MotoGP 2018 – Round 14 – Aragon
Jorge Lorenzo topped qualifying at the Gran Premio Movistar de Aragon, posting a 1’46.881 and leading the Ducati 1-2, with Dovizioso just 0.015 seconds behind.
It’s Lorenzo’s best qualifying run since 2012 – the last time he took three poles in a row – and only the second time Marquez has missed out on pole at MotorLand in the premier class. The reigning Champion was hot on the heels of the Borgo Panigale duo, however, and he completes the front row a mere 0.065 off the top to set us up for another Sunday classic.
Jorge Lorenzo – 1’46.881
“I waited a long time to get my first pole position with Ducati, and now I’ve scored three in a row so I’m very happy about that. It was a very strange qualifying session, with all the riders hanging around, and as I was the last to go out, I was worried about all the traffic I would find on the track. I knew that I only had one chance to do an ‘explosive’ lap, so I pushed as hard as possible and in the end, despite a few small errors, I grabbed the pole from Andrea, who has always been very quick today. It’s another Ducati 1-2 in qualifying and I’m so happy for all the team. Tomorrow the race is sure to be a totally different story, because it will be very hot and also tough physically. We will have to work out what the best strategy is going to be but I think that we have a great pace and we can fight for the win.”
It was third place Marquez who came out the blocks quickest though, immediately clocking a 1:46.974 – the quickest lap of the weekend – on his first flying run, with Lorenzo 0.110 behind and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) on the provisional front row at that stage.
But tactics soon came out to play on the final run, with Dovizioso marked by Marquez as the top two in the Championship played cat and mouse. That led to both backing out of flying laps – and sending everything down to the wire.
On that final dash it was Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) leading a freight train of eight riders as Marquez clung onto the tailpipes of Dovi. The two were setting the timing screens alight but heading into Turn 12 the Honda rider slightly out-braked himself – losing a potential pole lap.
Meanwhile, despite having to manoeuvre past Alvaro Bautista (Angel Nieto Team) at the same corner, ‘DesmoDovi’ went fastest by 0.065 to grab provisional pole. Teammate Lorenzo had other ideas, however, heading out slightly later than the rest of the field. The ‘Spartan’ put the hammer down and snatched pole by 0.014 – his fourth of the season and his fourth successive front row in Aragon.
That bumped Dovi to P2 and Marquez to P3, with Crutchlow then unable to make good on a threat to take a front row after a crash at Turn 12 on his final flying lap ended his chances.
Andrea Dovizioso – 1’46.895
“The qualifying session went well, because the important thing was to get onto the front row, which we did. With the times so close together, it would have been so easy to find yourself on the second row in an instant! The problem is that in the second exit we found ourselves all bunched together and in these conditions it’s very difficult to find room. I managed to find a gap and I was quite quick, but I had to overtake Bautista and I lost a bit of time. In spite of this, I did a really good lap time and so I’m very happy, also because the bike is working really well and for the race we’ve got a great pace. Tomorrow I think I can fight for the win, but the tyre wear will make all the difference so we’ll have to be good at managing the situation and do the right strategy in the race.”
Marquez was actually on top at the end of his first run and just lost the chance to defend his leadership when he went a bit wide in turn 12 during his final qualifying lap. However, the Championship leader has shown a consistently fast race pace during the weekend and tomorrow will again try to fight at the front in his home race.
Marc Marquez – 1’46.960
“Today I was able to fight for the pole, and actually the lap times are very close. Here, the slipstream counts a lot and at a certain point everyone was waiting for one; given that I was on top after the first run, I also waited before pushing for the final try. On my last lap I was coming very fast behind Dovi, but I made a couple of mistakes, one in particular in turn 12. I missed the line a little bit and lost my chances there. Anyway, a front-row start was our goal and we were able to achieve that. It seems it’s again me and the Ducatis, like it has been at the recent races, so tomorrow we’ll see how it goes. In FP4 I had a crash because I braked a bit too late, but until then our pace was competitive on a used tyre, which is good. That was also a good warning because I found the limit in that corner. It will be a long race, but we’re there; I also felt at ease on my bike in the other sessions, so tomorrow, if possible, we’ll fight until the end.”
Crutchlow spent much of Q2 in a front row position, but was eventually edged out by a late charge from the factory Ducati riders and was unable to respond after an unfortunate crash when going well on his final flying lap.
