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Apr 07, 2013 - 06:44 AM
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Qualifying Grand Prix Of Qatar, Losail, Qatar
Posted by: newsla on Apr 07, 2013 - 06:39 AM
Qualifying Grand Prix Of Qatar, Losail, Qatar

Weather: warm, dry
Temperature: ambient 23 degrees C / track 26 degrees C


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Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) will start tomorrow evening’s season-opening Qatar Grand Prix from the front row of the grid after a dazzling performance in MotoGP’s new-look qualifying format.

The Spaniard was third fastest in the 15 minute session that was topped by reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha). Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V) and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V) both secured second-row starts, placing fifth and sixth fastest under the Losail floodlights.

Conditions at the desert-based circuit have been typically tricky since practice began on Thursday, with wind blowing sand onto the track making grip worryingly inconsistent. Yesterday evening a rare rain shower affected the Moto2 and Moto3 practice sessions.

Tonight’s MotoGP qualifying session was an historic occasion for motorcycle Grand Prix racing – the first time that qualifying has been split into two groups. The new format divides MotoGP riders into two groups following the first three practice sessions: the fastest ten and the rest.

After a final 30 minute practice session, qualifying then takes place in two 15 minute outings, with the slower group out on track first, in Qualifying 1. The fastest two riders from that session are then seeded through to the Qualifying 2 session, in which they get the chance to battle with the fastest ten riders for the best grid positions. The Moto2 and Moto3 classes continue with a traditional qualifying format.

The introduction of the new system adds extra tension to qualifying, with riders having only enough time for two short runs, which leaves no room for even the tiniest of errors by rider or team. Tonight was particularly tense, with riders wondering how the new format would work for them.

Like many of his rivals, Pedrosa struggled to find a fully clear track during the 15 minute session. Nonetheless he was happy that he made it onto the front row and he has some ideas to further improve his factory RC213V that he will evaluate in evening warm-up.

Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V) will start the first race of his second season in the premier class from the middle of the second row, between Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) and Marquez. The impressive German paced himself perfectly, gradually picking up speed throughout practice to find his maximum pace when he needed it most. After solving an issue with front-end feeling during the first three sessions he made another crucial change for qualifying that worked out well.

Marquez performed brilliantly in his first MotoGP qualifying session, even though sixth place didn’t quite match his position at the end of the first three practice sessions. Yesterday evening the 20-year-old was the fastest man on track, outpacing Lorenzo by one thousandths of a second! He attributed his sixth place on the grid to a couple of minor errors that he made in his first qualifying run and an inability to reach his maximum straight out of the pits. That skill will surely come with more time on a MotoGP bike.

Alvaro Bautista (Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini RC213V) enjoyed the new qualifying format, but he struggled with front-end feeling. The Spaniard has a good race pace and feels that the race will go better for him, especially if he can get away with the leading group.

Bryan Staring (GO&FUN Honda Gresini FTR Honda) will start his first MotoGP race from 23rd on the grid. The Australian – riding a CBR1000RR-powered FTR Honda CRT bike – is still getting acclimatised to MotoGP machinery and was happy enough with his first qualifying session in the premier class.

Pol Espargaro (Tuenti HP40 Pons Kalex) rode a heroic qualifying session to take the first Moto2 pole position of the year. The Spaniard – who had dominated preseason testing – crashed in the opening minutes of the session, after which he rode his battered machine back to the pits. Following some rapid work by his mechanics Espargaro returned to the track hoping to chase down his rivals who were already laying down very fast laps. Bit by bit he got closer to the front, until his final lap was fast enough to demote Takaaki Nakagami (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex) to second place.

The qualifying action in the Honda-powered series was typically close, with Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) taking third, just over one tenth of a second slower than pole. The fastest 15 riders were covered by a mere 1.062s.

Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) led much of the session, ending up fourth to lead row two after team-mate Kallio bettered him by just 0.048s. The Briton is joined on the second row by Dominique Aegerter (Technomag carXpert Suter) and Julian Simon (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex)

The final four men in the top ten are Nicolas Terol (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2 Suter), Esteve Rabat (Tuenti HP 40 Pons Kalex), Marcel Schrotter (Desguaces La Torre SAG Kalex) and Mike Di Meglio (Jir Moto2 Motobi).

Alan Techer (CIP TSR Honda) rode a brilliant Moto3 qualifying session to secure himself a place on the second row of the grid for tomorrow evening’s opening Moto3 Grand Prix. Using an upgraded NSF250R engine, delivered to teams at Losail by Honda, the 18-year-old Frenchman was the fastest of five Honda riders in the top 15 qualifiers.

Romano Fenati (San Carlo Team Italia FTR Honda) was 12th, 1.5 seconds off pole position, while Isaac Vinales (Bimbo Ongetta-Centro Seta FTR Honda) was 13th and Niccolo Antonelli (GO&FUN Gresini FTR Honda) 14th.

