Andrea Dovizioso gets first Ducati pole position since 2010 | Motegi MotoGP Qualifying 2014
A new pole record of the Twin Ring Motegi circuit of 1’44.502 by Dovizioso gave Ducati Team their first pole position since Casey Stoner was on pole at Valencia in 2010.
Behind Dovizioso, Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) had provisional pole early in the session before he dropped down the timesheet, only to respond with a hot lap which left him just 0.055s behind his pole setting compatriot.
Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) was also chasing pole and was on a hot lap when he fell at turn 12 in the final stages. Nonetheless the Spaniard qualified on the front row, a quarter of a second behind Dovizioso, with three different manufacturers represented on the first line of the grid.
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) will launch his bid to retain the title from fourth on the grid having qualified just 0.02s behind his teammate Pedrosa.
Aragon race winner Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) qualified fifth, a 0.282s gap from pole. The second row is completed by Andrea Iannone (Pramac Racing) who like Dovizioso took advantage of an extra soft rear tyre.
Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech3), Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team) and Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP) all qualified on row three, whilst Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech3) slotted into tenth place.
Aleix Espargaro (NGM Forward Racing) and Alvaro Bautista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini) made it through from an intriguing and fiercely contested Q1 session to qualify 11th and 12th respectively. Espargaro was forced to push hard to get through from Q1 on his final lap after being put under pressure by Yonny Hernandez (Energy T.I. Pramac Racing) who will start 13th.
MotoGP Qualifying Practice Classification
Moto2: Pole in Japan goes to Rabat in final seconds
Tito Rabat (Marc VDS Racing Team) left it late to secure the top spot, recording a new pole record of the Motegi circuit of 1’50.854 on his last lap to snatch the pole from Luthi (Interwetten Sitag) by 0.033s. Zarco (AirAsia Caterham) continued his good form in third place, three tenths behind Rabat.
The impressive Maverick Viñales (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) will head the second row, in front of Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing Team) and Takaaki Nakagami (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia).
Julian Simon (Italtrans Racing Team), his teammate Franco Morbidelli and the improving Axel Pons (AGR Team) all qualified on the third row. Marcel Schrotter (Tech 3) completed the top ten.
Ratthapark Wilairot (AirAsia Caterham) unfortunately suffered a small crash, ending his qualifying session early, but not causing any serious harm.
Moto2 Qualifying Practice Classification
Moto3: Cool Kent takes pole for Far Eastern showdown
In perfect sunny and dry conditions at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit Kent (Red Bull Husqvarna Ajo) set a new Moto3™ pole position record around the Japanese track. Having been fastest also on Friday at the venue of his first ever GP win in 2012 the Englishman produced a superb 1’56.555 lap for his first pole of 2014.
Behind Kent, Antonelli (Junior Team GO&FUN) made an improvement in the final stages to qualify second (+0.344s) with McPhee (SaxoPrint-RTG) just +0.008s further back in third.
Miguel Oliveira (Mahindra Racing) qualified fourth, whilst Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Ajo) survived a big crash to secure fifth. The second row was completed by Isaac Viñales (Calvo Team).
Championship leader Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0), Brad Binder (Ambrogio Racing) and Alex Rins (Estrella Galicia 0,0) make up row three, despite a crash for Rins in the session. The top ten was completed by Juanfran Guevara (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3) who therefore heads row four.
Rins had an early fall but was able to get his Honda back to the pits where his team quickly repaired the bike. Fellow title rival Miller had a vicious highside exiting Turn 5, but was unhurt and able to quickly rejoin the session.
The final five minutes saw Karel Hanika (Red Bull KTM Ajo) have his second fall of the day, Alexis Masbou (Ongetta-Rivacold) and Matteo Ferrari (San Carlo Team Italia) also fell together but were unhurt. Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Ongetta-AriAsia) crashed on his final flying lap. None of the riders were hurt in their crashes.
Moto3 Qualifying Practice Classification
GP of Japan: Andrea Dovizioso sets fantastic pole position with new circuit best. Good eighth place for Cal Crutchlow, just three-tenths behind his team-mate
Andrea Dovizioso powered to a fantastic pole position in a hard-fought qualifying session for the Grand Prix of Japan at Motegi today, the Italian claiming the top slot for the second time in his MotoGP career and his first for Ducati.
