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Qualifying British Grand Prix, Silverstone
Posted by: newsla on Aug 31, 2014 - 06:15 AM
Qualifying British Grand Prix, Silverstone

Weather: Dry
Temperature: Air 17 degrees C / Track 22 degrees C


Repsol Honda RC213V rider Marc Marquez put himself in pole position for the tenth time this year at Silverstone, bouncing back from a minor spill in the morning to reassert his title-leading authority. Marquez left the best to last, regaining the top place on the timing list with an impressive margin of three tenths of a second.


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The defending champion is also bouncing back from a minor blip at the last race at Brno, where he finished fourth – the first race this year that he had not won, and his first time off the top-three podium in the races he has finished since he joined MotoGP to become youngest-ever World Champion last year.

Marquez (21) from Cervera, inland from Barcelona, came to MotoGP with the 125cc and Moto2 World Championships already won, and broke all the premier-class “youngest-ever” records with his rookie title victory.

This year, he has been all but unbeatable, and has amassed a title lead of 77 points. Only at Brno did he falter, and the next day he set a new track record in post-race tests. But he has confirmed it is too soon to start riding safely for points, and he is aiming to get back on winning form for victory number 11 at the fast British circuit, which at 5.9 kilometres is the longest of the year.

Victory in that Czech Republic GP went to Repsol Honda RC213V team-mate Dani Pedrosa, who until then had been forced to play a strong supporting role, holding second overall in the championship charts and joining Marquez in three one-two Honda finishes so far this year.

Pedrosa (28), from Sabadell on the outskirts of Barcelona, suffered arm-pump problems that required surgery at the start of the first European leg of the season. But the former 125cc and double 250cc World Champion has come back strongly to reassert his position and regain second place overall in the championship standings.

Victory at Brno underlined his return to form, and he will start tomorrow’s race from the second row of the grid, after qualifying fifth, in the middle of an ultra-close batch of times.

Two satellite-team Honda RC213Vs back the factory pair, with German LCR Honda RC213V rider Stefan Bradl again the better, qualified ninth to start from the third row of the 23-strong grid. The former Moto2 champion has recorded seven top ten finishes this year, with a best of fourth at round two in Texas – and is anxious to make his first podium of the season.

The second factory bike is ridden by Alvaro Bautista (FUN&GO Honda Gresini RC213V). The Spaniard made a rostrum appearance in France, but has suffered rear grip issues at recent races. He will start tomorrow’s race from the fourth row of the grid, qualified 12th.

His team-mate Scott Redding rides one of four of the new Honda RCV1000R production racers, and the Briton exploited the home-GP effect to qualify one place ahead of Bautista in 11th, after winning through to the elite Q2 qualifying by setting fastest time in Q1.

Czech rider Karel Abraham (AB Cardion Motoracing Honda RCV1000R) qualified 14th, one short of his best of the season, to start from row five. One row behind, former 250cc champion Hiro Aoyama (Drive M7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R) qualified 16th.

Second Drive M7 Aspar RCV1000R rider Leon Camier qualified 18th, his hopes of improving at his home GP dashed when he slid off unhurt during qualifying. The former Superbike and 125cc GP racer is substituting for 2006 World Champion Nicky Hayden for a third race ... the American is recuperating from corrective wrist surgery, but plans to return before the end of the season.

The middleweight Moto2 class is all Honda: the organisers supply all competitors with identical race-tuned Honda CBR600 engines fitted to individual prototype chassis, to guarantee not only close but also reliable racing.

French rider Johann Zarco (AirAsia Caterham Caterham-Suter) claimed his first pole in the class after twice qualifying second, by a margin of almost four tenths of a second from title contender Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex). Kallio has won three races this year, and lies a close second overall to his Marc VDS team-mate Tito Rabat, who qualified fourth to head the second row.

This left Italian veteran Simone Corsi (Forward Racing Kalex) to take the final front row slot, his first time this season, though he counts two rostrum finishes among seven top-five race results this year.

Best of this year’s crop of promising ex-Moto3 rookies was Jonas Folger (AGR Team Kalex), qualified fifth; with experienced Swiss former 125cc champion Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock Suter) alongside.

