MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2013
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) will start tomorrow evening’s season-opening Qatar Grand Prix from the front row of the grid after a dazzling performance in MotoGP’s new-look qualifying format.
The Spaniard was third fastest in the 15 minute session that was topped by reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha). Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V) and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V) both secured second-row starts, placing fifth and sixth fastest under the Losail floodlights.
Conditions at the desert-based circuit have been typically tricky since practice began on Thursday, with wind blowing sand onto the track making grip worryingly inconsistent. Yesterday evening a rare rain shower affected the Moto2 and Moto3 practice sessions.
Tonight’s MotoGP qualifying session was an historic occasion for motorcycle Grand Prix racing – the first time that qualifying has been split into two groups. The new format divides MotoGP riders into two groups following the first three practice sessions: the fastest ten and the rest.
After a final 30 minute practice session, qualifying then takes place in two 15 minute outings, with the slower group out on track first, in Qualifying 1. The fastest two riders from that session are then seeded through to the Qualifying 2 session, in which they get the chance to battle with the fastest ten riders for the best grid positions. The Moto2 and Moto3 classes continue with a traditional qualifying format.
The introduction of the new system adds extra tension to qualifying, with riders having only enough time for two short runs, which leaves no room for even the tiniest of errors by rider or team. Tonight was particularly tense, with riders wondering how the new format would work for them.
Like many of his rivals, Pedrosa struggled to find a fully clear track during the 15 minute session. Nonetheless he was happy that he made it onto the front row and he has some ideas to further improve his factory RC213V that he will evaluate in evening warm-up.
Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V) will start the first race of his second season in the premier class from the middle of the second row, between Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) and Marquez. The impressive German paced himself perfectly, gradually picking up speed throughout practice to find his maximum pace when he needed it most. After solving an issue with front-end feeling during the first three sessions he made another crucial change for qualifying that worked out well.
Marquez performed brilliantly in his first MotoGP qualifying session, even though sixth place didn’t quite match his position at the end of the first three practice sessions. Yesterday evening the 20-year-old was the fastest man on track, outpacing Lorenzo by one thousandths of a second! He attributed his sixth place on the grid to a couple of minor errors that he made in his first qualifying run and an inability to reach his maximum straight out of the pits. That skill will surely come with more time on a MotoGP bike.
Alvaro Bautista (Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini RC213V) enjoyed the new qualifying format, but he struggled with front-end feeling. The Spaniard has a good race pace and feels that the race will go better for him, especially if he can get away with the leading group.
Bryan Staring (GO&FUN Honda Gresini FTR Honda) will start his first MotoGP race from 23rd on the grid. The Australian – riding a CBR1000RR-powered FTR Honda CRT bike – is still getting acclimatised to MotoGP machinery and was happy enough with his first qualifying session in the premier class.
Pol Espargaro (Tuenti HP40 Pons Kalex) rode a heroic qualifying session to take the first Moto2 pole position of the year. The Spaniard – who had dominated preseason testing – crashed in the opening minutes of the session, after which he rode his battered machine back to the pits. Following some rapid work by his mechanics Espargaro returned to the track hoping to chase down his rivals who were already laying down very fast laps. Bit by bit he got closer to the front, until his final lap was fast enough to demote Takaaki Nakagami (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex) to second place.
The qualifying action in the Honda-powered series was typically close, with Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) taking third, just over one tenth of a second slower than pole. The fastest 15 riders were covered by a mere 1.062s.
Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) led much of the session, ending up fourth to lead row two after team-mate Kallio bettered him by just 0.048s. The Briton is joined on the second row by Dominique Aegerter (Technomag carXpert Suter) and Julian Simon (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex).
The final four men in the top ten are Nicolas Terol (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2 Suter), Esteve Rabat (Tuenti HP 40 Pons Kalex), Marcel Schrotter (Desguaces La Torre SAG Kalex) and Mike Di Meglio (Jir Moto2 Motobi).
Alan Techer (CIP TSR Honda) rode a brilliant Moto3 qualifying session to secure himself a place on the second row of the grid for tomorrow evening’s opening Moto3 Grand Prix. Using an upgraded NSF250R engine, delivered to teams at Losail by Honda, the 18-year-old Frenchman was the fastest of five Honda riders in the top 15 qualifiers.
Romano Fenati (San Carlo Team Italia FTR Honda) was 12th, 1.5 seconds off pole position, while Isaac Vinales (Bimbo Ongetta-Centro Seta FTR Honda) was 13th and Niccolo Antonelli (GO&FUN Gresini FTR Honda) 14th.
Race night gets underway with the Moto3 race at 7pm (local time), followed by Moto2 at 8.20pm and MotoGP at 10pm.
|1||Jorge LORENZO (Yamaha Factory Racing)|
|2||Cal CRUTCHLOW (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|3||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)|
|4||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Ducati Team)|
|5||Stefan BRADL (LCR Honda MotoGP)|
|6||Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)|
|7||Valentino ROSSI (Yamaha Factory Racing)|
|8||Alvaro BAUTISTA (GO & FUN Honda Gresini)|
|9||Bradley SMITH (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|10||Andrea IANNONE (Energy T.I. Pramac Racing)|
|11||Nicky HAYDEN (Ducati Team)|
|12||Aleix ESPARGARO (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|13||Ben SPIES (Ignite Pramac Racing)|
|14||Randy DE PUNIET (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|15||Lukas PESEK (Came IodaRacing Project)|
|1||Pol ESPARGARO (Tuenti HP 40)|
|2||Takaaki NAKAGAMI (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|3||Mika KALLIO (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|4||Scott REDDING (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|5||Dominique AEGERTER (Technomag carXpert)|
|6||Julian SIMON (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|7||Nicolas TEROL (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2)|
|8||Esteve RABAT (Tuenti HP 40)|
|9||Marcel SCHROTTER (Desguaces La Torre SAG)|
|10||Mike DI MEGLIO (Jir Moto2)|
|11||Simone CORSI (NGM Mobile Racing)|
|12||Alex DE ANGELIS (NGM Mobile Forward Racing)|
|13||Sandro CORTESE (Dynavolt Intact GP)|
|14||Johann ZARCO (Came Iodaracing Project)|
|15||Anthony WEST (QMMF Racing Team)|
|1||Luis SALOM (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|2||Maverick VIÑALES (Team Calvo)|
|3||Alex RINS (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|4||Jonas FOLGER (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3)|
|5||Miguel OLIVEIRA (Mahindra Racing)|
|6||Alan TECHER (CIP Moto3)|
|7||Jakub KORNFEIL (Redox RW Racing GP)|
|8||Efren VAZQUEZ (Mahindra Racing)|
|9||Alex MARQUEZ (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|10||Arthur SISSIS (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|11||Zulfahmi KHAIRUDDIN (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|12||Romano FENATI (San Carlo Team Italia)|
|13||Isaac VIÑALES (Bimbo-Ongetta-Centro Seta)|
|14||Niccolò ANTONELLI (GO & FUN Gresini Moto3)|
|15||Danny WEBB (Ambrogio Racing)|