Round Four – Jerez
Saturday Qualifying Report
Fabio Quartararo became the youngest MotoGP polesitter at Jerez after a history making day in the Gran Premio Red Bull de España, with the Frenchman breaking both the lap record and the pole position age record in Jerez, at just 20 years and 14 days of age. With a 1:36.880 he’s well inside the previous fastest ever lap of the track, in only the Malaysian team’s fourth-ever Grand Prix, claiming the top two positions.
Fabio Quartararo – P1
“What I’ve experienced this Saturday here in Jerez is incredible. I still can’t believe it. I did not expect to take pole today, so it was fantastic. This is the result of the entire team’s work throughout the weekend. I want to thank them for making this possible. In addition to being fast over a single lap, I think our race pace is good, so I hope to be able to fight for a great result. This pole and Franky’s second position are very special for the team. We are a new team in the class and it is incredible to achieve a 1-2 at only the fourth round of the year. I hope we can achieve this more often during the season.”
For Aussie Jack Miller a red flag interrupted his best lap and he was forced to return to the track with the medium tyre to preserve the soft tyres in view of the qualifying. The Australian rider pushed to the maximum but could not win the direct qualification to Q2 by only 48 thousandths of a second.
Jack Miller – P15
“It’s been a difficult day. The red flag in the FP3 didn’t allow me to take advantage of the soft tyre. I tried the medium one but obviously, it wasn’t easy. In Q1 I struggled a bit with the wind. I’m still confident because the race pace is good”.
In Moto2 Remy Gardner laid claim to the leading position on the second row in P4, 0.184s off pole sitter Jorge Navarro, and leaving him in a commanding position for race day.
Teammate Franco Morbidelli was close behind pole-setter Fabio Quartararo, just 0.082 in arrears for his front row start in the premier class, and the two became the first to take a 1-2 for an Independent Team since Valencia 2005.
Franco Morbidelli – P2
“I am very happy with Q2 today here in Jerez; I had a lot of fun. It was down to a great job by the team. We worked very well and we have been fast throughout the weekend so far. We have been improving little by little and finding what we’re looking for to go forward, lap after lap. We had already progressed in FP3, getting straight into Q2 with the times very close. I was able to find a good reference to follow in qualifying, setting the time that took us into second place. When I finished the lap, looked at the circuit’s video screen and saw all the members of the team celebrating it, I couldn’t believe it. Then I saw that Fabio [Quartararo] had taken pole position too, which was more than deserved. It’s a great day for PETRONAS Yamaha SRT. Tomorrow we will have to finish it off.”
That’s as well as taking the first pole and front row starts for their new Petronas Yamaha SRT team. Reigning Champion Marc Marquez completes the top three, and he says he’ll try and ensure his record as the youngest winner in the MotoGP class won’t go the same way as the pole record when the lights go out on Sunday…
Marc Marquez – P3
“I’m very happy for the front row, normally here we struggle a bit more to put one fast lap together. The most important part is that we have prepared well for the race and tomorrow we can understand our level compared to everyone else’s. We have to wait a little bit to see what the temperature does tomorrow. Congratulations to Fabio Quartararo who took the record of youngest pole setter from me, he did a really good job today. Tomorrow it will be a good race with a mix of names at the front.”
Behind Quartararo on the grid is Championship leader Andrea Dovizioso, on the hunt for his first premier class podium at the last venue on the calendar where he’s yet to achieve one, with Q1 graduate Maverick Viñales alongside him in fifth after a solid recovery from a tough morning – including a good showing in race-pace important FP4. Last year’s polesitter – and the previous lap record holder – is in sixth, as Cal Crutchlow bounced back from a crash in FP3 to complete the second row.
“I’m happy because we’ve been working really well up to this point, improving in each session. My feeling with the bike is good and even during qualifying, which is not usually my strongest suit, I managed to post a competitive time despite not doing a perfect lap. We’re ready to put up a challenge during the race tomorrow, even though Márquez still represents a question mark and weather conditions, in terms of temperatures, can play a significant role. For sure my confidence is higher than last year here. We started off on the right foot and we’ve always been among the frontrunners, but we know that the race will be a different story. Tomorrow we’ll have to stay focused to finalize the good work done up to this point.”
Maverick Viñales – P5
“I‘m satisfied for sure, because FP3 was very difficult for me. I didn‘t find a good feeling and I wasn‘t riding in a good way, so we changed a lot on the bike in FP4 and then I felt really good and had a good race pace, which is the most important. I‘m a bit disappointed with myself about the qualifying, because I chose a bad strategy. I tried to follow Jorge but forgot that Morbidelli and Quartararo were right behind me. I want to say ‘Congratulations’ to Fabio because taking pole is not easy in MotoGP. Franco also did a great job, so they take first and second. P5 for me is really good, considering FP3 this morning. Tomorrow we‘ll start from the second row. It will be very important to have a good start, because we have the rhythm and I‘m braking really late, so I think for me overtaking here will be easier than at the other tracks. Let‘s see if tomorrow I can be as competitive as I was in today‘s FP4.”
