MotorcycleDaily.com – Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Heroic Double Front Row for Movistar Yamaha MotoGP at Twin Ring Motegi

movistar-yamaha_101516

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo delighted the Japanese crowd when they secured first and third place respectively for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Japan in a gutsy display of determination.Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo delighted the Japanese crowd when they secured first and third place respectively for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Japan in a gutsy display of determination.

Rossi took his time at the start of the qualifying session and left the pits shortly before his teammate, hoping to find some clear track for his qualifying efforts. Once he found a good rhythm, he immediately made his mark with his first flying lap securing provisional third place. He bettered his time on his second flying lap of 1’44.736 before being pushed back one place by his teammate. The Doctor continued to improve his time by five-thousands’ of a second on his next attempt, but as the pace quickened, he returned to the pit box for a quick stop, holding fifth place, with more than five minutes on the clock.

A quick minute later the nine-time World Champion returned to the track. Having dropped to sixth place, he gritted his teeth and put on the heat once more when he rode a fastest second, third and fourth sector towards the end of the session to drop a 1’43.954s for pole. With just enough time for one more lap, his name again flashed up in red in the first two sectors, but he was unable to further his advantage. Yet his earlier fastest lap remained unchallenged, giving the Italian his 64th pole position of his Grand Prix racing career, with a 0.180s margin over his closest rival.

Lorenzo gave a superhuman performance after a challenging start to the second day at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit. The Mallorcan suffered a big highside at the end of the FP3 session in turn 2 and had to visit the Medical Center before being helicoptered to the Dokkyo Hospital in Utsunomiya City for a CT scan. He was declared fit to continue his quest for a top result at the Japanese Grand Prix when he returned to the circuit, in time to fight back hard in FP4 and secure third place.

The current World Champion’s efforts were equally impressive in the Q2 session. Being the last rider to start the 15-minute qualifying heat, Lorenzo made sure to leave pit lane with enough space between him and the rest of the field. After a cautious start, his second flying lap saw him post a 1’44.399s lap, moving him up from tenth to second position before he headed back to the pit lane with a little less than seven minutes of the session remaining.

Lorenzo was soon back out on the track and, now in third place, he was ready to put the hammer down once more. Unable to further improve his time on his fifth hot lap, he was pushed down to fourth place as his teammate took over at the top of the time sheets, but he didn’t give up. He dropped a stunning last lap of 1’44.221s, 0.267s from pole, to start tomorrow’s race on the first row from third place on the grid.

Yamalube Yamaha Factory Racing Team wildcard rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga also had a good day at the track. He continued to make progress and positioned his YZR-M1 in 16th place on the grid for tomorrow’s race.

Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director

“After the difficulties we bumped into during all the previous sessions, trying settings and Jorge’s crash, we couldn’t have expected to get both riders on the front row, especially to be on pole here at our main competitor’s home track. During the FP4 session we have been able to improve Vale’s setup quite significantly. The bike became more easy to ride thanks to a better handling and he was able to start riding as he wanted. He delivered a stunning performance to set the fastest time today, even more so considering that he is not feeling a 100% fit. Jorge’s third place is also a truly heroic performance when you take into account that we weren’t sure if he was going to be able to ride this afternoon. The team has done an amazing job today to overcome the difficulties we faced and a double front row is a great starting place for tomorrow’s race.”

Valentino Rossi

“It’s my third pole position of the year. I’m very happy because this year in qualifying I’m strong. We were struggling during this weekend to find the right balance and I’m also not a 100% fit, I’m suffering physically, I’m not feeling fantastic. In FP4 we improved the balance of the bike a lot and I did a very good lap and great braking in turn 11 and that was good. Starting from pole is always important and now we wait for tomorrow.”

Jorge Lorenzo

“I feel much better than a few hours ago. The painkillers and the adrenaline of riding my bike have improved my feelings. I was scared to get injured, especially for the left leg where I had the biggest impact. It was a big crash, but I was able to make it back for qualifying and we did great, especially on the first lap time in my second stint, I didn’t do so much on the second try. Rossi’s lap time was incredible and also Marquez’s time. It wasn’t possible to make it a pole position, but it was much better than we expected when I arrived back at the track.”

Espargaro to start Motegi showdown from 3rd row – Smith courageously qualifies on the 5th

Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team rider Pol Espargaro will begin his quest to finish as the top independent rider in tomorrow’s Japanese GP by bolting from the third row of the grid. The young Spaniard immediately launched into action in this morning’s all important FP3 practice, as he continued his setup work whilst carrying on the positive momentum from yesterday. After pushing non-stop in the 45-minute shootout, his fastest time left him 9th in the combined practice standings and therefore, able to pass directly through to Q2. Here, Espargaro built up his pace and eventually sped to a personal best of 1’45.232, which he set in the final moments of the thrilling session. This lap saw him qualify in 9th position and just over a second back from the reigning MotoGP World Champion, Jorge Lorenzo. Now, the 25-year-old aims to undertake a rocket start tomorrow and then force his way through the pack to clinch a notable result at Yamaha’s Home GP.

On the other side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team pit box, the recovering Bradley Smith, who is handicapped by an injury to his right knee, bravely qualified on the 5th row of the grid for the round 15 battle. The young Briton got straight to work this morning and he courageously completed 17 laps as he grew stronger with every run. He set his quickest time at the end of the practice and the performance left him in 20th overall, having improved by nearly four seconds from his personal best lap of the opening session. Later today, in qualifying one, the 25-year-old produced a heroic display as he rode at an impressive pace, despite the limitation with his knee, and he posted his personal best on his last lap out of 4. This time sealed 15th position and now Smith optimistically awaits the race where he will give his all in order to finish the Japanese Grand Prix.

Pol Espargaró

“Overall, I have to be satisfied about qualifying on the third row today, as this session is the one that I have been struggling with the most in the last few races. For example, in Aragon, we were fast for the entire weekend but I ended up on the fourth row by the end of QP2. Therefore, ninth is nothing to be too excited about, but at least it gives us the chance to stay with the top guys at the beginning of the race. The main aim in the opening stage of the GP will be to stay in front of as many Ducatis as possible, because I’m convinced that it will be very tricky to pass them later on, due to their advantage with acceleration. In terms of tyre choices, we have a clear idea about what to use, and fortunately for us, our rhythm over race distance should be better than a single lap performance. We tried a completely different setup in FP4, however, I felt that it wasn’t as beneficial as we expected, so we opted for another direction for qualifying and it took me a few laps to adapt to this new setting. Nevertheless, during the second run, I felt a lot better and I believe we will continue to work with this option in tomorrow’s warm up so that we can put ourselves in the best possible position for the 24 lap battle.”

Bradley Smith

“We have to be more than pleased with today’s qualifying position because 15th is far beyond what we could expect when considering my injury. The team did an excellent job and together, we made some subtle changes to the bike which meant that step by step, my knee felt more comfortable in each session. Of course, qualifying is only a short distance and tomorrow will be much harder with the race being 24 laps, but today’s result is fantastic and now I just need to try and rest up as much as possible. For me, the tyre choice is quite clear for both ends of the bike and we have focused a lot on the rear grip, which is very important here because of the big acceleration. We will see what tomorrow brings but I’ve given myself a good opportunity by qualifying in 15th and the main objective is to get through the 24 laps.”