Eight riders were able to get under the circuit’s best lap in the Q2 session, and the tenth-place qualifier was just half-a-second away from Dovizioso’s time. Dovizioso proved to have good pace in both yesterday’s free practice and in today’s two sessions. The Ducati Team man finished this morning’s FP3 in the top 10 and was then fifth in the afternoon run, just a fraction away from leader Jorge Lorenzo. He made an almost perfect lap on his second exit in Q2 to grab pole position for tomorrow’s round 15 of the MotoGP World Championship with a time of 1’44.502, a new circuit record.
This is Ducati’s 31st pole position in MotoGP, the last one dating back to 2010, when Casey Stoner set pole in the GP of Valencia.
Cal Crutchlow was also able to put together a good qualifying session today. The Coventry man was eighth quickest, just three-tenths of a second from the pole, and he will start tomorrow’s race from row 3 sandwiched between Pol Espargaro and Stefan Bradl.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 1st (1’44.502) – “It’s great satisfaction to finally obtain this pole position with Ducati! We have been through some difficult times in the last year and a half, but we have constantly improved in the last few races. To succeed in being so quick throughout the weekend here at Motegi, also with my race pace, establish a good feeling with the bike before qualifying and know that you can fight for the pole is really a great feeling! We have always worked well since the start of the year, but this weekend went even better because we managed to find a good set-up almost from the start and only had to work on fine-tuning the bike, and session after session this made all the difference. Here it’s very difficult to do a perfect lap, because it doesn’t take much to overshoot: in fact I made a mistake in the downhill turn, but luckily I managed to take pole all the same!”
Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team #35) – 8th (1’44.898) – “Ducati have done a great job getting the pole position with Andrea and I’m happy for that, and I think they did a good job also with my side of the garage. We’ve been working hard to improve the feeling with the GP14 and we were competitive today. To be one-tenth off the front row is obviously disappointing and I made a mistake on my quick lap, which was my own fault, but I’m pleased anyway. A good job by the team all round and hopefully we can get a good result tomorrow.”
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo delivered strong performances in this afternoon’s MotoGP qualifying session to take second and fifth respectively for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Japan.
Rossi impressed with his efforts during the second qualification at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit. Following his teammate, the nine-time World Champion was one of the first riders to leave pit lane in the second qualifying session. Still riding without anesthetic injections, Rossi topped the timesheets early in the session with a 1’45.356, until Andrea Dovizioso took over the top spot a minute later. With nine minutes on the clock his second effort of 1’44.837 saw him take provisional pole.
The Doctor then quickly returned to the pit box for a new soft rear. He was back on track with four minutes remaining to post an impressive 1’44.557 in the last minute, just 0.055 of a second off pole. His efforts see Rossi start tomorrow’s race from the second place on the grid.
Teammate Lorenzo also looked comfortable around the Motegi circuit. Last year’s race winner wasted no time leaving pit lane at the start of the second qualifying session. His first flying lap was a 1’45.573, the first recorded lap of the session until his rivals completed their first laps, dropping him to fourth provisionally. He improved his time on his second try, posting a 1’44.982, just 0.145 seconds from his teammate’s provisional pole, to climb up to third place.
With more than seven minutes remaining Lorenzo came in for a change of tyres. When he rejoined the action on the track the usual last-minute flurry of activity saw him dropping him to seventh at the end of the session. However, he managed to rectify the situation with his second lap of 1’44.784 seconds, taking fifth place on the grid for tomorrow’s race.
Valentino Rossi – 2nd / 1’44.557 / 7 laps – “I am very happy and satisfied. Especially because I will get to start from the front row, which will be very important for tomorrow’s race. It will be a long race and very tough because everybody will push at their maximum. I’m happy because with the team we worked well on the bike to improve the setting. We did a good job and before the qualifying I was strong. I hope this modification also helps my rhythm for the race. During the practice session my rhythm was not so bad, but it was also nothing special. If we want to fight for the victory tomorrow we have to improve. At first I was worried about my head injury, but then I realised I’m ok. When it comes to the finger, this finger is very important for braking. I feel pain, but I have power in my finger and I have feeling on the brake so I can ride.”