Next up is Danilo Petrucci in P7 after the Italian was fastest on Friday, and despite a crash he has the Jerez Test’s fastest rider Takaaki Nakagami and COTA winner Alex Rins just behind him on the third row. Rookie Francesco Bagnaia put in an impressive performance to complete the top ten after heading through from Q1 alongside Viñales.
Danilo Petrucci – P7
“I’m satisfied with the feeling on the bike, even though starting from P7 will make our job a bit harder tomorrow. Unfortunately, during my fastest lap I felt a sudden vibration on the rear and almost crashed, so I wasn’t able to improve my lap time. Then, as I wasn’t sure whether the session was over or not, I tried to go for another flying lap but I crashed at turn 1, luckily without any issues. That said, it’ll be a long race and I’m confident we’ll be able to ride at the front. My team has been doing a great job and our pace is competitive, so I’m optimistic about our chances to score a strong result.”
Alex Rins – P9
“We did a good job today, improving the lap time a lot compared to yesterday – which was our plan. In qualifying I tried to give 100% but I didn’t really feel very good with the front tyre that I used. But the third row and 9th place isn’t so bad, and I think I can have a good race anyway. It will be really nice to ride in front of the Spanish fans.”
11th place is a man to watch for on Sunday afternoon, and a man who’ll be hoping to reassert his reputation as the fastest starter in the field: Jorge Lorenzo. With three premier class wins at Jerez, the number 99’s record is a very good one – and it’s a crash in Q2 that leaves him down the order, not a lack of outright pace. Meanwhile alongside him, Joan Mir made it three of four rookies in Q2 for the first time this season and he starts in P12 near the five-time Champion.
Jorge Lorenzo – P11
“The session was going quite well, I pushed quite a lot in the first run and then in the second run I tried to be more aggressive in braking. Unfortunately I closed the front and then crashed, luckily I am not hurt. Starting in the fourth row isn’t ideal but it is where we will start. The launch from the line will be important to keep our position, as everyone is very fast. Here we are closer than ever to the front.”
Joan Mir – P12
“I thought I could get a bit higher on the grid, and I feel that 12th doesn’t show our real potential today, especially as I was fast in FP3 and FP4. In general, I’m very happy with my feeling on the bike, and yesterday we made a step forward. But in qualifying my feeling was really different and I couldn’t match my lap times from the morning, so we need to find out why that was. We need to improve, but I’m looking forward to the race.”
In 13th, however, is one of the biggest headlines from Saturday: Valentino Rossi. The ‘Doctor’ had a tough Saturday and was denied a chance at graduation to Q2 by VR46 Aademy rider Francesco Bagnaia…but Rossi has always brought the magic on race day. What can he achieve from P13?
Valentino Rossi – P13
“First of all, congratulations to Quartararo and Franco for taking a 1-2 today. Yesterday I was in big trouble. I was very slow, but today we improved a lot. This morning, in FP3, I was quite strong. I was always P5, P6, P7, and I had a good feeling with the bike, but I was a bit unlucky. I just missed Q2 by a really small margin. After that, in Q1 on my second run I hit some traffic, so I wasn‘t able to improve. For sure, starting from 13th place is very difficult, because from the fifth row it‘s very tricky, but at the same time my pace is not so bad, I‘ve improved. It‘s true that there are a lot of fast riders, but we‘re also not so bad. We have to try to work this night, like we did yesterday for today, to make another step, and after that we‘ll see what happens tomorrow in the race.”
Wildcard and HRC test rider Stefan Bradl was in P14, with Jack Miller just behind in P15. Aleix Espargaro, meanwhile, was just ahead of brother Pol Espargaro as they took P16 and P17, but the Aprilia was inside Crutchlow’s 2018 lap record and the KTM only just over a tenth outside it – the top 16 able to better that laptime showing how incredible the level of competition is once again. And some of them will surely be looking to follow the ‘Doctor’ through the pack and get in the incredibly tight fight at the front in Jerez once the lights go out…
Pol Espargaro – P17
“We were fast this morning and only 0.4 from the fastest but we were 12th and that meant we couldn’t go directly to Q2. In qualifying we had problems with grip and it was a bit of a lottery with what tyre to use. We were trying to work out what was going on because we can turn and accelerate better but then we suffered and could not improve. We have to accept where we are and although it will be a hard comeback tomorrow we will do all we can to be as far forward as possible.”
