Press releases from the MotoGP teams after qualifying at Qatar:
Marquez takes Qatar pole with Pedrosa in 6th
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez has secured the first pole of the season at the Losail circuit in Qatar with a time of 1’54.507, marking his 10th MotoGP career pole, from 19 starts in the class. Teammate Dani Pedrosa, despite being just 0.196s from Marc with 1’54.703, will start from the second row in 6th position.
It was an exciting session with fastest times being traded between several riders. Marc, who is still suffering from the injury that sidelined him from the last two Winter tests, took provisional pole on his first exit in Q2 before securing it with a faster time on his final lap of his second exit. He’s now found a setup he is happy with and will work on fine tuning it in tomorrow’s warmup session.
Dani was also happy with his pace after making positive setup changes in FP4 and will be looking for one of his trademark starts in tomorrow’s 22 lap race, that will begin at 22h00 local time.
1st - 1'54.507
“I’m really happy and this pole position is a special one for me, because after coming back from injury it gives me a boost in confidence. In any case, we know that tomorrow is the day that counts and it’s in the race that points are decided, so we have to be very focused. It is going to be a very tough for me physically, because I don't have much strength in my leg and I have to compensate with my right arm. We are happy with how today went and seem to have found a good setup, with just a few details still to refine in tomorrow's warmup. It will be difficult, because many riders have pace within a tenth of each other, but we shall try to have a good race”
6th - 1'54.703
"The qualifying session was really closely contested today - especially in the final laps. Looking at things objectively, we have a good pace and were able to set a fast lap in the session, even though in the end we qualified sixth by a really narrow margin. We're going to continue to be positive about things, believe in the work that we have been doing here so far this weekend, and tomorrow we'll give everything that we have to do well at the first race of the season"
Lorenzo Takes Fifth in Tense Qatar Qualifying
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider Jorge Lorenzo fought hard this evening to take fifth on the grid in qualifying for tomorrow’s Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar. Teammate Valentino Rossi made big time improvements and secured tenth under the floodlights of the Losail circuit in a tense session of quick fire hot laps.
Lorenzo had taken another small step forward in the fourth free practice earlier this evening, reducing the gap to the front to under half a second to finish 0.492 from first in seventh position. As usual he was the first man out onto the track for the qualifying heat, scoring a 1’55.036 on his first flying lap. A flurry of quick laps were to follow by his rivals, leaving him in fifth position with just over half the time gone. He returned to the pits for fresh rubber before preparing for the final attack. A frenetic last few minutes saw a huge number of red sections across the track for the top riders, with Lorenzo managing to drop under the 1’55s with a best time of 1’54.661 seconds. The time puts him on the second row of the grid for tomorrow’s race, just 0.154 seconds from pole man Marc Marquez.
Teammate Rossi continued to make improvements today, improving both his pace and hot lap time. The Italian’s first qualifying tyre saw him into sixth position with a 1’55.471, only to drop as a flurry of faster rivals pushed him down the table. The nine-time world champion was back out for the last minutes and pushing hard, dropping nearly a half second to record a 1’55.096 second lap on his seventh and final lap. The time puts him in tenth position on the grid but only just over half a second from pole position.
Rider Jorge Lorenzo
5th - 1'54.661 - 7 Laps
“We are improving little by little to adapt to the situation. Obviously we are still having problems with the rear grip but we are getting closer to the front top riders. We made a good position for tomorrow; fifth on the grid is good for the start. There are six riders within one tenth of a second and the race will be very long so if we can make one step on the bike we can fight for the podium or even a victory, which would be amazing for the circumstances.”
Rider Valentino Rossi
10th - 1'55.096 - 7 Laps
“I’m not very satisfied because I am just in tenth but I am only half a second from pole position and my lap time is not so bad. I have improved a lot. We worked well on the bike and in the end 1’55.0 is not so bad, it’s seven tenths faster than last year for me so we made a good step. The problem is that the balance between everybody is very close; we are 12 riders within half a second. Tomorrow we have to be ready for anything as anything could happen. The pace is very similar between everyone except Marquez who was impressive and did a good job. Also the other guys, Pedrosa and Lorenzo are not very far, so we have to be ready for anything and maybe some strong first laps I think!”
