Front Row start for Lorenzo at Phillip Island

Valentino Rossi will start the race from eighth position.

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo qualified third on the grid at an overcast Phillip Island circuit for tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix, while teammate Valentino Rossi will start the race from eighth position.

Lorenzo started the 15-minute qualifying heat in his normal fashion of making sure being the first rider to leave pit lane. His first flying lap of 1’29.175 saw him very briefly hold provisional pole until other riders completed their first lap, pushing him back to fourth place. Lorenzo’s second attempt saw him post a 1’28.884 lap, moving him up to third position as he headed back to the pit lane for a tyre change with eight minutes of the session remaining.

There are still some corners in which I’m not quite satisfied with the set up of the bike. We will try to modify some things for the warm-up tomorrow.

Jorge Lorenzo

A little more than two minutes later Lorenzo was back out on the track and immediately dropped under the 1’29 mark as he posted a 1’28.650 lap for pole position, until rivals Cal Crutchlow and Marc Marquez topped the leaderboard just moments later. Lorenzo put the hammer down once more but was unable to further improve his time. He will start tomorrow’s race on the first row from third place on the grid.

Teammate Rossi had a challenging qualifying session in preparation for his 250th Grand Prix start. The nine-time world champion left the pits shortly after his teammate, hoping to find some clear track for his qualifying efforts. His second flying lap of 1’28.956 was enough to put him in fifth position, 0.281 seconds from provisional pole.

Following Lorenzo, Rossi quickly returned to the pits for a new set of rubber and was quickly back out with five minutes left on the clock. Rossi put on the heat once more, but he was unable to better his time. He will start in tomorrow’s race from eighth position on the grid.

Jorge Lorenzo (3rd / 1'28.650 / 8 laps): “I’m pleased because it’s always good to be on the front row. Obviously I wanted to take pole position, but my lap was not fast enough. Being on the first row is always positive and to have Rossi and Pedrosa in second and third row is really good. During Q1 I was a little bit nervous because from the garage I saw spits of rain on the track and we don’t like to ride in those conditions, but we were lucky. The rain stopped before Q2 and we could ride a normal session and push at the maximum. There are still some corners in which I’m not quite satisfied with the set up of the bike. We will try to modify some things for the warm-up tomorrow.”

Valentino Rossi (8th / 1'28.956 / 8 laps): “We made some mistakes during qualifying. I was quite strong on the first tyre although we knew we had to improve to start at the front, but unfortunately when we modified the bike I was a little more in trouble under braking. Because of this I also made a mistake in section three while riding on the second tyre. I was not able to improve so I have to start from the third row.

Tomorrow it is going to be difficult, because a lot of riders are in front of me. Everybody is very fast so it will be hard and it will be very important that I make a good start and have a good first lap. I have a good pace and the race is long, so we have to give the maximum. For me the rear tyre is not so bad. I think it can last the whole race. For the front we still have to decide. It will depend on tomorrow’s conditions.”

Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director: “We are satisfied with today’s qualifying results. Jorge rode a strong lap and Valentino also showed us a good performance on his first stint. We would have liked to be a little further up on the grid, but I’m still confident that we can get good results in tomorrow’s race. During this morning’s free practice sessions we showed that we have a good race pace. We are very pleased with the competitiveness of our bikes.

We are consistently fast and the tyres are working well, but we still have to choose which compound we will use for the race. Tomorrow we will use the warm-up session wisely to test the conditions and fine-tune the set up of the bikes before we make our final decision.”

A blink of an eye separates Smith from a front row start down under

Bradley Smith superbly steered his Monster Yamaha Tech3 YZR-M1 to fourth position on the grid for tomorrow’s Tissot Australian Grand Prix after an expertly fought qualifying practice today. The young British rider opened the day by surging to sixth in the morning practice with a time of 1’29.661. This was an improvement of 0.652 from yesterday’s afternoon session, which illustrated his consistent progress in lowering his lap times during the weekend. In the afternoon, it started raining moments before the QP2 session, yet it did not fall heavily enough to deem the 15 minute shootout wet.

Despite this tricky occurrence, Smith began the qualifying 2 session at full speed and attacked instantly with his ambition of landing a spot on the top two rows, on the cards. The British star produced a mature display to aggressively power to a time of 1’28.656.

I am really pleased to be fourth today even though a front row start would have been a nice bonus.

