Ducati Team rider carries strong form into tomorrow’s race with Rossi in second and Pedrosa in third
Andrea Dovizioso continues to reach new heights on his Ducati Team GP14.2 machine with the Italian consolidating his claim as fastest rider in yesterday’s FP1&2 with the Italian claiming pole position during qualifying for the Motul Grand Prix of Japan at the Twin Ring Motegi Circuit and starting alongside him will be Movistar Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi and Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa.
It’s great satisfaction to finally obtain this pole position with Ducati!
Dovizioso was on scintillating pace during qualifying and he eventually set a best lap of 1m 44.502s to take the first pole for the iconic Italian marque since Casey Stoner at Valencia in 2010. Rossi was fast all session long and was in provisional pole early on and had to push hard nearing the end of the session to leap into second place and .198s ahead of Pedrosa who will be happy that he managed to stay in second after crashing while in search of pole position.
Reigning world champion Marc Marquez will start from 4th place with the Repsol Honda rider unable to match Dovizioso’s pace at the top and so will begin his first chance of retaining his MotoGP crown from the front of the second row with a lap of 1m 44.775s. Jorge Lorenzo finished the day with a 5th place grid start with the Movistar Yamaha rider setting a best time of 1m 44.784s while Andrea Iannone took the final spot on the second row for the Pramac Racing team with a 1m 44.854s lap.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Pol Espargaro heads up the third row with a best time of 1m 44.867s enough to give him a 7th place start ahead of Ducati Team rider Cal Crutchlow (1m 44.898s) with Stefan Bradl starting from 9th for the LCR Honda team and the first rider outside the 1m 44s bracket (1m 45.005s) while Bradley Smith took the final spot in the top ten for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team with a best lap of 1m 45.044s. The final places in Q2 sees NGM Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro in starting from 11th and Alvaro Bautista starting from 12th for the GO&Fun Honda Gresini team.
Dovizioso ecstatic after achieving first Ducati pole in four years
Dovizioso was absolutely thrilled in taking his first pole position for the Ducati team and said, “It’s great satisfaction to finally obtain this pole position with Ducati! We have been through some difficult times in the last year and a half, but we have constantly improved in the last few races. To succeed in being so quick throughout the weekend here at Motegi, also with my race pace, establish a good feeling with the bike before qualifying and know that you can fight for the pole is really a great feeling!
We have always worked well since the start of the year, but this weekend went even better because we managed to find a good set-up almost from the start and only had to work on fine-tuning the bike, and session after session this made all the difference. Here it’s very difficult to do a perfect lap, because it doesn’t take much to overshoot: in fact I made a mistake in the downhill turn, but luckily I managed to take pole all the same!” Dovizioso added.
Rossi and Pedrosa content with their individual performances
Rossi was very content in taking another front row start and is very happy with how his YZR-M1 is set up. Speaking afterwards he said, “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 realized 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,” Rossi added.
Pedrosa was very happy with holding onto his third place start following his last lap crash. He said, “I’m happy today because we had a good qualifying session and were setting some good times. Unfortunately I crashed on the last lap, almost at the final corner, when I was going quickly to try to get pole position. Luckily I'm fine and tomorrow I will try to use this front row spot to get a good start. It could be a very tight race, because there are many riders who have shown a good pace and this is a circuit that allows for very close lap times. We’ll see what happens but we will strive to do our best and we will remain fully focused. It will be important to ride with skill and bravery.”