Valentino Rossi impressed with his efforts during the second qualification at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit.
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo delivered strong performances in this afternoon’s MotoGP qualifying session to take second and fifth respectively for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Japan.
Rossi impressed with his efforts during the second qualification at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit. Following his teammate, the nine-time World Champion was one of the first riders to leave pit lane in the second qualifying session. Still riding without anesthetic injections, Rossi topped the timesheets early in the session with a 1’45.356, until Andrea Dovizioso took over the top spot a minute later. With nine minutes on the clock his second effort of 1’44.837 saw him take provisional pole.
The Doctor then quickly returned to the pit box for a new soft rear. He was back on track with four minutes remaining to post an impressive 1’44.557 in the last minute, just 0.055 of a second off pole. His efforts see Rossi start tomorrow’s race from the second place on the grid.
At first I was worried about my head injury, but then I realised I’m ok.
Teammate Lorenzo also looked comfortable around the Motegi circuit. Last year’s race winner wasted no time leaving pit lane at the start of the second qualifying session. His first flying lap was a 1’45.573, the first recorded lap of the session until his rivals completed their first laps, dropping him to fourth provisionally. He improved his time on his second try, posting a 1’44.982, just 0.145 seconds from his teammate’s provisional pole, to climb up to third place.
With more than seven minutes remaining Lorenzo came in for a change of tyres. When he rejoined the action on the track the usual last-minute flurry of activity saw him dropping him to seventh at the end of the session. However, he managed to rectify the situation with his second lap of 1’44.784 seconds, taking fifth place on the grid for tomorrow’s race.
Valentino Rossi (2nd / 1'44.557 / 7 laps): “I am very happy and satisfied. Especially because I will get to start from the front row, which will be very important for tomorrow’s race. It will be a long race and very tough because everybody will push at their maximum. I’m happy because with the team we worked well on the bike to improve the setting. We did a good job and before the qualifying I was strong. I hope this modification also helps my rhythm for the race.
During the practice session my rhythm was not so bad, but it was also nothing special. If we want to fight for the victory tomorrow we have to improve. At first I was worried about my head injury, but then I realised I’m ok. When it comes to the finger, this finger is very important for braking. I feel pain, but I have power in my finger and I have feeling on the brake so I can ride.”
Jorge Lorenzo (5th / 1'44.784 / 7 laps): “My last lap could have been faster, because I made a mistake. I lost two tenths but the other guys, Valentino, Dovizioso, Marc and Dani made good lap times. I didn’t do a perfect lap, but the important thing is that our pace is really good. I’m very confident. Let’s hope that it doesn’t rain tomorrow and that we can show our potential.
It’s important to make a good start and try to overtake some riders on the first laps, but the race is very long so having a good pace is going to be the most important thing. To have a good race you have to have good feeling. Let’s hope for a competitive race and try to fight for the win.”
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director: “A good qualifying this afternoon for tomorrow’s grid. Our Yamaha is working well here at Motegi and we have been able to make some small steps from yesterday with speed and pace to be even more competitive. The qualifying was very hot and the top six are separated by less than four tenths. Vale did a very good job to get a front row start and Jorge also continues to be on the pace and fast, missing the front row by less than three hundredths of a second. We will continue to work now to make another step for warm up then I think it’s going to be a very exciting race tomorrow!”
Espargaro in line with the fastest in Motegi qualifying
Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider Pol Espargaro produced a well executed performance in an extremely close qualifying today at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit to land seventh position on the grid for tomorrow’s race at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan. The 23 year old opened his Saturday account by skilfully concluding the morning practice in third and less than three tenths from the leading time in sunny conditions.
The young Spaniard’s determination continued into the afternoon, where he completed the FP4 session by finishing in ninth as he further worked on the setup of his Yamaha YZR-M1 for the race. Having sailed straight into Qualifying 2 courtesy of his FP3 performance, Espargaro put the hammer down and set a 1’44.867 time as he looked certain for a second row start, before being bumped down to seventh in the final seconds.
It’s vital to get past the Ducati because they are tough to pass due to being good on the brakes and in acceleration.
This time will see the Spanish rider start from the top of the third line with his lap also being fractionally behind the front row by a mere tenth of a second with four other riders in this bracket up to third. In addition, the reigning Moto2 world Champion’s time was impressively under the former lap record in his first appearance aboard a MotoGP bike at Motegi. Espargaro who seized his title here last year, will now look to undertake a strong performance tomorrow in round 15 of the World Championship by battling into the top five.