Team Director Massimo Meregalli
“Even if we are not completely satisfied about the setting of the bike we were able to close the gap, especially with Jorge. He was able to get just one and a half tenths from pole position and starting from the second row is not at all bad. It will be more difficult for Vale to start from the fourth row. It will be crucial to have a good start and push for the first two laps to stay as close as possible to the leading riders. We will try to find something else during the night and tomorrow we will check during the warm up. We will have to wait and see what a hot race it could be tomorrow night.”
Team Manager Wilco Zeelenberg
“A very hot qualifying and very tight. We’re not really unhappy with the result, of course we are still working and looking for more speed but we are vey close: from first to Jorge is less than two tenths of a second. All in all we can be pleased with the things we’ve done. The race is more important than qualifying and second row is not a bad place to start tomorrow.”
Dazzling start sees Bradley Smith on a fantastic front row for floodlit Qatar GP
Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro performed impressively during a fiercely competitive qualifying session today at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar. Britain’s Bradley Smith qualified superbly on the front row in 3rd, while his Spanish teammate Pol Espargaro scored a 12th position for the start of the opening MotoGP World Championship race tomorrow night under the floodlights.
Bradley Smith today continued his brilliant pre-season by qualifying in his best ever position of 3rd in the MotoGP class for tomorrow’s Grand Prix. His performance also ensured the fact that a Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider has been present on the front row of the grid for three consistent years at Qatar. Having previously topped the 4th free practice session and consistently posting quick lap times all week, Smith worked tirelessly with his Monster Yamaha Tech3 team to finish with a best lap time of 1:54.601 around the 5.83 kilometre circuit. The young English rider’s emphatic performance was less than a hundredth of a second from the fastest rider, and will put in him in the best possible position to battle with the leading riders tomorrow. The Monster Yamaha Tech3 satellite rider finished as the fastest Yamaha rider and ahead of the Factory Yamaha’s of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi.
Pol Espargaro skilfully sailed through Qualifying 1 before heading into the Q2 session where he finished in 12th position on his debut MotoGP appearance for the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team. Having fallen heavily, albeit uninjured yesterday, the reigning Moto2 World Champion bounced back determinedly today with a calculated ride which saw him top the Qualifying 1 session, and then set a 1:55.152 in Q2. With the young Spaniard’s knowledge of the Yamaha YZR-M1 still growing, his qualifying time is even more impressive after finishing just over six tenths from the leading time in his first ever MotoGP Qualifying.
Bradley Smith - 3rd - 1:54.601:
“I am really pleased with today, the bike felt great and I’m really satisfied with the setup. The performance during the fourth free practice session was very promising and fortunately I was able to translate that performance to the new tyre. I was slightly disappointed because with the second tyre, Aleix, Marc and I, all waited a bit too long, as nobody wanted to be followed. My tyres got too cold to push again, so I decided to take the bike back to parc fermé instead of taking any more risks, but I felt I still had some margin. However, you don’t get points for qualifying, tomorrow is when it really counts and there are 22 laps to battle in. For sure a good start is the key and I know I’m pretty good at them. I also know that I will be strong on the full fuel load as I worked a lot to improve this during the winter. Having said that, there are a lot of strong riders behind me and it won’t be easy, but I’ll give it my all. Tonight I will rest up, and prepare myself and if the bike feels like it did today, I am confident of getting a good result“.
