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Qualifying Catalan Grand Prix, Catalunya
Posted by: newsla on Jun 14, 2014 - 05:20 PM
Qualifying Catalan Grand Prix, Catalunya

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) scored a brilliant first pole position of the year at scorching-hot Catalunya this afternoon, ending a run of six pole positions achieved by team-mate Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V) at the first six races of the year. Marquez was fighting to better local hero Pedrosa in the final minutes of the session when he slid off, and yet he will still start the race from third on the grid.


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Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V) continued his strong performances through free practice with the fourth-fastest lap in qualifying, just 0.085 seconds off the front row. Alvaro Bautista (Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini RC213V) had a torrid qualifying, crashing out to end the day in 12th position.

Today’s pole was a huge morale booster for Pedrosa whose recent races have been compromised by arm-pump problems. The former 125 and 250 World Champion had surgery on his right arm following last month’s Spanish GP but still suffered from the condition at Mugello two weeks ago. Today’s performance gave the man from nearby Sabadell his second consecutive Catalan Grand Prix pole. Tomorrow he will go for his first victory since last October’s Malaysian GP.

The red-hot conditions are placing extra stresses on tyres here, so Marquez opted for a three-run strategy this afternoon, instead of the usual two runs, because the softer tyres work at their best only on their first flying lap. He had already successfully employed this three-run strategy at Jerez, but this time it didn’t quite work out. On his final flying lap he braked a little too late for the first turn, the bike got sideways on the outside kerb and when he tipped into the corner the front tyre was still unsettled, causing it to lose grip. Marquez and his bike slid down the road. Luckily the World Championship was unscathed in the incident.

Bradl has been fast and consistent since arriving here and was the fastest man of all in the first three practice sessions, leaning his Honda so far that his shoulder was fully on the kerb through Turn Five. It’s an impressive performance from the German who arrived here still battered and bruised from two huge race-day crashes at Mugello.

Bautista had an altogether tougher afternoon. Eleventh quickest after FP3, he had to take part in QP1 to have a chance of promotion to the QP2 session for the faster riders. He duly topped QP1 but crashed heavily on his fifth lap in QP2, highsiding as he exited Turn Ten. The Spaniard was stretchered away but although badly knocked about, suffered no fractures.

Rookie Scott Redding (Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini RCV1000R) was the best-placed RCV1000R rider, qualifying 14th, just 0.152 seconds behind factory rider Cal Crutchlow (Ducati).

Nicky Hayden (Drive 7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R) did superbly to go 16th quickest, considering that his fitness was in doubt until he rode yesterday morning. The former MotoGP World Champion is recovering from post-Mugello surgery, undertaken to cure persistent problems with an old right-wrist injury.

Czech rider Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing Honda RCV1000R) was 18th, two places ahead of Hiroshi Aoyama (Drive 7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R).

Tito Rabat (Marc VDS Racing Team, Kalex) produced a scintillating performance in Moto2 qualifying, ending the session almost sixth tenths ahead of his nearest challenger in a class that guarantees a level technological playing field with control engines, supplied by Honda, control tyres and control electronics.

Rabat, who leads the championship with three wins from the first six races, bettered team-mate Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing Team, Kalex) by 0.571 seconds. Reigning Moto3 World Champion and Austin Moto2 winner Maverick Vinales (Paginas Amarillas HP 40, Kalex) was a very close third, just 0.052 seconds off Kallio.

The same six-tenths margin that separated first from second place also separated second from 11th, which is more like the usual closely packed times in this category. Row two is headed by Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP, Kalex), alongside Jonas Folger (AGR Team, Kalex) and Mattia Pasini (NGM Forward Racing, Forward Kalex).

Former 125 World Champion Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock, Suter) leads the third row ahead of Johann Zarco (AirAsia Caterham, Caterham Suter) and reigning World Supersport champion Sam Lowes (Speed Up, Speed Up).

Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW) scorched to his first Grand Prix pole position, triumphing at the end of a typically hectic Moto3 qualifying session. Marc’s 18-year-old younger brother produced an epic lap in the final minutes to put him more than six tenths ahead of nearest challenger Enea Bastianini (KTM).