Jorge Lorenzo – 5th / 1’44.784 / 7 laps – “My last lap could have been faster, because I made a mistake. I lost two tenths but the other guys, Valentino, Dovizioso, Marc and Dani made good lap times. I didn’t do a perfect lap, but the important thing is that our pace is really good. I’m very confident. Let’s hope that it doesn’t rain tomorrow and that we can show our potential. It’s important to make a good start and try to overtake some riders on the first laps, but the race is very long so having a good pace is going to be the most important thing. To have a good race you have to have good feeling. Let’s hope for a competitive race and try to fight for the win.”
Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director – “A good qualifying this afternoon for tomorrow’s grid. Our Yamaha is working well here at Motegi and we have been able to make some small steps from yesterday with speed and pace to be even more competitive. The qualifying was very hot and the top six are separated by less than four tenths. Vale did a very good job to get a front row start and Jorge also continues to be on the pace and fast, missing the front row by less than three hundredths of a second. We will continue to work now to make another step for warm up then I think it’s going to be a very exciting race tomorrow!”
Espargaro in line with the fastest in Motegi qualifying
Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider Pol Espargaro produced a well executed performance in an extremely close qualifying today at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit to land seventh position on the grid for tomorrow’s race at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan. The 23 year old opened his Saturday account by skilfully concluding the morning practice in third and less than three tenths from the leading time in sunny conditions. The young Spaniard’s determination continued into the afternoon, where he completed the FP4 session by finishing in ninth as he further worked on the setup of his Yamaha YZR-M1 for the race. Having sailed straight into Qualifying 2 courtesy of his FP3 performance, Espargaro put the hammer down and set a 1’44.867 time as he looked certain for a second row start, before being bumped down to seventh in the final seconds. This time will see the Spanish rider start from the top of the third line with his lap also being fractionally behind the front row by a mere tenth of a second with four other riders in this bracket up to third. In addition, the reigning Moto2 world Champion’s time was impressively under the former lap record in his first appearance aboard a MotoGP bike at Motegi. Espargaro who seized his title here last year, will now look to undertake a strong performance tomorrow in round 15 of the World Championship by battling into the top five.
On the other hand, Bradley Smith completed today’s qualifying to clinch tenth for tomorrow’s race after a fiercely competitive MotoGP session in Japan. The British star began the day strongly, by finishing in sixth place in the morning practice having improved on his original FP1 time by over one and half seconds. In this session, Smith continued to work on establishing a comfortable setup on his Yamaha YZR-M1 with his Monster Yamaha Tech3 team, with his lap permitting him to sail straight through to Q2. When the qualifying began, the British rider fought relentlessly to gain a strong starting position for the action tomorrow at the hard braking Twin Ring Motegi track in front of the passionate Japanese crowd. His hard work resulted in his time being less than three tenths from third place in the tightly contested session and tomorrow Smith will begin the 24 lap battle from the head of the fourth row as he aims to fight for the accolade of the leading satellite bike at Yamaha’s home circuit.
Pol Espargaro – 7th / 1’44.867 / 7 laps – “It was a very competitive session today which is clear to see by the tight gap to the front. However to finish in seventh is not bad at all, although of course it’s not as high as what I had aimed for. I made some small mistakes during my fast lap and without these I could have been much closer to the front, which would have made the race a little easier tomorrow. Yet, I will now have to concentrate and get a great start so that I can fight and work my way through the field with the most important factor being to overtake Iannone on the first lap. It’s vital to get past the Ducati because they are tough to pass due to being good on the brakes and in acceleration. My aim is to get behind the leaders as soon as possible in order to follow them and to study their lines because that is the best way to improve, even if I am convinced that we are already in a strong position for Yamaha’s home race tomorrow.”
