Round 15 – Thailand – Qualifying
Chang International Circuit
Four different brands in top six
Marc Márquez will start from pole position for the 50th time in the class and the 78th time overall in his Grand Prix career. He becames the third rider to reach the milestone of 50 poles, after Mick Doohan (58) and Valentino Rossi (55).
That wasn’t really the big draw at Buriram, however, with Rossi missing out on pole by only 0.011 – and Yamaha making a serious dent in the front positions on the grid. After a difficult period for the Iwata marque, it’s a welcome boost in the Thai heat and sets up a mouthwatering Sunday.
Valentino Rossi second qualifying position, is his best qualifying result since Brno and his fourth front row start of the season. Rossi will be aiming to stand on the podium for the first time since Germany. The last time Yamaha had five successive races in the premier class without a podium finish was in 2003.
Adding to that is a man with serious race pace completing the front row, with Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) less than a tenth and a half off the battle for pole as he took P3.
Jorge Lorenzo pulls out
The headlines didn’t stop there. They began early as Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) was forced to forfeit his chance to fight for a fourth consecutive pole and another win, with the Spaniard withdrawing from the event following his huge crash in FP2.
“After my crash and the results of yesterday’s final tests, I decided in agreement with the team and the doctors to not take part anymore in this weekend’s race at Buriram. The CT scan revealed a hairline fracture in my left wrist and, in view of the condition I was when I arrived and the way I’m feeling now, I think it’s better I don’t race here in Thailand and try and recover as much as possible for the next GP in Japan. I feel really bad for the team but, also in consideration of my situation in the championship, it wouldn’t make sense to take any further risks so I think I’ve made the right decision.”
Crash in FP3 makes Marquez battle through Q1
Then another crash made waves as Marquez fell at the end of FP3 and in doing so lost his chance to move through to Q2…the number 93 made the most of that, however, to make another record and become the first rider to come through Q1 and subsequently take pole.
Marc Marquez – P1
“It’s fantastic to be on pole, and it seems it’s a record to have done so going trough Q1 but I honestly would have preferred to pass directly to Q2! This morning we were very unlucky because when we fitted the new rear tyre at the end of FP3, we had a little issue and had to quickly swap to the other bike. It wasn’t the same, and I lost the front while I was improving my lap time. Anyway, after that we managed everything in a good way, and in QP1 I was able to ride very well. We’re very happy because a front-row start was our target. Now we have a very important race tomorrow, and a very long one. I’m happy with my race pace but we must wait and see what the conditions are like and where we and our opponents are. On paper, at the moment there are a few riders who should be able to be fast. It will be important to manage the tyres and the physical conditions well. Our target will be the podium.”
Valentino Rossi – P2
“I felt good with the bike already from yesterday, but today we did some modifications and we went in the right direction. I’m happy because the bike improved a lot. It looks like, at this track, we can make the tyre work in a good way, so I can ride on the limit. The bike is good and I’m also very happy because in FP4, with the race tyre, I had a good pace. I hope that we can do a good race and fight for the podium.”
Andrea Dovizioso – P3
“Qualifying went really well: my goal was to start from the front row and on this type of track that’s never easy. I knew that we were quick enough, but putting in a clean lap when there are many riders out there is always complicated and so I’m satisfied with that. We have worked very well over these last two days: yesterday morning in FP1 I didn’t have a good feeling and instead now we’re amongst the riders with the best pace, even though tomorrow in the race we won’t be able to push that hard because we have to try and manage the tyre wear in the best way.”
Just off the tantalising trio on the front row, Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) took fourth and is well within striking distance of the win if Yamaha’s form continues on to Sunday, and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) is top Independent Team rider once again in P5.
