Brilliant Aleix Espargaro takes first career pole in rain affected Q2
The MotoGP™ race at the Iveco Daily TT Assen will see Aleix Espargaro get away from pole position on the grid on Saturday, ahead of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa on row one, after light rain disrupted Q2.
A group of riders were bunched up in an early dash from pit lane as they sensed light rain could become heavier right at the beginning of the Q2 run, with NGM Forward Racing’s Espargaro initially hanging behind that group and judging the conditions best for the first pole of his Grand Prix career.
The 1’38.789 time which took pole was over five seconds slower than the FP4 pace, whilst Repsol Honda pair Marquez and Pedrosa managed to get onto the front row despite trailing Espargaro by 1.4s and 1.9s respectively.
Another good effort from Andrea Iannone (Pramac Racing) put him at the front of the second row, where he will be joined by Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team) – who sneaked through from Q1 and took advantage for fifth despite struggling in free practice.
Crutchlow’s compatriot and former teammate Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech3) completes row two, ahead of Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP) and Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) who are all on the third row.
Alvaro Bautista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini), Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech3) and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) were all four seconds down on the pole time and will therefore all be on the fourth row.
Several riders even switched to wet tyres before the end of the session as the rain got heavier, but fortunately there were no crashes despite the tricky conditions.
MotoGP™ Qualifying Practice Classification
Moto2™: Pole in the Netherlands for determined Rabat
Rabat (Marc VDS Racing Team) produced a 1’37.311 lap late in the session to secure his sixth pole of the year on his Kalex ride.
Suter-equipped Aegerter (Technomag carXpert) held provisional pole but eventually missed out by 0.151s and the Swiss rider will be joined on the front row by rookie Lowes (Speed Up) who knows this track well and lapped within 0.363s of pole.
Row two will comprise three Kalex riders, Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing Team), Takaaki Nakagami (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) and Simone Corsi (NGM Forward Racing).
The third row will see Frenchman Johann Zarco (AirAsia Caterham Moto Racing) line up ahead of Spaniards Maverick Viñales (Pons HP 40) and Ricard Cardus (Tech 3), whilst Xavier Simeon (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) qualified tenth.
There were crashes for Jordi Torres (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2), Jonas Folger (AGR Team) and Robin Mulhauser (Technomag carXpert), though none of them were badly hurt.
Moto2™ Qualifying Practice Classification
Moto3: Pole for championship leader Miller at TT Assen
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Miller responded to the rapid pace of his rivals in practice and QP, producing a new pole record time of 1’42.240 in the final minutes to take pole for the fourth time this year.
Miller will therefore aim to defend his seven point championship lead from the head of the grid on Saturday, ahead of Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Marquez (+0.116) and Avant Tecno Husqvarna Ajo rider Ajo (+190s).
Experienced Frenchman Alexis Masbou (Ongetta-Rivacold), Italian youngster Niccolo Antonelli (Junior Team GO&FUN) and talented Spaniard Alex Rins (Estrella Galicia 0,0) will all start on row two.
Isaac Viñales (Calvo Team), Karel Hanika (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Romano Fenati (SKY Racing Team VR46) qualified on row three, whilst John McPhee (SAXOPRINT RTG) heads the fourth row.
Wildcard Thomas Van Leeuwen and Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Ongetta-AirAsia) both crashed in the session but neither were hurt.
Moto3™ Qualifying Practice Classification
This afternoon’s qualifying session for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of the Netherlands was anything but smooth with rain falling as the clock began its 15-minute countdown.
Movistar Yamaha riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi were quick to leave the pits as the first drops fell but were soon embroiled in a desperate pack of riders attempting to lock down a fast time before the track was too wet. With no clear space for a clean hot lap and grip rapidly disappearing the two returned to the pits with just over five minutes remaining, Lorenzo in ninth with a 1’42.259 and Rossi in 12th with a 1’43.625.
Both returned to the track for a last attempt but the track conditions made it impossible for any improvement. As a result Lorenzo will start tomorrow’s race from the third row in ninth position and Rossi will start from the fourth row in 12th.