Bradley Smith – 10th / 1’45.044 / 8 laps – “On one hand it’s positive to be just half a second from the pole position, yet to be tenth is a little disappointing but it shows how close things have been today. I am very happy with the work we undertook as we focused on race simulation to make the bike as consistent as possible for tomorrow’s race. Furthermore, we continuously improved the lap time with the end result being much better than yesterday and I am very pleased to have been able to do a 45.0. The performance of the bike was good and the team did a great job, it’s just a shame that tenth is the final outcome despite our strong showing, but that is MotoGP. Now we will check the data and see exactly where I can improve tomorrow and I am confident in saying that we will be much higher than tenth, so I aim to get a great start and then see how well I can do. It will be a tough race at this demanding race track, but I must be as smooth as possible and make no mistakes in the first five laps, especially in the hard braking areas. I know what the Yamaha is capable of here and I have a clear plan of action so I am ready for the fight.”
Aleix Espargaro claims first open bike position at Motegi
The qualifying session of the Grand Prix of Japan saw the Forward Yamaha of Aleix Espargaro as first open bike at the finish line.
The NGM Forward Racing rider set a lap time of 1’45.315, claiming the 11th position at only eight tenths from Andrea Dovizioso, who set a new pole record of the Twin Ring Motegi circuit of 1’44.502 .
Aleix Espargaro will take the start of the Japanese GP from the fourth row and is confident to fight hard in the race to get the best possible result.
Teammate Alex De Angelis is also confident for tomorrow. Alex, who finished in 20th position with a lap time of 1’47.092, can count on a good race pace. His target is to fight with the other open bikes and to reduce the gap from the guys in front of him.
Aleix Espargaro – 11th / 1’45.315 / 5 laps – “I’m not really satisfied of this result. We had several electronics problems but the team worked hard so that I could face the qualifying session in the best possible way. We finally finished in 11th position, +0.8 from pole man Andrea Dovizioso. We are struggling a bit on this track but my pace is not so bad so I’m confident for tomorrow.”
Alex De Angelis – 20th / 1’47.092 / 6 laps – “I expected a better result. I was struggling with the rear and we worked with the team to improve the feeling, testing different solutions. I’m confident that we can make another step forward tomorrow. My pace is quiet good and a part from Aleix, I’m quiet close to the other open bikes.”
Progression for “YAMALUBE Racing Team with YSP” team
Regular wild card rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga successfully improved his time during the first qualification session in preparation of the Grand Prix of Japan, round 15 of the 2014 FIM MotoGP World Championship. His 1’46.876 lap around the Twin Ring Motegi circuit saw him take 17th position on the grid for tomorrow’s race.
Katsuyuki Nakasuga – 17th / 1’46.876 / 7 laps – “In the fourth free practice session, I didn’t have as much rear wheel traction as I thought and went off the race line in corner 4. That put me off-balance and I wasn’t able to recover by corner 5, where I overran and went down. Fortunately, I fell when I had almost come to a complete stop, so there was no real damage to myself or the bike. Our test schedule was basically completed with today’s riding, but it is an advanced development machine and we are always collecting data, so it is better to avoid crashing. In tomorrow’s race I will be starting from the 17th spot on the grid, but I hope to get a good start and push hard just like I do in my All Japan races.”
Repsol Honda RC213V rider Dani Pedrosa will start tomorrow’s Japanese GP at Honda’s home circuit of Motegi from the front row of the grid. Team-mate and championship leader Marc Marquez heads the second row, with the younger rider ready for his first chance of securing the 2014 World Championship.
Lap times were very close at the Honda-made 4.801-km circuit in scenic mountainous country north of Tokyo, with ten riders within one second of first-time pole qualifier Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati). The scene is set for an epic battle.
Marquez became the youngest-ever premier-class champion last year; and his brilliant title defence in 2014 has given him a massive lead of 75 points. If he can win tomorrow’s race, he will be unbeatable.
If either he or Pedrosa win, Honda will also secure a fourth successive Constructors’ Championship, with three races to spare.
Marquez (21, from Cervera in Spain) secured his almost invulnerable position by winning the first ten races this year in utterly dominant style. A small hiccup at Brno put him fourth, leaving a first win of the year to Pedrosa; but at the next round at Silverstone in England Marquez was back to his winning ways.
