MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2013
German rider Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V) claimed his first MotoGP pole position at Laguna Seca, heading a trio of Hondas taking control of the front row of the grid for tomorrow's US GP at the exciting and challenging Californian circuit.
Bradl's triumph came with only 30 seconds of an exciting final qualifying session remaining. Repsol Honda RC213V rider Marc Marquez had set the pace all session, but had to watch powerless from the pits after slipping off unhurt while striving to put pole position out of reach.
Rookie championship leader Marquez stayed second, and will start from the front row of the grid for the sixth time this season. His earlier lap time was 0.017 seconds slower than pole.
Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini RC213V rider Alvaro Bautista stormed to third, for his first front row this year. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V), returned from injury, qualified seventh, to head row three.
Bradl's maiden class pole comes after a run of improving results for the German, following a troubled start to the former Moto2 champion's second MotoGP season. He claimed his first front-row start at Assen in round seven, and scored his second fourth place of the season at the German GP last weekend.
The 23-year-old has his sights firmly set on his first MotoGP rostrum on his second visit to Laguna.
Marquez claimed his second win of the year in Germany, regaining the championship lead as his senior-class debut season continues to gather momentum. The reigning Moto2 World Champion arrived at the notoriously tricky 3.610-km Californian circuit sight unseen, since the smaller classes do not race here. He confounded predictions that he would find it hard to learn, taking to the top of the time sheets on the first afternoon, then continuing to force the pace as he polished his corner lines and braking points.
The high number of laps round the very short track helped him to unlock the circuit's secrets, and he seemed set for a second successive pole position, his third this year, when he slid off on the fast Turn 6. He was able to ride back to the pits, but there was not time to essay a clinching final lap.
Bautista's first front row of the season came after steady improvement through the free practice sessions, where he was fourth fastest. He went one better with a series of improving laps in final qualifying. The Spanish former 125 World Champion has a dual role for Honda, race-testing Showa suspension, the only rider on the grid to use it. The team reports encouraging recent progress with this project.
Factory rider Pedrosa was ruled out of last weekend's German GP with temporary low blood pressure problems after suffering a partial collarbone fracture in a practice crash. Courageously returning to this race, in spite of the risk of further damage, the Spanish star took a cautious approach. He did not take part in the morning free practice sessions and placed 11th on Friday afternoon. This meant he had to take part in the first of two final qualifying sessions, needing to be first or second fastest in Q1 to go through to Q2 with the top ten. He ran just four flying laps to secure a significant top time; then came out again after a ten-minute break, missing a second-row start by a quarter of a second to fellow returned injury victim and title rival Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha).
Pedrosa's aim will be to gather as many points as possible in his weakened condition, to limit damage to his championship score as the first half of the season ends and the summer break begins.
Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini FTR Honda rider Bryan Staring was another rider meeting Laguna Seca for the first time, and qualified his CBR1000RR-powered machine 22nd. The grand-prix first-timer is seeking to add to his championship points score as he continues to gain experience with the CRT machine.
Honda is seeking a third straight win at Laguna Seca, where the retired Casey Stoner took successive victories on the Repsol Honda machine in 2011 and 2012. In eight previous visits Honda has won five times, with Nicky Hayden victorious in 2005 and 2006, and Dani Pedrosa in 2009.
Tomorrow's race is the ninth of 18 rounds, and the halfway point of the season is followed by a three-weekend break.
|1||Stefan BRADL (LCR Honda MotoGP)|
|2||Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)|
|3||Alvaro BAUTISTA (GO&FUN Honda Gresini)|
|4||Valentino ROSSI (Yamaha Factory Racing)|
|5||Cal CRUTCHLOW (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|6||Jorge LORENZO (Yamaha Factory Racing)|
|7||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)|
|8||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Ducati Team)|
|9||Bradley SMITH (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|10||Nicky HAYDEN (Ducati Team)|
|11||Aleix ESPARGARO (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|12||Randy DE PUNIET (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|13||Hector BARBERA (Avintia Blusens)|
|14||Alex DE ANGELIS (Ignite Pramac Racing)|
|15||Colin EDWARDS (NGM Mobile Forward Racing)|