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Lorenzo Secures Second Row Start in Intense Qatar Qualifying

Lorenzo_Qatar MotoGP

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi pushed hard this evening at the Losail International Circuit to take sixth and eighth respectively on the grid in qualifying for tomorrow‘s Grand Prix of Qatar.

Lorenzo was the last rider to start the 15-minute qualifying heat to be ensured of some clear track space to push out his flying laps. He immediately dropped under the 1‘55 mark on his first hot run before posting a 1’54.803, to move up to provisional fourth in the timesheets. With less than five minutes left he came in for a fresh set of tyres to have another go at a time attack only a minute later. The double MotoGP Champion gave his all on his third flying lap of the day and improved his time with a 1’54.711 lap to finish the session in sixth place, 0.598s off the front.

Teammate Rossi continued to make progress today. The nine-time World Champion was quick to get out on track, making the most of the short time given to post a flying lap. His first stint saw him briefly take provisional fourth position with a 1’55.192 lap, but a flurry of activity then pushed him down four places. Rossi moved back up to sixth in the timesheets with a 1’54.995 before he returned to the pits. He came back out on track with five minutes of the session remaining for a last hot lap. Now back in eighth place, he gave his all and clocked a 1’54.851, 0.738s from pole position. This time briefly put him in seventh place, before the pace of the field picked up. Rossi will start tomorrow‘s race from the third row of the grid in eighth place.

Jorge Lorenzo

6th / 1’54.711 / 7 laps

“My position is not so bad, considering that a lot of riders have an extra tyre. Winning is very difficult here, because for the moment we haven‘t found the perfect set-up. In FP4 we got a tyre that didn‘t have any grip, but in qualifying, luckily, we got the first tyre working very well. The second tyre had less grip, but wasn‘t too bad. I made quite a good time considering the condition of the track. We have to work. We don‘t know what‘s going to happen tomorrow on the long distance with the softer tyre. It‘s going to be hard to maintain our pace throughout the whole race, but I‘m physically and mentally prepared to give the maximum.”

Valentino Rossi

8th / 1’54.851 / 7 laps

“I hoped to achieve a better position on the grid, but it‘s not so bad. For sure the second row would have been better than the third, but the bike‘s pace was good and I had quite a good feeling. The pace was not so bad, though Marquez and Dovizioso‘s was better, but it‘s just Saturday. We have to work, try to improve and save the tyres as much as possible to have a better pace at tomorrow‘s race.”

Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director

“Another step has been made by both our riders today. We will try to find something for the warm-up to increase the rear tyre’s life. The riders are comfortable on the bike and quite satisfied about the way the bike is behaving. I think it‘s going to be a really tough race tomorrow, especially at the beginning, when a lot of riders will be fighting for the front group. In the end, I expect that only a few riders are going to be able to fight for the victory. We will try to find something in the warm-up to perfect the bikes‘ set-ups so we‘re ready to compete.”

Smith to charge from 7th on the grid for opening Qatar race

Bradley Smith will begin his 2015 MotoGP campaign from the head of the third row of the grid after a brilliant display of determination in qualifying at Qatar. The young British rider started the day confidently by completing FP4 in 7th place, before challenging in qualifying session one. Here, the 23 year old rider undertook a superb effort in the dying seconds to post a time of 1’55.235 and move through to the second 15 minute shootout. The final qualifying saw Smith meet the chequered flag in 7th place after speeding to a best lap of 1’54.732. This was all the more impressive in the fiercely competitive class with the first eleven riders of the grid being covered by under a second. Furthermore, Smith’s lap was only six tenths of a second from the pole position time and his qualifying performance sees him primed for tomorrow’s 22 lap sprint.

Meanwhile Pol Espargaro will start the first race of the year from 10th position on the grid aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1 under the floodlights. The young Spanish rider completed FP4 in 6th place with a positive display before qualifying session two commenced. Here the 2013 Moto2 World champion leapt into action at the Losail International circuit and by the close of the intense shootout, the Spaniard produced a best time of 1’55.004, with a gap of only half a second separating him from the front row. Espargaro’s tenacious performance in qualifying leaves him poised for a top points scoring finish tomorrow in order to kick start his 2015 season positively.