On the other hand, Bradley Smith completed today’s qualifying to clinch tenth for tomorrow’s race after a fiercely competitive MotoGP session in Japan. The British star began the day strongly, by finishing in sixth place in the morning practice having improved on his original FP1 time by over one and half seconds. In this session, Smith continued to work on establishing a comfortable setup on his Yamaha YZR-M1 with his Monster Yamaha Tech3 team, with his lap permitting him to sail straight through to Q2.
When the qualifying began, the British rider fought relentlessly to gain a strong starting position for the action tomorrow at the hard braking Twin Ring Motegi track in front of the passionate Japanese crowd. His hard work resulted in his time being less than three tenths from third place in the tightly contested session and tomorrow Smith will begin the 24 lap battle from the head of the fourth row as he aims to fight for the accolade of the leading satellite bike at Yamaha’s home circuit.
Pol Espargaro (7th / 1'44.867 / 7 laps): “It was a very competitive session today which is clear to see by the tight gap to the front. However to finish in seventh is not bad at all, although of course it’s not as high as what I had aimed for. I made some small mistakes during my fast lap and without these I could have been much closer to the front, which would have made the race a little easier tomorrow. Yet, I will now have to concentrate and get a great start so that I can fight and work my way through the field with the most important factor being to overtake Iannone on the first lap.
It’s vital to get past the Ducati because they are tough to pass due to being good on the brakes and in acceleration. My aim is to get behind the leaders as soon as possible in order to follow them and to study their lines because that is the best way to improve, even if I am convinced that we are already in a strong position for Yamaha's home race tomorrow.”
Bradley Smith (10th / 1'45.044 / 8 laps): “On one hand it’s positive to be just half a second from the pole position, yet to be tenth is a little disappointing but it shows how close things have been today. I am very happy with the work we undertook as we focused on race simulation to make the bike as consistent as possible for tomorrow’s race. Furthermore, we continuously improved the lap time with the end result being much better than yesterday and I am very pleased to have been able to do a 45.0. The performance of the bike was good and the team did a great job, it’s just a shame that tenth is the final outcome despite our strong showing, but that is MotoGP.
Now we will check the data and see exactly where I can improve tomorrow and I am confident in saying that we will be much higher than tenth, so I aim to get a great start and then see how well I can do. It will be a tough race at this demanding race track, but I must be as smooth as possible and make no mistakes in the first five laps, especially in the hard braking areas. I know what the Yamaha is capable of here and I have a clear plan of action so I am ready for the fight.”
Aleix Espargaro claims first open bike position at Motegi
The qualifying session of the Grand Prix of Japan saw the Forward Yamaha of Aleix Espargaro as first open bike at the finish line.
The NGM Forward Racing rider set a lap time of 1’45.315, claiming the 11th position at only eight tenths from Andrea Dovizioso, who set a new pole record of the Twin Ring Motegi circuit of 1’44.502 .
Aleix Espargaro will take the start of the Japanese GP from the fourth row and is confident to fight hard in the race to get the best possible result.
Teammate Alex De Angelis is also confident for tomorrow. Alex, who finished in 20th position with a lap time of 1’47.092, can count on a good race pace. His target is to fight with the other open bikes and to reduce the gap from the guys in front of him.
Aleix Espargaro (11th / 1'45.315 / 5 laps): “I’m not really satisfied of this result. We had several electronics problems but the team worked hard so that I could face the qualifying session in the best possible way. We finally finished in 11th position, +0.8 from pole man Andrea Dovizioso. We are struggling a bit on this track but my pace is not so bad so I’m confident for tomorrow.”
Alex De Angelis (20th / 1'47.092 / 6 laps): “I expected a better result. I was struggling with the rear and we worked with the team to improve the feeling, testing different solutions. I’m confident that we can make another step forward tomorrow. My pace is quiet good and a part from Aleix, I’m quiet close to the other open bikes.”
Progression for "YAMALUBE Racing Team with YSP" team
Regular wild card rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga successfully improved his time during the first qualification session in preparation of the Grand Prix of Japan, round 15 of the 2014 FIM MotoGP World Championship. His 1’46.876 lap around the Twin Ring Motegi circuit saw him take 17th position on the grid for tomorrow’s race.
Katsuyuki Nakasuga (17th / 1'46.876 / 7 laps): “In the fourth free practice session, I didn’t have as much rear wheel traction as I thought and went off the race line in corner 4. That put me off-balance and I wasn’t able to recover by corner 5, where I overran and went down. Fortunately, I fell when I had almost come to a complete stop, so there was no real damage to myself or the bike. Our test schedule was basically completed with today’s riding, but it is an advanced development machine and we are always collecting data, so it is better to avoid crashing. In tomorrow’s race I will be starting from the 17th spot on the grid, but I hope to get a good start and push hard just like I do in my All Japan races.”