Today’s qualifying session was different from the usual MotoGP script with the rain occurring just as the session began, leading all riders to undertake only a couple of laps and in one fierce pack. That did not hinder Bradley Smith’s determination to battle as the leading satellite bike in tomorrow’s race, who skilfully guided his Yamaha YZR-M1 around the fast flowing Assen circuit to 6th place in qualifying. The young British rider produced a firm display today with his performance from yesterday afternoon enabling him to glide straight through to Q2, after this morning’s FP3 session experienced slight rainfall which prevented the riders from improving their lap times. In the second 15 minute shootout session, the 23 year old rider formidably powered through the tricky conditions to produce a best time of 1.40,818 which will see him start tomorrow’s race from the second row. The lap was fractionally off 3rd place by the blink of an eye with a gap of only 0.086 and his positive qualifying leaves the British rider primed to forcefully battle to beat his previous best result this year of 5th in Austin.
Pol Espargaro will begin round 8 of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship from 11th on the grid after having experienced unlucky circumstances during qualifying today. The reigning Moto2 world champion opened proceedings in a truly inspiring manner by clinching 1st place in the dry morning practice session yesterday. He then progressed instantly through to Q2 courtesy of his FP2 time and had to face his first ever wet experience of his young MotoGP career in the most inconvenient moment of the weekend where everything comes down to one lap. He remained resolute in the tricky conditions, before pulling off a lap time of 1.43.085. Nevertheless, the solid rhythm the Spaniard showed over the whole weekend sees him remain determined to storm to success in tomorrow’s 26 lap dash around the 4542 metre ‘cathedral of speed’.
Tomorrow the MotoGP race at the legendary TT Assen will see Aleix Espargaro get away from pole position on the grid, ahead of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa on row one.
After having set the new Circuit Best Lap yesterday, Aleix Espargaro chose the perfect strategy in a qualifying session affected by the rain. He waited the best moment to set a best lap time of 1’38.789, taking his first ever pole position in career.
It was a very special moment for the whole NGM Forward Racing Team and Colin Edwards congratulated his team mate. Aleix’s result was a shiny spot in a difficult day that saw the Texan rider struggling for lack of confidence. Tomorrow Edwards will take the start of the TT Assen from the 6th row (1’35.484).
Jorge Lorenzo – 9th / 1’42.259 / 8 laps – “It was a pity because I think with dry conditions we could stay in first row, but it was dry but spitting in some places like normal Assen circumstances. Like this it’s very difficult to go with slicks and understand the limit of the track. You can feel good in two or three corners and suddenly arrive on one corner and it’s wet and you crash. I tried to let some riders run in first position but they didn’t want to so when we arrived in the last corner I decided to push. Maybe it wasn’t the right strategy. It’s a lesson to learn for the future. The pace is good but obviously it’s not going to be easy to overtake the in theory slower riders tomorrow. I hope to pass some people on the first corners and little by little move up. The race is long and if we have a good pace we can fight for the podium.”
Valentino Rossi – 12th / 1’43.625 / 8 laps – “It’s a shame because I was competitive today and in all the practices so I thought I could fight for a good position for tomorrow. Unfortunately we had rain at just the wrong moment and I have to start from the fourth row. This changes a lot and everything will be harder. Jorge is close to me but our competitors are on the front row so it will be hard. On the dry I know I can be competitive, I have a good pace so we have to try the maximum. We improved a lot the stability of the bike for today, so I can push. Especially this afternoon I was really good so I am happy with the pace. We have to wait for tomorrow to see what the conditions are but I hope for a dry race.”
Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director – “Unfortunately this afternoon was a waste. The rain and probably the position of our riders when the rain began to fall compromised the work we’ve done during these two days. The riders are satisfied with the bike setting and the pace is good, so to start from the third and fourth row is not the best place where we would like to be. We have to deal with that and we still believe that we can achieve good results.”
Bradley Smith – 6th / 1’40.818/ Laps 4 – “It’s good to get the second row for the race around here tomorrow as the start is always vital to the race whether it’s wet or dry. I am still a little disappointed with myself as I was in a pack of twelve riders and perhaps I should have dropped back so that I could have undertaken the lap on my own without the traffic or distraction of the others. The bike felt good today despite the ever-changing conditions but it was a bit tricky at times. On my only lap, I had a big moment in the last section of the track and at one point I touched the grass so for sure I could have gone faster which is a shame as I painfully close away from my second front row start of the season. Anyway, it’s a decent position to start from and I will use it to get the best possible result tomorrow whatever the weather decides to do.”