Johann Zarco – P18
“It was my best qualification performance of the season so far, so this is a positive thing. We are a bit less than a second from Fabio and benefitted from something new this weekend. I was able to smile a bit more in the box this afternoon with the improvement we made. The track is difficult because everybody is so close but we have positive thoughts on what we have done. The new chassis gives me a bit better balance and with more possibilities on the bike; when I feel this way the lap-time comes because I can play more.”
History was made on Saturday by Quartararo, and there’s plenty at stake on Sunday in a tantalising Spanish GP. The world’s fastest motorcycle racing Championship goes racing for the first time in Europe this season at 14:00 (GMT +2) local time at the classic Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto. Don’t miss it!
Jorge Navarro converted practice pace to pole on Saturday at the Gran Premio Red Bull de España, taking his first ever pole position in the intermediate class and his first pole since Silverstone 2015. His margin was only 0.091 though as former winner at the venue Alex Marquez came close, and Augusto Fernandez made it three Spaniards at the top as he was third fastest to take his first ever front row start.
On a cooler Saturday, the big surprise names in Q1 included both Red Bull KTM Ajo riders Brad Binder and Jorge Martin despite their pace on Friday, and the race was on for both to move through. In the end though only Binder could, third fastest behind Iker Lecuona and Andrea Locatelli. The three were only 0.057 apart though, with Xavi Vierge the fourth man heading to Q2 another 0.060 in arrears.
By the end of Q2 though, it was a familiar name at the top: Friday’s fastest, Jorge Navarro. The Spaniard, who took his first intermediate class podium at COTA last time out, took Speed Up to the top for the first time since, incidentally, Fabio Quartararo in 2018. Marquez was within a tenth though, and Fernandez is pretty close company in third after his incredibly impressive day at the office.
Heading up Row 2 is ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team rider Remy Gardner as the Aussie got back on the pace after a tougher Texas, with Nicolo Bulega another impressive performer in fifth. Fastest rookie and after having missed Texas too, it’s a stunner from the Italian who was on pole in the lightweight class at the venue in 2016. Row 2 is locked out by Championship leader Lorenzo Baldassarri after a tougher weekend so far than expected, punctuated by crashes and some technical issues on Friday.
Fabio Di Giannantonio took P7 and was only a single thousandth off Baldassarri for his best ever intermediate class qualifying so far, ahead of COTA winner Tom Lüthi and Tetsuta Nagashima. Brad Binder completes the top ten at the venue where he took his first Grand Prix win back in 2016 when he stormed from last to the victory in Moto3.
Former Jerez winner Sam Lowes, Xavi Vierge, Luca Marini, Marcel Schrötter and Andrea Locatelli complete the fastest fifteen on Saturday. But racing is a Sunday sport and plenty can be gained and lost under the midday sun in Spain, so make sure to watch the fourth race of the season at classic Jerez from 12:20 (GMT +2) local time.
Moto2: Jerez (Spain) – Qualification 2
Di Giannantonio F.
Binder B. *
Vierge X. *
Lecuona I. *
Moto2: Jerez (Spain) – Qualification 1
Lecuona I. *
Locatelli A. *
Binder B. *
Vierge X. *
Pratama D. E.
Lorenzo Dalla Porta will start the Gran Premio Red Bull de España from his first ever pole position, taking the honour by an infinitesimal 0.004 seconds from second on the grid Tatsuki Suzuki in a tight session in Jerez. Impressive rookie Celestino Vietti joins them on the front row after his best qualifying yet as well, with both he and Suzuki having gone from Q1 to front row.
A cloudier day greeted the grid on Saturday and there were a good few names in Q1 to keep an eye out for – including the two men who would go on to qualify near the top. Qatar winner Kaito Toba, preseason pace man Tony Arbolino and Championship leader Jaume Masia were other key players in a busy session, it all went down to the wire with Suzuki and Vietti joined in Q2 by Masia and his teammate Andrea Migno.
With the clock then reset for the session that would decide the top 18 on the grid, it was go time for Q2 and Dalla Porta, Suzuki and Vietti took to the top. They’re followed by a second row of Niccolo Antonelli, Dennis Foggia and Gabriel Rodrigo, with second in the Championship Aron Canet pushed down to seventh. The Spaniard suffered some key drama in the session and encountered a mechanical problem, leaving him out of the battle for pole but fast enough on his first run to remain on the third row.
Eighth fastest was home hero Marcos Ramirez, with the returning Albert Arenas in ninth and two-time Jerez winner Romano Fenati completing the top ten. Behind them come Ayumu Sasaki, Jakub Kornfeil, Migno and John McPhee, with Championship leader Jaume Masia down in fifteenth and looking for a fight back on Sunday.
Who can take the heat in Jerez? It’s still anyone’s game, so tune in at 11:00 (GMT+2) local time on Sunday as the lights go out for Moto3.
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