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Masterful 1-2 for Movistar Yamaha MotoGP in Misano Qualifying

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The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team was unbeatable during qualifying this afternoon as Jorge Lorenzo set a scorching pace to become the first rider ever to drop into the 1’31s at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli. He bettered the previous Circuit Best Lap record by 0.278s, which was set by himself last year. Teammate Valentino Rossi delighted the home crowd when he made a late charge, securing second place on the front row for tomorrow’s ‘Grand Prix di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini’ making it a perfect 1-2 for the team.

Lorenzo was the second to last rider to head out on track for the start of the 15-minute qualifying heat and immediately put the hammer down. His first flying lap delivered a 1’32.310s for pole position. He kept pushing for the perfect lap and took his efforts to the next level dropping a blistering 1’32.076s before returning to the pits with seven minutes remaining.

He was back on track less than two minutes later and was feeling confident that he would be able to further extend his lead. The latter stages of the session saw numerous protagonists put in hot laps but none were able to match Lorenzo’s pace. In the final minute the Mallorcan delivered a scorching 1’31.868s lap time, putting his #99 YZR-M1 on pole for the third time this year.

Rossi took his time to leave pit lane as qualifying got underway, allowing the pack to depart before heading out into clear space. Eager to make his fans cheer and to secure a front row starting position, he put in an initial 1’33.416s to slot into fifth place, before he was pushed back as the other riders completed their second flying lap. Rossi shaved a little off his time on his second attempt, delivering a 1’32.918s, but a flurry of activity put him in provisional seventh position halfway through.

The Doctor then returned to the pits with a little more than seven and a half minutes remaining, before hitting the track two minutes later to put on the pressure. The nine-time World Champion set a hot 1’32.342s for second place but this result was cancelled due to exceeding the track limit in turn 16. However, the man from Tavullia was not done yet. He pushed even harder on the next lap and delivered a stunning 1’32.216s to move up to second again. Unable to better his time on his last try, he wrapped up the day just 0.348s from Lorenzo on pole.

Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director

“Today we showed an impressive qualifying session. Jorge set the new Circuit Best lap at the Misano World Circuit with an astounding 1’31.868s. Valentino got a really important second place after three hot laps with the second set of tyres. After some difficulties that we faced during today’s previous two sessions, it was difficult for us to expect to take first and second place on the grid. Misano is not one of the easiest tracks to overtake so that gives the first row start an even higher value. We think that there is still a bit more room for improvement with our set up and we expect to prepare the fine-tuning for tomorrow’s warm-up tonight.”

Jorge Lorenzo
1st / 1’31.868 / 8 laps

“I’m very happy. I was delighted with these lap times because already the first one was unbelievable, a 1’32.0s, but with riding over the limit more than normal I was able to improve this lap time by two tenths. When I saw I got pole I was delighted and very proud and I probably made the best lap ever for me. We made great progress with the setting, improving the bike little by little in all the corners, and in qualifying I had a great bike. Let’s try to improve the small details for tomorrow, but I think we have a great pace to fight at least for the podium and let’s see if we can fight for the win.”

Valentino Rossi
2nd / 1’32.216 / 8 laps

“It was a difficult qualifying as always. This weekend we found different performances from one tyre to the other and with the first one I spun a lot so I thought “I hope the second one is better”. In fact with the second one I had better grip, so I could push more. Already on the first lap I was 0.6s faster, but I was able to do a little bit better. 1’32.216s is a good lap time and especially second place is very important. Starting from front row tomorrow is good and now we have to concentrate to fix all the details and then we’ll see.”

Espargaro to launch from 4th row – Lowes continues to impress

Monster Yamaha Tech3 team rider Pol Espargaro will bolt forward from the head of the fourth row of the grid at the round 13 battle in San Marino tomorrow. The 25-year-old jumped into action when FP3 commenced and he notably posted a time that saw him clinch 4th in the session and together with his time from yesterday, he progressed into Q2 in 3rd in the combined standings. Espargaro also completed more laps than any other rider in the morning practice which outlined his determination as he aimed for success in the afternoon. He notably finished FP4 in 6th, and then the Spaniard set off at speed when Qualifying 2 began as he started his campaign. After riding 7 laps, he scored his fastest on his 3rd which left him just over 3 tenths from the second row. As a result, tomorrow he will seek to work through the field and close the weekend as the top independent rider.

Meanwhile, Alex Lowes will kick off his second MotoGP race from the 14th row on the grid, after producing another impressive display of speed in today’s qualifying at Misano. The young Briton started the day in a positive fashion by ending the FP3 session in 14th, but only 0.355 back from the cut-off point to Q2. Then, he finished FP4 in 11th but was just six-tenths of a second behind the reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo which left him fully confident for the qualifying one shootout. Here, he got straight to work as he upped his pace before speeding to his personal best time on his penultimate run that left him in 14th as he outperformed several far more experienced MotoGP riders. He also improved on his Silverstone qualifying by two positions. Now Lowes eagerly awaits tomorrow’s 28-lap race where he will aim to produce another strong showing by finishing in the points.

Pol Espargaró
10th / 1’33.002 / 7 laps

“After showing how strong our pace was over all of the free practice sessions this weekend, I can’t hide the fact that qualifying didn’t really go to plan for me which is really disappointing. Because of this, I have made the job harder for tomorrow, and what makes it even more of a bitter pill to swallow is that I know we had the speed to do a decent job today. After an ok first run, I thought that I could go quicker on my second go, but I couldn’t make it work. Yet, we have to look at the positives. Our race pace is definitely competitive, and we are certain that it will allow me to fight for the top independent position tomorrow. A decent jump off the line will be vital because the run down to the first corner is not too long, plus the following corners are tight and it’s tough to overtake there. I feel a lot more competitive here compared to the last races and the rhythm that I had in FP4 was really solid on worn tyres with the warm weather, even if the heat made my leg hurt a bit. The important day is tomorrow, and we have done a good job so far over this weekend, so I hope that we can close the weekend positively.”

Alex Lowes
14th / 1’33.635 / 8 laps

“I am satisfied by what we achieved today and I’ve got to say that I feel positive for the race tomorrow. I improved my time by half a second from yesterday, but having said that I have to admit that still think that I’ve not had enough time on the bike to feel like I can push at the absolute maximum in QP. I need to learn and understand a few more points, such as adjusting my riding position, plus I think that the laps that I completed were too smooth for qualifying today. Therefore, I aimed to just get a solid grid placement rather than risk anything. The result is better than Silverstone and the gap to the leader is getting smaller and in addition, my pace over several laps looks positive. I made a mistake and fell in FP3, but apart from that, I am happy with our work and I am ready and excited for tomorrow.”