Cal Crutchlow has stormed to his second MotoGP pole position for the bwin Grand Prix Ceske republiky. The Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider will start alongside GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista and Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez, while Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo round out the top five.
Following Friday’s opening pair of practice sessions, Crutchlow had been unhappy with the new fuel tank fitted to his bike, but appeared to rectify this by setting the pace in third free practice on Saturday morning. He would go on to claim his second MotoGP pole in five race weekends, following that of Assen at the end of June.
However, a second career pole looked to be heading the way of Bautista after the Gresini rider intelligently picked up Marquez’s slipstream to dip underneath Lorenzo’s 2012 qualifying record. Following a stop in the pit lane, Crutchlow would go on to beat this by over two tenths of a second thanks to his impressive time of 1’55.527.
Cal Crutchlow: “It has not been an easy weekend while we have been working on improving the bike, but in every session we have progressed and got faster. I felt really good on that lap and to set the circuit best lap is a great achievement for the whole team to be proud of.”
“I feel this is more of a true pole as Jorge wasn’t in Assen, but this time it feels great to be fastest with everybody on track. I am looking forward to the race and the objective is to finish on the podium like last year.”
With Bautista on the front row for the second time in three races, championship leader – and winner of the last three Grands Prix – Marquez crucially starts ahead of his closest two title contenders, with teammate and last year’s Brno winner Pedrosa only five thousandths of a second in arrears and Lorenzo a further 81 thousandths behind. The reigning World Champion expected more, though, not least after testing at Brno in the mid-season break as well as beginning the weekend as fastest rider.
Alvaro Bautista: “I am really happy with our performance today. Already this morning I could feel an improvement with the set-up of the bike and we had better grip on the rear. My pace was good on used rubber and then when we put the fresh tyres on in qualifying I was able to take advantage. It was good fun and now I am just hoping to get a good start and run at the front for as long as possible.
“I felt great on the bike today so hopefully we can have a similar feeling with it tomorrow and keep the pace up when the tyres drop off. I want to thank the team for the great job they have done, as well as Honda, Showa, Nissin and our main sponsor, because they have had to wait a while for a moment like this.”
Marc Marquez: “I’m not entirely happy because I had the confidence and determination to fight for pole!” Marquez began. “I could not take advantage of the second tyre because there was a lot of traffic and some riders were waiting for a tow. But it is what it is – one day I will look to follow them, another day it will be the opposite! With regards to the race, I feel confident as I’m comfortable on the bike and have a good foundation and good pace. If the race is dry, then I feel ready to challenge for the win.”
Teammate and last year’s winner Pedrosa will set off from fourth on the grid:
“The sessions were pretty difficult today because we had trouble finding a setup that I was happy with. In the last minute we were able to improve the setup, coming up with something that is more suited to my riding and which allowed me to ride more comfortably. Still, the times for everyone have been very close throughout the weekend, so we will have to fight hard. The important thing will be holding up physically, getting a good start and having a good race – whatever the conditions.”
Lorenzo had been in good form in the first free practice session on Friday morning and a constant presence in the top two positions in the subsequent practice outings.
However the World Champion was unable to replicate that form in the 15 minute qualifying heat, attributing his lack of cutting edge pace to too much spinning on his rear tyre.
Jorge Lorenzo: “I had hoped for much more because I wanted to improve seven tenths or a second on my pace to make a fast lap but I couldn’t take advantage of the new tyre. We had so much spinning and we went slowly,” stated Lorenzo after Q2.
“The pace from all the top riders is quite similar so it’s going to be important to get a good start and try to overtake some riders at the beginning of the race. Then we will see how we are.”
Tech3’s Bradley Smith equalled his qualifying best by beating the second Yamaha Factory Racing rider Valentino Rossi to sixth place, as LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl and Ducati Team duo Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden completed the first group of ten. Energy T.I. Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone made it to the shootout for 11th place – despite a collision with an air fence early in Q1.
NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards was encouraged to feature in Q2 for the second time within the space of a week, equipped with the standard MotoGP™ ECU software package. This left usual CRT pace-setter Aleix Espargaro third in Q1 and therefore 13th on the grid, hindered by a crash in fourth free practice which immediately preceded the qualifying session.
Returning to action to cover for the injured Ben Spies at Ignite Pramac Racing, Michele Pirro will line up 14th, as wildcard Martin Bauer backs up the grid in 25th position on an S&B Suter. Incidentally, Bauer’s Remus Racing Team makes history this weekend by becoming the first Austrian-entered outfit to compete in the premier class of Grand Prix racing.
Brno Qualifying Results
1. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1’55.527
2. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1’55.754
3. Marc Marquez (Honda) 1’55.863
4. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1’55.868
5. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’55.949
6. Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 1’56.014
7. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1’56.186
8. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1’56.477
9. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 1’56.825
10. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1’56.979
11. Andrea Iannone (Ducati) 1’57.455
12. Colin Edwards (FTR-Kawasaki) 1’58.392
13. Aleix Espargaro (ART) 1’58.378
14. Michele Pirro (Ducati) 1’58.812
15. Randy de Puniet (ART) 1’58.953
16. Yonny Hernandez (ART) 1’58.983
17. Danilo Petrucci (Ioda-Suter) 1’59.057
18. Claudio Corti (FTR-Kawasaki) 1’59.062
19. Hector Barbera (FTR) 1’59.128
20. Lukas Pesek (Ioda-Suter) 2’00.522
21. Michael Laverty (PBM) 2’00.584
22. Hiroshi Aoyama (FTR) 2’00.653
23. Karel Abraham (ART) 2’00.792
24. Bryan Staring (FTR-Honda) 2’00.827