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Suzuki Ecstar Qualifies on Sepang 3rd Row


Team Suzuki Press Office – October 29.

Aleix Espargaró – 7th
Maverick Viñales – 8th

Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Aleix Espargaró and Maverick Viñales will start tomorrow’s Shell Malaysian MotoGP™ at Sepang from the third row following today’s final qualifying session.

Viñales, who set the fastest lap in the morning’s ‘dry’ FP3 and Espargaró – seventh in FP3 – spent most of the final ‘wet’ Q2 in strong second-row positions, but were pushed back in the final seconds of the session.

Espargaró’s progress allowed him to perform strongly in the morning, with consistent pace and effectiveness on the single lap time attack. He then struggled with the feeling in the afternoon, when the track had more water on the tarmac and lack of traction. Although he managed to stay close to the top, he had to step back to a third row starting position, even though his pace gives him strong hopes for the race tomorrow.

A strange feeling with the tyres affected Viñales’ performance in qualifying. He’d been very fast in the morning, and in FP4, where the wet conditions didn’t prevent him being consistently quick. But the situation changed for Q2 as he couldn’t find a proper feeling with the grip and wasn’t as fast as he expected.

Davide Brivio – Team Manager:

“Unfortunately, we haven’t harvested what we could, because once again rain came to modify the values on the field; I think we were in a good shape to aim for better positions with Maverick and Aleix. At the end of the day we will start in seventh and eighth, which is not bad if tomorrow the weather is good for us, which means either full wet or full dry. The important thing is to manage and capitalise today’s findings and deliver the riders effective machines, as recovering from third row is absolutely possible if we have a good consistency on the pace, as we’ve seen today.”

Aleix Espargaró:

“At the end of the day I’m happy with our performance, as this morning in the dry I felt really good with the machine. We only had a little problem at the end of the session and I couldn’t exploit the very last run pushing as hard as I wanted to, but overall we had a good performance. Thinking about qualifying, I’m not in the position I wanted to be, but if I look at the last races, we have been struggling a lot more in the wet, so today’s performance means that we’ve made huge improvements and now we can be competitive. Maybe I could have done even better in qualifying but I made a little mistake which resulted in a small crash, therefore not being able to improve. But we also collected very important information and I think we are ready for a positive race.”

Maverick Viñales:

“Thinking of the FP4 I’m very happy with our set-up because my pace is very good, but then in qualifying I couldn’t find the same feeling with the grip and this resulted in the third row. It’s not what I was expecting, but we can still investigate what happened in qualifying to learn and take countermeasures. This morning in dry conditions I was very fast, and also with the pace I feel confident, which leaves me feeling pretty easy for tomorrow’s race. Of course, it’s not gonna’ be easy to start from the third row, I’ll have to push from the very beginning, but I feel very confident with the bike so a good start and a recovery is possible.”


1 Andrea DOVIZIOSO – Ducati Team – 2’11.485
2 Valentino ROSSI – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – 2’11.731 + 0.246
3 Jorge LORENZO – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – 2’11.787 + 0.302
4 Marc MARQUEZ – Repsol Honda Team – 2’11.874 + 0.389
5 Cal CRUTCHLOW – LCR Honda – 2’12.558 + 1.073
6 Andrea IANNONE – Ducati Team – 2’12.598 +1.113
7 Aleix ESPARGARO – Team SUZUKI ECSTAR – 2’12.869 + 1.384
8 Maverick VIÑALES – Team SUZUKI ECSTAR – 2’12.981 + 1.496
9 Alvaro BAUTISTA – Aprilia Racing Team Gresini – 2’13.325 + 1.840
10 Loris BAZ – Avintia Racing – 2’13.452 + 1.967

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