Maverick Viñales – P4
“I thought I could be on the front row, but I made some mistakes on my best lap, especially concerning the front tyre. I should have chosen the hard, but I picked the medium to be safe, but on the hard I’m feeling much better. I’m actually really happy that in FP4, with the used tyre, we made a good improvement. We changed the bike a little and it was better, so I think that maybe tomorrow we can do another step. I feel much better. Improving the small details will make tomorrow’s race a little bit easier and will for sure make us more competitive.”
Cal Crutchlow – P5
“Today was a positive qualifying session. My aim was to get on the front two rows, obviously I would have preferred to be on the front row, but I tried my best. The bike and the team is working well, I think tomorrow is going to be a very long race but we look forward to it. Hopefully we can have a good battle and get a good position. To be starting quite close to the front is always important, especially at a track like this that we don’t know. We’ll need to fight hard, but I think our pace is fast enough for a good result tomorrow.”
The second row is completed by Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar), whose improved form at Buriram after a more difficult preseason test at the venue saw him take sixth.
Andrea Iannone – P6
“It was a really difficult qualifying because the temperature was so high and also I was struggling a lot with grip. But in the end we were able to get 6th position, second row is really important for us, especially at this track. Tomorrow morning we’ll try to look for some improvements, especially on the braking points, because at the moment I’m not managing that really well and lap-by-lap the feeling gets worse. Anyway, 6th position is good and I’ll give my best for a strong race, although I think there are one or two riders who could get away.”
Seventh on the grid is Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team), who took his second top eight qualifying since last being on the front row in Jerez. Pedrosa was also fastest at the Thai test, which bodes well for race day.
Dani Pedrosa – P7
“Today in qualifying I lacked a couple of tenths on my flying lap, and that was enough to be just off of the two first rows. Our first tyre wasn’t as good as the second one, and we had to play all our cards in our final run. I managed to improve my performance, and that was actually my best lap of the weekend, but it still wasn’t enough. Anyway, we’re closing the gap to the top, and that’s the positive part. For the race, we’ll see. I think the rear-tyre choice is still open, so we need to analyse everything very well before making our decision for tomorrow.”
Pedrosa edged Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) by a tiny margin of 0.013, with Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) completing Row 3 in P9 – just ahead of teammate Jack Miller, who has plenty of home fans who have made the trip up from Australia.
Johann Zarco – P8
“P8 is ok. Again, I’m just three tenths from the top guys. It’s super close! Maybe I could do one tenth better in Qualifying, the bike was responding well and an even better lap would have been possible, but it’s always difficult. About the race, it’s a track I like, so I hope I can enjoy. I wish that I can be competitive with used tyres, because that’s our weak point at the moment, but anyway, my feeling here is better than in the last two races. We have to take it easy. With the heat it’s going to be a difficult race, so I want to keep good energy and fight until the end to have a good result.”
Danilo Petrucci – P9
“I can’t be satisfied with this qualifying session. If I have to be honest I expected to get the second row and, why not, fight for the front one. I pushed hard but I didn’t have a lot of feeling in braking. Then I made a few mistakes. Tomorrow it will be tough because of the temperature but the race pace is positive”.
Jack Miller – P10
“It’s a pity. I wasn’t able to give my best in Q2 and I’m really sorry because with the team we did a great job both in FP3 and FP4. In qualifying I made a mistake: I should have taken my own pace and instead I looked for someone to follow. I’m sure I could have done better. It will be a difficult race but there is still confidence”.
Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) starts 11th after joining Marquez in graduating from Q1, with Alvaro Bautista (Angel Nieto Team) completing the Q2 classification in 12th – and just 0.888 separating the top 12 in qualifying.
Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) beat Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) to P13 as they battle over the honour of top rookie, with Bradley Smith (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) completing the fastest fifteen on Saturday.
The race starts at 1800 AEDT in the states with daylight saving enacted.
Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP 40) earned his second pole position of the season at the PTT Thailand Grand Prix after laying down a 1:36.374 early in the session to eventually take Saturday honours by 0.026 seconds from second place Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS). The front row is incredibly tight, with third place Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) also threatening pole as he ended qualifying just 0.034 in arrears.
