A second day of challenging for the Yamaha riders in Aragon
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo faced a second day of challenging riding today in qualifying for tomorrow’s Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón, taking sixth and seventh respectively on the grid.
Having fought hard yesterday and today to find a good pace, Rossi found himself this afternoon having to compete in the first qualifying session. A slow start on a soft front and hard rear tyre initially put the nine-time world champion into seventh position on his first hot lap.
The big question mark is the front tyre, we can use medium or hard.
A slow lap followed in the hunt for clear track and then he put the pressure on, shooting to the top of the time sheet with a 1’49.172 second lap. A quick stop followed for the softer rear tyre option then he was back out with just over three minutes remaining and made a big jump, securing top and a place in qualifying two with a 1’48.692.
With just a few minutes rest it was go time again as the second qualifying heat got underway. His first flying lap was a 1’48.614, improving on his time from the first session. The Doctor was unable to beat that until after a tyre change for a second medium rear: he was back in the last minutes and scored an impressive 1’48.226 to knock his teammate out of provisional fourth place. A flurry of hot laps by rivals in the last seconds then dropped him two places to sixth on the grid where he will start tomorrow’s race.
Determined to make the best of a tough weekend, Lorenzo was straight out of the box as qualifying two began, attacking the circuit at full speed. His first flying lap was a 1’48.332, the first recorded lap of the session until his rivals completed their first, dropping him to third provisionally. His second effort was unable to better the time, taking a 1’48.604 to hold his third position.
With just over seven minutes remaining he returned for fresh tyres before re-joining the track for a final push. The local hero put the hammer down and delivered a 1’48.246 to take provisional second on the grid until the final attack of the other front runners dropped him first to fourth, then three further places to seventh on the grid at the final flag.
Valentino Rossi (6th / 1'48.226 / 8 laps): “A difficult practice yesterday and also today as we are suffering from a lack of grip. It’s difficult to ride the bike at the limit as after some laps it starts to slide a lot. We worked very hard with the team to try and improve some different settings. It looks like this afternoon we found some things so I will start from the second row, which is not so bad, it's quite good. Now we have to try to find some small improvement for the warm up and for the race so we can try to do the maximum tomorrow afternoon. The big question mark is the front tyre, we can use medium or hard. They are very similar so we have to see what the track temperature will be.”
Jorge Lorenzo (7th / 1'48.246 / 8 laps): “It's unbelievable how in just two weeks everything can change just for the track. It’s true that this year we have even more difficulties to be competitive here. I’m very disappointed because today we got two wrong tyres for the rear. They were not good. One was defective in the morning and the second tyre in qualifying was also not good. I expected to improve four or five tenths but I couldn’t, improving by just one tenth. When you have more difficulties sometimes you get even more problems as happened today. I think our pace is not that bad compared to our grid position so if we can make a good start and be patient we can fight. The first two corners will be difficult, then little by little we can make some positions and fight for the podium."
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director: “Following a tough day of practice yesterday we worked hard last night to find solutions for the challenges facing us on this circuit. We’ve tried several different options and although we are closer than yesterday we are still looking for the key to make that significant step forward. Both Jorge and Vale have as usual given 100% to qualify in the best position possible. Unfortunately Jorge’s second qualifying tyre didn't work as it should which left us unable to capitalise on his full potential. For sure we will continue to work this evening to find something we can offer them for warm up tomorrow morning so we will see. It will be a long race tomorrow and both are real fighters. We are also expecting possible rain tomorrow which will change everything for everyone.”
High flying Espargaro snatches 4th in Aragon Qualifying
Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider Pol Espargaro produced a fantastic qualifying performance to seal 4th place on the grid for tomorrow’s round 14 at Aragon. The young Spaniard started the day brilliantly by finishing FP3 in 3rd position with a best lap of 1’48.377 which was only a quarter of a second from the leading rider. Espargaro then claimed 7th during the FP4 session after undertaking some final adjustments to his Yamaha YZR-M1 under the bright Spanish sun to prepare for Sunday’s race.
The reigning Moto2 world champion’s hot form continued as the fifteen minute shootout commenced and ended superbly as he blasted over the finish line with a strong result of 1’47.865 which will see him begin the 23 lap race at the head of the second row. The 23 year old rookie’s efforts today give him the perfect platform to fight for the title of the leading satellite bike at the 5078 meter circuit tomorrow in front of his home crowd.
