Round Seven – Catalunya MotoGP Qualifying
Fabio Quartararo has done it again. The French rookie followed up going fastest on Friday by taking his second pole position in the premier class despite still recovering from arm pump surgery, and that despite suffering his first ever crash in MotoGP during FP3.
If Quartararo wins the race in Catalunya (at 20 years 57 days old), he will be the youngest rider to win a premier class Grand Prix, taking the record from Marc Marquez who was 20 years and 63 days old when he won at the Americas GP in Austin back in 2013. This is Fabio’s last chance at breaking that record, but his work will be cut out for him as he only just beat Marquez to pole by 0.015.
“I’m lost for words. We put in two quick laps, and also our pace this morning and this afternoon were very good. We still have to analyse the tyres, but I’m very happy after today. I’m particularly pleased to have come here in good shape after my operation last week. We will see how my arm holds up tomorrow, because today it did so very well. I want to thank the team for all the work they are doing. It’s an incredible feeling.”
“If we think about the whole weekend, today I’m very happy. We achieved our target of being on the front row but really today we were ready to be on pole position but I made mistake at Turn 4 on the last lap. Quartararo did a great job today. Apart from that we are happy as we have the pace and the rhythm, especially in FP4 on used tyres I was very constant. Let’s try to understand where we can get an advantage, analyse everything and enjoy Sunday at the home GP!”
Maverick Viñales was third fastest as Saturday proved a top day for Yamaha, and the third time this season that Vinales has qualified in the top three. However, Vinales subsequently received a three-place grid penalty and will be bumped back to the second row. (Click here for copy of penalty notice).
“We improved the feeling quite a lot, so I’m happy about that. As I said, we were working in a different direction. Let’s see tomorrow if all the hard work pays off. I’m ready to start and get in front. We’ve worked in a good way, but it has been difficult to set one good lap, because the bike is quite a bit different from what I was riding in Mugello. Let’s see if tomorrow we can improve, but anyway it’s very important to be consistent, to be in front, and battle with the front guys. I will try my best. I misunderstood the chequered flag. I didn’t do it purposely or with malicious intent, so for me the penalty is too severe, but I have to accept it, because this is the way it is. For sure I’m not happy, but there’s no excuse. We start from sixth, which isn’t bad at all, it could have been worse. I’m not so far from the first row, just a few metres behind it. If I have a good launch at the start, I think we can be good. I will still try to be in front in the first corner.”
A tiny 0.001 advantage for Viñales means Franco Morbidelli just missed out on a place in the fastest trio, but the Italian was impressive and will start from the front row after the Spaniard’s penalty. A huge crash in the morning prefaced a trip through Q1, but the number 21 bounced back in qualifying to get the better of compatriot Valentino Rossi in Q2, who was the fifth fastest but now heads the second row.
“First of all, I have to thank the team, because they repared the bike very well between FP3 and FP4. The crash in the morning was painful, and I didn’t know what to expect in the afternoon. We managed to have a good FP4 and a good qualifying session coming through Q1, so it has been a great day. We have to see the conditions and how the bike will behave tomorrow, although our pace has been good throughout the weekend. We’re confident and now it’s a matter of fixing some things tonight and going for it tomorrow in the race. I want to congratulate Fabio Quartararo and the team for the pole position they achieved today.”
All four Yamahas were inside the fastest five in qualifying for the first time since Brno 2012, a great showing from Yamaha which signals that the YZR-M1 is perhaps the best package for Catalunya . This is the fourth time this year that Rossi has qualified within the top six and the Italian superstar has won 10 times in Catalunya.
“This is very good news for us, because it looks like Yamaha is fast and competitive here. Today I continued where I left off yesterday, with a good pace. I feel good with the bike. In the afternoon, with the higher temperatures, it’s maybe a bit more difficult, but anyway I will start from the second row, which is good. Now I think the tyre choice, front and rear, will be very important, because everybody tried a lot of different combinations, so we need to think well and understand what the best option is for us.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
“We’ve made some steps today. Maverick and Valentino both went straight into Q2 and this allowed us to really focus on race pace during FP4. Both riders had good runs in all of today’s sessions and the qualifying results are a positive starting point for tomorrow. It’s a shame that Maverick was given a penalty, as this puts him in P6. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but we have to accept Race Direction‘s decision. We know that the level of competition is very high here and, with both our riders starting from the second row, we expect an action-packed Sunday. We’ll have to push 100%. Both slippery track conditions and tyre degradation will play a big part in tomorrow’s race, making the tyre choice crucial. Though the track conditions in the Warm Up will be different from the race, we’ll try some final adjustments, so our riders can compete at the front.”