Pol Espargaro - 12th - 1:55.152:
“I am happy with how I performed during my first qualifying session today. After yesterday, it took me a little time to rediscover my rhythm, but the most important fact is that I again, have a great feeling with my bike. Of course, tomorrow the race might be different, but after a tough day yesterday I’m really satisfied with my performance during the qualifying. Unfortunately we had to go through Q1 which was not ideal , especially because that meant that we had to maintain an already used front tyre for the final qualifying practice and the grip wasn’t the same anymore. I didn’t feel that I could push quite as much into the entrance of the corner, which is where the Yamaha is the strongest. Still, I was only 6 tenths of a second from the top lap time, almost half a second from Jorge, and less than a tenth from Valentino. After looking at these statistics, I think I can be satisfied, and also because I believe that my fastest lap time today was very similar to what will be my race pace tomorrow”.
BAUTISTA STORMS TO STUNNING FRONT ROW IN QATAR
Alvaro Bautista showed an outstanding performance tonight during the qualifying of the Grand Prix of Qatar at the floodlit Losail International Circuit, conquering the second place on the grid and missing the pole position for just 57 thousandths of a second.
Bautista took the lead in the latter part of a hard fought qualifying session with a fastest lap of 1’54”564, then beaten at the end of the qualifying only by current World Champion Marc Marquez. Team GO& FUN Honda Gresini’s rider will then start the inaugural Grand Prix of the season from the front row: an extremely positive sign that confirms the excellent work done during practice and confirms the competitiveness of his technical package.
His team-mate, Scott Redding , will start tomorrow from sixteenth position. The English was slowed down by an untimely problem: a stone has indeed damaged the front wheel speed sensor on his bike n.1, causing sudden power cuts . Rose on his RCV1000R number 2, Scott had only the time for a single attempt, in which he nevertheless signed a promising 1’56”555, just six tenths of a second off the fastest Open class Honda.
ALVARO BAUTISTA (2nd - 1'54"564)
“For me this second place on the grid feels like a pole position, because in this circuit I’ve always struggled in the past. During this weekend instead I have always felt comfortable with the bike, closing each practice session in the top positions, which means that we have worked very well in winter testing. Too bad only to have lost the pole position, but in the end Marquez has been capable to overtake us. Tomorrow I expect a very tough race, but definitely interesting, because there are many rides who can keep the same pace. Moreover, it will be important to start from the front row. I hope you continue to enjoy myself like I’ve been doing so far: I will try to stay in the leading group and trying to achieve a podium finish”.
SCOTT REDDING (16th - 1'56"555)
“I am satisfied with regard to the improvements shown today, but unfortunately I was slowed down by a problem with the electronics just as I was busy in the qualifying session. When I entered the track, I felt that something was wrong: the engine cut power continuously, so I came back to the pits to try to solve the problem, but it was still there in my second exit. Therefore I got on the second bike, with which I set my fastest lap, but unfortunately there was time only for one attempt. However I’m happy because I found myself even better with the bike n.2, which I will ride again tomorrow in the warm up, during which we will also try to figure out which tyre we can use for the race. It would be nice to get some points tomorrow”.
“Alvaro today did an amazing job and is of course very happy. So far it's been a very good weekend: we have always been very competitive, closing the practice with excellent qualifications. Unfortunately we missed the pole position for very little, but we are happy because we fought with Marquez, who is still the World Champion. Plus, to get a result like that on a track where we had never been particularly incisive makes us even more happy: it means that we have worked very well during the winter tests, reaching a very high level. I am very sorry for Scott, who has had bad luck right in the most important moment: a small stone hit the front wheel speed sensor, causing a problem of power delivery. He had to change bike and in fact he was able to complete only one lap, with a good result when you consider the circumstances under which it was obtained”.
Disappointing Qualifying for NGM Forward Racing
22 March 2014 at 21:47
After three practices on top of the time sheets, Aleix Espargaro confirmed that he is a very fast rider also in the qualifying session. Unfortunately two crashes prevented him to finish in the front row, which was close at hand.
After crashing on turn 2, while he was third in the time sheets, Aleix went back on track with the second machine and he was 1 tenth faster than the pole when he crashed for the second time, loosing the front. Fortunately the crashes were without consequences for the Spanish rider, who will take the start of the Qatar GP from the third row.
