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Movistar Yamaha Secure Front Row in Scorching Texas Qualifying

Movistar Yamaha_040916

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi made it count in a heated qualifying session this afternoon, scoring second and third respectively on the front row of the grid for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of the Americas.

A determined build up in pace beginning from yesterday’s free practice sessions by Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi saw the pair fly to second and third respectively this afternoon in qualifying at the COTA circuit for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of the Americas.

Lorenzo was straight to business in the 15 minute qualifying heat, first out on track and head down to put the first time on the board, slotting in at the top with a 2’03.613s lap. The Spaniard then returned immediately to the pits to evaluate his next move. It took until eight minutes remaining on the clock for rival Marc Marquez to challenge for the top spot, motivating Lorenzo to return to the track with a fresh rear to accept the challenge. He was immediately able to raise his game, scoring a 2’03.257s in the hunt for pole, coming just 0.069 from the front man. The time was to stand to the end of the session, keeping Lorenzo on the front row in second place for tomorrow’s race and very much within reach of his rival on pole.

Teammate Rossi chose to hold back at the start of the qualifying session, allowing the field to move out and ahead to provide clear space for his high speed run. The first shot on qualifying rubber got the Italian nine-time world champion up to speed, taking a 2’05.780s lap. Having warmed up Rossi then put the hammer down and shot up the top ranking to take third with 2’04.355s effort. With six minutes to go he then returned to the pits for new rubber before making a final challenge. Whilst in the pits, fellow Italian Andrea Ianonne had moved up to take third, bumping Rossi down to fourth. The move was quickly rebuffed with Rossi striking back in the last moments of the session, dropping under the ’04 mark with a 2’03.664s to retake his front row slot alongside his teammate Lorenzo for the big show tomorrow.

Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director

“The first row in today’s qualifying by both Jorge and Vale is a great result that all team members deserve for the job they have been doing since Thursday. It’s not only the front row that gives us confidence, but especially the gap from the front runner, that we have been able to reduce dramatically to less than one tenth in the case of Jorge. I knew both guys could get the front row today because I saw how hard they worked on track and in the garage with their own crews, allowing them to improve their feeling on the bike session by session. Jorge did an amazing lap, without making any mistakes. His second place today is worthy of a pole position. Valentino has had a good pace since yesterday and today he felt perfect on the bike, hence his third place on the grid. Starting from the front row tomorrow, especially on this track, is a huge advantage and we’ll try to exploit their starting positions to set the race rhythm. Today the weather conditions did not allow us to test the tyres on a long distance, so tomorrow morning, if the weather stays dry and sunny, we’ll close the program and then we’ll be ready for the afternoon’s race. I look forward to it.”

Jorge Lorenzo
2nd / 2’03.257s / 7 laps

“Little by little we are coming closer and closer. I was very focused to make the fastest lap time as soon as possible, we made a great first lap then I didn’t expect to improve so much, more or less half a second more, and stay so close to Marquez. I was really pleased, really proud, it was a pity to not be in first place as we were only half a tenth slower than Marc but I think we made a great job in these two days and we are quite ready for tomorrow. It will be a long race with different tyres and for sure the physical condition and concentration will be hard, and to stay on the bike will be important!”

Valentino Rossi
3rd / 2’03.664s / 7 laps

“This result is crucial for the race tomorrow and it’s also a good result for the work that we’ve done today, from this morning we’ve improved the bike a lot and this afternoon in the free practice with the race tyre I was quite strong. I started qualifying quite confident and I did some good laps. The front row is always a very good target especially when I have to fight with Marquez and Lorenzo when they are quite strong.”

Tech3 pair confident and ready for American GP battle tomorrow

Monster Yamaha Tech3 team rider Bradley Smith produced a spirited performance in qualifying today after working relentlessly to turn around his fortunes in Texas. The 25-year-old began the day by carrying on his efforts as he fought his way around the physical and meandering circuit before finishing with a time that meant he would contest in QP1. Here, he got straight up to speed and posted an impressive lap that was over a second quicker than his personal best in FP3. The strong time marked a significant improvement for Smith who worked closely with his team in preparation of the following 15-minute shootout. When it commenced, the Briton continued where he left off and eventually powered to a time that will see him begin the Grand Prix from the middle of the fourth row. The 2015 fastest satellite rider now has his sights set on sealing a top tier finish in tomorrow’s 21 lap race.

On the other side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team pit box, Pol Espargaro came agonisingly close to competing in QP2 twice, but just fell short after giving his all in two highly competitive MotoGP sessions. The young Spaniard kicked off his day by further adjusting the setup of his Yamaha YZR-M1 during FP3 and he missed out on the cut off to QP 2 by a blink of an eye and a mere 0.014 of a second. When the first qualifying practice commenced, Espargaro leapt forward and quickly set about speeding to a top lap. After pushing non-stop, he closed the session with a time that was just 0.018 from second, meaning that he will start the third round of the MotoGP World Championship from the head of the 5th row on the starting grid. Nevertheless, Espargaro intends to fight all the way to the chequered flag with the aim to join his teammate in the battle for the top independent rider position.

Bradley Smith
11th / 2’04.988 / 7 laps

“Firstly, I have to give a big thanks to the team because they didn’t pause from working throughout today and they never stopped believing in me or the direction that I wanted to go towards regarding the feeling of the bike. Without their efforts, it wouldn’t have been possible so again, I must thank them. Yesterday we made a few big adjustments and still struggled. However, step by step we’ve now come back to where we need to be due to our work in the third and fourth practice sessions today. Of course, I still believe that we can improve further tomorrow and we have a good chance to do this in the warm up as well as later in the race. I feel a lot more positive with the bike that I now have underneath me for the GP. Yet, having said that we still need to make a decision regarding the tyre choice, because we were working so hard on the setting of the bike that we didn’t decide on the tyres. It’s a fantastic result by my team and I’m really pleased with this position so now I look forward to seeing what we can achieve in the race.”

Pol Espargaro
13th / 2’04.867 / 6 laps

“The day ended in a disappointing way and of course, I’m not satisfied with the result and how things went. It’s strange because overall we managed to improve the bike and the feelings with the new harder rear tyre were positive. Yet, from FP3 onwards we started to experience some vibrations, which we weren’t able to solve today. Nevertheless, even if it was tricky to ride, I pushed as much as I possibly could in all of the sessions. In the morning, I just missed QP2 by 0.014 in the final seconds of the session and to be honest, this was quite frustrating. Afterwards, we experienced the same issues in FP4 and again in Qualifying 1. There, I really gave it everything I had and risked crashing out in every braking area, but in the end, it wasn’t enough to go to QP2 and once more, I missed out by only a small margin of 0.018. To start from the fifth row complicates the race a bit because the first corner is critical. In fact, I had a problem here at the beginning of the GP last year where another rider crashed into me and I couldn’t do anything about it. Anyway, this afternoon we will have to work to find a solution to our issue and I think that if we turn the situation around we have a good chance of riding to a decent result. Also, we still have to decide which rear tyre we want to use because at the moment we don’t have a clear indication. The soft is too soft for the 21 laps and with the hard one we can be more consistent but this kind of tyre makes us lose a few tenths every lap. So we have some work to do, but I am determined to finish the Grand Prix as well as I possibly can tomorrow.”