Bradl blasts into pole position in dying seconds at Laguna Seca

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German rider storms to maiden MotoGP pole in thrilling qualifying session

Stefan Bradl snatched his first ever MotoGP pole position in the dying second of qualifying for the Red Bull US Grand Prix in dramatic fashion with the LCR Honda rider setting a fastest lap of 1m 21.176s to beat Repsol Honda rider Marc Marquez to the top spot with the Spaniard losing the front of his RC213V at high speed while leading the session. Marquez’s fastest lap of 1m 21.193s was quick enough to start in second place ahead of Alvaro Bautista who showed much better form this weekend for the Go&Fun Honda Gresini team setting a best time of 1m 21.373s.

It’s an unbelievable sensation! My first pole position in the premier class at this spectacular circuit.

Stefan Bradl

Valentino Rossi was sitting on second place provisionally nearing the end of the session before he was pushed down onto the front o the second grid with the Yamaha Factory Racing rider setting a best lap time of 1m 21.418s. Cal Crutchlow came to life at the end of the session after appearing to have some technical problems with his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine but the British rider managed a best time of 1m 21.420s for the middle of the second row. Starting from 6th place tomorrow will be the injured Jorge Lorenzo who put in a heroic performance on the Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 with the reigning World Champion setting a best time of 1m 21.453s.

Dani Pedrosa put in an equally heroic performance, first to make into Q2 with the Repsol Honda rider having to take part in the earlier Q1 session and then setting the 7th fastest time of 1m 21.728s despite his injured collarbone. Andrea Dovizioso will start from 8th tomorrow with the Ducati Team rider on a best lap of 1m 22.026s. Bradley Smith put in another steady performance on the Monster Yamaha tech 3 bike with a best time of 1m 22.075s while Nicky Hayden set the 10th fastest time of 1m 22.090s for the Ducati Team. The fastest CRT machine today was that of Aleix Espargaro who set a best lap of 1m 22.099s while his Power Electronics Aspar teammate Randy De Puniet will star alongside him on despite retiring from Q2.

Hector Barbera was unlucky not to have qualified for Q2 with the Avintia Blusens rider setting a best time of 1m 22.808s with Alex De Angelis, substituting for the injured Ben Spies, starting from 14th for the Ignite Pramac Racing team on a best lap time of 1m 23.253s. NGM Mobile Forward Racing rider Colin Edwards starts from 15th tomorrow with a best time of 1m 23.272s with Danilo Petrucci one place behind on the Came IodaRacing Project machine (1m 23.323s). Claudio Corti will start from 17th on the second NGM Mobile Forward Racing bike with a best time of 1m 23.616s.

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Repsol Media

Yonny Hernandez will start from 18th for the Paul Bird Motorsport Team on a best lap of 1m 23.875s while Karel Abraham starts one place behind on the Cardion AB Motoracing machine (1m 23.919s). Michael Laverty set the 20th best time of 1m 23.987s for the Paul Bird Motorsport team with Hiroshi Aoyama in 21st for the Avintia Blusens team (1m 24.235s). Bryan Staring starts from 22nd on the Go&fun Honda Gresini CRT outfit with a best lap of 1m 24.756s and Lukas Pesek set the 23rd best time of 1m 24.809s for the Came IodaRacing Project team. Wildcard entry Blake Young had to remove his entry from this weekend after the Attack Performance rider’s bike was heavily damaged in a crash yesterday.

Bradl was thrilled with his first MotoGP pole and to have leaped another hurdle in his premier class career. He said, “It’s an unbelievable sensation! My first pole position in the premier class at this spectacular circuit, and I am now the first German rider to do this in MotoGP history. I could not ask for more! We knew that we had a good pace all weekend, but this result is yet another step forward for me and the LCR Honda Team. I am really happy with the bike set-up just like in Germany, and I want to thank my team for the job they have done.

We didn’t actually make any specific changes to the bike; we just adjusted some small things ahead of qualifying and my pace was immediately fast. We had a small problem when I had to come into the garage to change the tyre because we had lost half a second, but once I was back out again the track was clear in front of me and I could go for my perfect lap!” Bradl added.

Marquez was happy to be on the front row after his crash and is looking forward to tomorrow’s race saying, “I am happy, because despite the crash we are going to be starting from second on the grid for my first US Grand Prix. Obviously we would have liked to have taken pole, but I made a mistake at Turn 6 when I went in too fast. I lost the front end and couldn't prevent the crash. I think that we've done a good job so far and have a strong pace, so we are confident that tomorrow we will be able to cap things off with a good race.”

Alvaro Bautista, Go & Fun Honda Gresini
Alvaro Bautista, Go & Fun Honda Gresini

Photo by: Team Gresini

Bautista was also very happy with securing a front row start saying, “We did some more work this morning on our race pace and I felt really confident on the bike. This afternoon we finally got the front row position that we have missed out on in recent races. Qualifying has been our weak point but I was on the pace from the start today and everything felt good. It means we have the opportunity to make a good start tomorrow and not lose time trying to pass riders over the early laps. I am happy, confident and thankful to the team for all the work they are putting in. Hopefully we can have a lot of fun tomorrow.”

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About this article
Series MOTOGP
Article type Qualifying report
Tags bautista, bradl, featured, gresini, hatch, honda, laguna seca, lcr, marquez, repsol