It was a difficult session also for Colin Edwards, who improved his pace with hard tyres but couldn’t use at the best the soft tyre to make a step forward and tomorrow he will start from the fifth row.
Colin Edwards - 5
“During the qualifying I was faster than in the test I have a better feeling with the hard rather then with soft tyres. I’m still struggling to make the bike turn, this remain the main issue. I’m trying to change my style, adapting more to this machine but it’s not natural. We will continue working in the warm up and then I will do my best in the race."
Aleix Espargaro - 41
“I’m really sad because I have been the fastest rider in the first three sessions and also in the FP4 I had a strong pace with hard tyres. When we switched to the soft tyre, I was not so comfortable with the front. I pushed but I lost the front and crashed. I went back on track and in the T4 I was 1 tenth faster then the pole, when I crashed, loosing the front again. It’s a pity and I’m so sorry for the team that will have to spend the night in the garage to repair both bikes. It was my mistake, we have lost an opportunity but the season is long and we will have other chances. Tomorrow it will be a more difficult race, as we will have to pass more riders to stay with the front guys but I’m confident."
Up and Down Qualifying for Iannone
The day started on the right foot for Andrea Iannone. During the third free practice session yesterday, he gained direct access to Q2. Unfortunately in the all-important qualifying session he was forced to stop for a technical problem on the last lap.
In the fourth and final free practice session Andrea Iannone - Pramac Racing - concluded with a solid fifth place, less than two tenths of a second from the first position. Thirty-five minutes after the end of FP4, Q2 session started as scheduled. "Maniac Joe" demonstrated immediately that he was competitive, lapping in 1'55’’1 and being able to repeat this lap a couple more times. On the last lap available before the end of session , Andrea managed to do an excellent T1, but unfortunately was stopped by a technical problem. Iannone will start eleventh on the grid.
Yonny Hernandez - Energy T.I. Pramac Racing – rode the fourth FP session under par, and was unable to match his lap time from yesterday . During the first lap of qualifying he improved slightly, the lap after unfortunately he crashed without consequences. The Colombian rider returned on track but without improving. Tomorrow Yonny will start the race from the seventeenth position .
Andrea Iannone ( Pramac Racing)
"I’m confident! This morning I went well in FP4 did good lap times. In Q2 I was fast from the start , unfortunately I was forced to slow down a couple of times because of traffic, and on the last lap while I was improving I had to stop for a technical problem. The race is tomorrow, I think I can do well. I thank the team and Ducati. "
Yonny Hernandez (Energy T.I. Pramac Racing)
"I'm very disappointed, I have crashed too many times this weekend. It is not a good weekend for me, now I hope for the race. I'm happy with the bike, I feel good with the setup. I'll work to improve tomorrow, I have no physical pain. In the race I want to finish in the points. "
BRADL TAKES 7th SPOT ON THE GRID BEFORE QATAR GP
Losail, 22 March: the opening round of 2014 season continued today under the lights of Losail circuit with Reigning World Champion Marc Marquez taking the pole position of the starting grid followed by Bautista and Smith. LCR racer Stefan Bradl used free practice four to prepare his RC213V for the 15 minute shootout – QP2 which saw the German leading the third row (7thoverall) with a time just 0.364s off the pace (1’54.871).
Stefan: “We improved the gap to the guys on the front and this is quite positive. It was a very close qualifying with many riders on the same pace. Our target was the second row but P7 is good anyway and the good thing is that we are not far from the top. Considering the new rules and the actual situation with Rossi, Lorenzo and Pedrosa riding on the same pace as me, I think it will be an exciting race with many riders in a big group. It’s hard to make a prevision...”.
Dovizioso a fraction away from front row start, Crutchlow eighth in Qatar GP qualifying
The two Ducati Team riders demonstrated determination and character today in qualifying for the Grand Prix of Qatar, the opening round of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship, which takes place tomorrow at the Losail International Circuit.
