MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2013
Factory Honda team-mates Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V) will start tomorrow’s Spanish GP side by side on the front row of the grid, after a fraught but thrilling final qualifying in blazing sunshine.
The Honda pair qualified second and third, less than a quarter of a second behind pole qualifier Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha), in a crash-strewn, all-action 15-minute session. It made an all-Spanish front row, for a second race in succession, but in reverse order compared with the last race.
Pedrosa was one of several riders to fall, after rising ambient temperature heated the track surface, costing grip and predictability. The 27-year-old Spaniard was not hurt, but robbed of the chance to take the top slot in the closing minutes of the session. He admitted he had been "pushing too hard" in an attempt to secure his first pole position of the season. His final time was less than a quarter of a second off pole.
Valentino Rossi and Cal Crutchlow (both Yamaha) also crashed unhurt in the session.
The close contest for top qualifying honours promises a thrilling race for the Spanish fans, who reliably flock to the Andalucian circuit for what has become the traditional opening round of the European season. Fine weather is forecast for the race, after two sunny days of practice.
Pedrosa has not finished off the rostrum at Jerez since he joined the MotoGP class seven years ago with the factory Honda team, including victory in 2008.
Newcomer Marquez, reigning Moto2 champion but a rookie in the senior MotoGP class, is fresh from becoming the youngest ever GP winner. The 20-year-old from Catalunya is guarded about his chances of claiming a second win, at one of very few circuits where he has yet to claim a victory in any class.
Fellow-Spaniard Alvaro Bautista (Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini RC213V) was sixth, and will start the race directly behind Marquez on the second row of the grid. Bautista is the only rider using Showa suspension, combining racing with a testing and development role, and gained time and positions after finishing tenth in free practice to guarantee himself a place in final qualifying. Under the new-this-year system, only the top ten automatically run in the intense final 15 minutes, to decide the front four rows of the grid.
German rider Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V) did not make the top ten and was obliged to ride again for his chances with the slower group, taking top time at the last gasp after crossing the start line barely a second before the end of that session. It allowed him another lap, and he moved to the top of the list. This gave him the chance to join the other factory riders. Bradl was eighth, and will start from the third row of the grid.
Rookie Bryan Staring (GO&FUN Honda Gresini FTR Honda), still finding his feet in the top class of bike racing, qualified 18th, significantly his best so far. The Australian moved from the back to the middle of the CRT pack, taking a step closer in his quest to win his first points in the premier class.
Spanish rider Tito Rabat (Tuenti HP40 Pons Kalex) claimed a career first pole in the Honda-powered Moto2 class, the 23-year-old seizing control from Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) to prevent the British points leader from taking a second successive pole.
Rabat's hard-won margin, on a track where increasing heat meant reducing levels of grip, was by better than four tenths of a second, in a class where gaps are more usually measured in tenths and hundredths. It came two laps from the end of the session, while Redding had set his best time after only six of 18 laps.
Takaaki Nakagami (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex) was third to complete the front row; first-race winner Pol Espargaro (Tuenti HP40 Pons Kalex) led the second from Jordi Torres (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2 Suter) and Xavier Simeon (Desguaces La Torre Maptaq Kalex); with the winner at Austin a fortnight ago, Nico Terol (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2 Suter) heading the third.
Honda's Moto3 riders took over the second row of the grid, with South African Brad Binder (Ambrogio Racing Suter Honda), Australian Jack Miller (Caretta Technology – RTG FTR Honda) and Italian Niccolo Antonelli (GO&FUN Gresini FTR Honda) fourth, fifth and sixth, enjoying the useable horsepower of the Honda engine at a track without long straights but with strings of complex corner sets.
Danny Webb (Ambrogio Racing Suter Honda) and Alexis Masbou (Ongetta-Rivacold FTR Honda) were 12th and 13th, in the thick of typically close lap times in the ultra-competitive smallest class.
Isaac Vinales (Bimbo Ongetta-Centro Seta FTR Honda) was 16th, John McPhee (Caretta Technology – RTG FTR Honda) 17th and Romano Fenati (San Carlo Team Italia FTR Honda) 18th in another all-Honda row of the grid.
|1||Jorge LORENZO (Yamaha Factory Racing)|
|2||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)|
|3||Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)|
|4||Cal CRUTCHLOW (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|5||Valentino ROSSI (Yamaha Factory Racing)|
|6||Alvaro BAUTISTA (GO&FUN Honda Gresini)|
|7||Nicky HAYDEN (Ducati Team)|
|8||Stefan BRADL (LCR Honda MotoGP)|
|9||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Ducati Team)|
|10||Hector BARBERA (Avintia Blusens)|
|11||Andrea IANNONE (Energy T.I. Pramac Racing)|
|12||Bradley SMITH (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|13||Aleix ESPARGARO (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|14||Michele PIRRO (Ducati Test Team)|
|15||Randy DE PUNIET (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|1||Esteve RABAT (Tuenti HP 40)|
|2||Scott REDDING (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|3||Takaaki NAKAGAMI (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|4||Pol ESPARGARO (Tuenti HP 40)|
|5||Jordi TORRES (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2)|
|6||Xavier SIMEON (Desguaces La Torre Maptaq)|
|7||Nicolas TEROL (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2)|
|8||Marcel SCHROTTER (Desguaces La Torre SAG)|
|9||Thomas LUTHI (Interwetten Paddock Moto2 Racing)|
|10||Anthony WEST (QMMF Racing Team)|
|11||Simone CORSI (NGM Mobile Racing)|
|12||Toni ELIAS (Blusens Avintia)|
|13||Dominique AEGERTER (Technomag carXpert)|
|14||Julian SIMON (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|15||Mika KALLIO (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|1||Alex RINS (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|2||Maverick VIÑALES (Team Calvo)|
|3||Luis SALOM (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|4||Brad BINDER (Ambrogio Racing)|
|5||Jack MILLER (Caretta Technology - RTG)|
|6||Niccolò ANTONELLI (GO&FUN Gresini Moto3)|
|7||Jonas FOLGER (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3)|
|8||Niklas AJO (Avant Tecno)|
|9||Jakub KORNFEIL (Redox RW Racing GP)|
|10||Efren VAZQUEZ (Mahindra Racing)|
|11||Zulfahmi KHAIRUDDIN (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|12||Danny WEBB (Ambrogio Racing)|
|13||Alexis MASBOU (Ongetta-Rivacold)|
|14||Arthur SISSIS (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|15||Miguel OLIVEIRA (Mahindra Racing)|