Baldassarri was able to set his fastest lap on his third flying lap as the intermediate class got down to business in Buriram and it proved unbeatable, but both Marquez and Marini were on the prowl as the session entered its latter stages. First, it was the Italian who threatened his fellow countryman, missing out by less than half a tenth on the line before Marquez put in his personal best time to push Marini down to third. The duo narrowly missed out on pole, but it was a welcome return to the front row for both riders – Brno was the last time for Marquez and Marini. Meanwhile, Baldassarri lands his first top three since Le Mans and his first pole since Mugello.
Despite a late crash in qualifying, Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) was able to hold on to P4 and the Italian is joined on the second row by the two title contenders – Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46). The former was another rider to set his best time at the beginning of qualifying, finishing just 0.002 behind Pasini in P5, with Championship leader Bagnaia jumping up to sixth from eighth on his last lap – another tiny 0.002 in arrears.
Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo), winner last time out in Aragon, qualifies seventh ahead of FP3 leader Fabio Quartararo (MB Conveyors – Speed Up), who will go in search of his third podium of the season from P8 after showing good pace throughout the weekend. Augusto Fernandez (Pons HP40) took his best qualifying in ninth and Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) completed a top ten covered by 0.315 seconds.
Tech3 Racing team’s Remy Gardner showed an impressive improvement on Saturday, finding 1.445 seconds from FP1 to the hot Qualifying on Saturday afternoon. The Australian eventually finished just 0.559 seconds from the top in P19 of the ultra-competitive intermediate class field.
Remy Gardner – P19
“I’m not ecstatic with the position on the grid, for sure this going to make our life a little bit more hard tomorrow. I mean, I believe I rode pretty well in Qualifying. It’s very close times and I feel quite strong in the corners, to be honest. I think we can still have a good race tomorrow, we need a little bit of luck in the first corners and then it can be a really fun race. I’m just missing a bit straight line speed, but I think we figured a few things out, so I’m confident for tomorrow.”
2018 Thailand – Moto2 Qualifying Results
Lorenzo Baldassarri (ITA) KALEX 1’36.374
Alex Marquez (SPA) KALEX +0.026
Luca Marini (ITA) KALEX +0.034
Marco Bezzecchi (Redox PruestelGP) took pole position at the PTT Thailand Grand Prix after blitzing the final lap dash, going 0.462 faster than second place Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) to take his second career pole.
The first? That came at the similar layout of the Red Bull Ring in Austria, where the Italian went on to take the win. For Masia, meanwhile, it’s a second consecutive P2 in qualifying as the Spaniard just pushed Kazuki Masaki (RBA BOE Skull Rider) down to third late on. Nevertheless, it’s a milestone for the Japanese rider as he takes his first front row start.
It all went down to a final lap dash at Chang International Circuit, and there was drama at the final corner on that lap as frontrunner Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing) crashed out and collected wildcard Somkiat Chantra (AP Honda Racing Thailand). But that wasn’t even the biggest headline of the session, with that written courtesy of some fitness troubles for Championship leader Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3).
The Spaniard didn’t set the timesheets alight on Friday but was feeling fit after his injury struggles a few races ago. That changed by Saturday, however, as Martin suffered a problem with a nerve in his left arm, causing him trouble opening and closing his left hand. Determined to race on despite the difficulties, the Del Conca Gresini rider headed out in qualifying for some damage control and will start P13.
Ahead of him it’s Tony Arbolino (Marinelli Snipers Team) in fourth and only 0.004 off the front row, with Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) completing the top five. Just behind the two Italians it was a positive session for Darryn Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) as he had his best ever qualifying in P6, with Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) 0.016 in arrears for seventh. Bastianini, despite his final corner crash, took P8.
Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) and Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) complete the top ten, with Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) in P11 after setting the early pace – something he also did in FP2. Rookie Vicente Perez (Reale Avintia Academy 77) took 12th to impress.
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