Pol Espargaro – 11th / 1’43.085 / Laps 6 – “I have no words to describe how disappointed I am. The feeling with the bike and the confidence I had this morning had been amazing and until the qualifying session it had probably been my best day on a MotoGP bike. That’s what really upsets me. However, I think we have just been unlucky. In the first and only actual lap I had, I passed Jorge and tried to follow Marc who managed to do a good time. But he then slowed down and hindered my pace in the first sector. I lost too much time before I was able to pass him, so I couldn’t improve my lap time anymore. Afterwards the rain was too intense to lower it further and that’s why we are starting in 11th position. Nevertheless we have to be positive and I am happy to say that in the case of a dry race, we are really competitive even when starting from the fourth row, which will not give us an easy task to ascend up the field.”
Aleix Espargaro – 1st / 1’38.789 – “I’m really happy. It’s so far a perfect weekend: yesterday we set the record of the track, today the pole position and tomorrow it will be a special feeling to take the start of my 150th GP from the first spot of the grid in front of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa. We have been fast in all the sessions and when it started to rain at the beginning of the Q2, I decided to wait just 30 seconds to avoid to be packed in the group. It was a risk but it paid and it was the right decision. I want to thank the whole team for the great work”.
Colin Edwards – 20th, 1’35.484 – “It was a difficult day, I’m struggling a lot as I don’t have the feeling with the front. I want to congratulate the whole team and it was great for Aleix getting the pole position. It’s a shiny spot for everybody and I’m happy for the whole team that is doing a great job”
Repsol Honda RC213V team-mates Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa will start tomorrow’s Dutch TT from the front row of the grid, slotting into second and third positions early in a 15-minute qualifying session that was hit with rain that grew stronger before it was halfway done.
Both riders anticipated worsening conditions to gain a valuable asset for the start of tomorrow’s race. For defending champion Marquez it preserves a perfect record of front-row starts at every race this year. For Pedrosa it underlines his return to competitive form after surgery earlier in the season.
Other riders fell foul of the tricky situation – with the factory Honda pair’s greatest rivals suffering badly. The factory Yamaha pair of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi qualified down in ninth and 12th places respectively, on the third and fourth rows of the grid.
Marquez, already 125cc and Moto2 champion, became the youngest-ever premier-class champion at his first attempt last season, and in 2014 has won every race so far, breaking yet more records while building up a commanding lead on points. The 21-year-old Spaniard is now looking for a classic eighth win in a row, to be the first rider to win the opening eight rounds since Giacomo Agostini in 1970.
His second place on the grid reflects his position in free practice, with first-time pole qualifier Aleix Espargaro leading those sessions. In yesterday’s dry conditions, all the fastest riders were travelling at new record speeds; rain struck this morning just as the final free practice started, and continued for the rest of the day.
Pedrosa spent two races off the front row while recovering from surgery to correct arm-pump problems, performed after round four. He returned with a bang at Barcelona two weeks ago, claiming his first pole position of the season. It preceded a strong race for the 28-year-old Spanish former 125cc and double 250cc World Champion. He battled with Marquez for victory to the end, finishing third after the pair collided on the last lap and he was forced to run wide.
The long-standing Repsol Honda rider was delighted in any case with his clear return to full strength, and is anxious to add more success at tomorrow’s race, to prove the point still further and regain second place overall from long-standing rival Rossi.
German LCR Honda RC213V rider Stefan Bradl was the better of two satellite-team riders, qualifying eighth for a row-three getaway. The former Moto2 champion is aiming for his first podium of the year, after finishing fourth once and fifth twice.
Spaniard Alvaro Bautista had to fight his way through from the “junior” Q1 qualifying session after missing the top ten in free practice, and ended up tenth. Former 125cc World Champion Bautista and GO&FUN Gresini Honda team-mate Scott Redding have a special role, exclusively race-testing Nissin brakes and Showa suspension, made by Japanese companies closely linked to Honda.
Redding is one of four riders campaigning the new production-racer Honda RCV1000R, built for the “Open” category rules introduced this year, and using control electronic software supplied by the organisers rather than the custom-made software available to the factory teams.
Czech rider Karel Abraham (AB Cardion Motoracing Honda RCV1000R) was best of them, placed 13th. It is the best grid position of the season so far for the qualified lawyer, who has been gaining strength race by race after major reconstructive shoulder surgery last year.
Former 250cc World Champion Hiro Aoyama (Drive M7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R), back with Honda this season, was one place lower and just three hundredths of a second slower for 14th.
Redding was 16th on the GO&FUN Gresini Honda RCV1000R. Former MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden, recovering from wrist surgery barely three weeks ago, qualified 22nd on the second Drive M7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R
Lap times in the elite Q2 session were slowed by rain that began again as the riders went out, so that the Q1 times were actually faster, for lower grid positions.
