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May 03, 2014 - 05:46 PM
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Qualifying Grand Prix of Spain, Jerez de la Frontera
Posted by: newsla on May 03, 2014 - 05:44 PM
MotoGP
Qualifying Grand Prix of Spain, Jerez de la Frontera


Defending World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V) waited until the dying moments of qualifying to post his fourth pole position in succession, preserving a perfect 2014 record in emphatic style, with an advantage of almost half a second with the fastest-ever lap of the iconic Spanish circuit.

 

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Repsol Honda RC213V team-mate Dani Pedrosa gained his third front-row start in four races, qualifying third at a track where he has never finished off the podium in the MotoGP class. The factory-backed pair are sandwiching fellow Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha), who qualified second.

Bright sunshine, a cloudless sky and grandstands packed full of eager fans greeted the return of MotoGP to Europe after three flyaway rounds. Marquez has won all three from pole position, as he underlines his status as the youngest-ever World Champion in the premier class.

His home-nation GP is at one of only a few circuits where the former 125cc and Moto2 World Champion has not yet recorded a GP win in any class, and he predicted a tough fight as he strives to add it to his growing portfolio. Marquez currently leads the points table with a perfect 75 points after three very different races: a tough fight with Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) in Qatar, a runaway win in Texas, and a patient tactical defeat of Lorenzo in Argentina.

Pedrosa is second, with a score of 56 after a full house of podiums. He was third in Qatar, and added two second places at the last two rounds – that in Argentina achieved with a stirring hunt-and-pounce attack on Lorenzo.

The 4.806-km Jerez de la Frontera circuit is the traditional start of the European season, and is a happy stamping ground for Honda, with 18 premier-class race wins in 26 years of racing outside the sherry capital, two of them claimed by Pedrosa, in 2008 and 2013.

Marquez apart, qualifying times were very close. Pedrosa was less than a tenth of a second off Lorenzo, and two tenths ahead of his rival’s team-mate Rossi, in fourth.

Honda satellite team riders were well-placed in the close top ten.

Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V) was seventh, leading row three. The only German rider in the premier class missed row two by a slender margin of two hundredths of a second. A fourth and a fifth place have put him sixth overall, after he crashed out of the first round while leading.

Alvaro Bautista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini Honda RC213V) was tenth, fighting his way through to the “senior” Q2 session from Q1, after searching for the right set-up for the sinuous circuit. Still awaiting his first finish this year, Bautista and team-mate Scott Redding have a special role, the only riders race-testing Showa suspension and Nissin brakes, made by Japanese companies with strong links to Honda.

Honda has four riders in the new-this-year Open category, riding the works-replica RCV1000R customer machine. For a second race 2006 Honda World Champion Nicky Hayden (Drive M7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R) was the best of them, again winning through to Q2 to place 12th.

His Drive M7 Aspar Honda team-mate Hiro Aoyama was 13th, heading row four in his best grid position since his return to Honda this year. The former 250cc World Champion narrowly beat Hayden last week in Argentina to claim tenth place.

Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing Honda RCV1000R) qualified 16th, gaining strength as he recovers from major shoulder surgery. GO&FUN Honda Gresini RCV1000R rider Redding qualified 18th after a minor spill in Q1. Redding is a class rookie, after finishing second in the Moto2 World Championship last year.

Honda power all entries in the Moto2 class, where the organisers provide identical race-tuned Honda CBR600 engines to ensure close and also reliable racing. Results can be unpredictable, and at Jerez for the first time this year points leader Esteve “Tito” Rabat (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) not only missed pole position, but qualified on the far end of the second row of the grid.

With 16 riders within a second of pole, only the fastest rider had a margin of any significance. Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex rider Mika Kallio claimed a career-second pole by 0.294 of a second. Kallio was second in Qatar, and lies second overall to Rabat in the Championship standings.

German former Moto3 champion Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP Kalex) qualified second, joined on the front row by class rookie Luis Salom (Pons HP 40 Kalex), his first front row after finishing a fighting third last week in Argentina.

Swiss star Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2 Suter) leads row two, the former 125cc World Champion heading compatriot Dominique Aegerter (Technomag carXpert Suter) and Rabat.

Class rookie Jonas Folger (AGR Team Kalex) leads row three from Austin GP winner Maverick Vinales (Pons HP40 Kalex). Vinales, reigning Moto3 World Champion, is also a rookie in the middleweight class. German Marcel Schrotter (Tech 3) was ninth to complete the row, with Frenchman Johann Zarco (AirAsia Caterham Racing Team Caterham-Suter) rounding out the top ten.

