his confidence in such conditions. Tomorrow’s race seems to be dry, looking at the weather forecast; last year we finished second behind Dani with a good pace but at that time we were leading the championship and we did not risk anything. Tomorrow we need to make the difference and there is just one option for us, which is to beat Marc. The team is ready if tomorrow’s practice are dry; we have found a good base set up during the last two races so we are greatly motivated and ready for all circumstances.”

Massimo Meregalli - Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director

“It was once again a difficult day but luckily we were able to make the most of the qualification session. We approached the heat in the best way. We knew we had to do a pole position, and we succeeded. It was important to do a few laps, even in wet conditions. Tomorrow probably the track will be dry but we gathered some good data and that's what counts. Jorge’s attitude was the right one; he started slowly and eventually hit the target. Valentino also made quite an effort, even if in the end he missed the best finish. We did a great job and tomorrow we will try to do the same thing. We want a good result and we are ready to fight!”

Front row start for Marquez with Pedrosa in fourth

After yesterday was completely cancelled, due to visibility problems grounding the medical helicopters, weather in Motegi had not improved by this morning. The sessions were once again cancelled, this time due to track conditions, and the entire paddock was forced to wait patiently.

Finally at 12h50 race direction deemed the track safe and the Moto3 class took to the Japanese circuit. Conditions slowly improved, although there was still a lot of standing water on track when the MotoGP class session began at 13h55. Race direction declared this session as an extended qualifying session with a time allowance of 75 minutes.

Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa took to the track immediately to begin work on their setup for tomorrow’s race, as well as aiming to record a fast qualifying time for optimum grid position. Championship le ader Marc took second spot on the grid with a lap time of 1’54.129 on lap 26 of 27 - his twelfth front row start of the season. Teammate Dani Pedrosa had a slight problem on his final run and only managed fourth on the grid with a time of 1’54.542 recorded on lap 20 of 28.

The new weekend schedule, as dictated by race direction, now accommodates a 50 minute free practice session tomorrow morning from 09h40 to 10h30 (in place of the usual 20-minute warm-up), with the race remaining at 14h00.

Marc Marquez 2nd 1'54.129

“Today was a different kind of qualifying session, like those from the past with a lot of track time, as we had an hour and fifteen minutes. It is the first time that I've ridden here in MotoGP at Motegi and in addition it was wet and I didn't have time to set the bike up, but nevertheless I think we had a good session. We achieved our aim of a spot on the front row. Tomorrow's race is forecast to be dry, and it will be interesting as nobody has had time to find a good setup"

Dani Pedrosa 4th 1'54.542

"It was a long wait, but in the end we were finally able to put some laps in and I tried to get the best out of this wet session. We led the timesheet for a long time, but in the final ten minutes we had some problems with the tyres I used. I wasn’t able to ride as well as I wanted and we eventually took fourth. Tomorrow we will try to get a good start and we will see if the warmup is dry beforehand, in order to try out everything possible with the bike and tyres”

First row for Hayden in Japanese GP qualifying, Dovizioso on row 2

After a day and a half of delays due to poor visibility and dreadful weather conditions, track action at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit finally got underway early this afternoon with a single, extended wet qualifying session for tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix, the penultimate round of the 2013 MotoGP Championship.

Both Ducati Team riders, Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso, made the best of the 75 minutes available for qualifying, the American in particular showing superb wet-weather prowess to head up the timesheets on two separate occasions during the session. He eventually ended up third, equalling Dovizioso’s best qualifying performances of the year at Le Mans and Mugello.

The Italian took a bit more time to find his rhythm on the drying track, but he gradually moved into sixth position near the end of the session. Afterward, Dovizioso expressed satisfaction with his performance, which put him on the second row for tomorrow’s GP.

With a relatively rain-free forecast for Sunday, the schedule now has a 50 minute free practice session in the morning and a race start at the normal 2 p.m. time slot.

Nicky Hayden - Ducati Team, 3rd (1:54.539)

“We know our GP13 works well in the wet, and it’s nice to be on the front row here in Japan. If I’m honest, I’m a bit disappointed because at times in the session I was very fast and really had good feeling; I thought even pole position was a possibility, but in the last part of the session, the other guys really stepped it up, and as the track dried out, I wasn’t able to improve. Maybe I should’ve put on a new front tyre for the last exit, but it’s nice to be able to smile, and the important thing is to try to take advantage of the front row in the race. We know it’s going to be much more difficult if it’s dry, but I’ll try to get a good start and put up a fight for as long as I can. Thanks to the team for being pros and continuing to give me their best.”

