Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo kept the pressure on today ahead of this weekend’s upcoming MotoGP title showdown, taking second on the grid in qualifying for tomorrow’s Gran Premio Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana.
The defending world champion tackled the last qualifying session of the year in his usual style, first out onto the track and immediately on the pace. His first flying lap was a scorching 1’30.645, enough to drop under the current lap record and take provisional pole position. Lorenzo then returned immediately to the pits as he developed a technical issue with his number one bike.
He returned to the track with just over six minutes remaining however the problem remained so he was forced to return to the pits again to switch to bike two. He was back out for the final moments and despite a less than perfect set up was able to drop his time further to a 1’30.577 to secure second position on the front row.
Valentino Rossi took a moment at the start of the session to allow the pack to exit, offering clear track for his first hot lap attempt. The nine time world champion then got down to a 1’32.295 before returning to the pits for a fresh rear tyre.
Back on track and the last minutes saw him pick up the pace, dropping under the 1’31 mark with a 1’30.920. The time was good enough to hold provisional third on the front row until a flurry of last minute hot laps from his rivals moved him to fourth.
2nd / 1’30.577 / 7 laps
“One thing is qualifying, the other is the race. We tried our best for pole position but unfortunately bike number one had an issue when we had our second attempt at a fast lap. We went to the second bike but it was an older engine with a different character and it didn’t feel the same. If we make a good start tomorrow we can overtake Marquez and see what we can do in the race.”
4th / 1’30.920 / 9 laps
“I wanted to try for the front row but in the end I wasn’t able to which was a pity. Starting from the fourth position is not so bad. My lap time is quite good, I can go under the 31″ mark so I am quite happy. Now we have to work hard and we have to decide the rear tyre for tomorrow so we can stay with the top three. With the soft tyre I was faster but everyone is now worried about it lasting for 30 laps. The hard is safer but we also have to go fast.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“A very hot qualifying as usual. I think qualifying on the front row is again great. We expected to be faster but our best bike had a technical issue. We need to investigate this. For me the pace is very important, the pace Jorge had in free practice four was very impressive. If he can do that tomorrow in the race he can fight for victory.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“So far we have done a good job. We have speed and consistency so we are ready for tomorrow. We know that it is not going to be an easy race and there is a lot of pressure on everybody. What we have done so far makes us confident and having both riders on the first two rows is important here. We will finalize the settings of the bikes tomorrow morning in warm up and make a decision on tyre choice. We are looking forward to the finale!”
Crutchlow and Smith qualify inside top six for final showdown
Cal Crutchlow will start his farewell MotoGP race for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team from fifth position on the grid in Valencia tomorrow after an exciting qualifying session at a packed Ricardo Tormo track.
Also teammate Bradley Smith delivered another sensational qualifying performance and he will start the last round of an immensely impressive rookie campaign just one position behind Crutchlow in sixth on the grid.
Crutchlow and Smith both challenged for a front row start throughout the 15-minute session, which took place in front of packed grandstands ahead of what is anticipated to be a sell-out crowd for tomorrow’s tense title shootout between Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez.
For the first half of the session, British rider Crutchlow was a constant presence inside the top three and under clear blue skies the 28-year-old posted a fastest time of 1.31.113. That was just over 0.4s away from the top three, but keeping up his incredible qualifying record in 2013, Crutchlow’s pace secured him a top six place on the grid for the 16th time in 18 races.
Smith showed yet another outstanding Saturday afternoon display on his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 machine and a fantastic lap of 1.31.201 rocketed him into the top three with just over two minutes of the session remaining. The 22-year-old remained on the front row until right at the end of the session when a late flurry of fast lap times dropped him back to the second row ahead of tomorrow’s 30-lap race. His best lap was only 0.088s behind Crutchlow and he will start from the second row of the grid for the third time this season, aiming to secure a richly deserved top 10 finish in the final World Championship rankings.
5th 1.31.113 – 9 laps
“I can’t be too happy with today’s result but I am still optimistic for the race. I need to make some big changes in the warm-up tomorrow morning trying to improve my feeling with the bike. I was happy to qualify in front of Bradley again because he did another great job and hopefully we can have another good battle like at the last race in Japan. It feels strange to think that tomorrow is going to be my last race for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team but I believe I can fight for the podium and that would be a fairytale way to sign off and begin a new adventure.”
6th 1.31.201 – 9 laps
“Today has been a bit of a struggle to be honest. We tried a lot of things to improve the bike without any positive results, so for this afternoon we opted for a mix of today’s set-up and yesterday’s when I knew I was strong. As soon as I put the soft rear tyre in I felt really good and I put in a terrific lap. When I saw I was third fastest so close to the end of the session I thought I might get my best qualifying position. But I am really happy to be in the top six again and that equals my best grid position of the season. Hopefully I can get another good start like in the past races because tomorrow will be certainly tough with the hard tyre. I’m confident I will be more competitive and for sure i will give it my all and try to finish as close as possible to the front.”
2013 MotoGP Spain
1 Marc Marquez Honda ESP 1’30.237
2 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 1’30.577
3 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 1’30.663
4 Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 1’30.920
5 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 1’31.113
6 Bradley Smith Yamaha GBR 1’31.201
7 Alvaro Bautista Honda ESP 1’31.594
8 Stefan Bradl Honda GER 1’31.638
9 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati ITA 1’31.718
10 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 1’31.870
11 Andrea Iannone Ducati ITA 1’31.963
12 Danilo Petrucci Ioda-Suter ITA 1’33.116
13 Hector Barbera FTR ESP 1’32.773
14 Aleix Espargaro ART ESP 1’32.807
15 Claudio Corti FTR Kawasaki ITA 1’32.961
(Casey Stoner, 1-1-2008)
Fastest Lap Ever:
(Daniel Pedrosa, 11-11-2012)
Last Years Winner: