Valentino Rossi rise to the top to start tomorrow’s Gran Premio de la Comunitat Valenciana from pole position.
A super heated last qualifying session of the season at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit this afternoon saw Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi rise to the top to start tomorrow’s Gran Premio de la Comunitat Valenciana from pole position. His teammate Jorge Lorenzo will start directly behind him from fourth place on the grid.
Rossi clinched his first pole since Le Mans 2010 by lingering in the pits for a little while at the start of the session, allowing him to fully focus on a lap time once he entered a relatively empty track. Putting down a 1’31.765, the nine-time World Champion briefly set provisional pole. He went on to further improve his time but not his position with a 1’31.614 lap, leaving him in eighth place with eight minutes of the session remaining. Rossi then returned to the pits for fresh rubber and was back out again two minutes later.
I like it a lot and I’m very happy, especially because it will be very important for tomorrow’s race.
He became one of the key protagonists in an incredible fight for pole as the times started to drop into the 1’30s. His improvements continued as he initially set provisional pole with a 1'31.198 lap. He later got pushed back to fourth but, with one lap remaining after the flag had come out, he dropped a final time of 1’30.843 to take the 50th pole in his MotoGP career and his 60th pole over all classes.
Teammate Lorenzo was also one of the last riders to get on the track this afternoon. Once out he immediately fired off a fast lap and set provisional pole with a 1’31.726, before getting pushed back to eighth as the pace quickened. He went on to improve with a 1’31.421 to rise back up to second and with seven minutes remaining returned to the pits for a fresh rear qualifying tyre.
Three minutes later he was back out and continued to improve his time when he put in another hot lap of 1’31.049, to move up four places to second. He looked good for a front row until a flurry of late activity from other riders pushed him to fourth position, on the second row.
Valentino Rossi - 1st / 1'30.843 / 8 laps: “Getting my 50th pole position in my MotoGP career is a great achievement. It was a bit of a surprise, I didn’t expect it. I knew that I could do a good lap time because I felt really good with the bike. When I pushed the times were already not so bad, but on the last lap I was able to give a little bit extra. To get another pole position after four years is quite emotional. I like it a lot and I’m very happy, especially because it will be very important for tomorrow’s race.”
Jorge Lorenzo - 4th / 1'31.049 (+0.206) / 7 laps: “Fourth place is good, keeping in mind that all the riders’ times are very close. I tried to do some good lap times. I did one fast lap but I made a mistake in the second and I went wide and I lost one or two tenths of a second. Valentino was behind me and he improved his lap time and went in front. This happens sometimes and you can lose some positions because of it. Our rivals are really competitive and they can take slow corners really late and exit corners very easily with a lot of acceleration, but we are not so bad. We have a great pace. The race is going to be long, so it won’t be easy but we have a lot of potential to win the race.”
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director: “It is incredible to see Valentino on pole, especially at a place where in the past he has struggled to go fast. Jorge’s times also looked good today. He was consistently fast, so it’s a pity that he lost the first row at the end of the session as he deserved to be there. He has a good rhythm and he has won many races here, so I think we can be optimistic for tomorrow.
We’re still not satisfied about the settings; compared to yesterday we made a big step in the right direction, but there are still some things that we need to improve. The race will be 30 laps, which is quite long. This is quite difficult to manage, not only physically for the riders, but also technically and tyre-wise. We’ll try to find something tomorrow morning that will hopefully give us some benefits.”
Strong second row start for Espargaro in season final qualifying at Valencia
Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team rider Pol Espargaro will begin the final race of his debut season in the MotoGP class from the rear of the second row in sixth after a strong qualifying in Valencia. The young Spaniard started his day in superb form by completing Free Practice 3 with a result of 1’31.083 which saw him end the session impressively in second place and only 0.133 from the leading lap.
