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Movistar Yamaha All Set For Spanish Grand Prix With 1-2 Start

Movistar Yamaha_042316

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo continued their strong form on the second day at the Circuito de Jerez ahead of tomorrow’s Gran Premio de España. Squeezing everything out of their YZR-M1s at the partly cloudy Spanish track, Rossi and Lorenzo had a nail-bitingly tense duel for pole position this afternoon and took first and second respectively on tomorrow’s grid.

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo kept the pressure on in qualifying this afternoon for tomorrow’s Gran Premio de España, taking first and second on the grid.

Rossi was one of the favourites to claim a spot on the front row after dropping the fastest time, a low 1’49s lap, in FP3 this morning.

As the last rider to take to the track at the start of QP2, he had clear tarmac in front of him and was quick to push out a strong time attack. His first flying lap of 1’39.761s gave him initial third place. Over his next few tries he improved his time to a 1’39.463s but he remained in provisional third position as he headed into the pits with five and a half minutes remaining.

Less than a minute later the Doctor was back on his way and ready to step up his pace. Despite there only being a few minutes left of the session he was not rushed by the clock and calmly waited until after the flag had already come out to drop into the 1’38s with a 1’38.736 and take his first pole position since last year’s Dutch Grand Prix in Assen. This impressive achievement puts him in joint first place with team-mate Lorenzo in the most pole position rankings, as they both hold 62 first place Grand Prix starts over all classes.

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s local hero Lorenzo finished at the top of the standings for three of the four practice sessions and had his eye fixed on the front row of the grid for the race. He was the first man to leave pit lane at the start of the qualifying two heat. He immediately dropped into the 1’39s with a 1’39.405 lap and took the lead, but was pushed back to second place as he headed into the pits for his first of two stops.

He returned to the track with more than nine minutes remaining, but quickly came back into the box after experiencing tyre issues and switched back to his first bike to make his final dash for pole. His next lap was a superb 1’38.858s for provisional first place and it remained unchallenged, until Rossi took over at the front in the final minute with a margin of just over one tenth of a second.

Tomorrow the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team-mates will be on track for the fourth race of the season at 14:00 (GMT+2) local track time.

Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director

“We couldn’t expect more from our riders today. We were able to start the session with the good basis set-up from yesterday. During the free practice sessions we focused on improving a few areas and we continued to compare different settings and tyre combinations to prepare for both the race and qualifying. The Q2 session was superb, with our riders in first and second place. Vale set a brilliant 1’38.7s that deserved pole position. Jorge, despite the vibrations of one of his tyres, has been able to score a 1’38.8s and take second place. We still have a bit of room to improve the bikes and weigh our options and decide which tyres we will start tomorrow’s race on. We will finalise our setting during warm-up tomorrow and we look forward to a strong race.”

Valentino Rossi
1st / 1’38.736 / 8 laps

“We worked a lot because last year we struggled during qualifying. This year, with the Michelin tyres, I feel better and I already started on the front row two times, but pole position is something different, especially here in Jerez. I knew I could be competitive, but during the last races we had some problems and I made a mistake in Austin. We didn’t take the results we expected, so we have to start doing so now. For sure tomorrow will be very hard with Lorenzo and Marquez, but we are there and we can fight.”

Jorge Lorenzo
2nd / 1’38.858 / 8 laps

“Second place is not bad. Obviously I wanted the pole position, but it was a pity that I had problems with the second tyre. It was chattering on the straight and in the corners it had no grip so I cancelled the lap as not to crash and also because it wasn’t worth it, the lap was slow anyway. With the third tyre it was OK and I made a good lap time, a 1’38.8s, not enough for pole position but enough to be on the first row and that’s important. I think, after Free Practice 4, that we’ve got a great pace; a fast pace in the beginning and later a constant pace, so let’s hope to repeat this tomorrow in the race.”

Espargaro qualifies as top independent team rider for Spanish Grand Prix

The Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team rider Pol Espargaro will commence the first European round of the season from the middle of the third row after pulling off a strong qualifying performance today in Andalucía. The young Spaniard kicked off the day by storming to third position in FP3 after setting a lap that was only 0.191 from the leading time which therefore allowed him to graduate instantly through to QP2. Here, the 2013 Moto2 World Champion began at instant speed and set a personal best on lap seven which saw him clinch 8th after finishing only 0.140 back from fourth. Espargaro will now seek to meet the chequered flag in a top tier position to consolidate his championship placement of fourth.

On the opposite side of the garage, Bradley Smith dug deep in qualifying today and will begin the 4th round of the 2016 MotoGP World Championship from the middle of the fifth row. The 25 year old battled throughout the morning practice before eventually finishing in 14th, meaning that he would have to participate in qualifying 1. When the session started, the British star determinedly set off and after a thorough effort, he posted his personal best on his penultimate run. Tomorrow, the Tech3 rider will aim to undertake a rocket start and then fight through the field to a positive result.

Pol Espargaro
8th / 1’39.720 / 8 laps

“Overall, I must say it is mission accomplished today, because the top independent position is the one that we have to achieve and having done this, we can be optimistic for the race. The top factory guys are clearly quicker but for us tomorrow, our goal has to be the leading satellite bike placement again. We made progress in this morning’s practice session but I might have to thank Marc, because I discovered some different racing lines by following him, which allowed me to increase my corner speed in several turns. In qualifying itself, I could have gone slightly quicker but I made a mistake on my fast lap and dropped a bit of time. Nevertheless, I am satisfied with what we achieved and my overall feeling with the Michelin tyres is improving at every event and I am becoming more confident. This, along with the setting of the bike, makes me feel comfortable and eager for this race, even if the setup itself is quite different from the other Yamaha’s. Anyway, I am looking forward to the GP and if we can fight with the Suzuki and Ducati’s, I will be very pleased.”

Bradley Smith
14th / 1’40.242 / 8 laps

“Today we didn’t improve as much as I needed to. I thought low 1’40 lap times would have been strong enough to get into QP2, but everybody upped their game and in the end we needed a 1’39 to progress directly through to QP2. To be honest, today I was on the limit and unfortunately we didn’t find the next step with the bike. A 1’40.2 lap seems to be where I am at the moment as I did three consistent laps, once this morning and twice this afternoon, so I thought that I had extracted the best that I could from the Yamaha. Now, we have a lot of data to analyse and try to assess in preparation for tomorrow, and starting from 14th on the grid isn’t going to make the GP any easier, especially at this track. However, I’ve been practicing my starts all the weekend and they are getting better so tomorrow I need to make a special one and then pass as many riders as possible in the first few corners. From now until tomorrow we will try to improve the bike so the team will have a busy afternoon searching for the final tenths because my race pace has to be stronger too. We know that we are in a tricky situation but we’re still ready to give it everything we’ve got in the Grand Prix tomorrow and we’ll do our best until then.”