Tomorrow’s race is the eighth of 18 rounds, approaching the half-way point of the season. That will come in two weeks at the Sachsenring in the former East Germany.
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda: 2nd, 1m 40.194s – “I’m happy with this front row, although we obviously wanted to take pole. The weather was very unpredictable, as sometimes it was raining and then it stopped – meaning that conditions were far from ideal. My goal was to get onto the front row, so when I saw that I was up into second I decided not to take any more risks; there was a lot to lose and not much to gain, so I kept calm because I had already reached my target.”
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 3rd, 1m 40.732s – “It was a difficult session because the track was half-dry, half-wet, and then it started to rain more heavily. We went out with slick tyres and had time to put in a couple of laps, although there was a lot of traffic and we were all close together. It was hard to know how much of a risk we could take. Finally, with the track half-wet, we managed to set a good time and qualify on the front row which I’m happy with. Tomorrow we will continue working on the bike and try to have a good race, which could be either dry or wet.”
Stefan Bradl, LCR Honda MotoGP: 8th, 1m 41.982s – “We had a tricky qualifying session today, and even the free practice in the morning was not completely wet so we have been a bit unlucky with the weather. I do not have so much to say, we took the eighth spot in the grid because it was like a lottery. We could have pushed earlier in the session but it started to rain in certain parts of the track and in some others the asphalt was dry. We were a group of riders overtaking each other like in a race but in some points we could push and in some others we had to slow down, so it was impossible for me to do a proper flying lap and I thought it was stupid to take risks.”
Alvaro Bautista, GO&FUN Honda Gresini: 10th, 1m 42.884s – “Today has been strange: yesterday during practice we could have set a lap time to jump right into Q2, but it was not possible because of the traffic. Then this morning it rained! During FP4 we also tried two different set-ups looking for more traction, but with no improvement. In Q1 I was able to be fast even if I didn’t use new tyres. Then right at the beginning of the Q2 it started to rain and it was very risky. It was the same for everyone, but on the first lap I preferred not to push too hard because if I fell and the track had dried out, I’d be in an even worse situation. Tomorrow first of all we will keep an eye on weather. Overall I’m happy with my feeling on the bike in the dry.”
Karel Abraham, Cardion AB Motoracing Honda: 13th, 1m 34.907s – “I’m really happy: this is my best result of this season. But it’s something we had to fight for. We were struggling with the excessive spin of rear tyre and the weather made everything unpredictable. However, the fact is that I was finally able to make a perfect single “qualifying lap”, which was significantly better than the other ones. And this is the reason why I got my position. We’ll see what tomorrow brings to us. But I’m pretty sure that it will be really exciting race.”
Hiroshi Aoyama, Drive M7 Aspar Honda: 14th, 1m 34.930s – “The track conditions changed today almost every five minutes, so it was not easy work. Luckily the Q1 qualifying session was on dry asphalt. Despite the short time, we managed to complete two very fast laps and we have achieved our goal, which was to mark a turning point in 1’34. This weekend I’m feeling pretty comfortable with the bike, thanks to improvements with the front suspension. It appears that the new fork helps me ride faster. We’re still working on the settings, but in any case I feel much more comfortable, and this is very positive for the race. I am very motivated: I’ll give it my best, I hope for a good result.”
Scott Redding, GO&FUN Honda Gresini: 16th, 1m 35.509s – Qualifying wasn’t bad, all the Open Class Hondas are very close, and we made more or less the same lap time, and my race pace is quite good, so I’m not too worried about the grid position. Maybe it’s going to rain for the race, so we will have to change our plans because I have still made no laps in the wet with this bike. Overall I’m quite happy, also because I made my best lap alone, but I’m obviously a little bit disappointed to be only the third fastest production-racer Honda, even if the gap is minimal.”
Nicky Hayden, Drive M7 Aspar Honda: 22nd, 1m 35.792s – Not a good day for me … in FP4 we improved a bit and I could do 35’9 on quite used tyres, but in qualifying I made too many mistakes and I hardly improved on that time with new tyres and qualifying trim. The bike’s not perfect, I’m not perfectly healthy, but qualifying 22nd is not acceptable, and I have to take most responsibility for that. I need to do a lot better job tomorrow. My wrist has been better off the bike, but the bike’s heavy in the high-speed changes of direction, so I’m having more trouble than I anticipated. But I don’t want to rattle off a lot of excuses.”
