MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2014
Defending World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V) waited until the dying moments of qualifying to post his fourth pole position in succession, preserving a perfect 2014 record in emphatic style, with an advantage of almost half a second with the fastest-ever lap of the iconic Spanish circuit.
Repsol Honda RC213V team-mate Dani Pedrosa gained his third front-row start in four races, qualifying third at a track where he has never finished off the podium in the MotoGP class. The factory-backed pair are sandwiching fellow Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha), who qualified second.
Bright sunshine, a cloudless sky and grandstands packed full of eager fans greeted the return of MotoGP to Europe after three flyaway rounds. Marquez has won all three from pole position, as he underlines his status as the youngest-ever World Champion in the premier class.
His home-nation GP is at one of only a few circuits where the former 125cc and Moto2 World Champion has not yet recorded a GP win in any class, and he predicted a tough fight as he strives to add it to his growing portfolio. Marquez currently leads the points table with a perfect 75 points after three very different races: a tough fight with Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) in Qatar, a runaway win in Texas, and a patient tactical defeat of Lorenzo in Argentina.
Pedrosa is second, with a score of 56 after a full house of podiums. He was third in Qatar, and added two second places at the last two rounds – that in Argentina achieved with a stirring hunt-and-pounce attack on Lorenzo.
The 4.806-km Jerez de la Frontera circuit is the traditional start of the European season, and is a happy stamping ground for Honda, with 18 premier-class race wins in 26 years of racing outside the sherry capital, two of them claimed by Pedrosa, in 2008 and 2013.
Marquez apart, qualifying times were very close. Pedrosa was less than a tenth of a second off Lorenzo, and two tenths ahead of his rival’s team-mate Rossi, in fourth.
Honda satellite team riders were well-placed in the close top ten.
Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V) was seventh, leading row three. The only German rider in the premier class missed row two by a slender margin of two hundredths of a second. A fourth and a fifth place have put him sixth overall, after he crashed out of the first round while leading.
Alvaro Bautista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini Honda RC213V) was tenth, fighting his way through to the “senior” Q2 session from Q1, after searching for the right set-up for the sinuous circuit. Still awaiting his first finish this year, Bautista and team-mate Scott Redding have a special role, the only riders race-testing Showa suspension and Nissin brakes, made by Japanese companies with strong links to Honda.
Honda has four riders in the new-this-year Open category, riding the works-replica RCV1000R customer machine. For a second race 2006 Honda World Champion Nicky Hayden (Drive M7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R) was the best of them, again winning through to Q2 to place 12th.
His Drive M7 Aspar Honda team-mate Hiro Aoyama was 13th, heading row four in his best grid position since his return to Honda this year. The former 250cc World Champion narrowly beat Hayden last week in Argentina to claim tenth place.
Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing Honda RCV1000R) qualified 16th, gaining strength as he recovers from major shoulder surgery. GO&FUN Honda Gresini RCV1000R rider Redding qualified 18th after a minor spill in Q1. Redding is a class rookie, after finishing second in the Moto2 World Championship last year.
Honda power all entries in the Moto2 class, where the organizers provide identical race-tuned Honda CBR600 engines to ensure close and also reliable racing. Results can be unpredictable, and at Jerez for the first time this year points leader Esteve “Tito” Rabat (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) not only missed pole position, but qualified on the far end of the second row of the grid.
With 16 riders within a second of pole, only the fastest rider had a margin of any significance. Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex rider Mika Kallio claimed a career-second pole by 0.294 of a second. Kallio was second in Qatar, and lies second overall to Rabat in the Championship standings.
German former Moto3 champion Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP Kalex) qualified second, joined on the front row by class rookie Luis Salom (Pons HP 40 Kalex), his first front row after finishing a fighting third last week in Argentina.
Swiss star Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2 Suter) leads row two, the former 125cc World Champion heading compatriot Dominique Aegerter (Technomag carXpert Suter) and Rabat.
