MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2013
Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini RC213V rider Alvaro Bautista claimed second-fastest qualifying time at Brno today, narrowly edging Repsol Honda RC213V rider Marc Marquez to third, to make two Hondas challenging on the front row of the starting grid.
Second Repsol Honda RC213V rider Dani Pedrosa, still nursing a recovering collarbone fracture, was fractionally fourth fastest, heading the second row from defending champion Jorge Lorenzo and Bradley Smith (both Yamaha). It was Smith’s team-mate Cal Crutchlow up front, on a fast dry afternoon where the top two both broke the circuit’s outright lap record.
LCR Honda RC213V rider Stefan Bradl was the next-best Honda in a batch of close times, the top nine all within a second of pole, at the long 3.357-mile track with a lap time approaching two minutes. The German, on pole at Laguna Seca, was eighth-fastest at Brno, in the middle of row three.
Australian grand prix rookie Bryan Staring (GO&FUN Honda Gresini FTR Honda) placed his Honda CBR1000RR-powered CRT bike 24th, bouncing back from a tumble yesterday, and for once at a circuit where he has prior track knowledge.
Bautista’s best qualifying this year is more proof of his improving form, after blotting his copybook with two first-lap crashes in the early part of the 18-race season. He was on the front row also at Laguna Seca, where he went on to claim his best finish of the year with a close fourth place. The former 125cc World Champion is the only rider to use Showa suspension and Nissin brakes, combining his quest for results with a race-testing role for the Japanese equipment, made by companies closely associated with Honda.
Pedrosa won the race last year, with a fierce last-corner attack on Lorenzo; while Marquez took victory in the Moto2 class. A record-breaking rookie in the premier MotoGP class, the 20-year-old has won the last three races in succession, and leads the World Championship from 27-year-old team-mate Pedrosa.
In a sensational rookie season, Marquez has claimed four pole positions and taken four race wins. He was already the youngest-ever pole qualifier and the youngest-ever race winner, and the youngest to lead the championship. He is a strong candidate to become the youngest-ever champion, supplanting former Honda rider Freddie Spencer, World Champion in 1983.
His older team-mate is still suffering from the after-effects of a collarbone fracture before the summer break. It happened in practice for the German GP, ruling him out of the race and also losing him the points lead he had taken from Marquez with two previous race wins.
After choosing natural healing rather than surgery, Pedrosa is having to draw on all his reserves of courage and race-craft in an intensive period of racing: the Czech Republic GP is the middle one of three races on consecutive weekends. Last Sunday they raced at Indianapolis in the USA, where Marquez and Pedrosa were first and second; next weekend they race again in the British GP at Silverstone.
Bradl has also been showing improving form, after his brilliant pole and second place at Laguna Seca, the last race before the summer break. The German rider was fastest on the first day of qualifying, but failed to reproduce that form in the hectic 15-minute final session.
In the all-Honda powered Moto2 class, Takaaki Nakagami (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex) claimed his second pole of the season, by an impressive margin of four tenths of a second. The Japanese rider is fresh off a career-best second place at the last round at Indianapolis a week ago.
He took the position ahead of Tuenti HP40 Pons Kalex team-mates Pol Espargaro and Tito Rabat. The team-mates set identical lap times, but Espargaro did it first, and is placed ahead on the grid.
Rabat claimed his second win of the year at Indy, and is working hard to improve his third-overall position. Espargaro is similarly engaged on a quest: to move from second overall back into the lead he held earlier in the season. His rival is points leader Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex), currently ahead of the Spaniard by 26 points, but qualified only 13th, albeit only four tenths of a second behind his rival.
All Moto2 machines use race-tuned Honda CBR600 engines supplied by the organisers, ensuring close and reliable racing. Nakagami apart, the qualifying times confirmed how even the contest can be. Second to 20th places were covered by just one second.
Redding’s team-mate Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) heads the second row from Moto3 champion Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP Kalex), in his best qualifying position in his first year in the class. German GP winner Jordi Torres (Aspar Team Moto2 Suter) qualified sixth; then Johann Zarco (Came Ioda Racing Project Suter), Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock Suter), Nicolas Terol (Aspar Team Moto2 Suter) and Dominique Aegerter (Technomag carXpert Suter) completed the top ten.