Grand-prix rookie Sam Lowes, reigning World Supersport 600 Champion, put his Speed Up seventh, ahead of reigning Moto3 champion Maverick Vinales and former Moto3 champion Sandro Cortese. Italian rookie Franco Morbidelli (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex) completed the top ten.

In Moto3 Honda is up against rival manufacturers, and the new NSF250RW claimed two out of three front-row grid positions, including a third pole of the season for Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda rider Alex Rins.

His team-mate Alex Marquez was third, on the other end of the first row; and the two Spaniards are backed by Alexis Masbou (Ongetta Rivacold Honda) on the second row, sixth-fastest. Marquez has won two races this season; while veteran Masbou is fresh from his first Moto3 win at Brno, two weeks ago.

At a longer circuit, times were not as close as usual, with only the top seven within a second of pole ... but the long straights give plenty of slipstreaming opportunities, and suggest there will be no runaway leaders, but that the usual large lead group will battle to the end.

The next-best Honda in the pursuit pack is Indianapolis winner Efren Vazquez (SaxoPrint-RTG Honda) placed 15th on row five. Only 1.4 seconds off pole, Vazquez is determined to take his usual place with the front runners. Second SaxoPrint-RTG Honda rider John McPhee qualified 17th, one row behind, with home-race inspiration to help him follow Vazquez through.

Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Ongetta AirAsia Honda) was placed 23rd-fastest, out of 35 entrants.

Tomorrow’s race is the 12th of 18 rounds, and the third-last in Europe before the intensive three-in-a-row flyaways in Japan, Australia and Malaysia, leading to the season finale in Valencia on November 9.

Honda MotoGP rider quotes

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda: 1st, 2m 00.829s
“It was a difficult qualifying session, because it was hard to get heat into the front tyre. However, I am happy with pole position – more than anything because of how comfortable I am feeling this weekend. I am finding it easy to set a fast pace, and this is important at this track, which is bumpy and long. Let’s hope that we have a sunny day tomorrow, or at least that it doesn’t rain, and we will try to fight for the win right from the first lap.”

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 5th, 2m 01.464s
“Today was a positive day and we have taken a step forward from yesterday with the setup. The tyres also performed better today than in the previous practice sessions. However, I think that we still need to fine-tune the setup to get the tyres performing even better. Qualifying didn’t go completely smoothly, but we were able to put in a good lap. It will be important to get a good start tomorrow and find a strong pace in the race.”

Stefan Bradl, LCR Honda MotoGP: 9th, 2m 1.973s
“I crashed in FP3 when a gust of wind lifted the bike; then again in FP4 with a hard tyre, which was too cool. I had some bruises, but I was okay, but two crashes in one day meant I lacked some confidence in qualifying. My aim was to be on the second row, but in my condition my first run put me only eleventh. I improved a little bit to move to ninth, but I am worried that I have too little experience on the hard front tyre, which I think we will have to use for the race.”

Scott Redding, GO&FUN Honda Gresini: 11th, 2m 2.116s
“I had a lot of pressure going into Q2 because I had only one soft tyre, so I decided to go out on track with the other riders. This worked perfectly, because in Q2 I’ve was 0.5 seconds quicker than the time I set in Q1, which is a big step! It was a really good lap, even though not perfect; I also used a little bit of slipstream from the other guys, which helped me a little bit. I’m over the moon, it’s fantastic to be in Q2 and in front of my team-mate here in my home Grand Prix. However, it’s going to be difficult tomorrow. Doing one or two fast laps with the soft tyre is one thing, but to be consistently fast like this is hard for me. Anyway I think that we can be a little bit closer to the Factory bikes than normal, even if I didn’t expect it in this circuit, so tomorrow I will try to fight a lot in the early stages of the race to try to stay with them. My home crowd is giving me a lot of motivation and I will do my best out there tomorrow.”

Alvaro Bautista, GO&FUN Honda Gresini: 12th, 2m 3.618s
“Our problems are always the same: we struggle with lack of rear grip and when the track conditions are coming better, the other riders improves their lap times a lot, and we are not able to do so, like it happened in all the last few races. During FP4 we tried something to improve the rear grip and we found something good, but at the same time we lost some in corner entry. In Q1 I set a lap time which allowed me to get into Q2, then we decided to put a hard front tyre, but it didn’t work well with low temperatures, therefore I was not able to improve my lap time in Q2. Speaking about the race, I can be consistent, but not as fast as I would like, so tomorrow we just need to make a good start and keep our rhythm to try to finish the race in the best possible position.”