In Moto3, where Honda is battling with rival factories, the new NSF250RW’s perfect-so-far front-row record was preserved, with Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda rider Alex Rins qualifying third, in the thick of a very close batch of times behind pole qualifier Jack Miller (KTM).

Second to 19th place is covered by just one second.

Estrella Galicia 0,0 Team-mate Alex Marquez is in the middle of the second row, qualified fifth; while third fast Spaniard Efren Vazquez (SaxoPrint RTG Honda) is heading the third, placed seventh. His team-mate John McPhee was ninth, at the other end of row three.

Prominent in the close pack was girl racer Maria Herrera (Junior Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda), placed 16th for only her second GP. Maria is a race winner in the competitive Spanish national CEV championship, and is entered as a wild card rider. Her first outing was last year, at the Aragon circuit.

Alexis Masbou (Ongetta-Rivacold Honda) was 18th; Malaysian racer Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Ongetta-AirAsia Honda) qualified 23rd.

Tomorrow’s race is the fourth of 18 rounds, with the next race in two weeks at Le Mans in France.

Honda MotoGP rider quotes

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda: 1st, 1m 38.120s
“I am very happy with this pole position, as it was hard fought and I wasn’t expecting it. We are suffering a little more here than at other tracks, but despite this we are still at the same level as Lorenzo and Dani [Pedrosa]. We changed our strategy at the last minute; I asked Santi [Hernandez] if it would be possible to use three soft tyres, and he said that it was. It was all last minute and I am satisfied with how it worked out, but we know that tomorrow is the important day. Jorge and, above all, Dani have a great pace.”

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 3rd. 1m 38.630s
“We took a step forward with the bike setup today and also went better with the race tyres. In the qualifying session we tried to do as well as possible, but it is always difficult to put in a really fast lap. Tomorrow we will try to get a good start, then have a good race.”

Stefan Bradl, LCR Honda MotoGP: 7th, 1m 39.243s
“I tried to do my maximum in qualifying, because the target was to be on the second row, and we missed it by only 0.021 seconds. So we can be happy because we did a good job on a race track that has been always very tough for me on a MotoGP bike. We improved a lot compared to the last two years and we have the possibility to end the race in the top five. This would be good for me and the team and for the ranking. Tomorrow’s common problem will be the tyre wear because of the hot temperatures but we have found a good pace on used tyres”.

Alvaro Bautista, GO&FUN Honda Gresini: 10th, 1m 39.751s
“Unfortunately the situation has not changed compared to yesterday: we tried several different settings, without finding a solution. I have no front grip into the corner, then when I open the throttle the rear wheel starts immediately to spin and therefore I lose a lot of time. Too bad, I was hoping for a better weekend, but this is the reality at the moment. Tomorrow will be a very tough race, especially for me, that I am not comfortable on the bike; our goal, however, doesn’t change: we want to cross the finish line and collect some points. Perhaps tomorrow morning, during the warm up, we could try a last set-up modification, in an effort to improve, although actually all the work carried out so far have not had any effect. Unfortunately we can’t go beyond a certain limit”.

Nicky Hayden, Drive M7 Aspar Honda: 12th, 1m 39.826s
“We managed to make a couple of improvements today that made the bike more balanced and more fun to ride. The track conditions change a lot from the morning to afternoon and you have to really pay attention so that you don’t get caught out. The team did a great job and we managed to get into Q2, which was our objective, but I am not completely happy with the performance of the front tyre. We tried the harder compound yesterday and I destroyed my leathers saving front-end crashes but the soft version is too soft for us. That limits our options so we had to be conservative in Q2. I was hoping to be closer to the factory prototypes here and to qualify further up but with the tyre situation we had to be too cautious in the second session. Anyway, in general I am happy, the bike is responding well and I think we are ready for the race.”

Hiroshi Aoyama, Drive M7 Aspar Honda: 13th, 1m 39.768s
“We worked hard this morning to confirm the set-up and I felt comfortable with the lower temperatures. Like yesterday the heat went up in the afternoon and the behaviour of the bike changed as a result so we made some changes to adapt. We put some fresh tyres in at the end and I pushed hard for a lap time to get myself into Q2 and even though I didn’t manage it we have improved the lap time from yesterday so we can be satisfied because we are on the right path. We are getting faster every day, the bike is reliable and I feel more comfortable every time I ride it so we are seeing the results of our hard work. From yesterday to today we have improved the stability under braking and now we need to find some more corner speed. It has been a tough day with a lot of work to get through but our performance in qualifying was positive so I am happy.”