In the Moto3 class, up against rival factories, Honda-powered riders fared their best all season, with Ongetta-Rivacold FTR Honda rider Alexis Masbou shouldering Australian Jack Miller (Caretta Technology-RTG FTR Honda) off the front row of the grid in the dying minutes of the final qualifying session.
Third equalled the experienced 26-year-old Frenchman’s career-best qualifying position, offering him a chance to equal or improve on his best-yet second place in the class.
But it brought disappointment to Miller (18), who had been in line for his first front-row start until the closing minutes. Fourth equals his best so far. Miller broke his collarbone at Indy last weekend, but reported no problems with the freshly-plated fracture.
The session brought joy also to class rookie John McPhee, next best Honda rider and team-mate to Miller in the Caretta Technology-RTG squad. The FTR Honda rider (19, from Scotland) qualified 11th, his best so far in his first full season, in the middle of the fourth row.
Isaac Vinales (Bimbo Ongetta-Centro-Seta FTR Honda) was 13th, one place ahead of Alessandro Tonucci (La Fonte Tasca Racing FTR Honda), with France’s Alan Techer (CIP Moto3 TSR Honda) close behind in 16th, at the head of a group of five Hondas filling 16th to 20th places: Niccolo Antonelli (GO&FUN Gresini Moto3 FTR Honda), Matteo Ferrari (Ongetta-Centro Seta FTR Honda), Lorenzo Baldassarri (GO&FUN Gresini Moto3 FTR Honda) and Brad Binder (Ambrogio Racing Suter Honda).
The Brno circuit is scenic and spectacular, running down into a deep wooded valley and back up to the paddock area through a series of mainly fast corners. Vast crowds are expected as always to pack the hillsides that form superb natural grandstands.
So far the weather has been dry, but there is a chance of rain tomorrow, and the possibility of a flat-to-flag race in which riders pit to change bikes to match changing conditions.
|1||Cal CRUTCHLOW (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|2||Alvaro BAUTISTA (GO&FUN Honda Gresini)|
|3||Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)|
|4||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)|
|5||Jorge LORENZO (Yamaha Factory Racing)|
|6||Bradley SMITH (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|7||Valentino ROSSI (Yamaha Factory Racing)|
|8||Stefan BRADL (LCR Honda MotoGP)|
|9||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Ducati Team)|
|10||Nicky HAYDEN (Ducati Team)|
|11||Andrea IANNONE (Energy T.I. Pramac Racing)|
|12||Colin EDWARDS (NGM Mobile Forward Racing)|
|13||Aleix ESPARGARO (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|14||Michele PIRRO (Ignite Pramac Racing)|
|15||Randy DE PUNIET (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|1||Takaaki NAKAGAMI (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|2||Pol ESPARGARO (Tuenti HP 40)|
|3||Esteve RABAT (Tuenti HP 40)|
|4||Mika KALLIO (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|5||Sandro CORTESE (Dynavolt Intact GP)|
|6||Jordi TORRES (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2)|
|7||Johann ZARCO (Came Iodaracing Project)|
|8||Thomas LUTHI (Interwetten Paddock Moto2 Racing)|
|9||Nicolas TEROL (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2)|
|10||Dominique AEGERTER (Technomag carXpert)|
|11||Marcel SCHROTTER (Desguaces La Torre SAG)|
|12||Danny KENT (Tech 3)|
|13||Scott REDDING (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|14||Julian SIMON (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|15||Simone CORSI (NGM Mobile Racing)|
|1||Alex RINS (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|2||Maverick VIÑALES (Team Calvo)|
|3||Alexis MASBOU (Ongetta-Rivacold)|
|4||Jack MILLER (Caretta Technology - RTG)|
|5||Luis SALOM (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|6||Alex MARQUEZ (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|7||Jonas FOLGER (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3)|
|8||Arthur SISSIS (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|9||Efren VAZQUEZ (Mahindra Racing)|
|10||Miguel OLIVEIRA (Mahindra Racing)|
|11||John McPHEE (Caretta Technology - RTG)|
|12||Jakub KORNFEIL (Redox RW Racing GP)|
|13||Isaac VIÑALES (Ongetta-Centro Seta)|
|14||Alessandro TONUCCI (La Fonte Tascaracing)|
|15||Eric GRANADO (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3)|