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Lorenzo Powers to Phillip Island Front Row

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Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider Jorge Lorenzo rode as smoothly as ever around the Phillip Island circuit today, taking third position for tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix. Teammate Valentino Rossi also felt the tension build before the crucial qualifying session, and secured seventh place on the grid.

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo qualified third on the grid at a sunny yet slightly chilly Phillip Island circuit for tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix, while teammate Valentino Rossi will start the race from seventh position.

Holding the current Circuit Best Lap record of 1’27.899s at Phillip Island, Lorenzo felt confident at the start of the 15-minute qualifying heat and was the last man out on track to avoid traffic. His first flying lap of 1’29.034s saw him grab hold of provisional second place until other riders completed their second lap, pushing him back to third. He immediately returned to the pits to continue a three-stint strategy with over nine minutes left.

One and a half minutes later the Spaniard was back out and his second attempt saw him post a 1’28.839s lap, briefly moving him up to second position, until trailing rival Andrea Iannone took over his place just moments later.

Lorenzo returned to the pit lane for a second bike swap with two and a half minutes of the session remaining. Having been pushed back to fourth, he was back out on track to put the hammer down once more. While the flag had come out, he posted a 1’28.680s lap for second position. However, still towing Iannone along, he was pipped at the post by the Italian, who rode an identical lap time, and moved Lorenzo back to third on the leaderboard.

Teammate Rossi had a challenging qualifying as he chased his seventh premier class Grand Prix victory at the Australian circuit. The nine-time World Champion left the pit as the majority of the riders streamed out of pit lane, looking for some clear track. His first flying lap of 1’30.023s was enough to put him in initial third place before being pushed back to sixth position. His second attempt saw him improving in time but not in place, posting a 1’29.235s for seventh as he headed into pit lane with more than eight minutes remaining.

Rossi quickly returned with a new set of rubber and four and a half minutes left on the clock. He set a 1’29.014s for sixth place and had time for one more go at bettering his starting position, but was unable to improve on his time. He will start tomorrow’s race from seventh position on the grid.

Jorge Lorenzo
3rd / 1’28.680 / 8 laps

“I was a little bit angry after qualifying, because my real position was second place if I could have been on track alone, but with my tow Iannone was very fast here and the Ducati’s soft tyre for sure helped him to improve two or three tenths of a second and take second from me. This is very important because usually I start better than Marquez, but my starts are the same or maybe even a bit worse than Iannone’s so this will make the first lap more difficult. We will have to be patient and know that the race is very long. Little by little I will work my way to the front and fight with Marquez for victory, that’s my goal. I’m happy with my last three fast laps, but not so much with the position, but it’s not so bad in the bigger perspective, because Vale is on the third row.”

Valentino Rossi
7th / 1’29.014 / 7 laps

“Starting from third row is always difficult and we expected a little bit more. During today we tried some different things to improve our speed, but we haven’t found a good solution. I remain consistent with my lap times, but they are not fast enough, so at the end we arrived at qualifying not being ready. I was able to do a lap that was not so bad, but it wasn’t enough to start more in front. Bridgestone is worried about this track, especially considering the past, but the grip of the new asphalt is less, so everybody’s wheels spin a lot. For this reason I think that the life of the tyre is not a problem, but it’s more important to find the right balance of the bike to reduce wheel spin.”

Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director

“A very good and important third place on the grid for Jorge, who’s showed also a strong pace during the practices. Though we expect it to be a tough race, it seems that we have a good package to fight with tomorrow. We still have some work to do on Valentino’s bike. He will start tomorrow’s race from seventh place: we would have liked to see him a little further up on the grid, because it would have made the start of the race easier, but given his consistency I’m still confident that he will be competitive tomorrow. We will continue to work hard and try to prepare something for tomorrow’s warm up to see if we can improve some final details. We will give our all in the race at 4PM.”

Espargaro to commence the Australian Grand Prix fight from the third row

Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team rider Pol Espargaro produced a tireless display of perseverance today in Australia and will begin the 16th round of the 2015 MotoGP World Championship from the third row of the starting grid. When the second day of action kicked off, the determined Spaniard got straight to work at the breathtaking 4.4 kilometre Phillip Island circuit as he pushed relentlessly in this morning’s FP3 session. Nevertheless, his determination wasn’t rewarded as Espargaro found himself in 16th position when the chequered flag fell, which meant that he needed to participate in Qualifying 1. However, after a solid run to 5th in Free Practice 4, the 24 year confidently got into gear when the first 15 minute session began. He set a best lap of 1’29.647 and then returned to the pit box in order to save a tyre for Qualifying 2. Once it started, Espargaro launched into his qualifying campaign aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1 and sped to a time of 1’29.222. The young Spaniard then attempted to lower his time further on his second run, yet it was this lap that was his personal best and his performance will see him start from 9th place on the grid. Tomorrow, Espargaro will intend to bolt forwards and join the hunt for the top satellite position in what will be a tightly contested race.