Karel Abraham, Cardion AB Motoracing Honda: 16th, 1m 40.126s
“I think I can be happy, but what I regret is that I didn´t make a totally perfect lap. In every lap I made some small mistake, which costs me thousandths. It’s a shame, because I lost only eight thousandths to 15th Andrea Iannone. But that’s normal at Jerez: the circuit is relatively short and everybody knows it perfectly. I´m quite surprised by how the tyres worked today in the heat. Even if it´s still not perfect, we improved the feeling a lot from Friday.”

Scott Redding, GO&FUN Honda Gresini: 18th, 1m 40.453s
“There is still much work to do if we want to find more grip: I have no traction and I struggled a lot today, so tonight we will analyse all the data with the team in an attempt to improve. I also had a small crash in qualifying: I was under braking, and as soon as I released the brakes I lost the front. The bike was more or less okay and I managed to bring it back to the pits, then I set my best lap time, but we have to work hard if we want to catch the group of riders in front of us. Since the beginning of the weekend unfortunately the situation has remained the same, with the exception of the braking, which is improved; at the rear, however, there is too much spinning at the moment”

Moto2 rider quotes

Mika Kallio, Marc VDS Racing Team: 1st, 1m 42.766s
“Today we had a really good plan, both with the tyres and with the timing of our runs. We saw yesterday that my times were good when we threw in a set of new tyres, but we also saw that we were getting maximum grip from the tyre for only two quick laps. Normally I like to build up over a five or six lap run, but that wasn’t possible today. I had to push from the start of each run, because the time had to come in this two-lap window. Mentally, that’s quite tough, but to manage it without a mistake on my flying laps makes this pole position even more satisfying. The team has done a great job with the bike and I think we have a really good chance in the race tomorrow.”

Sandro Cortese, Dynavolt Intact GP Team: 2nd, 1m 43.060s
I am really happy. After what happened in Qatar, injuring my leg, the next two races were so difficult for me, to ride with so much pain. Now week by week and even day by day it’s getting better and I feel comfortable on the bike. The whole weekend was really good, all practices. In qualifying I was lucky to get a good time earlier on. At the end I nearly made the same time a couple of times, but every time I hit traffic, but my earlier time was enough for the front row.

Luis Salom, Pons HP40 Team: 3rd, 1m 43.174s
It was a very good practice for me, and yesterday we did a good job. I have never ridden in Moto2 in such hot weather, so at the beginning of qualifying I had a lot of sliding on a new tyre. We changed the bike a little bit and it helped me a lot. I hope tomorrow when the race is earlier that the weather will be better, and the track not so hot.

Honda Moto3 Rider quotes

Alex Rins, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda Team: 3rd, 1m 46.867s
“To tell the truth, I wasn’t expecting to qualify on the front row. We have started the weekend a little better than last week in Argentina, but it has been a difficult beginning to the Grand Prix for us. We have worked a lot with the team and made some small changes, and thanks to this we have placed where we are now. I feel very comfortable, although I think that Miller is a little bit faster than us. We will try to get a good start tomorrow and latch onto him on the opening laps.”

Alex Marquez, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda Team: 5th, 1m 46.884s
“We are not completely satisfied because I think that we could have improved even more, as I felt very comfortable on the bike and still had a little room to go faster. In any case, I think that a second row start is positive and we have a good bike for tomorrow –which is when the points are awarded. In practice we worked on improving our starts, because it was something we had needed to do better on after the last few Grands Prix. We will try to get off the line well and have the best race that we can. I am sure that the fans will push us a lot, so I will go out there to have fun and enjoy myself.”

Efren Vazquez, Saxoprint-RTG Honda Team: 7th, 1m 47.0049s
Not so bad. We did a good setting for tomorrow in the race, and I concentrated on my riding. We got a good rhythm, and we will see what happens. We are off second place by only two-and-a-half tenths, so the lap time is not so bad. It is a really special track with the hot conditions. We just needed a little bit more luck to do a perfect lap. But we are happy and looking forward to the race. It’s very hot, but it’s no problem for me or the bike. I think tomorrow we can fight for the top positions.

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