MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2014
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) scored a brilliant first pole position of the year at scorching-hot Catalunya this afternoon, ending a run of six pole positions achieved by team-mate Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) at the first six races of the year. Marquez was fighting to better local hero Pedrosa in the final minutes of the session when he slid off, and yet he will still start the race from third on the grid.
Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V) continued his strong performances through free practice with the fourth-fastest lap in qualifying, just 0.085 seconds off the front row. Alvaro Bautista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini RC213V) had a torrid qualifying, crashing out to end the day in 12th position.
Today’s pole was a huge morale booster for Pedrosa whose recent races have been compromised by arm-pump problems. The former 125 and 250 World Champion had surgery on his right arm following last month’s Spanish GP but still suffered from the condition at Mugello two weeks ago. Today’s performance gave the man from nearby Sabadell his second consecutive Catalan Grand Prix pole. Tomorrow he will go for his first victory since last October’s Malaysian GP.
The red-hot conditions are placing extra stresses on tires here, so Marquez opted for a three-run strategy this afternoon, instead of the usual two runs, because the softer tires work at their best only on their first flying lap. He had already successfully employed this three-run strategy at Jerez, but this time it didn’t quite work out. On his final flying lap he braked a little too late for the first turn, the bike got sideways on the outside kerb and when he tipped into the corner the front tire was still unsettled, causing it to lose grip. Marquez and his bike slid down the road. Luckily the World Championship was unscathed in the incident.
Bradl has been fast and consistent since arriving here and was the fastest man of all in the first three practice sessions, leaning his Honda so far that his shoulder was fully on the kerb through Turn Five. It’s an impressive performance from the German who arrived here still battered and bruised from two huge race-day crashes at Mugello.
Bautista had an altogether tougher afternoon. Eleventh quickest after FP3, he had to take part in QP1 to have a chance of promotion to the QP2 session for the faster riders. He duly topped QP1 but crashed heavily on his fifth lap in QP2, highsiding as he exited Turn Ten. The Spaniard was stretchered away but although badly knocked about, suffered no fractures.
Rookie Scott Redding (GO&FUN Honda Gresini RCV1000R) was the best-placed RCV1000R rider, qualifying 14th, just 0.152 seconds behind factory rider Cal Crutchlow (Ducati).
Nicky Hayden (Drive M7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R) did superbly to go 16th quickest, considering that his fitness was in doubt until he rode yesterday morning. The former MotoGP World Champion is recovering from post-Mugello surgery, undertaken to cure persistent problems with an old right-wrist injury.
Czech rider Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing Honda RCV1000R) was 18th, two places ahead of Hiroshi Aoyama (Drive M7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R).
Esteve Rabat (Marc VDS Racing Team, Kalex) produced a scintillating performance in Moto2 qualifying, ending the session almost sixth tenths ahead of his nearest challenger in a class that guarantees a level technological playing field with control engines, supplied by Honda, control tires and control electronics.
Rabat, who leads the championship with three wins from the first six races, bettered team-mate Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing Team, Kalex) by 0.571 seconds. Reigning Moto3 World Champion and Austin Moto2 winner Maverick Vinales (Paginas Amarillas HP 40, Kalex) was a very close third, just 0.052 seconds off Kallio.
The same six-tenths margin that separated first from second place also separated second from 11th, which is more like the usual closely packed times in this category. Row two is headed by Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP, Kalex), alongside Jonas Folger (AGR Team, Kalex) and Mattia Pasini (NGM Forward Racing, Kalex).
Former 125 World Champion Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock, Suter) leads the third row ahead of Johann Zarco (AirAsia Caterham, Caterham Suter) and reigning World Supersport champion Sam Lowes (Speed Up, Speed Up).
Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW) scorched to his first Grand Prix pole position, triumphing at the end of a typically hectic Moto3 qualifying session. Marc’s 18-year-old younger brother produced an epic lap in the final minutes to put him more than six tenths ahead of nearest challenger Enea Bastianini (KTM).