Only in the last two races has his momentum faltered. He slipped off while disputing the lead at Misano in Italy, remounting to finish a career-worst 15th; then fell again at the last round at Aragon while leading, in a brutally difficult race hit by rain halfway through. Again he was able to continue, finishing 13th, to make sure he has scored points in every race this year.
The world champion elect has this race and the next in Australia to ensure that he will win a second successive title still at a younger age than the previous youngest-ever – Honda’s Freddie Spencer, champion in 1983. Marquez already has 125cc and Moto2 championships in his trophy cabinet.
Pedrosa’s qualifying position could have been even better, but for slipping off on the second-last corner at the end of the intensive 15-minute qualifying session. The former 125cc and double 250cc World Champion was not hurt.
The 29-year-old from outside Barcelona has backed up his Brno win with three second places and five more top-three podiums. He is on target to finish second overall to give Honda a championship one-two. But his margin is smaller and he cannot afford a non-finish. Yamaha-mounted rivals Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo are respectively three and 15 points adrift.
The experienced Pedrosa required corrective surgery for an arm-pump condition at the start of the European season, but recovered strongly. But he also lost ground at the dry-to-wet Aragon round, slipping off on the treacherous damp track after leading the race. He too rejoined to finish 14th, and has also finished every race this year in the points.
Two more riders campaign the class-leading Honda V4 MotoGP prototypes, with German former Moto2 champion Stefan Brad (LCR Honda RC213V) again the better of the pair. Bradl qualified ninth-fastest, and will start from the third row of the grid.
Twelfth-fastest Alvaro Bautista (GO&FUN Gresini Honda RC213V) won through to Q2 from the earlier back-of-the-grid Q1.
Honda’s 2006 World Champion Nicky Hayden (Drive M7 Aspar Honda) qualified 14th in his second race back after undergoing radical corrective surgery to his right wrist. Hayden missed four races while recovering; the hard braking at Motegi is a severe test for his recuperating wrist. He was the best of four riders of the Honda RCV1000R production racer, built to Open category regulations.
Scott Redding (GO&FUN Gresini Honda RCV1000RR) was one place down and three hundredths slower to complete the fifth row of the grid. Redding, the youngest ever GP winner, is in his first MotoGP season.
Second Drive M7 Aspar Honda rider Hiroshi Aoyama, a former Motegi winner and 250cc World Champion, was 18th fastest. Czech Republic law graduate Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing Honda RCV1000RR) was 19th, heading the seventh row of the grid.
A Honda victory is assured in the intermediate Moto2 category, where all competitors are supplied with identical race-tuned Honda CBR600 engines by the organisers. This assures not only close competition, but also reliable racing.
The season has been disputed by a pair of team-mates, both riding Kalex machines for the Marc VDS Racing Team, and it was points leader Tito Rabat who claimed his eighth pole position of the season. Rabat, who starts the race with a lead of 33 points, claimed the top slot in the dying moments of qualifying.
He narrowly deposed former 125cc champion Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Sitag Suter), who had topped the list for almost the full session. It is only the Swiss rider’s third front-row start of the season.
The final front-row position went to French AirAsia Caterham Caterham-Suter rider Johann Zarco, his fifth time on the front row, including pole position at Silverstone. Zarco has finished in the top three for the past two races.
Top class rookie and two-times race winner Maverick Vinales (Paginas Amarillas HP 40 Pons Kalex) was fourth to head the second row. The reigning Moto3 champion is fresh from his second win of the year at the last round at Aragon.
Second title contender Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) was half a second off pole time, qualifying fifth. Japan’s Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia Kalex) was sixth; with Julian Simon (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex) seventh, to head the third row of the grid.
Fast rookie Franco Morbidelli (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex), Axel Pons (AGR Team Kalex) and Marcel Schrotter (Tech 3 Tech 3) complete the top ten.
In Moto3, the closest battle of the series, Honda is up against machines from KTM and Mahindra, and took the World Championship lead for the first time at the last round in Aragon.
