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Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Secure First and Second Row Start in Sunny Aragón

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Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s local hero Jorge Lorenzo waited until the final moment to secure a third place starting position today at the Motorland Aragón circuit. Teammate Valentino Rossi was also in contention for a front row until the lap times tumbled during the last minutes of today’s close 15-minute qualifying session and he will start tomorrow’s Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón from sixth on the grid.

Eager to position his Yamaha YZR-M1 at the front of the field, Lorenzo was the last rider out of the box as ‘Qualifying 2’ began, to find some clear space on track. He cautiously warmed up his tyres, setting provisional seventh fastest time on his first attempt, before he quickly put the hammer down and improved to a 1’47.934s on his second effort, taking hold of third position.

With six minutes remaining, he returned to the box before rejoining the track for a final attack. As the times dropped, the Mallorcan put his head down at the very end of the session and delivered a 1’47.778s to take third on the grid at the final flag.

Rossi had a similar strategy to his teammate. The Doctor, who walked away uninjured from an early crash in this morning’s FP3 session, left it late to leave pit lane at the beginning of Q2. After he gave the other riders a head start before heading out on track, he quickly dropped a first flying lap of 1’48.729s, taking provisional third place until the pace picked up when his rivals completed their second lap. He improved on his time on his second try, reclaiming third place by posting a 1’48.110s, but was soon pushed back one place by his teammate.

With a little more than six minutes remaining the Italian returned to the pits and quickly headed back out on track a minute later to resume his time attack. He improved on his best time on his third attempt, but a flurry of hot laps by rivals in the last minutes landed him in seventh position. With just enough time left for one final push, Rossi dropped under the 1’48s mark with a 1’47.951s, to secure sixth on the grid, from where he will start tomorrow’s race.
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Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director

“It’s been an eventful second day at the Motorland Aragón circuit. Jorge worked in the right direction in the free practice sessions and he did well to drop a strong 1’47.778s in the last minute to secure third place. Valentino had a crash this morning on cold tyres, but he is unharmed. His sixth position in qualifying isn’t an accurate reflection of his speed. The pace he has shown during the practices is promising, so we have good confidence for the race, though there is still a gap to our main competitors. We will look to make another step before tomorrow’s warm up to be capable of fighting for the podium.”

Jorge Lorenzo
3rd / 1’47.778 / 7 laps

“This morning with the soft front tyre I was competitive, just like yesterday. The only problem is that when we put in a hard-and-hard combination on this bike and with my riding, that I’m too slow. The other’s don’t suffer so much and can be competitive, so we have to decide if tomorrow it’s possible to use the soft rear tyre, because with that option we are maybe not as fast as our main rival, but we are OK. With the hard one, it’s difficult, so let’s see if the soft tyre is the right option, because it looks like after 10 or 15 laps especially the right side is destroyed.”

Valentino Rossi
6th / 1’47.951 / 7 laps

“It was a difficult day. The start was the worst because I made a mistake on cold tyres and I crashed. The shoulder and the hand are OK, but we lost a lot of time and we need to try something and work on the bike. This afternoon in the free practice it wasn’t so bad and I had quite a good pace, so I wanted and expected to start a little bit more towards the front. Unfortunately, during a good lap I wasn’t strong enough and from second place we are all very close, so I have to start from the second row. Now we have to work because during the race the story will be very different: it’s a long race and everybody is struggling with the tyres, so we need to find the best way to be fast again.”

Resilient Espargaro to launch from the fourth row for Aragon GP

Monster Yamaha Tech3 team rider Pol Espargaro will contest the 14th round of the 2016 MotoGP World Championship from 11th on the grid after giving his all in what was a challenging qualifying day at the Motorland Aragon circuit. In an eventful FP3 session, Espargaro took to the track and began building up his speed, but unfortunately crashed at the midpoint of the session. He rushed back to the pit box and bravely mounted his second bike, but shortly afterwards, he was hit by a falling Marc Marquez, who caused him to crash again although he did not suffer any serious injuries. Nevertheless, his personal best from yesterday was strong enough to clinch 10th in the combined standings and this lap carried him through to QP2. After a strong showing in FP4 where he refined his race setup for tomorrow, he finished only half a second back from Valentino Rossi in second. Then, in QP2, he immediately attacked and after steadily increasing his pace, he posted his fastest time on his penultimate run, which left him just 0.670 from the rear of the front row. Espargaro now intends to undertake a rocket start and then compete for a top-tier placement in front of his fans.

Meanwhile, Alex Lowes endured a tough day at the Aragon Grand Prix after falling this morning during FP3 and injuring his left foot. An X-ray revealed that there were no broken bones, but swelling and hematoma in his foot, caused a lack of sensation and so he was forced to sit out FP4 and Qualifying. The medical staff will review the young Briton’s condition tomorrow morning and a decision regarding his participation in his third MotoGP race will then be made.

Pol Espargaro
11th / 1’48.448 / 6 laps

“We started the weekend well yesterday so I have to admit that today wasn’t great and 11th on the grid is not at all close to what we were aiming for. Having said that, after the two crashes this morning I lost a bit of confidence, plus I struggled with grip issues in the afternoon so I didn’t want to risk falling again in Q2. The result is even more of a bitter pill to swallow because I am racing in front of my home crowd and I really hoped to give them something to cheer about. Anyway, for my first crash this morning, I lost the front but the tough thing for us is that we don’t know why I ended up in the gravel so it’s difficult to try and amend this. With regards to the second fall, Marc went too fast and took me out. This was a big shame because it left me without a bike for the remainder of the FP3 session. However, I remain optimistic for tomorrow because with the race tyres, I feel more competitive. On the grid in front of me, there are some riders who are strong on a single lap time in qualifying, but my rhythm is better than theirs over a long distance. So I need to undertake a good start and move past them, which should be easier here because the track layout of the Aragon circuit is much better for overtaking as opposed to Misano. It’s been an unlucky day, but I am not injured and I will push hard from the word go tomorrow so that I can hopefully finish well in front of my fans.”

Alex Lowes
DNC

“It’s clear to say that I am very disappointed about what happened today because I love riding the Yamaha YZR-M1 as well as racing with the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team and at this round, I wanted to keep on improving just like I have done in the past two GP’s. With regards to the crash, I feel a bit unlucky to have fallen on the first lap, but a few other riders also did at this time in the session too. Yet, unfortunately for me it was at the fastest corner of the track and in fact, it was one of the biggest crashes of my career so I think that I am really lucky to walk away with this injury and nothing worse. I have to say sorry to the entire team and the mechanics who have all worked really hard in my full three races with them. They have been fantastic, plus they made me feel welcome. We will see what happens tomorrow morning, but it would certainly be a pity to end my MotoGP experience with Tech3 in this way.”