MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2013
Repsol Honda RC213V rider Dani Pedrosa left it until the very last moment to claim a dazzling first pole position of the year at Mugello today, setting the fastest-ever lap of the spectacular 5.245km Mugello circuit in the Tuscan foothills.
Team-mate Marc Marquez was hardly less impressive. The 20-year-old class rookie bounced back from a shocking crash yesterday – possibly the fastest ever in Grand Prix history – to claim sixth place, on the second row of the grid.
Pedrosa is the only rider to win more than one race this year, and is aiming for a third win in succession to cement his World Championship points lead. His progress had started relatively slowly yesterday, when he was only fifth fastest. Overnight work adjusting his Honda RC213V to the fast and flowing circuit bore fruit, however; and a supreme effort at the very end of the crucial 15-minute final qualifying saw him edge Spanish rival Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) to second.
Bad weather on Friday meant a damp start to free practice, robbing all riders of set-up time at the spectacular Italian circuit, which combines a long and undulating 1.1-km straight with fast looping corners and high-speed to-and-fro chicanes. The forecast was for continued rain, but the second of three days confounded the predictions, with sunshine breaking through a patchy cloud cover.
A strong qualifying performance put Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V) as next-best Honda, placed fifth in the middle of the second row, equalling his best grid positions so far this year. German former Moto2 champion Bradl is pushing to wipe out the memory of a disappointing tenth two weeks ago at Le Mans, when he slipped off while running with the front group, as well as a pair of earlier non-finishes.
Marquez had a miraculous escape from serious injury on Friday afternoon after locking the front wheel at 337 km/h, running off the track, and then leaping clear at barely undiminished speed before the bike struck a trackside wall. He returned today sporting a white bandage on his bruised and scraped chin, the only visible injury, though he also hurt an arm and a leg in the crash. Nothing daunted, he lay second in final qualifying in the closing stages, when he was pushed to sixth. After two pole positions this year, it is only the second time in five races the reigning Moto2 champion and MotoGP-class rookie has not been on the front row.
Alvaro Bautista (Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini RC213V) will start directly behind Marquez on row three, after qualifying ninth. The Spanish rider is the only man in the field using Showa suspension, combining racing with a testing/development role.
Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini team-mate Bryan Staring qualified 22nd, on the Honda CBR1000RR-powered CRT machine, escaping unhurt from a tumble in morning free practice. The Australian GP rookie, learning the circuits as he goes along, is looking to score his first World Championship points as he finds his feet in the class.
In the Honda powered Moto2 class, British rider Scott Redding claimed his second pole position of the season, riding a completely rebuilt Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex after the bike was all-but destroyed in a tumbling crash in the morning. The rider escaped uninjured and bounced back to top the time-sheets when it mattered. Redding, who won two weeks ago at Le Mans, is leading the World Championship so far.
Japanese Takaaki Nakagami (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex) continued his impressive run of front-row starts – including one pole position – by qualifying second, less than two-tenths slower. German Marcel Schrotter (Desguaces La Torre SAG Kalex) claimed his first-ever front-row start, qualifying third as he continues to improve in his first full season in the middle class.
Johann Zarco (Came Iodaracing Project Suter) leads the second row from race-two winner Nico Terol (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2 Suter) and Jerez winner Esteve Rabat (Tuenti HP 40 Kalex), but pre-season favourite and Qatar winner Pol Espargaro’s good fortune continues to elude him as the season wears on. The Tuenti HP 40 Pons Kalex rider qualified tenth, on the fourth row of the grid.
Australian Jack Miller (Caretta Technology – RTG FTR Honda) narrowly missed his first front-row start of the season in the closing minutes of Moto3 qualifying, but was happy to end up a close fourth, heading the second row and enjoying the to-and-fro nature of the high-speed circuit, where the sweet handling of his machine meant he could make the most of the smooth Honda horsepower. Miller qualified fourth also at the second round in Austin, Texas, where he finished a season-best sixth.
Italian Niccolo Antonelli (GO&FUN Gresini FTR Honda) will start directly behind Miller after qualifying seventh at his home circuit to head the third row. The 17-year-old is hoping for a change of luck and a chance to score his first points of the season in the very competitive junior class.
The next Honda is at the far end of the same row. English rider Danny Webb (Ambrogio Racing Suter Honda) consolidated a strong weekend by qualifying ninth fastest. He missed the last race after fracturing his foot in practice, but has returned at full strength. Team-mate Brad Binder, from South Africa, was less than half-a-second slower, and placed 11th.
Binder was at the head of a phalanx of machines powered by Honda’s 250cc Moto3 engine. Twelfth to 14th were occupied by Alan Techer (CIP TSR Honda), Isaac Vinales (Ongetta-Centro Seta FTR Honda) and John McPhee (Caretta Technology - RTG FTR Honda); with two more – Alexis Masbou (Ongetta-Rivacold FTR Honda) and Alessandro Tonucci (Team La Fonte Tasca Racing Honda) placed 16th and 17th in a field of 34 riders.
|1||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)|
|2||Jorge LORENZO (Yamaha Factory Racing)|
|3||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Ducati Team)|
|4||Cal CRUTCHLOW (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|5||Stefan BRADL (LCR Honda MotoGP)|
|6||Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)|
|7||Valentino ROSSI (Yamaha Factory Racing)|
|8||Nicky HAYDEN (Ducati Team)|
|9||Alvaro BAUTISTA (GO&FUN Honda Gresini)|
|10||Michele PIRRO (Ducati Test Team)|
|11||Bradley SMITH (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|12||Aleix ESPARGARO (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|13||Andrea IANNONE (Energy T.I. Pramac Racing)|
|14||Randy DE PUNIET (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|15||Hector BARBERA (Avintia Blusens)|
|1||Scott REDDING (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|2||Takaaki NAKAGAMI (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|3||Marcel SCHROTTER (Desguaces La Torre SAG)|
|4||Johann ZARCO (Came Iodaracing Project)|
|5||Nicolas TEROL (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2)|
|6||Esteve RABAT (Tuenti HP 40)|
|7||Xavier SIMEON (Desguaces La Torre Maptaq)|
|8||Alex DE ANGELIS (NGM Mobile Forward Racing)|
|9||Jordi TORRES (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2)|
|10||Pol ESPARGARO (Tuenti HP 40)|
|11||Simone CORSI (NGM Mobile Racing)|
|12||Thomas LUTHI (Interwetten Paddock Moto2 Racing)|
|13||Mika KALLIO (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|14||Dominique AEGERTER (Technomag carXpert)|
|15||Sandro CORTESE (Dynavolt Intact GP)|
|1||Jonas FOLGER (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3)|
|2||Maverick VIÑALES (Team Calvo)|
|3||Alex RINS (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|4||Jack MILLER (Caretta Technology - RTG)|
|5||Luis SALOM (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|6||Miguel OLIVEIRA (Mahindra Racing)|
|7||Niccolò ANTONELLI (GO&FUN Gresini Moto3)|
|8||Jakub KORNFEIL (Redox RW Racing GP)|
|9||Danny WEBB (Ambrogio Racing)|
|10||Alex MARQUEZ (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|11||Brad BINDER (Ambrogio Racing)|
|12||Alan TECHER (CIP Moto3)|
|13||Isaac VIÑALES (Ongetta-Centro Seta)|
|14||John McPHEE (Caretta Technology - RTG)|
|15||Eric GRANADO (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3)|