Andrea Dovizioso, who was already fourth quickest following three sessions of free practice, today continued to lap strongly: the Italian rider in fact further improved in qualifying, ending up with a 1m54.644s which propelled him to fourth place on the grid, just a few hundredths away from the front row.
Cal Crutchlow, who had appeared to be in a bit of difficulty on Friday, today had to take part in Q1 and, after immediately qualifying for Q2, also improved his lap time to finish in eighth place, just three-tenths of a second away from pole.
Tomorrow the 22-lap Grand Prix of Qatar will get underway under the Losail floodlights at 10pm local time.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 4th (1m54.644s)
“I am very pleased with the lap time I set today, it’s confirmation that we have managed to make a significant improvement, as we had already shown in the recent tests. We are quicker than last year and also closer to the others in race pace. I think that the race will be very difficult however: I’ll try and get a good start from row 2 but for sure we’ll have to grit our teeth for 22 laps. Unlike last year, I reckon we can fight for some good positions. I’m really disappointed about missing out on the front row by just so little, because I made a mistake at Turn 12 losing at least a tenth. In any case, fourth place on the grid is not at all bad.”
Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team #35) – 8th (1m54.888s)
“If you had said to me this morning I would have been three-tenths away from pole, I would never have believed it! Even though eighth place on the grid is not exactly where we want to be, I lapped quicker than last year and so it’s not bad at all. As for my pace, I’d like to be in a position to lap in 56.5 for the whole race, but it’s not going to be easy. Today we found something by lengthening the bike a bit and sacrificing some grip, but the bike now feels more stable and on this circuit that’s important because when the tyres begin to go off after a few laps, you need a stable bike. Yesterday I rode useless and didn’t have the right feeling with the bike, but the guys in the team worked all night and today things went a lot better.”
DRIVE M7 ASPAR RIDERS READY TO RACE AFTER QUALIFYING IN QATAR
Nicky Hayden and Hiroshi Aoyama improve lap times to seal thirteenth and fifteenth respectively
The first qualifying session of the 2014 season provided a memorable night in the history of the MotoGP World Championship as the top three riders on the grid qualified within a tenth of a second and the top nine were covered by less than half a second. With up to twelve riders showing podium potential here the first race of the new season promises to be as spectacular as the last lap from Marc Márquez that saw him snatch pole from Alvaro Bautista.
DRIVE M7 Aspar riders Nicky Hayden and Hiroshi Aoyama both saved their best laps of the weekend so far for the all-important qualifying session, the American clocking his best time on his penultimate effort and the Japanese on his last. Nicky even managed to light up a red third sector on his fast lap but, as he later admitted, he lost out in the fourth. A 1'55.894 was still four tenths quicker than his best lap yesterday and is enough for thirteen on tomorrow night's grid. Hiroshi made an improvement of half a second to his best lap and lines up two places behind his team-mate on the fifth row.
13th Nicky Hayden 1.55.894: “I didn't expect to get down to the 1.55s without a tow, especially with the problems we have had in corner exit in T4, but it still wasn't enough to get into Q2. I would like to be starting the season from a better position on the grid in the first race but considering how new everything is to us we have to be satisfied and now we have to keep working to improve. It will be a tough race, I'll try to get a good start and keep up a fast and consistent pace for 22 laps. I haven't been focused on other riders while riding this bike so the first few laps should be interesting tomorrow night. Hopefully we can learn plenty and gather lots of useful data to help us in future with this bike.”
15th Hiroshi Aoyama 1.56.479: “From yesterday to today we made some set-up changes and I was able to ride more comfortably. Yesterday we knew exactly what we had to change and to be honest it had the desired result. We put a new tyre in at the end of the session that gave us a bit more grip and confidence. I was quite surprised actually, I didn't expect to have such a good feel for the rear end. The last two laps were very positive and we were able to take a big chunk out of the lap time. I felt we could have improved again with another lap but unfortunately we ran out of time. Anyway, I am happy with our improvement and finally now it's time to go racing.”