Team-mate Alex Rins (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW) ended up third fastest following a big highside during the final moments of the 40-minute outing. The Spaniard had just set his best lap and was trying to slice off a few more tenths when he lost control at Turn Four. The accident left him with a fractured toe on his left foot, so will undergo a medical check tomorrow morning to see if he’s fit to race.
Efren Vazquez (SaxoPrint-RTG Honda NSF250R) produced an heroic performance to take eighth on the grid despite missing the first 25 minutes of the session while his mechanics fixed an electronics glitch. He returned to the track with 15 minutes remaining and ended up eighth, 1.2 seconds off pole. Vazquez had earlier been third fastest in free practice, just six tenths off fastest-man Marquez, so he is confident he will have the pace to run up front in tomorrow’s race.
Vazquez’s team-mate John McPhee (SaxoPrint-RTG Honda NSF250R), who led a Grand Prix race for the first time at Mugello a fortnight ago, was tenth quickest. Alexis Masbou (Ongetta-Rivacold Honda NSF250R) was 17th, just ahead of Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Ongetta-AirAsia Honda NSF250R). Wild Card entry Maria Herrera (Junior Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250R) qualified a very respectable 24th of 35 riders.
As usual, race day starts with the Moto3 race at 11am, with the Moto2 and MotoGP races following in the afternoon.
|1||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)||F|
|2||Jorge LORENZO (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)||F|
|3||Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)||F|
|4||Stefan BRADL (LCR Honda MotoGP)||F|
|5||Valentino ROSSI (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)||F|
|6||Aleix ESPARGARO (NGM Forward Racing)||O|
|7||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Ducati Team)||F|
|8||Bradley SMITH (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)||F|
|9||Yonny HERNANDEZ (Energy T.I. Pramac Racing)||F|
|10||Pol ESPARGARO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)||F|
|11||Andrea IANNONE (Pramac Racing)||F|
|12||Alvaro BAUTISTA (GO & FUN Honda Gresini)||F|
|13||Cal CRUTCHLOW (Ducati Team)||F|
|14||Scott REDDING (GO & FUN Honda Gresini)||O|
|15||Michele PIRRO (Ducati Team)||F|
* F=Factory option, O=Open category
|1||Esteve RABAT (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|2||Mika KALLIO (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|3||Maverick VIÑALES (Paginas Amarillas HP 40)|
|4||Sandro CORTESE (Dynavolt Intact GP)|
|5||Jonas FOLGER (AGR Team)|
|6||Mattia PASINI (NGM Forward Racing)|
|7||Thomas LUTHI (Interwetten Paddock Moto2)|
|8||Johann ZARCO (AirAsia Caterham)|
|9||Sam LOWES (Speed Up)|
|10||Dominique AEGERTER (Technomag carXpert)|
|11||Luis SALOM (Paginas Amarillas HP 40)|
|12||Franco MORBIDELLI (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|13||Alex DE ANGELIS (Tasca Racing Moto2)|
|14||Hafizh SYAHRIN (Petronas Raceline Malaysia)|
|15||Simone CORSI (NGM Forward Racing)|
|1||Alex MARQUEZ (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|2||Enea BASTIANINI (Junior Team Go & FUN Moto3)|
|3||Alex RINS (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|4||Brad BINDER (Ambrogio Racing)|
|5||Niklas AJO (Avant Tecno Husqvarna Ajo)|
|6||Isaac VIÑALES (Calvo Team)|
|7||Miguel OLIVEIRA (Mahindra Racing)|
|8||Efren VAZQUEZ (SaxoPrint-RTG)|
|9||Jack MILLER (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|10||John MCPHEE (SaxoPrint-RTG)|
|11||Jakub KORNFEIL (Calvo Team)|
|12||Niccolò ANTONELLI (Junior Team GO & FUN Moto3)|
|13||Juanfran GUEVARA (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3)|
|14||Alessandro TONUCCI (CIP)|
|15||Karel HANIKA (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|