On the other side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team garage, Bradley Smith gave his all in the Qualifying 2 session today and will begin the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix from the fourth row on the grid. The 24 year old began the day by carrying on his setup work of his Yamaha YZR-M1 in order to combat the lack of grip that was affecting him yesterday. After progressing step by step, he eventually shot across the finish line at the end of the FP3 session, whilst setting a lap time of 1’29.877 that saw him clinch 9th and pass through to QP2. Once the crucial 15-minute qualifying fight commenced, Smith got straight into the groove and remained optimistic of seizing a solid starting position for tomorrow’s 27 lap sprint. By the time the shootout had finished, the young Briton had undertaken a total of nine laps with his fastest lap being a 1’29.626, which saw him qualify in 12th position. Now, Smith, who is the leading satellite bike in the World Championship standings, will once again fully intent to produce a rocket start and then battle through the field as he aims for a strong finish down under.

Pol Espargaro
9th / 1’29.222 / 7 laps

“Today was finally a positive day for us in Phillip Island. This morning during FP3, things still weren’t really going to plan, but we made some significant steps forward in Free Practice 4. This session is virtually the only time in the weekend that we can ride without any pressure of having to do a good lap, so we used the 30 minutes to evaluate different ideas. In addition, I did a few laps behind Valentino, which helped me to understand which line to take in some corners. Anyway, the modifications that we tried with our setting, improved my feeling a lot and I started to feel comfortable again. My rhythm improved straight away, as well as my riding style and also the lines I was running, so I was confident about a solid qualifying session. In QP1, I was able to set a good lap time during my first and only run, so we were able to save a rear tyre for qualifying practice 2, but that meant I had to watch the end of the session from the garage. Straight after, in QP2, I felt like I didn’t achieve the best that I could today, as I made some small mistakes in every lap of my second run. Still, after the somewhat challenging start that we had to face this weekend, I’m definitely satisfied with this result as we gave our all and we are not far off the pace which is promising for tomorrow.”

Bradley Smith
12th / 1’29.626 / 9 laps

“It goes without saying that qualifying in 12th is not what I wanted to achieve today, yet I am confident that I can recover well and still have a good finish here. We managed to partly amend the rear grip issue that we struggled with yesterday which is positive but, unfortunately, we didn’t improve on the whole as much as we needed to. This is somewhat due to the crash that was on my out lap at turn four in FP4, where I made a slight mistake. This lost us some time as we wanted to use both bikes to try some different settings. With regards to qualifying itself, during my first run I struggled to warm up the tyre properly, so my time wasn’t very fast. Then, on my second outing, I set a 1’29.6 which was better and would have been a good lap time to improve from if I had set it during my first sequence of laps, but unfortunately the session ended. For tomorrow we need to continue our work as there are a few things that need enhancing, so therefore it will be a busy warm up session for us. Yet, my rhythm itself is not too far off the pace and I think we can make some changes to boost my performance more. For sure, it will be a long GP and starting from 12th will make things a bit more difficult, yet I am convinced that with a good start we can recover several positions. After that, I expect there to be a lot of close fighting, so I aim to get into the pack and push hard for a solid result.”

Baz fourth Open in qualifying at Phillip Island

The qualifying session of the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island closed with Loris Baz in 19th position, 4th in the Open class standings, and Toni Elias in 24th place.

After a difficult start in the free practices, the Frenchman finally this morning found the right feeling with his Yamaha Forward and improved his limit by more than one second. In qualifying he scored a best lap time of 1’30.173, which earned him the 19th position on the grid just only one tenth behind Barbera. Baz is confident for the race where the goal is winning the category.

It was also a challenging qualifying session for Toni Elias who, despite the several changes on his setup, did not find the right confidence with the Australian track. The Spaniard scored a time of 1’31.837 and tomorrow he will start from the eighth row.

Loris Baz
19th / 1’30.173 / 6 laps

“After the hard sessions of yesterday, finally I found the right feeling with the Yamaha Forward. We made several changes in setting and I significantly improved my lap time in qualifying. I’m just a tenth from the first Open and I’m sure I can fight for the victory tomorrow. I’m confident for the race and I want to say thanks to the whole team for the great job they made.”

Toni Elias
24th / 1’31.837 / 7 laps

“I cannot say I’m satisfied with our result in qualifying. I was hoping something different but unfortunately, despite the changes we made, I was not as fast as I wanted. The bike was very aggressive and I struggled a lot. I hope to find the right feeling for the race.”