MotoGP 2018 – Round Seven – Catalunya – Qualifying
Under blistering Barcelona skies, it was a battle of the Spaniards for pole position on home soil. Lorenzo was the first man to set a time, before Marquez crossed the line to set the fastest lap of the weekend – a magnificent 1:38.886. Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) fired in a 1:39.392 to put himself between the two after the first run.
Lorenzo then blasted out of the box to launch himself to the top of the timesheets, with just 0.066s the difference between him and future Repsol Honda teammate Marquez. The number 93 was right on the pace of his compatriot, however, before finding some traffic at Turn 13 – Marquez was left unable to deny Lorenzo his first Ducati pole and his tenth front row start in a row at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Jorge Lorenzo – P1
“I’m very satisfied because today was a fantastic day! We have been competitive in every session and I feel entirely at ease on the bike. My first pole position with Ducati is a really special one and it gives me a special satisfaction because I’ve done it at the Catalan GP. After the good sensations at Mugello, coming here and progressing in the same way means that we are working very well. In my first exit I tried to set a time but for some reason I didn’t have the same grip with the rear tyre. I kept calm and on my second run I pushed to the max. It wasn’t easy because Marquez was also lapping really strongly, but in the end we did it. The race will be difficult, but we are amongst the favourites and it’ll be vitally important to keep concentration for the 24 laps.”
Marc Marquez – P2
“It was a great qualifying session. It’s important to be on the front row because both Jorge and Dovi are very fast here. Still, we were able to get quite close to them, and I’m very happy about that because our day had been a bit complicated before that: I crashed while I was pushing for a fast lap this morning and had to go through Q1. Anyway, I was still confident in myself as I knew we were capable of being very fast. Then, in FP4, I had that big save in the last downhill corner! I hit a bump and started to lose the front. I tried to save it with my knee, with my elbow—with my whole body!—while thinking of my mechanics, who had told me, ‘Please don’t crash, as we need two bikes for QP1 and QP2!’ I think it was one of the best of my career, definitely good for the fans. Still, I think I’ll try and not repeat it tomorrow!”
Dovizioso, meanwhile, threatened to take pole on his final run and the Italian was up in the first half of the lap before losing time in Sector 3. Nonetheless, the number 04 launches from P3 and looks confident ahead of Sunday – as do the two men ahead of him.
Andrea Dovizioso – P3
“Today’s qualifying went very well and I’m very happy with a front-row position. It was important to start from the first two rows here at Montmeló because tomorrow in the race we will have to try and manage the tyres well. Jorge has been very quick since yesterday, but we’ve been able to improve after every session: this was very important and we did it. I came to qualifying with a good feeling and even though I made a small mistake at Turn 10, in the end I was able to set a very good lap time. I’m very satisfied because we’ve worked well this weekend and even though we know that it will be difficult to manage the tyres for the entire race, all the riders will have the same problem, and we’re sure we can play our cards.”
Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) will start fourth and top Yamaha at his home Grand Prix, a huge improvement from his P9 start this time last year – and there were good positives for the number 25 looking towards Sunday.
Maverick Vinales – P4
“For sure I expected a little bit more in the qualifying, but I’m actually happy about our work in FP4. I was working in race set-up and we were pretty close to the top. I think tomorrow we’ll have to make a good start from the beginning. In the qualifying it was a little bit tricky with the front tyre, it was sliding a lot, and I couldn’t make my best lap. Anyway, I’m happy, overall, and let’s see tomorrow. We have to go with the best tyre and push.”
FP4’s quickest man Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was just 0.003 behind Viñales, and the Italian starts from the second row for a third consecutive race as he puts himself in a strong position to once again challenge for a podium.
Andrea Iannone – P5
“We had similar problems today as yesterday, we tried to improve but we didn’t feel any difference and this is a shame because we’ve used the same bike from FP1 and we’ve tried a few things but I don’t really feel any different. For the race I need to improve by two or three tenths to try to fight for the podium, and at the moment I can’t find that extra time, but in any case, we’ll try our best and continue to work to find a plan for tomorrow.”
