MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2013
Honda riders qualified first and third for tomorrow’s Aragon GP, bracketing the front row of the grid. Championship leader Marc Marquez was on pole position, and his Repsol Honda RC213V team-mate Dani Pedrosa a close third fastest. In between them was defending World Champion Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha).
There were two Hondas also on the second row, at a track where Honda’s V4 MotoGP prototype has a strong record, having won for the past two years. LCR Honda RC213V rider Stefan Bradl was less than two tenths ahead of Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini RC213V rider Alvaro Bautista, in fifth and sixth positions. Second Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi was fourth.
Marquez’s seventh pole of his first MotoGP season was yet another landmark in the rookie in a million’s sensational maiden season in the premier class. The Spanish rising star claimed it with a stunning lap time – not only 1.2 seconds inside the lap record, set in race conditions, but better than 0.65 seconds faster than the best ever lap at the challenging and scenic Motorland Aragon circuit. Both of those times were set last year by Repsol Honda RC213V rider Casey Stoner.
Marquez (20) has so far won five races, taking his first victory in only the second round. He followed up with four in a row mid-season, setting yet another “youngest-ever” record in a year of many such achievements. During that spell he regained his early championship lead, which now stands at a significant 34 points, ahead of Lorenzo and Pedrosa, who are equal on points.
Although he now need finish only second at the remaining five rounds, the former 125cc and reigning Moto2 champion has pledged to continue fighting for victories in his quest to become the youngest-ever premier-class World Champion.
Team-mate Pedrosa is battling to regain ground lost after missing one race and struggling through the following rounds when he broke his collarbone in practice at round eight in Germany. Until then he had been leading on points.
Pedrosa chose natural healing rather than the surgery espoused by rival Lorenzo, with a similar injury. Now back to full strength, he is determined and focused, and hoping to repeat his victory at the Aragon circuit last year.
Both Repsol Honda riders are fresh from post-race tests after the race at Misano a fortnight ago, where Pedrosa concentrated on improving the settings of his machine to tackle issues with rear grip that has been troubling him. The Spanish star celebrates his 28th birthday on race day tomorrow, and hopes to do so with his own third win of the season, after a run of four podium finishes at the previous races.
Stefan Bradl’s second-row start reflects a return to strong form that peaked with a first pole position and second place at the US GP, before the summer break. The German rider showed his pace on the first day of practice, running second fastest, and was confident for the race after his own tests at Misano helped him find better machine settings.
Bautista has shown improving form throughout the season, as he and his team get to grips with his exclusive use of Showa suspension and Nissin brakes … the Spaniard is race-developing the Japanese components, made by companies with close associations with Honda. Working alone means no reference points or data, but the Italy-based team has made strong progress during the season, and his results and race performances have steadily improved.
His team-mate Bryan Staring (GO&FUN Honda Gresini FTR Honda) qualified 21st on his Honda CBR1000RR-powered CRT bike. The Australian is in his first grand prix season, learning new tracks while also getting to grips with a new type of machine.
Former 125cc champion Nico Terol (Aspar Team Moto2 Suter) claimed a career first Moto2 pole, only his second time on the front row of the grid this year. The first time was at round two in Austin, Texas, where he went on to claim his first race win in the class. Since then, however, he has been only once on the podium in the volatile class.
All Moto2 riders use identical race-tuned Honda CBR600 engines, supplied by the organizers. This ensures not only close but also reliable racing, with riders striving to make the difference on a variety of prototype chassis.
Two-time race winner Esteve Rabat (Tuenti HP 40 Pons Kalex) and his team-mate Pol Espargaro complete the front row of the grid, but the major focus of the race is the championship battle between Spanish star Espargaro and English championship leader Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex).
Redding still has a points lead of 23, but Espargaro has been closing the gap over the latter half of the season. Redding, fresh from arm surgery, qualified a disappointing 13th at Aragon, on the fifth row of the grid, putting him in the thick of heavy race traffic. The difference on time is not so great, however – the top 13 all qualified within one second of pole time.
Japanese racer Takaaki Nakagami (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex), who has finished second in the last four races, heads the second row. Alongside him, single race winner Jordi Torres (Aspar Team Moto2 Suter) was narrowly ahead of Simone Corsi (NGM Mobile Racing Speed Up).
Julian Simon (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex), Alex de Angelis (NGM Mobile Forward Racing Speed Up), reigning Moto3 champion Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP Kalex) and Johann Zarco (Came Iodaracing Project Suter) complete the top ten.