Andrea Dovizioso - Ducati Team, 9th (1:55.036)

“It was sort of a strange qualifying session. The grip was very good but I had no feeling in the beginning, partly because I wasn’t really focused after a day and a half with no action, and in part because the setup wasn’t right initially. Fortunately, we had an hour and a quarter, so we were able to make changes and the bike improved a lot. Then the track began to dry and everything got easier. I’m pleased with my last lap, even though I found my rhythm a bit too late. Still, I did my best lap by myself, which is always good. It’s great to start from the second row tomorrow, and I’m really happy.”

Crutchlow and Smith battle adverse weather in Japan

Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team riders Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith finally kicked off their preparations for the Japanese Grand Prix today after more bad weather severely disrupted the practice and qualifying schedule at the Twin Ring Motegi track.

After both practice sessions were cancelled in wet and foggy conditions yesterday, FP3 and FP4 were also unable to take place earlier today, with torrential rain creating several large patches of standing water around the 4.801 km circuit.

Mist in the vicinity of the track also prevented the essential air ambulance from departing in the event of an emergency evacuation, though fortunately for the entire paddock and thousands of patient Japanese fans, conditions improved sufficiently enough for an extended qualifying session to be staged this afternoon.

Crutchlow and Smith battled for grid positions over an extended 75-minute session on a full wet track, though the earlier heavy rain stopped and track conditions improved throughout.

British rider Crutchlow will start from 11th position on the grid as the 27-year-old was unable to repeat his usually strong qualifying performance in the treacherous conditions. Crutchlow battled front grip issues in the closing stages and for only the second time in 17 starts in 2013, he will not line-up on the first two rows of the grid.

The intervention of the weather made Smith’s MotoGP debut in Yamaha’s all-important home round a tricky challenge, but the impressive 22-year-old acquitted himself superbly and gradually built up his confidence to challenge for the top 10 throughout.

He was confident he could challenge for a place on the third row until a small front brake problem meant his best time of 1.57.114 left him in 13th position.

After the weekend’s weather disruption, Crutchlow and Smith will take part in 50-minute practice session at 9:40am local time tomorrow morning, which takes the place of the regular 20-minute warm-up ahead of a 24-lap race that is expected to take place in the best conditions of the weekend.

Cal Crutchlow 11th 1.56.058 – 25 laps :

“I am normally really strong in qualifying, so to be outside of the top 10 for the first time this season is obviously not where I expected to be. I was confident I could be in the top six because I am usually very fast in the wet and I was second in the rain at Le Mans earlier in the season. But on my last front tyre when the track was drying out, I couldn’t stop the bike for some reason. I pushed hard to improve but three times in the last two laps I ran off into the gravel and it is a shame because on one lap I was going to make a big improvement and gain a few places. It is going to be a very tough race from 11th on the grid but it looks like it could be a dry race, so hopefully it will be dry in the morning practice and we are not going into the race having never tried a dry set-up or slick tyres. At least it was good to finally go out after all the problems with the weather and hopefully after their patience the Japanese crowd will get to see an exciting battle.”

Bradley Smith 13th 1.57.114 – 23 laps :

“In my first run I felt surprisingly comfortable on the Bridgestone rain tyres because I don’t have that much experience on them. The grip in the wet on this track is unbelievable and you can see that when Lorenzo is only eight seconds off the dry lap record. I was up to seventh and feeling optimistic that I could stay around that position but at the end of the session I had a small front brake issue and it was hard to stop the bike. With six really hard braking points here that cost me a lot of time and I think my pace was much quicker. It will be a difficult race starting from 13th and it looks like it will be dry tomorrow, so hopefully our base setting will work because we only have 50 minutes in practice to work on the race package. It has been a difficult weekend for everybody concerned but the Japanese fans have been incredible in waiting to see us on track. Tomorrow is a huge race for Yamaha in Japan and I will be giving it my all to get a positive result.”


