German rider storms to maiden MotoGP pole in thrilling qualifying session
Stefan Bradl snatched his first ever MotoGP pole position in the dying second of qualifying for the Red Bull US Grand Prix in dramatic fashion with the LCR Honda rider setting a fastest lap of 1m 21.176s to beat Repsol Honda rider Marc Marquez to the top spot with the Spaniard losing the front of his RC213V at high speed while leading the session. Marquez’s fastest lap of 1m 21.193s was quick enough to start in second place ahead of Alvaro Bautista who showed much better form this weekend for the Go&Fun Honda Gresini team setting a best time of 1m 21.373s.
It’s an unbelievable sensation! My first pole position in the premier class at this spectacular circuit.
Dani Pedrosa put in an equally heroic performance, first to make into Q2 with the Repsol Honda rider having to take part in the earlier Q1 session and then setting the 7th fastest time of 1m 21.728s despite his injured collarbone. Andrea Dovizioso will start from 8th tomorrow with the Ducati Team rider on a best lap of 1m 22.026s. Bradley Smith put in another steady performance on the Monster Yamaha tech 3 bike with a best time of 1m 22.075s while Nicky Hayden set the 10th fastest time of 1m 22.090s for the Ducati Team. The fastest CRT machine today was that of Aleix Espargaro who set a best lap of 1m 22.099s while his Power Electronics Aspar teammate Randy De Puniet will star alongside him on despite retiring from Q2.
Hector Barbera was unlucky not to have qualified for Q2 with the Avintia Blusens rider setting a best time of 1m 22.808s with Alex De Angelis, substituting for the injured Ben Spies, starting from 14th for the Ignite Pramac Racing team on a best lap time of 1m 23.253s. NGM Mobile Forward Racing rider Colin Edwards starts from 15th tomorrow with a best time of 1m 23.272s with Danilo Petrucci one place behind on the Came IodaRacing Project machine (1m 23.323s). Claudio Corti will start from 17th on the second NGM Mobile Forward Racing bike with a best time of 1m 23.616s.
Bradl was thrilled with his first MotoGP pole and to have leaped another hurdle in his premier class career. He said, “It’s an unbelievable sensation! My first pole position in the premier class at this spectacular circuit, and I am now the first German rider to do this in MotoGP history. I could not ask for more! We knew that we had a good pace all weekend, but this result is yet another step forward for me and the LCR Honda Team. I am really happy with the bike set-up just like in Germany, and I want to thank my team for the job they have done.
We didn’t actually make any specific changes to the bike; we just adjusted some small things ahead of qualifying and my pace was immediately fast. We had a small problem when I had to come into the garage to change the tyre because we had lost half a second, but once I was back out again the track was clear in front of me and I could go for my perfect lap!” Bradl added.
Marquez was happy to be on the front row after his crash and is looking forward to tomorrow’s race saying, “I am happy, because despite the crash we are going to be starting from second on the grid for my first US Grand Prix. Obviously we would have liked to have taken pole, but I made a mistake at Turn 6 when I went in too fast. I lost the front end and couldn't prevent the crash. I think that we've done a good job so far and have a strong pace, so we are confident that tomorrow we will be able to cap things off with a good race.”