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Espargaró & Suzuki Ecstar on Brno 2nd Row

Team Suzuki Ecstar_082016

Team Suzuki Press Office – August 20.  Aleix Espargaró put together one of his strongest qualifying performances of the MotoGP™ season in today’s final Q2 at the Brno circuit in the Czech Republic, classifying fourth and being pushed-off a front-row starting position in the closing seconds.

Both Espargaró – still in some pain from the fractured hand incurred last weekend in Austria – and team-mate Maverick Viñales, were always in the top positions at the HJC Helmets Grand Prix Ceské republiky 11th round with both automatically making selection to Q2 from this morning’s FP3 session where Viñales finished fourth with a lap of 1’55.604 and Espargaró sixth on 1’55.793.

After both riders used FP4 to test various settings on their Team SUZUKI ECSTAR GSX-RRs, the final 15-minute Q2 session, to determine the front four-rows-of-the-grid tomorrow, saw Viñales the top Suzuki with seven minutes to go (in sixth), before Espargaro jumped into third position with less than 60 seconds to go with a time of 1’55.324. But he lost his front-row slot with a matter of seconds to go by just 0.097s.

Unfortunately, a technical issue prevented Viñales exploiting his second run with new tyres, therefore being unable to improve his lap-time. The front-end of his machine didn’t provide him the full braking power and therefore his performance couldn’t be at his best.

Davide Brivio – Team Manager

“Aleix has been very good in qualifying, he managed to classify in fourth, despite not being at 100%. He did a great job, he improved his pace and refining more-and-more the set-up and he has the chance to have a good race, although the doubt is regarding his physical condition because of the injury he has in his hand. Probably also Maverick could have been closer, but he couldn’t exploit the second tyre because of a problem with his machine. We are very sorry for not having been able to deliver him a bike that could have helped him to get the first or at least second row, which he deserved. However, we’ve worked positively in the weekend and Maverick has a good pace, so he will have to struggle a little at the beginning but he could do a good race. We will also watch the weather, because if it rains, it will be another story.”

Aleix Espargaró:

“I’m satisfied with the job we did this weekend, we improved session-by-session and I felt comfortable with the machine. The hand is getting better, I suffered pain in the morning but then in the afternoon I had absolutely no issues. I’m still taking pain killers but my feeling is that the finger gets better when it warms up. In FP4 we worked positively for the race, we tried to find some solutions for the big spin I’m suffering here in order to get prepared for the last part of tomorrow’s race. I think this is going to be the key of the race; almost all riders suffer spin, so the one who will be the best to manage it will probably be the winner. Of course the race will be hard, but fourth place is a good position and I’m really looking forward to the race. With my team I’m working really positively, they are doing an excellent job in improving session-after-session. I had some bad luck this season and I really want to close this season with Suzuki in a positive way, hopefully being in the top-six in every single race.”

Maverick Viñales:

“Overall the day has been positive, this morning I improved the set-up and I felt very comfortable, then in FP4 we tested the pace and my performance was pretty satisfying. Unfortunately, the position on the grid is not the best one; when we changed the wheels for the second time attack with new tyres, something went wrong and I had issues with the front-end with the brakes not performing at 100% and this prevented me exploiting the best in the last minutes of the session. It’s a shame because I think that without this issue I could have aimed for the first or second-row, but we are a team and we will face this problem as a team. Eighth place allows a recovery, it won’t be easy, but I will give my best to try for a positive race.”

HJC HELMETS GRAND PRIX CESKÉ REPUBLIKY Q2 RESULT:

1 Marc MARQUEZ – Repsol Honda Team – 1’54.596
2 Jorge LORENZO – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – 1’54.849 + 0.253
3 Andrea IANNONE – Ducati Team – 1’55.227 + 0.631
4 Aleix ESPARGARO – Team SUZUKI ECSTAR – 1’55.324 + 0.728
5 Hector BARBERA – Avintia Racing – 1’55.437 + 0.841
6 Valentino ROSSI – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – 1’55.509 + 0.913
7 Andrea DOVIZIOSO – Ducati Team – 1’55.748 + 1.152
8 Maverick VIÑALES – Team SUZUKI ECSTAR – 1’55.787 + 1.191
9 Dani PEDROSA – Repsol Honda Team – 1’55.841 + 1.245
10 Cal CRUTCHLOW – LCR Honda – 1’55.930 + 1.334