Alma Pramac Racing’s Danilo Petrucci was able to get himself onto the outside of row two, a good session for the Ducati rider, who starts P6 and top Independent Team rider.
Danilo Petrucci – P6
“We’ve done a good job today. I am very pleased with this second row. I think that is a good result and it would have been difficult to do better. We still have some problems with the rear tyre consumption and the high temperature does not help us. But I think that tomorrow we can fight for the Top 5”.
Rossi, who was second after the first runs, made a mistake on his first attempt on the second row, and was able to improve but was left unsatisfied with his position. ‘The Doctor’ will start seventh but thinks he has better pace on race day.
Valentino Rossi – P7
“I’m not so happy, because I had the potential to start from the second row. That was my target, to be there together with Maverick and Iannone. I did a good lap, I had a fresh tyre and I was a little bit faster than my earlier lap time, but unfortunately I made a mistake at turn 10, I braked too deep, not because of Marquez, but because I pushed too hard and unfortunately I couldn’t stop. So after that I tried another lap and I was able to improve a little bit, but not enough for the second row. It’s a shame, because our target was realistically our potential. We will see tomorrow, because it will be a hard race for everybody. Everyone will suffer with the front tyre, so it will be difficult, but I hope it will be difficult for everybody.”
The number 46 is just ahead of Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), who took P8 after a difficult weekend.
Johann Zarco – P8
“I must be happy, because I gave all I could give on the bike today. The other riders are very fast and it’s difficult to do better at the moment. We need to accept this position and the fact, that this is the level we have. A fast lap in Qualifying was quite hard, so maybe we can be more competitive regarding race pace for this weekend. So, I hope I feel good on the bike tomorrow and that I’m able to use my pace in order to get the best possible position.”
Rounding out the third row was Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) after he was able to earn an automatic Q2 spot, the Spaniard securing his best dry qualifying result of the season in P9.
Tito Rabat – P9
“Today has been a positive day, because we did a good practice and this morning we went straight in Q2. In FP4 we also had a great pace and I’m confident for the race. But in Q2 I struggled in the braking areas. Nevertheless, we are ready to race, we just have to wait and see what the weather will be like and if it’s cooler or warmer than today, because this will be crucial for our tyre choice. Needless to say, we will give our best in the race tomorrow. If I have a good start, I’ll be able to fight for a strong result.”
Behind Rabat on the grid is Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol), who had a difficult end to the session as he crashed at the newly modified Turn 13 while on a personal best lap – the British rider will start tenth.
Cal Crutchlow – P10
“Today was tough day, tough qualifying, and we’re disappointed with the outcome. But the LCR Honda Castrol team have done a good job and I feel confident with my pace, it’s just a shame I crashed in the qualifying. But this is the situation, we have to deal with it and take the positives from today. I still think we can make a good result tomorrow, but we have to concentrate on making a good start to get away with the leaders.”
Dani Pedrosa’s (Repsol Honda Team) quiet weekend continued in qualifying, the Spaniard will line up in 11th for his home race, with Q1 graduate Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) having a fantastic afternoon in Barcelona, setting a lap time less than two tenths slower than Pedrosa to start a personal best P12 and as top rookie. Nakagami also moved through to Q2 for the first time.
Dani Pedrosa – P11
“Lap times were very tight today, and unfortunately I couldn’t do a really fast one. I wasn’t totally confident, especially mid-corner, and I wasn’t able to push like I wanted. It’s really a shame to have to start so far back on the grid, as that clearly changes the strategy for the race. Anyway, we have to keep our concentration, make the right tyre choice, and try to get a good start.”
