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Espargaro and Viñales Top-10 at Motegi Qualifying

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Team Suzuki Press Office – October 10.

The qualifying day at Twin Ring Motegi saw the two Team SUZUKI ECSTAR riders make important improvements in their performances, finally finding better set-ups that allowed Aleix Espargarò to get the seventh place on the grid and Maverick Viñales the 10th place spot.

In a day that was colder than yesterday, with clouds already filling the sky, Espargaro had some troubles exploiting the soft tyre at its best, but the non-optimal feeling with the tyres were not bad enough to prevent him from scoring a very good 1’44.809 in Q2. More to this, his pace with hard tyres is good news as it has also consistently improved during all the three sessions, giving him good hopes for tomorrow.

A bigger step was also made by Viñales, who struggled yesterday to find a proper feeling but could finally be much more competitive today, finding a better balance for his machine that allowed him to cut his lap time. In the morning session his feeling was immediately better with the bike and it improved, although not enough to get direct access to Q2. He gave his best in Q1, leading the classification for almost the whole session and finally scoring the 1’45.030 that got him into the final qualifying. Overall at the end of the Q2 session he placed 10th with a lap of 1’45.081.

Davide Brivio – Team Manager:

“I think today we made some important progress and I’m proud of this fact. Aleix couldn’t find an optimal feeling with the soft tyre, probably due to the colder conditions of the track, but despite this he got direct access to Q2 and seventh place on the grid, not so far from the second row. Most importantly, he could consolidate his feeling with the hard tyre, scoring consistent and fast lap times, therefore giving us high hopes for tomorrow. I’m very happy for Maverick as he could finally improve significantly both his feeling with the bike and his lap times which were much better than yesterday. He did a good job in Q1 entering Q2 and finally he got a good position on the grid. His feeling with the pace is good so we will see. For tomorrow we have also the unknown of the weather, the forecasts say there will be rain coming during the race, therefore we will have to be ready to adapt to any conditions.”

Aleix Espargaro:

“The reality is that I’m happy with seventh place but I’m not so satisfied about the day overall. Today the track was a lot colder than yesterday and in these conditions the soft tyre couldn’t perform as well as I expected. However, P7 is a good start, we are very close to the second row and this means we are in good shape. On the other hand I feel very comfortable with the hard tyre, I have been fast since yesterday with that configuration and I feel comfortable about the pace for tomorrow. For sure we have to make some more checks and see how we can further improve, and at the same time we’ll have to see the weather conditions since some rain is expected. In that case it will be an unpredictable race, we have had two wet races so far and they were completely the opposite: We will see what happens and how we can react.”

Maverick Viñales:

“Finally I could improve a lot from yesterday and I’m very happy with this. We’ve lost almost the whole of Friday with a configuration that didn’t make me feel totally comfortable, but it was good to gain experience; in fact today I have a much better feeling with the bike and I improved a lot. My lap times today are faster: 1.4s on the single fast lap and around 1.0s on consistent pace overall. This means we are getting closer to my team-mate who is of course my first point of reference. Tomorrow it’s hard to predict, we are expecting rain and this could mix-up things because we have very little experience of these conditions, but at the same time it could represent a chance of a higher-place finish that we could exploit. My GSX-RR has a good balance on wet set-up, therefore I hope that in any case we will be able to react properly and find a good technical set up.”

GP of Japan – Qualifying Classification:

1. Jorge LORENZO, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – 1’43.790
2. Valentino ROSSI, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – 1’43.871 +0.081
3. Marc MARQUEZ, Repsol Honda Team – 1’44.216 +0.426
4. Andrea DOVIZIOSO, Ducati Team – 1’44.322 +0.532
5. Andrea IANNONE, Ducati Team – 1’44.436 +0.646
6. Dani PEDROSA, Repsol Honda Team – 1’44.582 +0.792
7. Aleix ESPARGARO, Team SUZUKI ECSTAR – 1’44.809 +1.019
8. Cal CRUTCHLOW, LCR Honda – 1’44.932 +1.142
9. Bradley SMITH, Monster Yamaha Tech 3 – 1’45.067 +1.277
10. Maverick VIÑALES, Team SUZUKI ECSTAR – 1’45.081 +1.291