Andrea Dovizioso continues the Italian invasion near the front as he was sixth quickest and now starts fifth after improving on his second run and gaining a place as Viñales takes his penalty. ‘DesmoDovi’ was the fastest Ducati in qualifying, and although teammate Danilo Petrucci wasn’t far behind, Viñales will now split the two on the grid.
“I’m happy with our starting position because today the track conditions were particularly tricky in terms of grip and it was really easy to make mistakes, so to start tomorrow’s race from the top two rows is OK. The race pace remains to be seen because grip is really low, as we can infer from the slower lap times compared with the past. We had another example also in FP4, during which the riders tried practically every possible combination of tyres, which means there are still questions to be answered. We worked well so far and we are in the front group, but gaps are really narrow and it’s difficult to gauge the potential of our rivals. We’re competitive but we’ll need to be very smart tomorrow and manage the race without making mistakes.”
“Today we started off on the right foot and we’ve been fast since the very first laps. Even during FP4, despite our final position, we were competitive as we only rode with used tyres. In qualifying I was able to set a good lap time right away, but when I was coming back to the pits I crashed at a very low speed. Unfortunately, when I got out on track with the second bike, I couldn’t find the same feeling and I wasn’t able to improve further. Grip levels are much lower than last year, and I expect a tricky race with many variables to manage, from tyre wear to overall consistency. As for us, we focused on tyre management over the race distance so I’m confident we’ll be able to put up a fight tomorrow as well.”
The man just behind Petrucci also went down in Q2, Alex Rins was on a hot lap when he went down and with only two minutes left on the clock, the Spaniard didn’t have chance to improve. So it’s P8 for him and he needs another stellar first few laps like Mugello, where he picked his way through to perfection from 13th on the grid. Cal Crutchlow starts alongside the Suzuki rider, but a few tenths in arrears.
“The crash was a shame because I was feeling very strong, and I had just set two ‘red’ (fastest) sector times before I went down, so I was hoping and aiming for the front row. Anyway, I feel great with the bike and I have a good rhythm, so that’s the most important thing. I’ll give my all to have a good home race tomorrow, I’m feeling confident and comfortable.”
“I did a good a lap as possible at the time of day that I was able to do. I was more pleased with getting into Q2, than my performance in qualifying. I obviously made the top three in the morning session, but qualifying was not good enough to end on the third row. We have some problems with corner entry, I had exactly the same problem on my fast lap (in Q2) as happened to Marc (Marquez) and with a big mistake like that you’re always going to lose time and be down in ninth place. But I’ll try my best and I look forward to the race tomorrow as I think we have not too bad pace to be able to fight at the front.”
Jorge Lorenzo finished just 0.048 off Crutchlow to line up tenth for his home Grand Prix, with the five-time World Champion having gone straight through to Q2. This is the second top-ten qualifying results so far this season for Lorenzo and comes at a track that he scored victory last year on a Ducati.
“This has been one of our most consistent weekends of the year, it’s positive to see this improvement. I think we have made a step forward and hopefully we can finish this race better than the previous ones. Everything we have done has made me more comfortable on the bike. Our pace on the long run is quite strong so I think we can continue this progress in the race and then make another step on Monday.”
Q1 graduate and rookie Joan Mir took 11th place, with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pol Espargaro launching from P12 at a true home race for the rider born only kilometres from the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
“I’m satisfied with today, the team and I worked really hard in FP4 to gain information for the race. I was really pleased to get through to Q2, that was a big positive for me. During qualifying I chose the wrong tyre option so I couldn’t get higher than 11th, but I’m pleased with this position anyway. Let’s see where I can finish tomorrow.”