Takaaki Nakagami – P12
“I’m very happy about today’s qualifying and finally we got into Q2 which was a big step. I’m pleased to see all the team looking so happy. The team did a great job and we improved the set-up of the bike from FP4. In Q2 I tried my best, but we are happy with 12th position. From Friday we have been working towards the race pace and it’s going to be tough. Tyre management will be very important as it will be hot, but we are ready to fight for the best result possible.”
Jack Miller didn’t find the ideal conditions to qualify directly for Q2 after an FP3 that finished with 14 riders within seven-tenths of a second. The Australian rider will start tomorrow from P13.
Jack Miller – P13
“We’re struggling a bit this weekend. We still have to find the right set up because I don’t have a great feeling and I can’t get the tyres working at their best. This may happen, but we must not lose confidence. Tomorrow will be a difficult race but we are ready to fight”.
So, is it Lorenzo vs Marquez for the victory on home soil? The hammer has been well and truly slammed down by the number 99, but the shockwaves didn’t seem to faze the number 93 on Saturday. Will Lorenzo’s race pace prove too much? Or can Marquez bounce back in style once again? Or will the wily Doctor come up with the perfect prescription come Sunday…?
Catalunya MotoGP Qualifying Results
- LORENZO Jorge SPA Ducati Team 1’38.680
- MARQUEZ Marc SPA Repsol Honda Team 0.066
- DOVIZIOSO Andrea ITA Ducati Team 0.243
- VINALES Maverick SPA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 0.465
- IANNONE Andrea ITA Team Suzuki Ecstar 0.468
- PETRUCCI Danilo ITA Alma Pramac Racing 0.498
- ROSSI Valentino ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 0.586
- ZARCO Johann FRA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 0.651
- RABAT Tito SPA Reale Avintia Racing 0.824
- CRUTCHLOW Cal GBR LCR Honda 0.876
- PEDROSA Dani SPA Repsol Honda Team 1.015
- NAKAGAMI Takaaki JPN LCR Honda 1.208
- MILLER Jack AUS Alma Pramac Racing 1’39.732 (Q1)
- SYAHRIN Hafizh MAL Monster Yamaha Tech 3 0.662
- RINS Alex SPA Team Suzuki Ecstar 0.701
- ESPARGARO Aleix SPA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 0.793
- ESPARGARO Aleix SPA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 0.802
- SMITH Bradley GBR Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 0.841
- ESPARGARO Pol SPA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 0.961
- REDDING Scott GBR Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1.083
- ABRAHAM Karel CZE Angel Nieto Team 1.232
- BAUTISTA Alvaro SPA Angel Nieto Team 1.307
- KALLIO Mika FIN Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 1.355
- LUTHI Tom SWI EG 0,0 Marc VDS 1.373
- GUINTOLI Sylvain FRA Team Suzuki Ecstar 1.617
- SIMEON Xavier BEL Reale Avintia Racing 2.152
Quartararo takes maiden Moto2 pole
Fabio Quartararo (HRD – Speed Up Racing) will start tomorrow’s Moto2 Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya race from pole position, setting a blistering 1:43.474 to beat 2017 race winner Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) to secure his first ever intermediate class pole.
It was Schrötter who was the man to beat for the majority of the session, jumping to the top of the timesheets from the off, setting a benchmark of 1:43.619 – the fastest lap of the weekend. The German’s time wouldn’t be beaten until home rider Marquez, on his 14th flying lap, went 0.029 quicker.
Quartararo, who has been up the sharp end throughout the weekend, then stepped up to the mark. The Speed Up rider was looking comfortable in P3, until the 19-year-old increased the pace with just three minutes remaining – a 1:43.474 topping Marquez by over a tenth, with no one having an answer before the checkered flag was waved.
After leading FP3 by over three tenths of a second, Championship leader Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) had to settle for fourth quickest in qualifying. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was the leading KTM rider, he picked up his equal best qualifying finish of the season in fifth after spending much of the session battling for a top six place. The South African is in an Italian sandwich in the middle of row two, with Italtrans Racing Team rider Mattia Pasini in sixth – 0.038 back from Binder.