Class rookie Jonas Folger (AGR Team Kalex) leads row three from Austin GP winner Maverick Vinales (Pons HP40 Kalex). Vinales, reigning Moto3 World Champion, is also a rookie in the middleweight class. German Marcel Schrotter (Tech 3) was ninth to complete the row, with Frenchman Johann Zarco (AirAsia Caterham Racing Team Caterham-Suter) rounding out the top ten.
In Moto3, where Honda is battling with rival factories, the new NSF250RW’s perfect-so-far front-row record was preserved, with Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda rider Alex Rins qualifying third, in the thick of a very close batch of times behind pole qualifier Jack Miller (KTM).
Second to 19th place is covered by just one second.
Estrella Galicia 0,0 Team-mate Alex Marquez is in the middle of the second row, qualified fifth; while third fast Spaniard Efren Vazquez (SaxoPrint RTG Honda) is heading the third, placed seventh. His team-mate John McPhee was ninth, at the other end of row three.
Prominent in the close pack was girl racer Maria Herrera (Junior Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda), placed 16th for only her second GP. Maria is a race winner in the competitive Spanish national CEV championship, and is entered as a wild card rider. Her first outing was last year, at the Aragon circuit.
Alexis Masbou (Ongetta-Rivacold Honda) was 18th; Malaysian racer Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Ongetta-AirAsia Honda) qualified 23rd.
Tomorrow’s race is the fourth of 18 rounds, with the next race in two weeks at Le Mans in France.
|1||Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)||F|
|2||Jorge LORENZO (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)||F|
|3||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)||F|
|4||Valentino ROSSI (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)||F|
|5||Aleix ESPARGARO (NGM Forward Racing)||O|
|6||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Ducati Team)||F|
|7||Stefan BRADL (LCR Honda MotoGP)||F|
|8||Pol ESPARGARO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)||F|
|9||Bradley SMITH (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)||F|
|10||Alvaro BAUTISTA (GO & FUN Honda Gresini)||F|
|11||Colin EDWARDS (NGM Forward Racing)||O|
|12||Nicky HAYDEN (Drive M7 Aspar)||O|
|13||Hiroshi AOYAMA (Drive M7 Aspar)||O|
|14||Cal CRUTCHLOW (Ducati Team)||F|
|15||Andrea IANNONE (Pramac Racing)||F|
* F=Factory option, O=Open category
|1||Esteve RABAT (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|2||Mika KALLIO (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|3||Jonas FOLGER (AGR Team)|
|4||Xavier SIMEON (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2)|
|5||Sandro CORTESE (Dynavolt Intact GP)|
|6||Nicolas TEROL (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2)|
|7||Thomas LUTHI (Interwetten Paddock Moto2)|
|8||Maverick VIÑALES (Pons HP 40)|
|9||Luis SALOM (Pons HP 40)|
|10||Takaaki NAKAGAMI (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia)|
|11||Johann ZARCO (AirAsia Caterham Moto Racing)|
|12||Dominique AEGERTER (Technomag carXpert)|
|13||Anthony WEST (QMMF Racing Team)|
|14||Marcel SCHROTTER (Tech 3)|
|15||Simone CORSI (NGM Forward Racing)|
|1||Jack MILLER (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|2||Niccolò ANTONELLI (Junior Team GO & FUN Moto3)|
|3||Alex RINS (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|4||Isaac VIÑALES (Calvo Team)|
|5||Alex MARQUEZ (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|6||Francesco BAGNAIA (SKY Racing Team VR46)|
|7||Efren VAZQUEZ (SaxoPrint-RTG)|
|8||Niklas AJO (Avant Tecno Husqvarna Ajo)|
|9||John MCPHEE (SaxoPrint-RTG)|
|10||Romano FENATI (SKY Racing Team VR46)|
|11||Jakub KORNFEIL (Calvo Team)|
|12||Miguel OLIVEIRA (Mahindra Racing)|
|13||Danny KENT (Red Bull Husqvarna Ajo)|
|14||Philipp OETTL (Interwetten Paddock Moto3)|
|15||Enea BASTIANINI (Junior Team Go & FUN Moto3)|