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Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Qualify on First and Fourth Row in Dramatic Dutch Qualifying

Movistar Yamaha_062516

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi saved his best effort for last in today’s 15-minute qualifying heat to secure second place on the starting grid for tomorrow’s TT Assen. Teammate Jorge Lorenzo was looking competitive in the early stages of Q2, but was unable to acclimatise to the tricky and changeable track conditions and finished in eleventh position.

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi judged the grim conditions at the TT Circuit Assen track exactly right during the Q2 session and dropped a strong final lap to start the Dutch GP from the middle spot on the front row.

Teammate Jorge Lorenzo was unable to ride the hot lap he had in mind and will start tomorrow’s race three rows further down the grid.

Rossi had been posting competitive times in every session and various types of weather so far this weekend and, despite this afternoon’s treacherous track conditions, the Q2 session was no exception. The Doctor followed his usual procedure of letting the other riders go out on track before him to be assured of some clear space. Once he completed a very careful out lap he put the hammer down and set a 1’49.662s for third place.

His following two attempts didn’t gain him any places and, with four minutes of the session left, the Italian decided to come in for a fresh wet rear tyre, despite a dry line forming on track. His decision paid off; after a minute he was ready to hit the track once more and set a brilliant 1’45.961s for second place, 0.715s off the fastest time.

Teammate Lorenzo had suffered a crash in FP3, luckily without any major consequences, and was able to take part in the afternoon sessions without any trouble. With the FP4 session being the only time the team had been able to test the wet set-up, the Mallorcan was also eager to go out at the start of the 15-minute long Q2 session. He was the first man to leave pit lane and set a 1’51.016s lap for provisional pole before dropping down the order to fifth place as the other riders completed their first lap.

Over the next ten minutes of the session he continued to better his time gradually, but was unable to climb up the ranking until the very end of the session. Struggling to find a good feeling on the slowly drying track, that still had damp patches in various corners, he was in twelfth position but was determined to make his final attempt count. He gave one final push after the flag went out and improved on his own best lap by 1.289s with a 1’47.897s to take eleventh place.

Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director

“It was a very challenging qualifying session today because the team only had the wet FP4 session to get a feel for the conditions. Valentino improved his set up in the afternoon for qualifying and he made the right decision to come in for a fresh wet rear tyre when he did, so his second place is also the fruit of his experience. Despite a crash in FP3, Jorge improved the feeling with his bike in dry conditions this morning, but qualifying didn’t go as we expected. Jorge didn’t make a pit stop and rode the entire session on one set of tyres and this gamble will unfortunately cost him a start from the fourth row tomorrow. We are in a good place with our dry set up, but we still have a lot of things to fix for the wet one, especially as the conditions for tomorrow are still uncertain. We will use the warm up tomorrow to finalise our package whatever the conditions will be.”

Valentino Rossi
2nd / 1’45.961 / 7 laps

“I stopped at the pit box four minutes before the end of the session, because my rear tyre was already getting too hot, because there were some places of the track that were starting to dry. For me it was too early to change to the intermediate tyre because three or four corners were still completely wet, so we put in another rain tyre and it was the right choice. It’s a shame for me that I’m not in pole position, but above all I’m happy for the second place and starting from the first lane tomorrow.”

Jorge Lorenzo
11th / 1’47.897 / 9 laps

“It was a heavy crash even though it was a small crash, losing the front, but the corner was fast. The gravel was very close to the track and when I arrived to it I had a very high speed and I rolled through the gravel a lot. A lot of rocks hit me in the neck, on my back and my hip, so I damaged my skin and superficially have a lot of pain, but luckily not in my bones, they are OK so I can race without any problem. I don’t think it had an effect on qualifying, I just didn’t feel safe or comfortable in the rain on wet tyres. I tried my best but I was slow.”

Espargaro to launch from head of the third row at Motul TT Assen

Monster Yamaha Tech3 team rider Pol Espargaro undertook an impressive qualifying campaign at the Cathedral of Speed and will kick off tomorrow’s highly anticipated race from 7th on the grid. The young Spaniard began the day by completing the morning practice in 12th after suffering a fall midway through the session, which prevented him from progressing to Q2, which he missed by only 0.073 of a second. However, rain fell just before FP4 where Espargaro battled onwards then, in QP1, he launched into action and notably finished first to progress through to qualifying 2. Here, he continued his efforts and after topping the time sheets early in the session, the Spanish rider pushed further and cut his time again, before completing the shootout in 7th by the time the chequered flag fell. Now the 25 year old keenly awaits the GP tomorrow where he aims to seal the top independent rider honours.

On the opposite side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 pit box, Bradley Smith fought against the elements at the historic Dutch circuit and will begin the 8th round of the World Championship from the fifth row of the grid. The young Briton kicked off his day by continuing his setup work from yesterday before finishing the morning session in 15th, which confirmed his attendance in Q1. Here, Smith got straight to work as he battled against the tricky conditions and he built up his pace as the minutes counted down, before setting a personal best on his penultimate lap. Nevertheless, the 25 year old optimistically looks on to the race tomorrow where he intends to clinch a solid point scoring result.

Pol Espargaro
7th / 1’46.997 / 8 laps

“To end up in seventh position in what was definitely one of the most difficult days I have experienced in MotoGP, is something that we have to be pleased with. Today was about being smart on the bike which I had to work a lot on and I also had to be super smooth plus not make any mistakes. The fact that we had to go through QP1 was an extra tricky task because with these conditions you can’t predict how things will turn out. The bike was sliding so much in FP1 but I didn’t ride on the absolute limit until the last minute as I didn’t want to crash. Instead, in the final qualifying I pushed one lap too early and on the last one I had Vinales in front who hindered me a bit so I couldn’t improve the lap time further. It’s a pity but considering how the day started, we have to be very satisfied with our position. For tomorrow I really hope we will have a dry race, as our pace seemed to be strong and consistent. If the conditions are wet I think it will be a real lottery, just like at the beginning of the season, as we could see today how easy it is to crash out because of a minor mistake. However, we will do our best and fight until the chequered flag.”

Bradley Smith
14th / 1’48.909 / 8 laps

“It was tricky out there today, but we gave it everything that we had. It was the first time since Argentina that we had to ride in the wet, and I was quite apprehensive because we didn’t have a fantastic setup when it rained there. Anyway the team worked really well today and we tried to undertake a solid strategy by pitting in Q1, yet unfortunately I couldn’t tell the guys in the garage exactly what I wanted and we were very short on time! Therefore, we compromised ourselves a little bit by going out on the second bike. Nevertheless, I felt that we had decent pace and Hernandez and Pol who progressed, were really competitive in the second qualifying practice, so I have to take some positives from that as I was close to both of them in the first session. For tomorrow, we have some work to do and we can still improve the bike in different areas in order to obtain a good result for the Dutch fans.”

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