Meanwhile Binder’s teammate, Championship challenger Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo), was down in P17. The Portuguese rider will take heart from the Italian GP, however – coming from P11 to take the win.
Xavi Vierge (Dynavolt Intact GP) spearheads the third row of the grid, the Barcelona resident was looking good for a solid top six start until a crash at T1 put an end to his front row aspirations – he’ll start P7.
The leading rookie was once again Joan Mir (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), the reigning Moto3 World Champion has been in and around the top ten all weekend and will start from eighth on Sunday.
Rounding out the third row is Sam Lowes (Swiss Innovative Investors), propelling himself into P9 in the final ten minutes to finish 0.012 ahead of Championship protagonist Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40), who recovered from an early crash to start tenth.
Remy Gardner is back on his Mistral 610 this weekend six weeks after breaking both legs in a training accident and showed great progress on the first two days. The Australian improved his pace from FP1 to FP3 by 1.474 seconds and although he was fighting hard through the pain during the hot Qualifying this afternoon, he managed to secure an eighth row start for tomorrow’s 22 laps race, starting at 12.20 local time.
Remy Gardner – P23
“Another tough day in the office, but I felt a little bit better today, especially in FP3. We made a good improvement, although it was a lot harder this afternoon. I thought we could improve further and to be honest, I think I could have done better, maybe squeezing out another two tenth, which would have put us in the top 20. But I was just riding around and my front was closing everywhere, so I kind of lost a little bit of confidence towards the end and all the fast laps I was doing were ruined by the front-end closing, but anyway, we’ve got a direction for tomorrow and we can do a strong race. For sure, we need a bit of luck on the first couple of laps, but I also needed luck to come here, so it will be fine.”
Moto2 Qualifying Results
- Fabio Quartararo (FRA) SPEED UP 1’43.474
- Álex Márquez (SPA) KALEX +0.116
- Marcel Schrötter (GER) KALEX +0.145
Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing) will start tomorrow’s Moto3 race at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya from pole position as he took top spot in qualifying for the first time since Aragon 2016. Despite a second crash of the weekend, Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) starts second, with Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) on the outside of the front row in third.
‘The Beast’ was the rider to beat throughout the session at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, setting a 1:48.806 – the quickest lap of the weekend – just ten minutes into the session to set a benchmark that wouldn’t be beaten.
It was a tricky start for the Del Conca Gresini’s of Martin and Fabio Di Giannantonio, with the latter crashing at Turn 4 without having set a time. Then, Martin was in the gravel, taking down Albert Arenas (Angel Nieto Team Moto3) at Turn 10 with just over ten minutes gone – the bike unable to restart.
Nonetheless, Championship protagonist went back out with 15 minutes remaining and aggressively leaped to P2 on his second flying lap, 0.107 off Bastianini. Behind the Spaniard was Suzuki, who had another terrific qualifying session to earn his second consecutive front row start.
Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) was up the sharp end throughout the session, the Japanese rider will start one position behind compatriot Suzuki in fourth. On home soil, Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) managed to earn a P5 start, with Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) making it three Japanese riders in the top six, launching from the outside of row two in sixth after recovering from a crash midway through qualifying.
John McPhee (CIP – Green Power) spearheads the third row of the grid in seventh, a good qualifying session for the Scot, with Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Skull Rider) finishing the session in eighth despite a late crash at Turn 5. Championship leader Marco Bezzecchi (Redox PrustelGP) will have work to do from P9 on the grid, the Italian was in and around the top ten throughout the session on board his KTM.
Championship contender Di Giannantonio managed to salvage P13 on his final run, having set his first flying lap with just ten minutes of the session remaining. Can he work his way forward and fight for the podium?
Moto3 Qualifying Results
- Enea Bastianini (ITA) HONDA 1’48.806
- Jorge Martin (SPA) HONDA +0.107
- Tatsuki Suzuki (JPN) HONDA +0.251