But it was another of the eight riders of the NSF250RW taking his first front row start. Scotsman John McPhee (SaxoPrint-RTG Honda) placed third-fastest. In only his second full season, 20-year-old McPhee already has the Catalunyan GP lap record to his credit.
Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda) took the overall points lead at the last round at Aragon, and the younger brother of MotoGP champion Marc will start from the third row of the grid after qualifying seventh. Team-mate Alex Rins is on the other end of the same row, placed ninth. Each of the Estrella Galicia 0,0 riders has won two races this year, and Rins is a close third overall, and another strong championship candidate.
Indianapolis GP winner Efren Vazquez (SaxoPrint-RTG Honda) qualified 14th. Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Ongetta-AirAsia Honda) placed 19th; experienced French rider and Brno GP winner Alexis Masbou (Ongetta-Rivacold Honda) was 20th, losing his chance of improvement with a crash late in the session.
Two Japanese wild-card riders are competing on Honda NSF250R machines. Hikari Okubo (Hot Racing with I-Factory Honda) qualified 26th, and Sena Yamada (Liberto Plusone & Endurance Honda) was 31st.
Tomorrow’s race will be run under the threat of unpredictable weather. Super-typhoon Vongfong is due to hit Japan on Monday, but it is possible that rain may be the precursor of the main storm, after two dry and sunny days of practice and qualifying.
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 3rd, 1m 44.755s – “I’m happy today because we had a good qualifying session and were setting some good times. Unfortunately I crashed on the last lap, almost at the final corner, when I was going quickly to try to get pole position. Luckily I’m fine and tomorrow I will try to use this front row spot to get a good start. It could be a very tight race, because there are many riders who have shown a good pace and this is a circuit that allows for very close lap times. We’ll see what happens but we will strive to do our best and we will remain fully focused. It will be important to ride with skill and bravery.”
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda: 4th, 1m 44.775s – “I’m happy, even though we didn’t achieve our goal of getting onto the front row, because we have improved ahead of tomorrow. The pace that we have is good. It’s a pity that we didn’t find a perfect lap in qualifying, but we are confident for tomorrow and ready to fight for the win. Our pace is similar to that of Rossi, Pedrosa and Lorenzo and this is important. We also shouldn’t overlook Dovizioso, who also has a very good pace on race tyres.”
Stefan Bradl, LCR Honda MotoGP: 9th, 1m 45.005s – “Actually I am a bit disappointed with the qualifying result as I was expecting something more than ninth place. As you can see the gap is very close, but unfortunately we missed a few tenths to obtain the front row. My second soft tyre had some chattering in the beginning until it got warm so I lost one and a half laps and I was not able to improve my lap time. This is the bad thing of today’s work. Sure my pace is better than the ninth place of today so I guess we can do a better result tomorrow.”
Alvaro Bautista, GO&FUN Honda Gresini: 12th, 1m 45.677 – “This is not an easy weekend for us, for sure: we are having the same problems we had in the last races. I need more rear grip both on entry and exit of the corners. I’m struggling to stop the bike, and also under acceleration, where the rear tyre is moving a lot. We made some small steps forward and we are always trying to improve, but this morning, during FP3, when I was trying to get directly into Q2, I used a wrong tyre which was sliding a lot, therefore I was not able to improve my lap times. In qualifying I did my best, but we know that we are in a better shape regarding the race pace than the speed on a flying lap. Tomorrow our target is to fight for the sixth or seventh, as we did at Aragon.”
Nicky Hayden, Drive M7 Aspar Honda: 14th, 1m 46.465s – “Considering I am still struggling with my wrist quite a lot in some corners under braking, I have to be really happy with my position, and to be top production Honda qualifier. This is not the best circuit for my wrist and we knew this was going to be a tough weekend for us, but I am trying to give it my best shot. I have more mobility in my hand here, which helps, but some of the braking zones are really hard and I’m suffering to the point that I’m running wide in a few places. At this circuit if you get one corner wrong, especially in the downhill entries, you really compromise the next section of track. Overall I’m pleased that my recovery is continuing, and looking forward to the race.”
