Marc Marquez continued his domination of the Indianapolis Grand Prix weekend by claiming a spectacular pole position on Saturday, beating the previous pole record by over eight tenths of a second. The Repsol Honda Team rider will share Sunday’s front row with title rivals Jorge Lorenzo and team-mate, Dani Pedrosa.
The fight at the end of Q2 was thrilling, but Marquez’s eventual effort of 1’37.958 sees him claim pole by half a second. Behind, just fractions separated positions two to four which are filled by Yamaha Factory Racing’s Lorenzo and Pedrosa – both still recovering from crashes at previous events – as well as Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Cal Crutchlow.
“I’ve always felt so good on this track in the other categories and, in MotoGP, from FP1 I have felt good with the track and the bike,” Marquez said immediately after the Q2 session. “In qualifying I knew for one lap the tyre would give very good grip.”
The 20 year-old is taking nothing for granted, though, and added: “Tomorrow will be tough because everybody will struggle with grip by the end of the race. We are ready to fight for the win, but Jorge (Lorenzo) and Dani will be strong so we will need to manage the situation.”
“I’m happy with the pace, it’s not bad”,” said Lorenzo after qualifying. “We still don’t know how well our rivals are prepared for the race but I think I have a constant pace to finish the race with a good speed. The bike has improved by some small details every session so I’m happy with that also. I’m happy to be back on the first row and confident we can fight for the podium. You can see that Marc, Dani and Stefan are really strong, normally we are with them but it’s clear that this track is not so suitable for our bike, but it’s much better than it was in 2011. I am confident that we can fight to be not far from first position or maybe to fight for first.”
Pedrosa agreed with Marquez about the challenge lying ahead, having qualified third on the grid.
“I think tomorrow is going to be a very hard race. It’s a track on which you move a lot on the bike, so fitness is very important. I feel better but still not 100%, but I’m very happy after practice. We just hope to improve a bit more and have a good bike for tomorrow. I hope for a good start and a good race.
Alvaro Bautista delivered a solid lap for a top five spot on the GO&FUN Honda Gresini machine, sealing a second row placing as American Nicky Hayden led Ducati Team’s charge from sixth. Behind Tech3’s Bradley Smith who will start seventh, the biggest disappointment arguably came for LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl who had been inside the top three in all but one of the practice sessions; the German’s session was ruined by a crash at Turn 1 and he will start from eighth place.
“For sure, it wasn’t the smoothest one!” said Hayden. “Especially in FP4, when we went a little bit backwards with some settings – especially with rear grip. For Q2 they built the new shock really quickly and the guys did a really good job, I felt better and was able to go reasonably quickly.
“It wasn’t like, ‘Wow, we’re on the front row!’ but to squeeze onto the second row is definitely better than we have done in qualifying for some races. The lap time was not too bad, but considering how the last few races have gone I’m pretty happy with that and it would be great to race with that group for as long as possible tomorrow.”
The 2006 World Champion has confirmed that he is engaged in talks with the likes of LCR Honda MotoGP for 2014.
Completing the top ten and frustrated to be behind several satellite riders were 2008 race winner Valentino Rossi (Yamaha Factory Racing) and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), while Energy T.I. Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone was 11th. Having moved into the shootout for the first time this season, Colin Edwards – the second of three Americans on this weekend’s grid – went on to qualify 12th for NGM Mobile Forward Racing.
Valentino Rossi said, “I’m disappointed because in the practice we weren’t fantastic but better than we were this afternoon. Unfortunately in the fifteen minutes of the qualifying practice the other guys were able to improve more. Especially they are able to improve in braking and corner entry. Jorge did a fantastic job! I tried but when I put on the soft tyre I have more problems with the front and I cannot push a lot. I just managed to improve my time a bit from the used tyre when we had done already fifteen laps. Anyway, we have to look forward and try to improve tomorrow. My pace is nothing fantastic but it’s better than ninth position so I have to try to recover some positions and make a good race.”
Missing Q2 for only the second time was Power Electronic Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro, who is the leading CRT representative in the standings but bruised both hands when crashing in Free Practice 4; the Spaniard will line up 13th on Sunday.
The grid will be rounded out by American wildcard Blake Young, riding for Attack Performance Racing. After missing seven races through injury, compatriot Ben Spies was set to return this weekend, but has again been ruled out of action following a crash in third free practice this morning; having highsided on the exit of Turn 4, the Ignite Pramac Racing rider has suffered a separation to his left shoulder and as a result will miss at least this race and next weekend’s Czech event.
1. Marc Marquez ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 1m 37.958s
2. Jorge Lorenzo ESP Yamaha Factory Racing (YZR-M1) 1m 38.471s
3. Dani Pedrosa ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 1m 38.485s
4. Cal Crutchlow GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 1m 38.502s
5. Alvaro Bautista ESP Go&Fun Honda Gresini (RC213V) 1m 38.872s
6. Nicky Hayden USA Ducati Team (GP13) 1m 39.142s
7. Bradley Smith GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 1m 39.255s
8. Stefan Bradl GER LCR Honda MotoGP (RC213V) 1m 39.313s
9. Valentino Rossi ITA Yamaha Factory Racing (YZR-M1) 1m 39.356s
10. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Ducati Team (GP13) 1m 39.555s
11. Andrea Iannone ITA Energy T.I. Pramac Racing (GP13) 1m 40.042s
12. Colin Edwards USA NGM Forward Racing (FTR-Kawasaki CRT)* 1m 40.372s
13. Aleix Espargaro ESP Power Electronics Aspar (ART CRT) 1m 40.444s
14. Danilo Petrucci ITA Came IodaRacing Project (Suter-BMW CRT)* 1m 41.122s
15. Randy De Puniet FRA Power Electronics Aspar (ART CRT) 1m 41.154s
16. Claudio Corti ITA NGM Forward Racing (FTR-Kawasaki CRT)* 1m 41.334s
17. Hector Barbera ESP Avintia Blusens (FTR-Kawasaki CRT)* 1m 41.527s
18. Michael Laverty GBR Paul Bird Motorsport (PBM-ART CRT)* 1m 41.618s
19. Hiroshi Aoyama JPN Avintia Blusens (FTR-Kawasaki CRT)* 1m 41.665s
20. Bryan Staring AUS Go&Fun Honda Gresini (FTR-Honda CRT) 1m 41.786s
21. Yonny Hernandez COL Paul Bird Motorsport (ART CRT) 1m 41.807s
22. Lukas Pesek CZE Came IodaRacing Project (Suter-BMW CRT)* 1m 41.868s
23. Karel Abraham CZE Cardion AB Motoracing (ART CRT) 1m 42.165s
24. Blake Young USA Attack Performance Racing (APR-Kawasaki CRT) 1m 44.472s
Fastest practice time
Marc Marquez ESP Honda 1m 38.844s (FP3)
Official Indianapolis MotoGP records
Best lap: Dani Pedrosa ESP Honda 1m 38.813s (2012)
Fastest race lap: Dani Pedrosa ESP Honda 1m 39.088s (2012)