“Good to be in Q2 again but honestly this is the toughest race for us and where we have always suffered a lot. On my fast lap I saw yellow flags in front of me from [Alex] Rins, I was on the back straight and coming-in so hot – three tenths faster to be P8 or P9 – I was almost crashing so I had to cancel my lap. I pushed for another one but could do nothing more than the lap I made. I think it will be important to finish the race tomorrow because it will be super-slow or with a lot of crashes. If the race is slow and we can risk a bit more than the others then maybe we can get something.”
One name missing from the normal Q2 mix was Jack Miller, who faces a fight back from P14, and he’ll be one of many to watch when the lights go out.
“We didn’t get a good result in qualifying but the race pace is very convincing. We have worked a lot with used tyres and the feeling is good. The soft tyre of the FP3 didn’t work at its best and in Q1 I couldn’t find the feeling. It was a very strange situation.”
MotoGP Combined Qualifying Times
Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) has been impressive so far in 2019 and qualifying for the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya was no exception. The Spaniard took his first ever pole position from veteran intermediate class campaigner Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) in Barcelona by just 0.021, with the front row covered by just 0.029 in total as Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) took P3.
The close battle at the top didn’t end there, with all three riders on the second row qualifying within a tenth of the top. Jorge Navarro (HDR Heidrun Speed Up) took P4, edging out an impressing performance from rookie teammate Fabio Di Giannantonio, with Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) sixth fastest. Marquez has won the last two races, and is exactly a tenth off pole…
Marquez’ key title rival Lorenzo Baldassarri (FlexBox HP 40) spearheads the third row of the grid in seventh – the Italian improving on his final flying lap to get into the top ten – ahead of rookie Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team VR46), with Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) completing an all-Italian Row 3. His teammate, Enea Bastianini, was just half a tenth in arrears to take P10.
Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) crashed during Q2, rider ok, but the Australian will line up 11th, ahead of Mugello polesitter Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Italian GP podium finisher Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) just behind.
Moto2 Combined Qualifying Times
|4||Jorge Navarro||SPEED UP||Q2||1’44.211|
|5||Fabio Di Giannantoni Ita||SPEED UP||Q2||1’44.259|
|7||Lorenzo Baldassarri Ita||KALEX||Q2||1’44.437|
|21||Dominique Aegerter||MV AGUSTA||Q1||1’45.048|
|22||Stefano Manzi||MV AGUSTA||Q1||1’45.133|
|24||Dimas Ekky Pratama||KALEX||Q1||1’45.302|
Another day, another record broken in Moto3: Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) became the seventh different polesitter in the opening seven races of the season at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya, taking his fourth career pole position by just 0.021 ahead of a stunning session for Japanese rookie Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia).
It’s the first time since the introduction of the category in 2012 that the first seven pole positions have all been taken by different riders, and if Rodrigo can win on Sunday he would become the 12th different winner in a row, as well as the seventh different winner this year. And if he is the magnificent seventh different winner? It’ll be the first time it’s happened in the lightweight class since 1988.
Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) completes the front row and he’ll be the first aiming to stand in Rodrigo’s way and become the first repeat winner of the year, but the second row has some serious threats to contend with too.
Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) has been on both the pace and the podium this season, but he’s yet to visit to top step – something not true of Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team), who lines up alongside him. The Championship leader will be aiming to win his second race of the season. Albert Arenas (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) completes the second row, a Grand Prix winner already last year but another potential addition to the record-breaking roll in 2019.
Friday’s fastest Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) heads up Row 3 ahead of Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) after a crash for the man second in the standings, with John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) starting ninth. Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) completes the top ten.
Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) was eighth quickest but is the first of seven riders to have received grid penalties. Six have 12-place penalties: Masia, Championship contender Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse), Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46), Kazuki Masaki (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race), Andrea Migno (Bester Capital Dubai) and Filip Salač (Redox PruestelGP). Vicente Perez (Reale Avintia Arizona 77) has a six-place penalty.
Moto3 Combined Qualifying Times
|9||Lorenzo DALLA PORTA ITA||HONDA||Q2||1’49.300|