Normal service resumes as Marquez leaps to pole in Qatar

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Reigning World Champion sets fastest lap ahead of Bautista and Smith

Marc Marquez saved the best until last under the floodlights at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar with the reigning World Champion grabbing the first pole position of the 2014 MotoGP season for the Repsol Honda team ahead of GO&Fun Honda Gresini rider Alvaro Bautista and the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine of Bradley Smith.

I’m really happy and this pole position is a special one for me.

Marc Marquez

Marquez was quickly up to speed today after a measured first two days with the Spaniard still nursing a healing right leg and in Q2 he set a the best lap of 1m 54.507s with Bautista .057s behind and Smith just .094s off the pole position while Aleix Espargaro threw away his early advantage in Qualifying with the Open class rider dropping his NGM Forward Racing machine only to do exactly the same with his second machine and he eventually ended with a 9th place start.

Andrea Dovizioso had a very good day on his Ducati GP14 machine and the Italian set a best time of 1m 54.644s and starts ahead of Jorge Lorenzo on the Movistar Yamaha with the two-time MotoGP Champion’s best time of 1m 54.661s enough to start ahead of Dani Pedrosa who takes the last space on the second row for the Repsol Honda team with a 1m 54.703s lap. Stefan Bradl starts from 7th for the LCR Honda team 1m 54.871s while Cal Crutchlow put in a great effort to take the final qualifying spot in Q1 to continue to set the 8th best time of 1m 54.888s.

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

Photo by: Bridgestone Corporation

Valentino Rossi seemed somewhat bemused ending his qualifying session in 10th place for the Movistar Yamaha team with a best time of 1m 55.096s the best the seven times MotoGP Champion could do today. Andrea Iannone was also off his previous pace and starts from 11th for the Pramac Racing team 1m 55.127s with Pol Espargaro starting alongside the Italian in 12th place for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team with a 1m 55.152s lap. Nicky Hayden starts from 13th for the Drive M7 Aspar team with his best time of 1m 55.894s enough to start ahead of Colin Edwards on the NGM Forward Racing team with a 1m 56.042s lap.

Hiroshi Aoyama set the 15th fastest time of 1m 56.479s on the second of the Drive M7 Aspar machines ahead of Scott Redding and the GO&Fun Honda Gresini team with a best lap of 1m 56.555s. Yonny Hernandez starts from 17th place with the Energy T.I. Pramac Racing man setting a best time of 1m 56.648s ahead of Karel Abraham on the Cardion AB Motoracing machine with a best lap of 1m 56.715s. Hector Barbera starts from 19th on the Avintia Racing machine with a best time of 1m 57.006s ahead of Danilo Petrucci with a best time of 1m 57.513s for the IodaRacing Project team. Australia’s Broc Parkes set the 21st fastest time of 1m 57.574s for the Paul Bird Motorsport team ahead of Avintia Racing’s Mike Di Meglio with a 1m 57.667s lap and Michael Laverty starting from 23rd on the second Paul Bird Motorsport machine with a best lap time of 1m 58.254s.

Speaking after the race Marquez was very happy but remains focused on tomorrow’s task. He said, “I’m really happy and this pole position is a special one for me, because after coming back from injury it gives me a boost in confidence. In any case, we know that tomorrow is the day that counts and it’s in the race that points are decided, so we have to be very focused. It is going to be a very tough for me physically, because I don't have much strength in my leg and I have to compensate with my right arm. We are happy with how today went and seem to have found a good setup, with just a few details still to refine in tomorrow's warmup. It will be difficult, because many riders have pace within a tenth of each other, but we shall try to have a good race.”

Bautista was thrilled with securing a front row start and speaking afterwards he said, ““For me this second place on the grid feels like a pole position, because in this circuit I’ve always struggled in the past. During this weekend instead I have always felt comfortable with the bike, closing each practice session in the top positions, which means that we have worked very well in winter testing. Too bad only to have lost the pole position, but in the end Marquez has been capable to overtake us.

Bradley Smith, Monster Yamaha Tech 3
Bradley Smith, Monster Yamaha Tech 3

Photo by: Bridgestone Corporation

Tomorrow I expect a very tough race, but definitely interesting, because there are many rides who can keep the same pace. Moreover, it will be important to start from the front row. I hope you continue to enjoy myself like I’ve been doing so far: I will try to stay in the leading group and trying to achieve a podium finish,” Bautista added.

Smith was happy with his front row start but thought he do better saying, “I am really pleased with today, the bike felt great and I’m really satisfied with the setup. The performance during the fourth free practice session was very promising and fortunately I was able to translate that performance to the new tire. I was slightly disappointed because with the second tire, Aleix, Marc and I, all waited a bit too long, as nobody wanted to be followed. My tyres got too cold to push again, so I decided to take the bike back to parc fermé instead of taking any more risks, but I felt I still had some margin.

However, you don’t get points for qualifying, tomorrow is when it really counts and there are 22 laps to battle in. For sure a good start is the key and I know I’m pretty good at them. I also know that I will be strong on the full fuel load as I worked a lot to improve this during the winter. Having said that, there are a lot of strong riders behind me and it won’t be easy, but I’ll give it my all. Tonight I will rest up, and prepare myself and if the bike feels like it did today, I am confident of getting a good result,” Smith added.

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Series MOTOGP
Article type Breaking news
Tags bautista, featured, hatch, honda, marquez, qatar, repsol gresini, smith, tech 3, yamaha