Cal Crutchlow – 1’47.146
“Obviously I’m a bit disappointed with that qualifying because I made a mistake in the braking (on my last lap). I took my eye off the prize because it looked like Maverick (Vinales), or somebody on a blue bike, went out, so I turned fast with the brake full on and went down. But I’m ok and the team have been working very hard again this weekend. To be so competitive after not testing here against the Ducatis is good. They have a stronger pace than us, there’s no doubt about it and they have a stronger pace than Marc (Marquez), but let’s see what we can do about it in the race tomorrow. I’m pleased with the way things have been going, we’ve been up there in nearly every session and I look forward to it.”
Fifth on the grid went to Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar), his best starting position since the Catalan GP, with Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) securing his best qualifying position since Jerez in sixth.
Andrea Iannone – 1’47.169
“It’s been a positive day, although I think I had the possibility to get a front row grid position. On the last lap I lost a bit of time when Marquez rejoined the track in front of me after he made a mistake. But in any case, these things can happen and it’s normal. We’ve worked well this weekend, the bike had a good base and then we improved practice by practice. We need to find a bit more traction with the rear but anyway, I will try my best tomorrow.”
Dani Pedrosa – 1’47.224
“Lap times were very tight at the front, and the smallest mistake could have you losing two or three positions. Here in Aragon it’s important to be at least on the second row because the first corner is very close to the start and makes things a little tricky. We’ll need to start well and find a good line between the first two corners. We don’t know yet how the pace will be tomorrow, but overall our race rhythm has been better than usual so we’ll try to adjust some more little things and then see how it goes.”
Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) will launch from P7, with Bautista eighth, Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) P9 and Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) P10.
“I am disappointed about this qualifying. The feeling was very good but I wasn’t able to get the most out of my time attack. I am still confident for tomorrow’s race even though we are suffering a bit from the consumption of the rear tyre on this circuit”.
Álvaro Bautista and the Comapa Ángel Nieto Team enjoyed their best qualifying session of the season with eighth place, one better than they achieved in the German GP. The Spanish rider worked with his crew to find an optimum set-up that allowed him to lap eight tenths off pole and gives him hope of running with the front group tomorrow.
Álvaro Bautista – 1:47.678
“We have to be happy with this result because we have done a good job and I improved in the areas we wanted to improve. We have ridden with race rubber and when we put fresh tyres in I was able to make the most of them and set a good lap, which gave us our best grid of the year. Hopefully now I can have a good race in front of the Spanish fans and a finish close to the top five would be a good result.”
Alex Rins – 1’47.737
“I’m feeling good. It was an interesting day as we tried many things and many different tyres. We felt like we had a good setup from FP3 onwards, so this was nice. It’s difficult to decide on the tyres, it will depend on the weather tomorrow. I will give my maximum and try to get a good start, I think we have the rhythm and the pace to be with the second group, so we’ll try to fight there.”
Jack Miller was obviously disappointed not to head into Sunday’s race after a competitive FP3 session but heads into race day positive.
Jack Miller – 1’47.792
“We did a great FP3 and I was expecting a little more from the qualifying session. The team did a great job on the setup but in the time attack, I couldn’t make the perfect lap. The race pace is still positive and the goal for tomorrow is to stay in the Top 10”.
Q1 graduate and leading Yamaha rider Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) had to settle for the 11th fastest lap, with Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) going 12th after also coming through Q1.
Q1 made some other headlines, however. Viñales recieved a three-place penalty for an incident with Bradley Smith, with Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) penalised for the same but the Italian’s sanction a loss of six positions.
Maverick Viñales – 1’47.810
“Today’s qualifying results don’t fully show our potential, I feel I could have done a little bit better, because I had some problems with the electronics in Q2. We need to keep working, we still have some time. We need to try to keep the motivation high and let’s see if we can do a bit better tomorrow. Rules are rules, and I think I was on the line in Bradley’s hot lap, so this is the way it is.”
The biggest of them all though was a tough session for Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) as the nine-time World Champion failed to make the cut, set to start 17th after Morbidelli’s penalty has been applied. Waiting for a tow to try and move through didn’t work for the ‘Doctor’ in the tight window of opportunity.
Valentino Rossi – 1’48.627
“It was a difficult day already from this morning. Sometimes when you have a problem and you try to do better, you make it worse. Unfortunately I also crashed in FP3, but especially the afternoon was difficult. We didn’t have enough pace, I was quite slow. After that, in Q1, we had some confusion and lost too much time. It was difficult to set a hot lap but also to be on the pace. It looks like everything we can do inside the box won’t change our situation much, more or less our problem stays the same. Tomorrow we’ll try something else and we’ll see.”