Team-mate Alex Rins (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW) ended up third fastest following a big highside during the final moments of the 40-minute outing. The Spaniard had just set his best lap and was trying to slice off a few more tenths when he lost control at Turn Four. The accident left him with a fractured toe on his left foot, so will undergo a medical check tomorrow morning to see if he’s fit to race.

Efren Vazquez (SaxoPrint-RTG Honda NSF250R) produced an heroic performance to take eighth on the grid despite missing the first 25 minutes of the session while his mechanics fixed an electronics glitch. He returned to the track with 15 minutes remaining and ended up eighth, 1.2 seconds off pole. Vazquez had earlier been third fastest in free practice, just six tenths off fastest-man Marquez, so he is confident he will have the pace to run up front in tomorrow’s race.

Vazquez’s team-mate John McPhee (SaxoPrint-RTG Honda NSF250R), who led a Grand Prix race for the first time at Mugello a fortnight ago, was tenth quickest. Alexis Masbou (Ongetta-Rivacold Honda NSF250R) was 17th, just ahead of Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Ongetta-AirAsia Honda NSF250R). Wild Card entry Maria Herrera (Junior Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250R) qualified a very respectable 24th of 35 riders.

As usual, race day starts with the Moto3 race at 11am, with the Moto2 and MotoGP races following in the afternoon.

Honda MotoGP rider quotes

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: pole position – 1m 40.985s
“I am very happy to have taken pole position today, in front of my family and the home fans! I am also delighted that, for the first time this year, I felt good on the bike in qualifying. I’ll try and get a good start from pole position tomorrow. I am sure that it will be very hot and we will have to manage the tyres well during the race, but we will try to do as well as possible!”

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda: 3rd – 1m 41.135s
“Today I made the first mistake of the season, so I need to apologise to the team because it was my fault. The strategy we had set out was coming together perfectly, but when riding with the last tyre I braked too late. I knew it was my last attempt, so I tried to go into the corner anyway. That was not the best choice; I should have written off the lap, but these things happen when you are riding at home; you always try to give a little bit extra. We know for tomorrow that there is no more room for improvement on that corner and that we have a good setup with which to fight for the win.”

Stefan Bradl, LCR Honda MotoGP: 4th – 1m 41.220s
“These two days have been very positive for us and we are quite happy about this second row. We demonstrated that our pace is pretty good in all sessions and we are not far from the front guys. Before the qualifying session we made some little adjustments on the suspensions that worked pretty good and the tyre situation is clear now. In the qualifying the yellow flags displayed for the Marquez and Bautista crashes disturbed my performance a bit, and even Pedrosa blocked me in the first corner during my second flying lap, but anyway it’s a good feeling to be back in the front especially after Mugello.”

Alvaro Bautista, Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini: 12th – 1m 42.024s
“It’s was a big crash and now I’m sore, especially in the chest and right ankle, but fortunately nothing is broken. Today the feeling with the bike was better than yesterday, although everything is not yet in place we would like: during the third free practice session we were not far from the fastest riders, and it was a shame not to be entered directly into Q2. In any case, we faced the Q1 calmly, then in Q2 I fell while I on my first run, with the tyres I’d already used in Q1. At least I had time to get back on track with the other bike in the end, in order to forget soon what happened... As I said we are not one hundred percent but I am confident for the race, because our pace is not very far from that of the other riders. We’ll have to keep an eye on the weather, and in any case we will give our best, as always.”

Scott Redding, Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini: 14th, 1m 42.730s
“I’m really happy with my qualifying time; it’s only a shame we couldn’t get into Qualifying 2, but we knew we have a big disadvantage here with two long straights. Anyway, now we need to work for the race: we want to try and collect a few more points for the championship. Today we have been the fastest ‘Production Racer’ Honda, which is still our target, and now we want to make the same thing tomorrow in the race. Unfortunately we don’t know yet if we can use the softer tyre: it could be difficult, so maybe we will have to use the hard tyre for the race. However, we will give everything and we will see how it goes.”

Nicky Hayden, Drive 7 Aspar Honda: 16th – 1m 43.043s
“Riding a qualifying session with my wrist in better shape and with less discomfort would have helped me, but we are here to fight and bouncing back from these situations is part of the game. I guess that tomorrow will be a tough race because of the heat, because of how technical the circuit is and because my wrist is not in perfect shape, but I’ll fight as I have done throughout the weekend to try to get the most points possible. This morning I woke up feeling quite good, my wrist wasn’t hurting after yesterday’s two sessions and that’s good news. We also found two improvements for the qualifying session and we have some more ideas for the morning warm-up session, which gives us motivation. After this Grand Prix I will try to continue recovering as quickly as possible during the week off before Assen.”

