Championship leader Marc Marquez will take pole position in tomorrow’s Gran Premio Iveco de Aragon, with Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa in third. Slotting in between them will be defending World Champion Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing).
Marquez recorded a best time of 1’47.804 to comfortably brake Casey Stoner’s pole record from 2011 (1’48.451). He waited until the last minute to set his fastest lap, recording the time on lap seven of eight, and beating Jorge Lorenzo to the front spot on the grid by just 0.010s.
Pedrosa is battling to regain ground lost after missing one race and struggling through the following rounds when he broke his collarbone in practice at round eight in Germany. Until then he had been leading on points.
Pedrosa chose natural healing rather than the surgery espoused by rival Lorenzo, with a similar injury. Now back to full strength, he is determined and focused, and hoping to repeat his victory at the Aragon circuit last year.
Marc Marquez: “It was a very closely fought qualifying session. We were able to get maximum performance from the tyres, which was the key to this pole position. Small details decided things this afternoon. I am happy, because we were able to achieve our aim of a front row start and to have the pole is a bonus. Tomorrow it will be important to get a good start and keep calm in the early laps, with the intention of taking the race to Jorge and Dani.”
Jorge Lorenzo: “I knew I made a really good lap and I hoped to be in first position but I knew the other riders would be very close or in front of me. Finally for ten tenths of a second I lost it. I tried my best but I made a mistake in the first corner and lost one or two tenths so lost pole position. One thing is to make one fast lap, another is to make fast laps for the whole race. In the last practice before qualifying we found something extra for pace so we are stronger in one lap and also for the pace for the race. If the race remains in dry conditions it will be a good race.”
Dani Pedrosa: “Even though the position on the grid maybe doesn’t reflect it, we had a good qualifying session. We did a good job today and a lap time that I’m pleased with. For tomorrow the key will be to have a good start as the first corner is very close. I want to have a strong first few laps and maintain a good pace for the whole race. The tyre wear will be crucial so it’s also important to manage them for the race distance.”
Lorenzo’s team-mate Valentino Rossi saw his grid place match his position in the championship, being demoted from second to fourth in the final moments ahead of Honda satellite riders Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP) and Alvaro Bautista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini).
Valentino Rossi: “I have a good feeling and I’ve improved my pace a lot and braking ability also. We have also improved the rear grip over long distance. I’m so happy because it was a great qualifying for me and I enjoyed it a lot. The level was very high and we were just one tenth from pole position, so we are all together. We have to see what the conditions are tomorrow; for sure today they helped us. With a few less degrees we are more competitive with the Yamaha. My pace is very similar to Jorge and Marquez and Pedrosa but we know that they are very fast so to try and stay with them I have to improve again tomorrow.”
Bradl’s second-row start reflects a return to strong form that peaked with a first pole position and second place at the US GP, before the summer break, while Bautista has shown improving form throughout the season, as he and his team get to grips with his exclusive use of Showa suspension and Nissin brakes.
Cal Crutchlow and Monster Yamaha Tech3 have suffered from a lack of straight-line speed on the kilometre-long back straight of MotorLand Aragón. After making mistakes the Englishman will start from seventh on the grid, his worst since Indianapolis last year. teammate Bradley Smith qualified eighth and only two tenths of a second slower, having progressed from Q1 after being denied the chance of a direct Q2 position due chiefly to track conditions in third practice.
Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso and Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro (the leading CRT runner) completed the top ten, while Ducati’s Nicky Hayden (11th) was unable to meet his second row target and Energy T.I. Pramac’s Andrea Iannone (12th) rounded out the first half of the grid.
Yonny Hernandez enjoyed a strong debut for Ignite Pramac Racing and almost a spot in Q2 en route to 13th place, while Aspar’s Randy de Puniet settled for 16th following problems. Italian debutant Luca Scassa (Cardion AB Motoracing) will head up the back row from 22nd, covering for Karel Abraham who is out for the rest of the season.
Australian, Bryan Staring (GO&FUN Honda Gresini FTR Honda) qualified 21st on his Honda. This is his his first grand prix season, learning new tracks while also getting to grips with a new type of machine.
Another Australian, Damian Cudlin – replacing Hernandez at PBM for both Aragón and Phillip Island, – experienced a crash from which he suffered minor injuries to his right hand and arm.
1 Marc Marquez 1’47.804 SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
2 Jorge Lorenzo 1’47.814 SPA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
3 Dani Pedrosa 1’47.957 SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
4 Valentino Rossi 1’47.962 ITA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
5 Stefan Bradl 1’48.128 GER HONDA LCR Honda MotoGP
6 Alvaro Bautista 1’48.302 SPA HONDA Go & Fun Honda Gresini
7 Cal Crutchlow 1’48.653 GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
8 Bradley Smith 1’48.854 GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
9 Andrea Dovizioso 1’49.219 ITA DUCATI Ducati Team
10 Aleix Espargaro 1’49.348 SPA ART Power Electronics Aspar
11 Nicky Hayden 1’49.428 USA DUCATI Ducati Team
12 Andrea Iannone 1’50.094 ITA DUCATI Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team
13 Yonny Hernandez 1’50.685 COL DUCATI Ignite Pramac Racing Team
14 Hiroshi Aoyama 1’50.995 JAP FTR Avintia Blusens
15 Danilo Petrucci 1’51.030 ITA IODA-SUTER Came IodaRacing Project
16 Randy De Puniet 1’51.297 FRA SUZUKI Suzuki Test Team
17 Colin Edwards 1’51.327 USA FTR-KAWASAKI NGM Mobile Forward Racing
18 Claudio Corti 1’51.519 ITA FTR-KAWASAKI NGM Mobile Forward Racing
19 Hector Barbera 1’51.552 SPA FTR Avintia Blusens
20 Michael Laverty 1’51.639 GBR PBM Paul Bird Motorsport
21 Bryan Staring 1’52.102 AUS FTR-HONDA Go & Fun Honda Gresini
22 Luca Scassa 1’52.305 ITA ART Cardion AB Motoracing
23 Lukas Pesek 1’52.989 CZE IODA-SUTER Came IodaRacing Project
24 Damian Cudlin 1’53.521 AUS PBM Paul Bird Motorsport