He’ll be gunning hard to make some serious progress on Sunday as Lorenzo, Dovizioso and Marquez continue their titanic battle for the win. Who will master MotorLand? Find out at 14:00 local time (GMT +2).
Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) left it late at the Gran Premio Movistar de Aragon to secure South Africa’s first intermediate class pole position since 1984 – and his first – but he did just that thanks to a 1:53.149 to displace Friday’s fastest Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP).
The German missed out on the honour of a maiden pole by just 0.074, but he’s well-placed to push for that maiden win. Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) took third for his maiden front row in Moto2.
Despite a crash early in the session, Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) set an identical time to Navarro to line up P4 on the grid, with Championship leader Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) just 0.018 behind the Spaniard in fifth, bringing an end to a run of three straight pole positions for the Italian.
Compatriot Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) lines up sixth after threatening the front row throughout, with Fabio Quartararo (MB Conveyors – Speed Up) seventh. The Frenchman and Binder are the only non-Kalex riders inside the top 12.
Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP 40) earns his best grid slot since the Sachsenring in eighth, with fellow Italians Simone Corsi (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) and Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) rounding out the top ten. It was a difficult afternoon for title contender Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo), meanwhile, after the Portuguese rider could only manage P18 in qualifying. Can he fight back and challenge for a podium on Sunday?
Remy Gardner started the second day of action at the MotorLand Aragón circuit with a positive FP3 before he showed a brave performance during Qualifying to go 0.814 seconds faster than in yesterday’s afternoon session. The fast Australian eventually ended up in P20 and has to tackle the 14th round of the 2018 season from the seventh row of the grid.
“We’ve been struggling all weekend here. It’s a track we just don’t get on really well, we knew from last year. I did my best time here today, but it wasn’t enough. I definitely had the feeling to do even more here, especially on the first laps with the MotoGP rubber on the ground, but some riders need to think a bit more and not doing thoughtlessly passes on the first lap. Unfortunately, I couldn’t improve on the last exit, anyway, it’s clearly not the starting position we want but we’ll work hard for tomorrow and during the Warm Up to have a decent race.”
Bagnaia vs Oliveira rolls into MotorLand on Sunday, but it’s the latter’s teammate who will launch from pole. Under two-tenths splitting the top six in qualifying sets us up for another closely fought Moto2 race, and you can watch all the action live from 12:20 local time (GMT +2).
Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) added to his record as the master of Moto3 qualifying at the Gran Premio Movistar de Aragon, setting a stunning 1:57.066 to smash the pole position lap record by seven tenths and take his ninth pole of the year. The Championship leader also made a little more history as he broke the lightweight class pole position record of 18 poles, previously held by his Team Manager Fausto Gresini.
Martin’s compatriot Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) was his closest challenger, 0.537 back in second but taking his first front row, with Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing) showing more good speed at MotorLand to take third.
Marinelli Snipers Team rider Tony Arbolino grabbed fourth to seal his best grid slot since taking pole in Argentina, with Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46) continuing his good form this weekend to start from the middle of the second row. Championship protagonist Marco Bezzecchi (Redox PruestelGP), meanwhile, led the session before the final flurry of times came in and the Italian slipped down the order slightly, but only to the outside of the second row in sixth.
Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) set the seventh quickest time, but the Italian has a 12-place grid penalty for irresponsible riding in FP3. This means Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Skull Rider) will start from seventh after heading the timesheets by over three tenths early on, with Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) joining him on the third row in eighth and ninth, respectively.
Next up was Adam Norrodin (Petronas Sprinta Racing), with Marcos Ramirez (Bester Capital Dubai) a thousandth slower and Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PruestelGP) only a further two thousandths in arrears. Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Albert Arenas (Angel Nieto Team) completed the fastest fifteen, also split by just two thousandths of a second.
After another close and competitive qualifying session for the lightweight class, we’re set up for a classic on Sunday. Tune in from 11:00 (GMT +2)!
Jorge Martin – P1
“I rode all weekend long on my own in order to find the right race pace and I wasn’t expecting to record such a lap-time today! We found a great slipstream, but this new record makes me proud. I already tried last year, so everything has gone well. We found something with the set-up and now the bike is even better than before. The goal is to have a great race, to win if possible or at least extend our lead.”