Crutchlow and Dovizioso make the best of weather conditions to set fifth and seventh quickest time in TT Assen qualifying
In an incredible Q2 session, marked by light rain that increased in intensity, Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso managed to make the best of the conditions to set fifth and seventh quickest times respectively. As a result the two Ducati Team riders will start tomorrow’s TT Assen, round 8 of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship, from rows 2 and 3 of the grid.
The British rider in particular put together a good result after four difficult free practice sessions. Forced to take part in Q1, Crutchlow managed to move through to the next round, lapping in 1’34.598. Then at the start of Q2, as the rain increased, he immediately set a time of 1’40.796, which earned him fifth place on the grid for tomorrow’s race, his best qualifying performance so far with Ducati.
Dovizioso instead was unable to get the best out of the few moments of dry track time available and had to settle for seventh place on the grid. However Andrea declared he was quite satisfied with the work done today, during which he tried out a slightly different set-up as well as the soft tyre, which gave good results.
Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team #35) – 5th (1’40.796) – “Obviously again today was a tough challenging day. We went the wrong way with the set-up in FP4 and I couldn’t make the bike turn at all, but then for Q1 we changed something and it seemed to get better. My lap time was almost as fast as my pole time last year, so we can’t really say anything! In the damp conditions, I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t get past the riders in front of me because I feel we could have taken better advantage. The reality is that this afternoon we played the right cards and I threw the chips all in!”
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 7th (1’41.140) – “This qualifying session was a bit dangerous, but also enjoyable. Those who took the most risks went the quickest, and so in these conditions a seventh place is quite good: all I need to do tomorrow is get off the line well so as not to lose touch at the start. I’m happy with the work we did today, because in FP4 we tried a different set-up, which improved the feeling. We also pushed ahead with the soft tyre: performance drops off a bit, but it proved to be quite constant and I managed to set some good laps at the end.”
NGM Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro claimed his first ever pole position after a rain shower at the start of Qualifying Practice 2 turned the session into an exciting one-lap dash as riders tried to set a quick lap on slick tyres before conditions deteriorated.
Espargaro judged the conditions perfectly, running apart from the main pack of riders to set a lap time of 1’38.789 to end the session 1.405 seconds ahead of the next-best qualifier, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez. On the other Repsol Honda RC213V, Dani Pedrosa was third quickest in qualifying as he set a time of 1’40.732 before the rain intensified after which all the riders were unable to improve their times further.
Today’s weather was generally fine, although the occasional rain shower created variable track conditions at times. Light rain fell at the start of the morning Free Practice 3 session, with many riders taking the opportunity to scrub a set of wet tyres for later use, before conditions improved allowing riders to use slick tyres for the rest of the session. The afternoon FP4 session was dry, allowing riders to perform longer runs on their preferred slick tyre combination, and the fine conditions allowed Marquez to set a new Circuit Best Lap record time of 1’33.462. Ambient and track temperatures were slightly cooler than yesterday, with today’s peak track temperature of 30° being thirteen degrees cooler than yesterday.
The cooler conditions today resulted in the riders preferring softer rear slick options, while the soft compound front tyre was the most popular. However, some riders opted to use the extra-soft front slick, preferring the extra edge grip this option provides rather than the better braking stability of the soft option. If tomorrow’s race is run in dry conditions, it is expected that the majority of the riders will use the softest rear slick option available to them, paired with the soft compound front slick.
Weather forecasts indicate similar conditions to today, with a fair chance of rain. The next MotoGP™ session is tomorrow’s Warm Up session at 0940 local time (GMT+1) before the twenty-six lap race commences at 1400.
Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department – “Today’s conditions were cooler with rainy periods, so the riders perhaps to use the same tyre combinations that they evaluated yesterday. In FP3 and FP4, the riders continued to use the softer rear slick options and due to the cooler weather, no Factory riders decided to try the hard rear slick option. If conditions are dry tomorrow I think most of the riders are clear on their race tyre choice, and I expect the majority of riders to use the soft compound front slick. For the rear, it appears that the Factory Honda and Yamaha riders will use the medium compound rear, while most of the Ducati and Open-class entrants will use the soft compound rear. In the case of a wet race, each rider will be able to choose from the soft and hard wet tyre compounds, so even if there is rain tomorrow tyre strategy could still play an important part in the race.”
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