Karel Abraham, Cardion AB Motoracing Honda: 14th, 2m 3.206s
“The result is good, I’m satisfied. In the morning we sped up a lot and we prepared the bike well for the afternoon session. Qualifying we managed really well, and I managed to do a very fast last lap. It’s true that the rear was not properly handling the track, and in two sections it was not ideal. For sure I could be little bit faster, but in the end it doesn’t matter. Fourteenth place is good. We beat even Cal Crutchlow and I’m happy about it. The question is, which type of tyres will we choose for tomorrow?”

Hiroshi Aoyama, Drive M7 Aspar Honda: 18th, 2m 03.563s
“Conditions are not easy here this year. It’s cool and quite windy, which makes the track cool and it’s hard to get the tyres warm; and the circuit is a lot more bumpy than before. It’s still an enjoyable track, and I’ll be riding hard to get some more championship points tomorrow.”

Leon Camier, Drive M7 Aspar Honda: 18th, 2m 3.696s
“During free practice we made a big step ... almost three quarters of a second off the lap time and the bike felt more how I want. We made another half-second step in qualifying, but I felt I could go faster again. I was trying to get track space for a clear lap and the bike fell over ... cold tyres. I’m playing catchup, and I need a little more time to get myself and the bike right.”

Moto2 Rider quotes

Johann Zarco. AirAsia Caterham Suter: 1st, 2m 7.094s
At first I was struggling to improve my lap time – then when I put a new tyre on, suddenly a very good lap time. I went back to the box to rest then was able to go a little faster again. Then I was nervous because the fastest riders usually improve at the end ... but I kept first place, and now I am so happy. Tomorrow I hope I can keep this pace, play with the group, finish the race and be on top.”

Mika Kallio, Marc VDS Racing Team: 2nd, 2m 7.467s
“After watching Tito disappear at Brno when I was on the second row of the grid, it’s good that the positions have been reversed here at Silverstone. The situation is different though, as the long straights here make it difficult to pull out a gap, as it’s so easy to slipstream, I think we’re going to see a group battle right to the end tomorrow. We still need to do some work with the bike, as I’m still not getting any feedback from the tyres in these cold conditions. It feels like we’re not able to get enough heat into the tyres, so we will try some changes in warm up tomorrow in a bid to improve this. We race first tomorrow and the conditions may well be colder than this afternoon.”

Simone Corsi, NGM Forward Racing Kalex: 3rd, 2m, 7.487s
“I am very happy; the bike is very fast. In the morning I had a very big crash, and my mechanics did a very good job to fix the bike. The race tomorrow will be very difficult – I don’t know if the hard or medium tyre will be better. In the warm-up we will work with the settings, and we will decide then.”

Honda Moto3 Rider quotes

Alex Rins, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda: 1st, 2m 13.112s
“From Friday we have felt very comfortable with the bike. Thanks to the great work by the team we managed to solve the small problems we had and we seem to have found the right way to go. Tomorrow we need to confirm this in the race, but we know it will be difficult, because as always there will be many riders in a group and we have to play our cards right. Along with my team-mate Alex it seems that we have the best pace, but this class has shown that it is not just about that.”

Alex Marquez, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda Team: 3rd, 2m 13.450s
“The practice sessions were very tight and it was important to take a place on the front row of the grid for tomorrow. I think we’ve done a good job, but we have lacked the luck of a good reference or at least less traffic. I’m happy with the front row and focusing on tomorrow, because we have a good pace. The important thing is to make a good start and push from the moment the lights go out, so that the group is a little smaller than it was at Brno. It will be difficult, because there are many straights. Our aim will be to cut further points from Miller’s lead.”

Alexis Masbou, Ongetta Rivacold Honda: 6th, 2m 13.855s
Winning in Brno helps my confidence, but every track is different and this weekend we can see that Rins and Marquez are very fast. We tried to improve the bike a lot because yesterday I was not really confident, and now it is coming better. We haven’t ridden enough with old tyres, so I don’t know if it will be okay in the race ... but we will try to improve the setting a little bit more tonight and in morning warm-up for that.”

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