Motegi, 26 October: low visibility and pouring rain affected the second day of practices at Motegi circuit causing the cancellation of the three classes free sessions in the morning. With the weather slightly improving in the afternoon, the MotoGP riders took the track for a 115-minute unusual Qualifying session which saw LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl placing his RCV on the 8th spot of the grid (1’55.610) ahead tomorrow’s 24-lap race. The German, who is still recovering from the fracture of the right ankle suffered in Malaysia, bravely completed 28 laps giving a good account of himself at the Japanese track.

"It was a good qualifying for us and I am happy about the mobility of my ankle and the rehabilitation programme we had in the last week helped me a lot. We must be happy with our result today considering my physical condition. Obviously I had a painkiller injection before the session and I have tried to improve my pace lap by lap. In the last part of the qualifying the track started to dry up and I could not improve my lap time on a rain tyre. Until now it has been a weird weekend but now I am quite happy because I could test my ankle on tricky conditions. It looks like the weather is going to be sunny tomorrow so it will be important to adjust the bike in the warm up session"


Alvaro Bautista finally had chance to ride at Motegi this afternoon after the whole of free practice yesterday and this morning was cancelled due to bad weather. In a single qualifying session of 75 minutes the Spanish rider was able to get a good feeling for the track in wet conditions but unfortunately as the track dried he suffered a crash at the most inopportune time, missing out on a second row start as a result. It was a hugely difficult task for Bryan Staring to adapt to the Motegi circuit in such a short space of time on his first visit here and he qualified outside the 107% cut-off from the fastest lap.

Alvaro Bautista (7th 1’ 55” 135) “I had a really good feeling for the bike during the session this afternoon so it was a shame about the crash because for sure it has cost me a better starting position. We were on a good lap when I ran a little bit off line in one corner and onto a particularly damp patch. Anyway, these things happen and I am still confident that in dry conditions tomorrow we can have a good race.”

Bryan Staring (Not qualified) “Unfortunately I didn't have time in the one session we had to get comfortable on the bike around this track. It's a completely new circuit for me but that's not the only reason why we struggled. The rear was sliding around a lot in the corners, we couldn't get any traction and now we just have to hope that they let us start the race tomorrow because we have lapped outside the 107% limit.”

Fausto Gresini “Alvaro's crash was a real shame because he was on a great lap and maybe even the front row was within reach today. He was fast throughout the session and a better grid position would have been important for tomorrow. Anyway, he feels confident on the bike and confident in his potential so that's what is important now.”


POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar rider maintains CRT dominance despite having already won title, Randy De Puniet to start from 17th

After a day and a half spent whiling away the time in the paddock the MotoGP riders finally got the opportunity to take to the track this afternoon for a 75-minute qualifying practice. Rossi, Márquez, Hayden and Pedrosa all staked their claim for pole position on a damp but drying track, with Jorge Lorenzo building his speed towards the end of the session to secure front spot on the grid for tomorrow's race, when he will try to prevent Marquez from wrapping up the championship.

Aleix Espargaró knows what it is like to celebrate a title after being crowned CRT Champion for the second straight season last week in Australia but the POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar showed that he has no plans to take his foot off the gas this weekend as he again dominated the CRT field. The Spanish rider qualified in an excellent ninth place overall, securing a third row start for the Grand Prix of Japan. Randy De Puniet starts the penultimate round of the season from seventeenth place after clocking his best lap with his penultimate effort, the Frenchman enjoying a positive feeling in the wet conditions before losing confidence as the track dried.

9th Aleix Espargaró 1.55.719 (27 laps): “We have had bad weather ever since we arrived in Japan and it has been a strange few days. We had to go out and qualify this afternoon without any prior track time so it was a new experience. We had to get confident in the wet conditions before pushing for a fast lap and I had fun – I think it's a great result. I am hoping for dry weather tomorrow even though we would be starting from zero and we will have to adapt quickly to the conditions. We have only two races left in 2013 and I am determined to keep our good form going to the end.”

17th Randy De Puniet 1.57.715 (24 laps): “My feeling with the bike was positive from the minute I went out on to the track but then we seemed to hit a ceiling and I couldn't improve. We made a change to the front suspension but it didn't make a difference and I think like a lot of riders we had a problem with front tyre degradation. Our corner speed was low because I didn't have confidence and the rear end was sliding around. Hopefully on a dry track we can go back to the good feeling we had at Phillip Island and if that's the case I'm sure we can have a strong race.”