Race night gets underway with the Moto3 race at 7pm (local time), followed by Moto2 at 8.20pm and MotoGP at 10pm.

Honda MotoGP rider quotes

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 3rd – 1m 55.151s
“Today we were able to improve a lot and take a front-row start for tomorrow. It is important to start high up the grid whenever you can, because there are some very fast riders up against us. We still need to improve a few things with the bike and I hope that we can have a good race. The key will be to choose a good tyre compound and find a strong pace.”

Stefan Bradl, LCR Honda MotoGP: 5th – 1m 55.477s
“Fifth position was our target because our rivals are very strong at every circuit and in all conditions, so we must be very happy with our performance today. During free practice four we improved our set-up and the front-end feeling which was the key to going faster. I was not completely happy so we made another adjustment before QP and we were lucky because it worked well. This new qualifying system made everybody nervous but, in the end, it was exciting. Everyone used the same strategy and there was a lot of traffic, but we will get used to this and I think it’s more fun for the fans.”

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda: 6th – 1m 55.645s
“Today was my first MotoGP qualifying session and the first time that we’d had the short 15 minute run, but the result was what we had expected. I still need to be a bit more ‘explosive’ and push hard from the start. We got the sixth fastest time, as on my opening two fast laps I made mistakes and lost a few thousandths. That is something that we have to improve. We still have the warm-up tomorrow, in which we need to continue working on our pace and from there, we need to choose the best tyre for the race. The important thing will be to make a good start and see what happens.”

Alvaro Bautista, Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini: 8th – 1m 55.711s
“The new qualifying format was good fun, but in 15 minutes you don’t have time to make any mistakes. I didn’t have much feel for the front tonight and we tried to fix that but we’re still not happy. My pace on used tyres isn’t bad so we’ll try to improve the setting in the warm-up and I’m confident that if we make a good start I can run with the front group. The race is long and this track isn’t easy so anything could happen.”

Bryan Staring, GO&FUN Honda Gresini: 23rd – 1m 58.912s
“I am satisfied because I feel I am slowly getting to grips with MotoGP. My position on the grid isn’t the best but for me it was important to go into the race having taken some steps to further improve my feeling with this bike and we did that. I feel more relaxed today and I am sure we can start to make some real progress soon. Unfortunately it takes time but I have a very supportive team.”

Moto2 rider quotes

Pol Espargaro, Pons 40 HP Tuenti: pole position – 2m 00.882s
“I got pole on the last lap, something very special considering that I crashed in the early stages of the session and took a knock to my head and hand. The crash also cost me a lot of time, and after getting back on track after some great work from my crew to fix the bike I thought that anywhere in the top three would’ve been a good result, but in the end I had a great time chasing pole position. Starting the year with a pole is important, because it gives you confidence. Tomorrow I am convinced it will be a thrilling race and there will be many riders fighting out front. The important things will be to manage the tyres well over 19 laps and to make no mistakes.”

Takaaki Nakagami, Italtrans Racing Team: 2nd – 2m 01.014s
“I really thought we could get pole position, but in the end Espargaro was faster. However, the important thing is that we are very consistent, so I think we are ready to fight to win the race. We will see tomorrow. Since we started practice on Thursday I’ve had a really good feeling with the bike, so I’ve worked to feel good with the track conditions here. Luckily, the track is better now than it was yesterday. I’m very happy with our work so far this weekend.”

Mika Kallio, Marc VDS Racing Team: 3rd – 2m 01.041s
“We decided to go with two longer runs in qualifying and it was a plan that worked well today. The softer option rear we started with had good grip, allowing me to build confidence on a track that was much improved compared to yesterday. When we switched to the harder rear the grip was even better and I knew I could push for the front row. I managed to catch a slipstream down the start finish straight and that set me up nicely for my flying lap. I’m feeling confident, but it’s difficult to plan for the race now. Starting from the front row is a definite advantage, so we’ll see how things work out tomorrow, I guess.”

Honda Moto3 rider quotes

Alan Techer, CIP: 6th – 2m 08.471s
“I am very happy regarding my qualifying. Since the beginning of the weekend I’ve been in the top 15 during free practice and I feel good on my Honda. During qualifying, with my team boss Alain Bronec, we tried a few modifications, especially with the frame, and the changes paid off! It’s my first second row! For tomorrow, we will keep calm, but thanks to the new Honda engine which we received at the beginning of the weekend, we hope to make a good result.”

Romano Fenati, San Carlo Team Italia: 12th – 2m 08.784s
“Today was a good day. We continued to work with the team in the best way, so I’m happy. For the warm-up we will work on a few final details to be ready for the race tomorrow. I’m we will have a good race, battling in the top positions.”

Niccolo Antonelli, GO&FUN Gresini: 14th – 2m 09.107s
“It was not great but not bad either! We made a change to the front that we thought would help but it did not work and I could not push as hard as I wanted. We’ll take a step backwards with the set-up and use what we had yesterday and see how it is in the warm-up. I’m confident it will work in the race.”

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