In the Moto3 class, up against rival factories, two Honda riders were in close contention with each other. In the end Ongetta-Rivacold FTR Honda rider Alexis Masbou took the fourth-row starting position from San Carlo Team Italia FTR Honda rider Romano Fenati in the closing stages.
The experienced 26-year-old Frenchman was happy to be top Honda, but anticipated a tough race at a track where a long straight does not favour his machine’s superior cornering ability. Fenati (17) had been higher in free practice, in a generally strong weekend for the young Italian, in his second year in the class.
Less than half-a-second slower, Niccolo Antonelli (GO&FUN Gresini Moto3 FTR Honda) was 15th out of the 35 qualifiers.
Second San Carlo Team Italia FTR Honda rider Francesco Bagnaia was 17th, Jack Miller (top Honda in the points standings) a disappointed 20th on the Caretta Technology-RTG FTR Honda, one place ahead of France’s Alan Techer (CIP Moto3 TSR Honda).
Isaac Vinales (Bimbo Ongetta-Centro-Seta FTR Honda) was 23rd, Alessandro Tonucci (La Fonte Tascaracing FTR Honda) 24th, and John Mcphee (Caretta Technology-RTG FTR Honda 27th; with Lorenzo Baldassarri (GO&FUN Gresini Moto3 FTR Honda), wild card Bryan Schouten (Dutch Racing Team FTR Honda), Hyuga Watanabe (La Fonte Tascaracing FTR Honda), Matteo Ferrari (Ongetta-Centro Seta FTR Honda) and Juanfran Guevara (CIP Moto3 TSR Honda) filling the grid.
The 5.078-km Motorland Aragon circuit, the central part of a major motorsport and technology centre, is fast and scenic, running up and down a dry and stony hillside and including a long straight just a few meters short of a kilometer. The weather was dry for the two practice days, although overnight rain made a cool and damp start to Saturday. There is a small chance of rain tomorrow, bringing the possibility of a flag-to-flag race in which riders pit to change bikes to match changing conditions.
|1||Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)|
|2||Jorge LORENZO (Yamaha Factory Racing)|
|3||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)|
|4||Valentino ROSSI (Yamaha Factory Racing)|
|5||Stefan BRADL (LCR Honda MotoGP)|
|6||Alvaro BAUTISTA (GO&FUN Honda Gresini)|
|7||Cal CRUTCHLOW (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|8||Bradley SMITH (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|9||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Ducati Team)|
|10||Aleix ESPARGARO (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|11||Nicky HAYDEN (Ducati Team)|
|12||Andrea IANNONE (Energy T.I. Pramac Racing)|
|13||Yonny HERNANDEZ (Ignite Pramac Racing)|
|14||Hiroshi AOYAMA (Avintia Blusens)|
|15||Danilo PETRUCCI (Came IodaRacing Project)|
|1||Nicolas TEROL (Aspar Team Moto2)|
|2||Esteve RABAT (Tuenti HP 40)|
|3||Pol ESPARGARO (Tuenti HP 40)|
|4||Takaaki NAKAGAMI (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|5||Jordi TORRES (Aspar Team Moto2)|
|6||Simone CORSI (NGM Mobile Racing)|
|7||Julian SIMON (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|8||Alex DE ANGELIS (NGM Mobile Forward Racing)|
|9||Sandro CORTESE (Dynavolt Intact GP)|
|10||Johann ZARCO (Came Iodaracing Project)|
|11||Thomas LUTHI (Interwetten Paddock Moto2 Racing)|
|12||Mattia PASINI (NGM Mobile Racing)|
|13||Scott REDDING (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|14||Xavier SIMEON (Maptaq SAG Zelos Team)|
|15||Mika KALLIO (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|1||Alex RINS (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|2||Maverick VIÑALES (Team Calvo)|
|3||Alex MARQUEZ (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|4||Philipp OETTL (Tec Interwetten Moto3 Racing)|
|5||Efren VAZQUEZ (Mahindra Racing)|
|6||Jonas FOLGER (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3)|
|7||Miguel OLIVEIRA (Mahindra Racing)|
|8||Luis SALOM (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|9||Arthur SISSIS (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|10||Jakub KORNFEIL (Redox RW Racing GP)|
|11||Zulfahmi KHAIRUDDIN (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|12||Alexis MASBOU (Ongetta-Rivacold)|
|13||Romano FENATI (San Carlo Team Italia)|
|14||Brad BINDER (Ambrogio Racing)|
|15||Niccolò ANTONELLI (GO & FUN Gresini Moto3)|