Fourth row for Yonny Hernandez and the Ignite Pramac Racing Team

As expected the second day of the Japanese GP at the Twin Ring Motegi underwent changes to the program, due to adverse weather conditions.

This time the constant and abundant rain, together with a lack of visibility, were responsible for the postponement of the morning’s practice sessions and their subsequent cancellation. The track was in fact too wet to be declared safe and it remained closed until 12.50 when the Moto3 bikes came out of the pits to tackle the qualifying session valid for tomorrow’s starting grid, followed by one hour and fifteen minutes of qualifying action for MotoGP machines and finally Moto2.

Despite persistent pain in his injured right hand, a resolute Yonny Hernandez immediately topped the timesheets during the single qualifying session for round 17 of the championship. His best time of 1'55.998, set at the end of the session, placed the Colombian rider just off the third row, in tenth place – his best qualifying result so far. The Ignite Pramac Racing Team rider will now take advantage of the fifty-minute free practice session tomorrow morning to make up for lost time in view of the race.

Yonny Hernandez – Ignite Pramac Racing Team

“Today I obtained my best position on the grid, and I am very happy. I started very well, immediately pushed hard and I was fine. The hand hurts a little bit but it is not a problem. Given that I have never tried it in the wet, I have to say that I had some very good impressions. I noticed that the bike has a lot of grip, but unfortunately I did not have enough time to find the limit of the rear wheel. Tomorrow we start from tenth place and I hope to get a good result. I will do everything possible in order to be competitive and fast.”

Abbreviated qualifying day for Japanese GP

As expected, the schedule for day two of the Japanese GP at Twin Ring Motegi underwent extensive changes due to the adverse weather conditions.

The constant rainfall, along with the lack of visibility, resulted first in a postponement, and eventually in the cancellation, of the morning’s practice sessions. Declared unsafe, the track remained closed until 12:50, when the Moto3 riders exited the garages to face their qualifying session for tomorrow’s starting grid, followed by a one-hour-and-fifteen-minute MotoGP QP and finally the Moto2 session.

Andrea Iannone concluded his 26 laps of qualifying for this 17th World Championship round with a time of 1'57.347, which put him in 15th position on the grid. The Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team rider suffered particularly the lack of practice sessions and the limited time available to try different settings for his Desmosedici GP13. For that reason, tomorrow morning’s 50-minute morning free-practice session will be crucial for the race.

Andrea Iannone – Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team

“Today was weird, and not being able to ride during these days didn’t help much. We had different settings on the bike compared to the Australian GP that we wanted to try here, but we didn’t have the dry time to understand if the changes could be positive or not. I had enough feeling and grip, but the bike was moving very strangely. The tyres have a lot of grip on the wet track but I have to learn how to take advantage of it. Of course if we would have had the usual sessions, we could’ve tried other stuff but that’s how it was. For sure we'll think about something to try tomorrow to solve the problems, and I’ll try to get a good start in order to be fast and competitive from the beginning.”

Race weekend starts with Edwards qualifying in Top15

The AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan finally kick starts this afternoon after Race Direction determined it was unsafe to ride all day yesterday and this morning due to extremely bad weather conditions as a consequence of the Francisco typhoon. This afternoon NGM Mobile Forward Racing riders started off the weekend with the qualifying session without any previous free practice session to set their bikes for the specifics of the Motegi track.

Colin Edwards gets to the Top15 and qualifies as second best CRT at Motegi. Despite the fact that the usual FP1, FP2 and FP3 were cancelled the American rider was still able to make his bike fast enough to finish in the Top15 and be at 1.5 seconds from Aleix Espargaro, current CRT champion.

Claudio Corti was able to be among the top CRTs during most of the qualifying session in the rain. A change of tire to make the fast lap towards the end of the session caused him to lose the feeling with his bike due to abnormal front tire degradation after just a few laps.

The weather will be a determining factor for tomorrow’s race, as it is expected to be a dry race. The team will have to use the 50 minutes long free practice session to find the ideal setting for the afternoon race.

Colin Edwards

“It felt so got to get on a motorcycle and ride after sitting around all day yesterday and this morning. It was a little bit strange to go straight to qualifying without any free practice sessions but it was long enough to where we could come in and adjust the things that we needed to adjust on the bike setting-wise and get back out there. We just kind of took a poke at the setting, had to come in and adjust a couple of things: chassis setting we were pretty close right off the bat, electronics we had to play with during the session and step by step it just worked. At the very end of the session I knew the way the track was right there at the end I knew I had only one good lap left and it all worked out. Thanks to my guys for everything, looking forward to the morning session before the race.”