Sixth row on grid in the opening Grand Prix of the season
Karel Abraham will start from sixth row to the opening race of the season. The Czech rider improved again his time on Saturday holding sixteenth position with 1:56,715 nearly to the end of the qualifying practice.
Unfortunately he lost few seconds more than expected in the last pit stop and lost the chance to make one more lap in the end of QP1. Thus two riders on same bikes Honda RCV1000R, Hiroshi Aoyama and Scott Redding, jump over him.
„In the last free practice we tried two different setups and it was great idea. One of them fitted to me very well, so we were able to significantly improve our Friday´s best. Regarding this it´s really shame, how we ended the qualifying practice. The problem began in the moment we missed Nicky Hayden leaving the pit. I was thinking to go out with him, but we got some technical issue and I went out few seconds later. Then I thought to make two last laps with Colin Edwards, but he roll off in one moment and we slowed down and lost few seconds. But those few seconds unfortunately decided that I pass the finish line just a moment after the checkered flag went out. So I lost the chance to fight for better lap time and probably this costs me some positions on the grid.”
chief mechanic, Cardion AB Motoracing
“We can be satisfied after today, although our final position does not seem as good. We managed to improve setting of the bike and we succeeded to be under 1:57. We are very close to Aoyama and Redding and also Nicky Hayden is not so far from us. We have to consider that due to Karel’s health problems we had less time and now we are still trying to catch it. Tomorrow we will try to adjust the setup to have the front more predictable during braking. But I think if Karel’s shoulder will remain calm during the race we could improve our lap time and stay with other „open“ Hondas.”
Marquez grabs pole position in thrilling Qatar qualifying
Round 1: Qatar MotoGP™ - Qualifying Practice
Losail International Circuit, Saturday 22 March 2014
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft & Hard; Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
Weather: FP4/QP - Dry. Ambient 21-22°C; Track 21-22°C (Bridgestone measurement)
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez grabbed pole position for the first race of the 2014 MotoGP™ season in a thrilling Qualifying Practice 2 session that saw the front row split by just 0.094 seconds.
After a strong showing in today’s FP4 session where he finished second quickest, Marquez went one better in QP2 to set a lap time of 1’54.507 to claim pole position from GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista by a mere 0.057 seconds. Rounding out the front row for tomorrow’s race is Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Bradley Smith, the British rider’s personal best lap time of 1’54.601 good enough to claim his first front row in MotoGP™. All riders on the front row set their quick times on the combination of the medium compound rear and hard compound front slick. The first QP2 session of the year was fiercely competitive, with 0.645 seconds separating the twelve riders taking part at the chequered flag.
Overnight rain, strong winds and cooler track temperatures than yesterday threatened to reduce grip levels even further today, but surprisingly, after Free Practice 4 many riders commented that track conditions were the best of the weekend so far. Track temperatures reached a maximum of 22°C in today’s sessions, ten degrees cooler than yesterday.
In FP4, many riders performed long distance runs to assess their race tyre options, with the most popular front tyre option being the hard compound. For the rear tyre, the Factory Ducati, Honda and Yamaha riders had a preference for the medium compound rear, while some Open-class riders achieved good results on the soft compound rear slick. For qualifying, the need for maximum performance was reflected in the riders selecting the softest rear slick available to them; medium compound for the Factory Honda and Yamaha riders, and the soft compound for the Ducati and Open-class riders.
The next MotoGP™ session is Warm Up at 1800 local time (GMT+3) tomorrow, with the twenty-two lap Qatar Grand Prix commencing at 2200.
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“Thankfully track conditions improved today, which provided a good opportunity for riders to work on evaluating some different tyre options today in FP4, especially for the rear. It seems the medium compound rear tyre will be the popular choice tomorrow, but we saw some impressive performances on the Factory-only hard compound rear, and the Open-class specification soft rear tyre, so we may see quite a variation in tyre choice for tomorrow’s race. The pace among the top half of the grid is very close, both over a single lap and on race pace, so I expect we are in for a very exciting race.”