Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s local hero Jorge Lorenzo dominated 99% of the session.
Blazing sunshine and track temperatures of 50°C provided the background to a duel for pole position this afternoon in qualifying for tomorrow’s Gran Premio de España.
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s local hero Jorge Lorenzo dominated 99% of the session, taking second at the end to secure his place on the front row of the grid for the race.
Lorenzo led the qualifying heat from his first timed lap, dropping immediately into the 1’38s with a 1’38.541 lap. He remained unchallenged, coming in for a change of rear tyre with eight minutes remaining and returning to the circuit in under a minute to continue his attack. He was unable to improve on his lap time, but again remained unchallenged until the last minute as rival Spaniard Marc Marquez took pole, just over four tenths ahead of him.
Nine time world champion Valentino Rossi was straight out in to the action behind Jorge Lorenzo, making a Yamaha one-two attack on the track. His first flying lap of 1’39.050 gave him initially second before dropping to third as the pace increased. He returned to the pits with eight minutes to go in fourth position.
Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team experienced a positive day of qualifying at the tight and twisty Circuito de Jerez after both riders qualified on the third row for tomorrow’s 27-lap sprint.
Pol Espargaro will contest the Grand Prix de Espana from 8th position on the grid after the Spanish rider produced a powerful and determined ride today in hot conditions in Jerez. The 22 year old rookie furthered his competitive streak during the opening races to complete FP3 with a top time of 1.39,530, ending in 9th position. This permitted him to qualify straight through to the Q2. He experienced slight issues yesterday due to having to relearn the relevant racing lines for a MotoGP bike, which differ from the Moto2 ones.
Yet, today the Spanish rider showed true grit to clinch 8th position with a best lap time of 1.39.293, which was less than half a second behind multiple world champion and Factory Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi. The reigning Moto2 world champion who is growing ever confident in his race pace and ability, will be gunning for a strong finish tomorrow in his fourth MotoGP race aboard the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team Yamaha YZR-M1, as he aims to build on his personal best result of 6th position in Texas.
NGM Forward Racing riders Aleix Espargaro and Colin Edwards will take the start of the Spanish GP respectively from the 5th and 11th positions of the starting grid. Both riders used at the best the free practice of the morning to work on the set up of their machine in preparation of the race, with Colin Edwards who set a superb 1’39.200, finishing in 5th place of the FP3 and Aleix Espargaro who worked on the race pace with hard tyres, closing with the 7th best lap time (1’39.267).
In the Qualifying Espargaro and Edwards gave their best to get the best possible result, with the Spaniard claiming the fifth position (1’39.007) and best open behind pole man Marc Marquez, Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi. A crash without consequences prevented Aleix to further improve his lap time.
It was the best qualifying session for Colin Edwards, who couldn’t replicate his lap time of the morning, but despite this he finished with a very positive 11th position (1’39.814). Colin found a good set up on the technical track of Jerez and is confident for tomorrow’s race.
Jorge Lorenzo (2nd, 1'38.541): “We tried our best to make the best lap time, but unfortunately with the second tyre I don't know why I it didn't feel the same, it felt a little more slippery which is why I didn't improve my lap. The goal was to stay in the first row; that was important. Obviously pole position would be better but the most important thing is to start well tomorrow, I think we have a good pace so we can definitely fight at the front. It will be important to stay close at the front for the first couple of laps, the rear tyre is going to drop a lot but I feel physically good as I did last year which will be very important for the race.”
Valentino Rossi (4th, 1'38.857): “I wanted to try for the front row but I knew it would be very difficult. In all the practice and also this afternoon I wasn't very far from the top three and my lap time is good. I’m quite satisfied because it’s the best qualifying and especially I feel good with the bike. We worked well in the practice and I have a good setting. Tomorrow I will try to do the maximum to stay with the top three. We still have to improve something with acceleration as with the high temperature we spin a lot. We will decide on the tyre tomorrow when we see the temperature.”
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director: “So far we have done a good job and we are set for tomorrow, although we still have to think about the different tyres. We have a good pace and were able to do a long distance over FP4 to get important data. It will be a tough one, three very hot Spanish riders and Vale is also a real contender. It’s going to be very physical, there are a number of great overtaking places on the track, including turn one and turn six so I expect a good race for fans to watch! Jorge made an impressive lap straight out of the pits. First and second row are good positions for the start. We’re looking forward to tomorrow.”
Pol Espargaro (8th, 1'39.293): “Today I am really pleased with the level of improvement we have made, and feel great about starting from 8th on the grid. My best time from FP2 was a 1.41, and finally I finished with a 1.39,2, so it’s clear to see how much of a leap forward we have made. I am improving race by race, and we found a really positive setting, which I am very comfortable with and it is allowing me to ride faster. The competition will be fierce tomorrow, but every race is different. This one will be quite tricky due to the conditions, but I am happy with my race pace and I really look forward to battling in front of my fans in my home country, even if we are completely set yet. I tried both tyre options over the weekend, but we have to wait for the weather tomorrow morning to make the final decision about which one we want to do the race with.”
Bradley Smith (9th, 1'39.390): “Today was a challenging day as there were a few issues which we weren’t fully able to amend, but I am pleased that I was still able to qualify inside the top ten again, and will be able to start on the third row despite our problems. During the free practice sessions here, I have spent time trying to solve the issue of the bike‘s feeling at the beginning of a race, and also my riding position. I concentrated on finding a solution, and rode with a full fuel load to try to test this situation. The crash yesterday didn’t help anything at all, and with the contrasting conditions of the track, all of the data we collected wasn’t very useful. Now we need to concentrate on a setup for tomorrow. My race pace is good, and I feel optimistic about a good result this weekend.”
Aleix Espargaro (5th, 1'39.007): “I’m satisfied as we worked very well in the FP3 and FP4 in preparation of the race. I have a good pace and I’m confident for tomorrow. It was a pity for the qualifying! I was lapping in 1’39.0 and I was missing a couple of tenths from Jorge and Valentino to be in front row so I pushed hard but I was at the limit and I lost the front. I’m disappointed but I tried it! It’s not easy to beat the official bikes but we will keep on trying. For tomorrow the tyres will be a key element. We will use the hard option, it is not so hard as we would have wanted but this is what we have, so I’m not worried about it”.
Colin Edwards (11th, 1'39.814): "I’m happy with today’s result. The bike was good already from the morning session. We sorted out the electronics and we improved a lot the set up of the machine. I’m starting to understand more the bike and using the correct tyres I was comfortable and I could push as I wanted. In the qualifying we couldn’t replicate the same strong performance, but the feeling was good so I’m confident for the race. We are evaluating which tyre we will use in the race as this will be very important. With the hot temperatures, the machine spins a lot so tyres will be a key element”.