Claudio Corti

“Up until the track was wet I was among the best CRTs. When I finally pit in to change the tires to be able to do the fast lap I found myself having problems with front tire. After only just a two or three laps I lost all feeling with the bike, the tire got consumed in a rather abnormal way and after that I had no feeling. It’s a pity because the session started of really well. We will see what happens tomorrow during the race, it will all come down to the weather conditions.”

Sergio Verbena

“We had thought Phillip Island to be a rather strange weekend, but this one has been definitely more strange. We have lost all of Friday’s track time as well as this morning’s. The only solution that Race Direction could come up with and that we as a team agreed with completely, was to have a long afternoon session that would serve as qualifying session. We have worked well in the rain today with Colin; he will start from the 14th position on the starting grid as second best CRT. Claudio had some problems with his front tire and that added to the bad weather conditions definitely didn’t contribute to the outcome of the session. Tomorrow the weather conditions will probably be different; we expect them to be dry. Tomorrow before the race we will have a final free practice session of a little less than one hour and we will have to find the ideal setting for the race then. We have been able to do well in the last few races and that makes us remain confident for tomorrow’s race, we will have to wait and see what happens.”

Lorenzo emerges from the clouds to take pole position at Motegi

Round 17: Japanese MotoGP™ - Qualifying Practice

Motegi, Saturday 26 October 2013

Bridgestone slick compounds: Front: Soft & Medium. Rear: Super-soft, Soft (Asymmetric) & Extra-soft (Symmetric)

Bridgestone wet tyre compounds: Soft (Main) & Hard (Alternative)

Weather: QP - Wet. Ambient 14-15°C; Track 16-17°C (Bridgestone measurement)

After yesterday’s and this morning’s Free Practice sessions at Motegi were cancelled due to poor weather, Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo adapted best to the revised qualifying format and the wet track, setting a time of 1'53.471 to claim the top spot on the grid for tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix.

Lorenzo’s best effort put him 0.658 of his closest challenger, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez who was the second best qualifier with a time of 1'54.129. Ducati’s Nicky Hayden had his best qualifying result of the season, rounding out the front row in third place by clocking a time of 1'54.539 on his twenty-sixth lap of the session. The highest placed CRT rider on the grid tomorrow will be Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro, the newly-crowned CRT class champion was ninth quickest with a time of 1'55.719.

The track for today’s extended Qualifying Practice session was wet, although the rainfall stopped during the session resulting in parts of the track beginning to dry slightly towards the end of the session. In addition to the rain, ambient and track temperatures were low with a peak tarmac temperature of just 17°C recorded. All riders in the qualifying session used the main wet tyre specification for Motegi, the soft compound wet tyre to ensure maximum grip in the tricky conditions. Each rider this weekend can select up to two front and two rear wet tyres in the alternative, hard compound, should they wish to run this option if conditions are wet again tomorrow.

The next MotoGP™ session on the revised Japanese Grand Prix schedule is an extended Warm Up session from 0940-1030 local time (GMT +9) tomorrow, while the twenty-four lap race is set to start at 1400.

Hiroshi Yamada – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department

“After one and a half days of poor weather which prevented any activity on track, it was great to see the riders finally get out on their bikes this afternoon. Having to go out without any previous track time and learn the track conditions, work on setup and set a qualifying time in one session must have been a real challenge to the riders but they all handled the situation very well. There are many MotoGP fans here at Motegi and they’ve had to brave the extreme conditions, so I hope they are rewarded tomorrow with an exciting race in what are hopefully, dry conditions.”

Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department

“Conditions today were cold and wet which meant all riders preferred to run the soft compound wet tyre during qualifying, with no one trying out the alternative, hard compound wet tyre. The performance of our wet tyres today was very good, with very quick lap times and the riders were able to get up to speed quickly thanks to the warm-up performance of the soft option wets. This year at Motegi we’ve shifted our rear slick compounds one step softer, including adding a new super-soft rear slick just for the CRT riders, and I hope we have dry conditions tomorrow so the riders get to try out this new slick allocation for the Japanese Grand Prix.”

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