Bradley Smith

His time was only 0.006 from the front row and in addition a mere 0.014 of a second from the second position in what was a truly accomplished finish to the qualifying. This leaves the 23 year old rider fully poised for success in tomorrow’s 27 lap race which he will begin from the head of the second row.

Meanwhile, Pol Espargaro undertook a confident charge to qualify on the third row of the grid for tomorrow’s race at the fast flowing and meandering Phillip Island circuit in Australia. The high flying rookie began the day by finishing in fifth position in the morning session with an impressive time of 1’29.635 which was just over a tenth of a second from the front row.

The 23 year old rider’s positive wave of confidence continued into the afternoon qualifying 2 practice and despite the tricky situation with the weather, the Spanish rider embarked on a strong willed qualifying mission.

He finally blazed across the finish line with a best time of 1’28.968 which was only over half a second from the top of the time sheet, illustrating the close competition today. Nevertheless, his performance sees him confident for the battle tomorrow which he will start from ninth position on the grid for round 16 of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship.

Bradley Smith (4th / 1'28.656 / 9 laps): “I am really pleased to be fourth today even though a front row start would have been a nice bonus. Initially, I had hoped to qualify on the outside of one of the rows so that I could attack the first corner, so to clinch fourth is great and I am convinced that I can have a strong race tomorrow. At the beginning I decided to do four laps on my first tyre just to check the conditions plus loosen up a bit and then after pitting, I set my quickest time on the first lap on the new tyre.

The times were really close, but we achieved what we aimed for and it’s great to know that I went faster today than last year on a track where conditions were completely different. Plus this year's pole position was half a second slower than 2013’s. Nevertheless, I know that the race will be a long and challenging one and it will be very important to look after the tyre as it already starts to move after just a third of the race distance, but I will give it my all to bring home a firm result.”

Pol Espargaro (9th / 1'28.968 / 8 laps): “To be honest today's result is not what we were aiming for and I think it will be a bit of a challenge to battle through the field to get to where I want to be in the race, but I am still ready for the action. We have been a bit uncertain about the front tyre choice for the whole weekend and that didn’t make things any easier for me during my first visit here on a MotoGP bike.

Today in qualifying 2, I decided to use the softer compound of tyre, even though I was faster on the harder one, but as it rained just before the start of the session the track cooled slightly so we went for the softer option.

This was probably a small mistake, but I am learning more every race. Still, to be ninth means that I am on the third row so I am sure that I can make up some positions and ride to a strong finish at Phillip Island.”

Second row for Aleix Espargaro at Phillip Island

The qualifying session of the Australian GP saw the NGM Forward Racing rider Aleix Espargaro finishing in sixth position. The rain, started to fall at the end of the Q1, made the Q2 even more complicated. The Spaniard had to quickly change the set up of his Forward Yamaha to tackle the Q2.

Aleix set an incredible 1.28.866 and tomorrow he will take the start from the second row alongside Smith and Pedrosa. Strengthened by a very good pace, Aleix Espargaro is confident that he can fight with the guys in front of him in the race.

It was a difficult day for his teammate Alex De Angelis who suffered a technical problem in the Q1. The rider from San Marino was not able to complete his fast lap and tomorrow he will start the Australian GP from the 23rd position.

Aleix Espargaro (6th / 1'28.866 / 9 laps): “I’m very satisfied with this result as it was our target to start from the first rows. We have a strong pace and the feeling with the machine is really good so I aim at fighting with the top guys. When it started to rain at the end of the Q1 we had to change the set up quickly. I want to thank the team for the incredible job. I look forward to the race. I think we can get a good result on this track.”

Alex De Angelis (23rd / 1'32.595 /5 laps): “I cannot be happy with this result. Today we had again several technical problems and I couldn’t push as I wanted. I couldn’t even complete my fast lap in the qualifying practice. The rain that started to fall in the last minutes complicated the session and tomorrow I will take the start from the back of the grid.”

Yamaha Racing

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Event Australian GP
Sub-event Saturday qualifying
Track Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit
Drivers Valentino Rossi , Bradley Smith , Jorge Lorenzo , Alex de Angelis , Cal Crutchlow , Aleix Espargaro , Marc Marquez , Pol Espargaro , Phillip Island
Teams Forward Racing
Article type Qualifying report