Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi secured fifth and sixth places respectively.
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi secured fifth and sixth places respectively, just 0.001 seconds apart, this afternoon in qualifying for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of the Americas.
The 15minute shoot-out on the long Circuit of The Americas track (COTA) allowed little time for multiple hot laps so every second was crucial.
Lorenzo was first to record a time, taking what was his fastest lap of the weekend so far on his first flying lap to momentarily take the top spot. The 2’03.619 lap was challenged not long after, dropping him down the standings.
Teammate Rossi was also quick on the attack, his first lap a best of the weekend at that point, slotting in just outside the 2’03s with a 2’04.093. He then picked up the pace even further, closing in to less than a tenth from his teammate with a 2’03.670. Lorenzo managed to stay just ahead and the two Movistar Yamaha riders came in to pit around halfway, sitting in fourth and fifth respectively.
A lightening quick pit stop saw Lorenzo back out and putting it all in to his sixth lap. Despite going red through the first split he was unable to break into the 2’02s, taking a 2’03.243 on that final sixth flying lap to take fifth on the grid for the race, 0.470 seconds from Marc Marquez on pole.
Rossi’s efforts mirrored that of his teammate, putting it all in on the sixth lap to fight for the best possible grid start. He took an almost identical time to Lorenzo with a 2’03.244 lap for sixth, 0.471 seconds from first.
The Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team’s riders produced another strong-minded display in qualifying today with Bradley Smith in 8th and Pol Espargaro in 11th position for the second round of the MotoGP World Championship. Both riders moved straight into the qualifying practice2 as they made further steps forward after a challenging start in yesterday’s opening sessions.
Bradley Smith produced another sterling display at the long and twisting Texan track with the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team. Despite the complexity of the Circuit of the Americas, Smith continued his encouraging performance and leapt forward to 5th in FP3, as he was the quickest of all the Yamaha MotoGP riders. During QP2, he knocked off another two hundredth of a second from his FP3 time, but ultimately finished in 8th place, only half of a second behind the Factory Yamaha of Jorge Lorenzo. His fastest time was also a colossal improvement from last year’s best qualifying time, by almost three seconds. The young British rider’s performances so far this year confirm his determination to be the leading satellite bike, as he aims to fight for a top 5 finish in the 21 lap race tomorrow.
Rookie Pol Espargaro completed a successful run to qualify 11th for tomorrow’s Grand Prix, and only just over a second from the leading time in his second race appearance on a MotoGP bike. After overcoming the difficulty of learning the 2013 Bridgestone tyres, which he had previously not competed on, the reigning Moto2 World Champion advanced straight into QP2 with a strong 9th place in FP3, ahead of the Factory Yamaha of Valentino Rossi. Signs of progression were evident, as his best lap of 2:03.913 set in QP2, was his fastest of the weekend by 2.7 seconds compared to yesterday’s opening session, and only a tenth away from 7th place. However confidence is high for the 22 year old to gain a positive result tomorrow and score his inaugural points in the MotoGP World Championship as some of the riders in front of him were running soft tyres today, which will not be sustainable for tomorrow’s race distance.
It was a thrilling qualifying session for the NGM Forward Racing rider Aleix Espargaro, who finished as first open and 4th overall. Tomorrow he will take the start of the Texas GP from the second row, behind Marquez, Pedrosa and Bradl.
After having struggled in the free practices, in the Q1 Aleix closed second, entering the Q2, where he gave his maximum and recorded his best lap time of 2’03.240, 0.467 from pole man Mar Marquez.
It was a tough day for Colin Edwards, who struggled a lot on the technical and demanding COTA racetrack. Texas Tornado will start tomorrow from the 7th row (2’.06.741).
“The progression from the first practice on Friday is very big, we were two seconds behind and now half a second. Anyway, as I thought it’s going to be a hard race tomorrow. Our goal is to fight for fourth or third position, I think it would be a good result because here our competitors are really strong so we need to make the best result we can, to finish on the podium would be a good thing.”
“I am happy about today’s qualifying, especially because from this morning to the afternoon session we were able to improve the bike and in qualifying I was pretty fast. Following the last free practice we also made another step ahead and I enjoyed the qualifying session; I went well. I am happy to be on second row; it is not bad at all. I am also happy I am just four tenths from pole position. My pace is good, although we still have to work and cut some little tenth but I think tomorrow might be a good day for us.”
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
“Both the riders and the team have done a good job today. Last year in qualifying Jorge was a second behind and Valentino over two seconds off. Now both are within half a second of the front so the progress is clear to see. We still have some things to work out and maybe we can make another small step forward for the race. In Qatar we closed the gap over the practice sessions and were competitive at the front end during the race so we are confident that we can do the same here. The second row is not a bad place to start and the race is long and not won on the first lap. The weather could make things interesting for everyone so let’s see what Sunday brings us!”
“In general, I am quite satisfied with 8th poshave improved by 1.6 seconds from yesterday, which is positive and also a huge leap compared to the qualifying time from last year. I set a good lap time in FP3 which I was then able to better by two tenths later on in QP2. Unfortunately, I made a mistake in the last sector during my fastest lap which cost me around 3 tenths, and I would have been only 0.2 seconds from the Factory Yamaha bikes if this hadn’t occurred, which is an acceptable gap. So now we need to analyse the information, see where we can improve furthermore and make another step during tomorrow’s warm up. Anyway, I am really looking forward to the race where I will focus on getting a good start, and being as aggressive as possible to get into the top five at the first corner. No doubt, it will be a tough GP with plenty of overtaking, so I have to be prepared to pass other riders and keep a good lap time for all 21 laps.
“Overall, I am pretty happy as I went straight into QP2, which shows a big improvement since Qatar. On the other hand I am a little disappointed with 11th, as I was near the top guys, and only one tenth of a second off 7th place. If I had not made some small mistakes on the second run with the new tyre, I know I could have gone faster. The bike felt good, although I did experience some issues with the front end of the bike and also with the wheeling which we tried to fix, and will continue to resolve tomorrow. Also, I needed to relearn the track on a MotoGP bike, which is difficult as I must be smoother. Jorge and Valentino are able to be so quick as they ride in this manner, and this is what I need to improve. I feel positive for the race, as the riders in front of me, rode with a soft tyre today, which gives me an advantage as they can’t use it tomorrow. I need a good start, and it will be a tough battle but I am confident that I can overtake and get a good result.”
“First open and 4th overall is a very good result. We definitely improved in the qualifying, but we don’t have the strong pace that we had in Qatar. The bike is unstable in the hard braking and I struggled a lot. In these conditions the race becomes also very physically demanding. Anyway, we will take the start from a good grid position and I will do my best."
“The track is very demanding and this complicates the situation. I’m struggling a lot with the bike and this is not what I wanted for my home GP. We will continue to work and try to change something for the race."