This set him up perfectly for QP2 under gloriously sunny yet windy conditions at the Ricardo Tormo circuit. During the qualifying dash, Espargaro launched into a formidable run instantly before finishing with a best time of 1’31.307 that was set at the close of session on the last of his nine laps. The 23 year old rider’s notable efforts saw him fantastically clinch sixth in what was a strong-minded and well fought performance with his time being only four tenths from pole position.
The wind was really strong this afternoon so any of the riders were lucky if they managed to have a wind free run.
Tomorrow he will lunge forward at the start of the 30 lap race as he aims to confirm sixth in the championship standings in the Gran Premio Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana.
Meanwhile, Bradley Smith will contest in the final race of the 2014 season one place behind his teammate, in seventh on the MotoGP grid after undertaking a strong ride in qualifying today. The British star began his day at Valencia by finishing in tenth position in the morning having used the session to complete further adjustments to the setup of his Yamaha YZR-M1. His best lap was 1’31.469 and resulted in him being only three tenths from the front row.
Smith continued his forward momentum into the qualifying and concluded the 15 minute shootout with a top result of 1’31.324, leaving him at the head of the third row for tomorrow’s race. His time was a blink of an eye behind his teammate by only 0.017 and he will seek to conclude the race as the leading satellite bike in the final round.
Pol Espargaro - 6th / 1'31.307 (+0.464) / 9 laps: "Of course a second row start is nothing to be too unhappy about, even though after our performance this morning, I expected to finish a bit higher up the grid. However, to be just behind the four factory bikes as well as Iannone is definitely a promising position for us to be in for tomorrow. In addition, I remain convinced that we are stronger in the race than what we have shown on the single lap today. The wind was really strong this afternoon so any of the riders were lucky if they managed to have a wind free run. I unfortunately made a small mistake on my fastest lap and with these small gaps, you can easily lose a couple of positions. However, to be only four tenths from pole is a good achievement and puts us in a good place to fight from in order to end our season in sixth overall tomorrow, which is our aim."
Bradley Smith - 7th / 1'31.324 (+0.481) / 9 laps: "I am pleased with the qualifying result today as it is a solid place to start the final Grand Prix from. The conditions on track were quite tough and with a lot less grip compared to last year. Plus the wind really picked up this afternoon and was quite aggressive, particularly into the first corner. I finished with a time that was close to Pol’s and I believe that is why our team works so successfully together as we have been battling since 2005 so we know each other very well. I finished 0.4 of a second from the pole and I qualified ahead of Aleix who, along with Pol, is the contender to my target of landing sixth in the championship standings. So overall, the result today leaves me in quite a promising position for tomorrow and I look forward to the battle in the 30 lap sprint at Valencia."
Aleix Esparagaro first open bike in Valencia qualifying
The last qualifying session of the season ends up with another pole position in the Open class for the NGM Forward Racing rider Aleix Espargaro. The Spaniard stopped the clock on 1.31.468, just 0.643 from the pole position and tomorrow he will start the GP de la Comunitat Valenciana from the 11th position.
It was also a positive Saturday for Alex De Angelis. He qualified 19th on the grid after a heavy crash, fortunately without consequences for the rider. Despite his session being compromised by the incident, Alex is confident for the race.
Aleix Espargaro - 11th / 1'31.486 (+0.643) / 9 laps: “I’m happy with the work done during this weekend, even if I expected a better result for this qualifying. Tomorrow we will take the start from the 11th spot on the grid. Despite this position, we are only 0.643 from the pole position, so we are all quiet close. For the race it will be important to maintain the contact with the front guys. I aim at finishing this special season with the NGM Forward Racing Team with a good result.”
Alex De Angelis - 19th / 1'32.453 (+1.610) / 8 laps: “We did a good job in the FP3, and I was confident for the afternoon session as the feeling was good and also the pace. We made some small modifications for the qualifying, but in the FP4 I crashed badly, compromising the session. I went back on track and I succeeded to repeat the lap times of the morning. All in all, I’m confident for the race. We will continue working for the race.”