Bradley Smith

7th / 1’54.732 / 7 laps

“I’m really happy with today’s performance and it’s pleasing to finish so close to the second row. I certainly didn’t make it easy on myself as I had to go through QP1! Yet, I think we’ve been battling with some tyre issues recently. The one I had yesterday wasn’t good and the same thing happened again in QP1 today but we didn’t adjust anything else on the bike other than changing the tyre and I improved by half a second. It’s a bit of a gamble with tyres at the moment because of the test and the tyres have been warmed up and then cooled down quite a lot. Anyway, I will start the race from 7th on the grid and I will certainly be in the hunt for a good result. I am feeling optimistic and my race pace is positive so I’m confident of a strong finish to begin this year. I made it count when it mattered today and gave my absolute all, so although I didn’t help myself initially, we’ve pulled through and now I’m ready for tomorrow.”

Pol Espargaro

10th / 1’55.004 / 7 laps

“All in all, I can’t be too dissatisfied about the day. The final free practice went very well as we managed to solve some issues with the used tyres which we were having over the weekend. However, after that, we had to start qualifying with new tyres and so we had to face a few other things that we need to adjust for tomorrow. Nevertheless, our bike has been competitive and I believe that we are ready for the race. Of course, starting from the fourth row of the grid won’t make things any easier and for sure, the Ducati’s will be strong, especially at the beginning before their tyres begin to drop. Yet, our rhythm is not too bad and if we can be aggressive at the start and then maybe pass some of the bikes in front of us, we can commence the 2015 season on a high.”

Difficult qualifying session for the team Athinà Forward Racing in Doha

Stefan Bradl and Loris Baz ended up respectively 18th and 23rd in the qualifying session for the team Athinà Forward Racing on the track of Doha.

During the free practice session, before qualifying, the German’s bike was hampered by an electrical problem and was forced to use bike two for qualifying. In Q1 Bradl posted a best lap of 1.55.791, earning the 18th position on the grid in the sixth row.

Qualification was also an uphill battle for his teammate Loris Baz. After a bad crash yesterday, the Frenchman did not find the right confidence with the front and he finished in 23rd position and will start tomorrow’s race from the eighth row.

Stefan Bradl

18th / 1’55.791 / 7 laps

“I can’t say I’m happy with this qualifying. During FP4 I had an engine problem on bike one and I had to return to the garage. In qualifying, I struggled both with the electronics and with the rear tire. I also had some chattering problems and I could not push as I wanted. We are now analysing the data and we remain focused on the race.”

Loris Baz

23th / 1’56.454 / 7 laps

“Unfortunately, because of the crash of yesterday, I had one less practice session the other riders. I was hoping to lap more in FP4, but I had some electronics problems that slowed my down. Too bad, I was looking for something more in qualifying, but I stay positive for the race. It will be important to find the right confidence with the front, have a good start and remain close to the front of the pack.”

2015 MotoGP Qatar

Losail Circuit 28/03/2015

1 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati ITA 1’54.113
2 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 1’54.330
3 Marc Marquez Honda ESP 1’54.437
4 Andrea Iannone Ducati ITA 1’54.521
5 Yonny Hernandez Ducati COL 1’54.675
6 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 1’54.711
7 Bradley Smith Yamaha GBR 1’54.732
8 Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 1’54.851
9 Danilo Petrucci Ducati ITA 1’54.876
10 Pol Espargaro Yamaha ESP 1’55.004
11 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki ESP 1’55.035
12 Cal Crutchlow Honda GBR 1’55.123
13 Maverick Viñales Suzuki ESP 1’55.246
14 Scott Redding Honda GBR 1’55.428
15 Hector Barbera Avintia ESP 1’55.604
18 Stefan Bradl Yamaha DE 1’55.791
23 Loris Baz Yamaha FRA 1’56.454

Circuit Length:
5380

Weather:
Dry

Lap Record:
1’55.537
(Casey Stoner, 1-1-2009)

Fastest Lap Ever:
1’53.927
(Jorge Lorenzo, 9-3-2008)

Last Years Winner:
Marc Marquez