On the other side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 garage, Bradley Smith will start from the fourth row in 11th after unfortunately falling whilst campaigning for a strong qualifying position. The British rider began his day well by setting the 6th quickest time in FP3 with a 1’48.615 which was less than three tenths from his team mate in 3rd and already 0.239 faster than his qualifying time from last year. This convincing performance enabled him to pass straight into Q2 and highlighted his rate of improvement plus his ambition for the qualifying.
As the session began, the British star ran his first few laps to gather momentum, before pitting and changing to the second tyre. However, whilst beginning his charge Smith lucklessly fell, yet his earlier lap of 1’48.810 confirmed 11th. However, he remains fully determined for the race where he intends to undertake a flying start and score a positive result at the MotorLand Aragon circuit aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1.
Pol Espargaro (4th / 1'47.865 / 8 Laps): "From the very first practice this weekend I had a good feeling on the bike and to score a 4th position in qualifying is definitely something we have to be happy about. I didn't make things easy for myself as I was very nervous during my first run, probably because I knew that I should have been faster than some of the other riders, so I pushed too much and didn't feel too comfortable with the rear tyre.
During the pit stop we made a small modification and I calmed myself down, so when I found myself behind Pedrosa on the out lap I was sure we could do a good job. To start on second row is really positive but we still need to continue working as the conditions tomorrow will change a lot. For sure the temperature and grip level will be different so we have to be prepared to fight with the factory bikes. In any case I will give it my all to please the crowd here in Spain."
Bradley Smith (11th / 1'48.810 / 5 Laps): "After a truly positive and productive day it is of course disappointing to finish the qualifying in this manner. At the end of my out lap in preparation for my second run, I was looking for someone to follow like Valentino, Pol and Bradl who were all behind me and I thought getting a tow would have helped me to squeeze an extra tenth or so. Unluckily I did not consider that there were a lot of right handed corners at that point of the circuit and after changing to a left corner, the tyre was slightly cold and I had a big highside.
However the day was still positive regardless of the end result as we worked on the setting and electronics in order to preserve the tyre as tomorrow it will be a tricky race and tyre life seems to be the main issue here. It’s a disadvantage to start that far back but I believe in terms of the lap times, it will be close and there’s a long way to the finish flag. I know how vital a good start is, especially with the short run to the first corner and even though I will have to pick my way through the field, I am still confident for the fight."
Espargaro first open at Aragon
The NGM Forward Racing Team and Aleix Espargaro confirmed today their competitiveness bringing the Forward Yamaha once again on top of the Open category. The Spaniard did a great job to improve the set up of his machine with race tyres and is quiet confident with his pace. Despite he couldn’t use all the potential out of the soft tyre due to some traffic on track during his fast lap, Aleix set a lap time of 1’48.586 and tomorrow he will take the start of the Aragon GP from the first spot of the 4th row (10th).
Alex De Angelis’ qualifying session was partly compromised by two crashes, fortunately without consequences during the FP4. With a lap time of 1’50.263, De Angelis finished in 19th position and tomorrow he will give the maximum to get the best possible result, managing the race and also the pain, as he is not completely recovered from the scaphoid fracture.
Aleix Espargaró (10th / 1'48.568 / 7 Laps): “I like this track a lot and I expected to be more in front here. It’s a pity that we couldn’t use all the potential of the soft tyre as my fast lap was spoiled by Hector Barbera, who was in front of me. He entered the pit lane without signalling it and I almost crashed. Anyway, I’m confident with my pace as we made a step forward in terms of set up with the race tyres. Considered that I’m starting from the 4th row, the race will be more complicated and it will be crucial to make a good start and recover some positions from the first laps”.
Alex De Angelis (19th / 1'50.263 / 7 Laps): “This morning I crashed twice and I lost a bit of confidence and this affected also the qualifying session. Moreover I was slowed down by Di Meglio during my fast lap. Anyway, I have the pace to fight with the other open bikes and this is my target. Regarding the pain, today I could manage it, but I didn’t do too many laps in a row. The race will be long (23 laps) so I hope to be able to manage it in the best possible way”.