Karel Abraham, Cardion AB Motoracing: 18th – 1m 43.360s
“I would say that it was not a bad day today. Of course, it could be better, but the time is quite good and we are quite close to the top times. In the first part of the qualification, I managed to do only one fast lap, because a lot of riders were still around me and I was stuck in that group. Either I had to break or let someone to overtake me. The situation wasn’t ideal. Overall I’m happy with the bike setting, it works very well. Also the heat was not so terrible today and the weather is supposed to be even better tomorrow. I hope to ride another good race.”

Hiroshi Aoyama, Drive 7 Aspar Honda: 20th – 1m 43.564s
“This morning I felt comfortable, but in the afternoon we made a change in the set-up that, instead of helping us, lost our feeling. We thought we were on the right track but it was not the case, so the afternoon sessions were difficult. We wanted to take a step back for qualifying but did not have time. Still, we made some changes to try to improve slightly and to set a good time. The main drawback today was the lack of rear grip, which hurt us on the fast corners. We have seen our shortcomings, so tomorrow we will try something different.”

Moto2 rider quotes

Tito Rabat, Marc VDS Racing Team: pole position – 1m 46.569s
“I’m happy because we’ve had a good weekend so far but, as I said before, the race is tomorrow and the race is the only thing that counts. Of course I want to win at home, but it’s not going to be easy. It’s good to start from pole, but Kallio and Vinales are both strong and they will be there tomorrow, that’s for sure. Tonight we want to try and make some more small improvements to the bike and then tomorrow we’ll go out and try to win, like always.”

Mika Kallio, Marc VDS Racing Team: 2nd – 1m 47.140s
“With the qualifying position today we can be satisfied, but we are still a little bit too far from Tito. We’re getting a little closer, step-by-step, but he’s still half a second in front. When the temperature rises and the grip becomes difficult to find, it seems to affect me more than others. The lap time today felt like it was done right on the limit, with the bike sliding, sliding everywhere. In the past races I’ve been strong at the start, whereas Tito has not been so quick over the first few laps, so if I can break his rhythm then we will see what we can do. I’d prefer it to be a little bit cooler tomorrow, as this would make things a little easier for me.”

Maverick Vinales, Pons HP 40: 3rd – 1m 47.192s
“I’m happy. I’ve got my best grid position of the season at my home GP. I ‘m on the front row and that’s so important in this category. It will be a tough race tomorrow. As always I will give my best, especially for all the local fans who are here.”

Honda Moto3 rider quotes

Alex Marquez, Estrella Galicia 0,0: pole position – 1m 50.232s
“The beginning of the qualifying session was difficult because I found many riders waiting for a tow and that’s a little dangerous. But I continued to concentrate at my maximum because I knew that I could fight for my first pole. I gave it everything in the final stages of the session. When I found some space I made a good lap, though it wasn’t perfect. The main thing that’s very good for tomorrow is that we have a good pace. On used tires we are fast, so I hope to have a good race.”

Alex Rins, Estrella Galicia 0,0: 3rd, 1m 50.912s
“I feel good. After my fall I visited the circuit medical centre, where Dr Xavier Mir confirmed that I have three small fractures in my left foot. Luckily it’s not serious, they are only micro cracks, so with the help of my physiotherapist I hope I will be able to ride tomorrow. I also visited the Dexeus hospital for a TAC scan, just as a precaution but I never lost consciousness and I do not feel bad. I feel cool.”

Efren Vazquez, SaxoPrint-RTG: 8th, 1m 51.471s
“On the out lap the engine felt like it was stopping, like it was low on fuel, so I immediately came into the pits. I have to say thanks to my team who did a great job over the next 20 minutes. The bike wouldn’t start, so they had to check everything and change a few things. We think the problem may have been a faulty electrical plug. Finally I got 15 minutes on track at the end of the session, so eighth fastest isn’t a big disaster. I hope we can have a good race – during FP3 I felt good confidence on the bike.”

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