Scott Redding, GO&FUN Honda Gresini: 15th, 1m 46.499s – “Now the situation is much better than yesterday. We were struggling for rear grip again and actually we managed to get that fixed today, which was the main thing. I went one second quicker than my fastest lap of yesterday, which is quite a lot! Yesterday I was so far off the pace and I didn’t feel comfortable, but this morning we took a step and this afternoon another one in the right direction, so I’m quite happy. I’m not the first Open Class Honda yet, but considering the problems we have been having, I’m happy to be again in the fight. The soft tyre seems to work quite well, even after a few laps it’s not so bad, so tomorrow the hard one is not really an option for the race.”
Hiroshi Aoyama, Drive M7 Aspar Honda: 18th, 1m 46.915s – “The Grand Prix of Japan is always an exciting weekend for me. We’ve worked hard yesterday and today to solve some rear grip issues and improve the feel. We improved, although not enough, but we still have some more ideas to try in warm-up tomorrow. I think I should have been higher up the grid, but we’ll try our best for a good result in front of my home fans, friends and family tomorrow.”
Karel Abraham, Cardion AB Motoracing Honda: 19th, 1m 46.948s – “I screwed up qualifying. I had a good time on my first exit, fifth fastest; but on the second exit I was pushing really hard and I made two big mistakes. When I started to brake for turn five and turn 11 I had big stoppies, back wheel in the air. The bike was wild and crazy, and not under my control, so I was completely off the line for those corners. I still got a good lap time, but I think I could have been around the time of Nicky Hayden. We are working on this problem now.”
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium & Hard. Rear: Extra-soft, Soft & Medium (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main) & Hard (Alternative)
Weather: FP3 – Dry. Ambient 19-20°C; Track 31-35°C (Bridgestone measurement)
FP4/QP – Dry. Ambient 21-23°C; Track 35-40°C (Bridgestone measurement)
Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso continued the scintillating pace he showed yesterday at Motegi to smash the existing circuit lap record by four-tenths of a second and claim pole position for tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix.
In an incredibly competitive Qualifying Practice 2 session where the top ten riders set personal best lap times within half a second of each other, Dovizioso put together the perfect lap to set a time of 1’44.502 to finish 0.055 seconds ahead of Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi, who qualified in second place. Third quickest in qualifying was Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, the Repsol Honda rider setting a personal best lap time of 1’44.755. Both Rossi and Pedrosa set their quickest lap using the combination of the soft compound rear and medium compound front slicks, while Dovizioso used the extra-soft rear and medium compound front slicks on his way to pole position. Today’s Qualifying Practice 2 was run at a fierce pace with the top eight ranked riders in the session setting personal best lap times under the existing Circuit Best Lap time at Motegi.
Warmer conditions were present today at Motegi resulting in higher track temperatures than yesterday, with a peak recording of 40°C in the afternoon Free Practice 4 session. All three rear slick options were utilised today by the riders and although all the compound selections are viable race options, today’s feedback indicates that the extra-soft compound rear slick for the Open-class riders, and the soft compound rear slick for the Ducati, Honda and Yamaha riders will be the most popular race tyres. Front tyre choice for almost the entire grid for tomorrow’s race will be the medium compound front slick due to its good braking character and consistent performance.
Slightly cooler temperatures are forecast for tomorrow’s twenty-four lap Japanese Grand Prix which will start at 1400 local time (GMT +9).
Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department – “We had another full day of fine conditions today which meant that the riders were able to spend a lot of time working out their race tyre choice, while also improving upon their pace from yesterday. The soft compound rear slick is likely to be the most popular choice tomorrow as it offers the most consistent performance over race distance for the Ducati, Honda, Yamaha and also some Open-class riders this weekend. Just like yesterday, the medium compound front slick was preferred by the majority of the riders, and even though temperatures are expected to be cooler tomorrow, I believe this will be by far the most popular race choice. So far this weekend our tyre allocation has performed excellently, with the top eight riders in QP2 lapping under the existing lap record, and race record pace being shown in the practice sessions. These are encouraging signs that we will have an exciting Japanese Grand Prix tomorrow.”