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Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Claim First and Second Row in Catalan Qualifying

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP_060416
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider Jorge Lorenzo secured a front row start in front of his home crowd this afternoon, taking second in qualifying for the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya. Teammate Valentino Rossi left it to the last lap to make his move, securing fifth on the second row of the grid.

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo continued his strong results from yesterday in a challenging second day at the Circuito de Barcelona-Catalunya, taking second on the grid for tomorrow’s Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya. The reigning World Champion and his teammate Valentino Rossi only had two sessions before the 15-minute qualifying heat to get used to a track revision following yesterday’s tragic incident involving Luis Salom. After the Doctor changed his setting to suit the new fourth sector he recorded the fifth best time at the very end of the Q2 session.

Intending to hit a clear track, Lorenzo was one of the last riders to leave the pits in Q2, allowing the pack to move ahead. With his first flying lap, a 1’44.452s, he shot straight into second place. He continued to push hard but was unable to improve his time on his first tyre and returned to the pits with six minutes left.

Two minutes later he was back on track, ready to attack again. The local hero bettered his time but not his placement with his third attempt, a 1’44.056s lap. Despite a strong fast sector from Lorenzo on his final lap he was unable to snatch pole and took second on the grid, 0.467s off the front.

Rossi kept the tension high to the last moments of the qualifying heat. Leaving the pits late like his teammate, he took third on his first flying lap with a 1’45.315s. Having been pushed back to sixth, he put the hammer down and was promoted to fifth on his second hot lap with a 1’45.138s before entering pit lane with six and a half minutes remaining.

Returning to the track with just over four minutes on the clock offered him another chance to step up to the challenge. As the pace quickened towards the end of the session, the nine-time World Champion moved five places up the timesheets as the flag went out with a 1’44.324s, to take fifth for a second row start, 0.735s from pole.

Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director

“Today we faced some challenges. We used most of the free practices on altering the bikes’ set ups to make them suit the revised final sector of the track, which has different requirements than our bike was prepared for yesterday. The time we spent on this compromised our programme for the weekend, especially concerning the tyres. The new layout drastically changes the characteristics of the track, and it doesn’t fit the strong points of our bike. Jorge did a good job to set the second fastest time and secure a place on the front row of the grid. Valentino also put in extra effort to recover from this morning’s difficulties and will start the race from the second row. It looks like we have only one tyre choice for the race and unfortunately that option is not our favourite, but despite this we will be working hard in the garage to further improve the total package so we can have a race that’s full of action from the start until the end.”

Jorge Lorenzo
2nd / 1’44.056 / 7 laps

“It’s very tragic what happened with Luis yesterday. As a result, the Safety Commission decided to make this modification to the track and this for sure doesn’t help our bike. There are a lot of corners in first gear, so this benefits our rivals a little bit. Finally, we set a very good lap time for this track and we have to try to finish on the podium tomorrow. It will be a good result after what has happened.”

Valentino Rossi
5th / 1’44.324 / 7 laps

“In the end, the qualifying was not so bad. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make the perfect lap, I made a few mistakes and will start from the second row, from fifth position, that is OK. We need to work, we are quite worried for the race. With this new layout we suffer a lot and especially because we need to use the hard front, but unfortunately we are not able to use it in the right way, we are very slow and in terms of pace we are quite far from the top guys. I think that it will be hard, but we have time and have some hours to think and we hope we can change the situation for tomorrow. It’s not a voluntary decision, with the medium option after seven or eight laps it’s finished, so we need to use the hard tyre, but try to use it in a better way.”

Confident Espargaro to launch from fourth row at home GP

Monster Yamaha Tech3 team riders Pol Espargaro will lunge forward from 12th on the grid at the Monster Energy sponsored Gran Premi de Catalunya as he aims to delight his fans in the round seven battle. Due to the tragic passing of Moto2 rider Luis Salom yesterday, the track layout was altered to avoid the 12th turn where Salom fell and the Formula One track configuration was selected instead for safety reasons. As a result, an extra 15 minutes was added to FP3, which Espargaro concluded impressively in 5th after blitzing to a 1’45.153 lap time. This left him only two-tenths from 3rd and able to comfortably pass through to QP2. When the 15-minute shootout began, he immediately jumped into action and after giving his all, he finished with a personal best of 1’45.218. The 24-year-old now aims to have a flying start and then finish as close as possible to the factory MotoGP riders by the time the chequered flag falls.

On the other hand, Bradley Smith will kick off his mission to end up as the leading satellite rider from the fifth row of the grid after a determined effort in qualifying today. The young Briton was increasing his pace in FP3 as the session drew to a close, but an unfortunate fall occurred at the second turn, which halted his chances of improving his time and caused him to participate in qualifying 1. Here, he rapidly set off and built up his speed at the physically demanding circuit. Smith dug deep and posted a lap of 1’45.197 on his penultimate run, which resulted in him finishing in 14th whilst also marking a huge cut of over two seconds from his FP3 time. Tomorrow, he will intend to undertake a rocket start and join the hunt with his teammate for the top independent position.

Pol Espargaro
12th / 1’45.218 / 7 laps

“To be really honest I’m a bit disappointed with our qualifying performance because this morning we were fast as well as competitive and I had high hopes of scoring a strong position on the grid. To be honest, I do not really know what happened because in FP3 I had really good rear grip, which helped me to lap with a good rhythm. However, this afternoon the grip level wasn’t the same anymore, and this was probably due to the different conditions. Unfortunately, I was quite surprised and I couldn’t make up this lack of grip and so I find myself on the fourth row, which is not where I expected to be. Now we will have to analyse the data for tomorrow so we can understand why this happened and also find out which tyre compounds to use for the race, as we tried all the possible options so far this weekend. However with a solid start, we can be strong in the fight and this is my aim for tomorrow as I really would like to make my fans cheer.”

Bradley Smith
14th / 1’45.197 / 7 laps

“The step that we made today wasn’t as big as what we would have liked, but we certainly made good progress in the right direction. Of course, the grid position is not the result that we were hoping for, yet if you look at the lap times in QP1 it was very competitive compared to the second session and my qualifying one time would have put me ahead of my teammate. We didn’t manage to ride a 1’44 lap today but I did the best that I could and we definitely improved a lot from FP4. Also, I must say thanks to the team who worked really hard to get my bike ready for this afternoon after the fall I had in FP3. We managed to improve to such a degree, that there are always some minor issues that remain and still need to be ironed out, so today felt like we were one session behind. Anyway, if there is a positive to be taken from not participating in QP2, it’s that we saved a set of tyres, which means that tomorrow we can do a solid, long run in the warm up and then set everything for what will be a challenging race. It certainly won’t be easy, and it will be tricky with these tyres, which may drop quite a bit in performance over the whole distance. Having said that, we are more optimistic about tomorrow than we have been for the weekend so far, so tonight we’ll look at the data and continue to work hard and I’m sure that we can progress even further. Hopefully, this will be reflected in the result and honestly, I think my chances are good because aside from Barbera, the satellite guys are bunched together. Therefore, I will focus on getting a good start tomorrow and we will see where we can finish.”