Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez grabbed pole position for the first race of the 2014 MotoGP season in a thrilling Qualifying Practice 2 session that saw the front row split by just 0.094 seconds.
After a strong showing in today’s FP4 session where he finished second quickest, Marquez went one better in QP2 to set a lap time of 1’54.507 to claim pole position from GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista by a mere 0.057 seconds. Rounding out the front row for tomorrow’s race is Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Bradley Smith, the British rider’s personal best lap time of 1’54.601 good enough to claim his first front row in MotoGP. All riders on the front row set their quick times on the combination of the medium compound rear and hard compound front slick. The first QP2 session of the year was fiercely competitive, with 0.645 seconds separating the twelve riders taking part at the chequered flag.
In FP4, many riders performed long distance runs to assess their race tyre options, with the most popular front tyre option being the hard compound. For the rear tyre, the Factory Ducati, Honda and Yamaha riders had a preference for the medium compound rear, while some Open-class riders achieved good results on the soft compound rear slick. For qualifying, the need for maximum performance was reflected in the riders selecting the softest rear slick available to them; medium compound for the Factory Honda and Yamaha riders, and the soft compound for the Ducati and Open-class riders.
The next MotoGP session is Warm Up at 1800 local time (GMT+3) tomorrow, with the twenty-two lap Qatar Grand Prix commencing at 2200.
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“Thankfully track conditions improved today, which provided a good opportunity for riders to work on evaluating some different tyre options today in FP4, especially for the rear. It seems the medium compound rear tyre will be the popular choice tomorrow, but we saw some impressive performances on the Factory-only hard compound rear, and the Open-class specification soft rear tyre, so we may see quite a variation in tyre choice for tomorrow’s race. The pace among the top half of the grid is very close, both over a single lap and on race pace, so I expect we are in for a very exciting race.”