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May 4, 2013

Lorenzo Claims MotoGP Pole Position At Jerez

FIM MotoGP World Championship: Jorge Lorenzo (99) on his Yamaha YZR-M1.
FIM MotoGP World Championship
Jerez, Spain
May 4, 2013
Qualifying Session Two Results (all on Bridgestone tires):

1. Jorge LORENZO, Spain (YAMAHA), 1:38.673
2. Dani PEDROSA, Spain (HONDA), 1:38.920
3. Marc MARQUEZ, Spain (HONDA), 1:38.971
4. Cal CRUTCHLOW, UK (YAMAHA), 1:39.262
5. Valentino ROSSI, Italy (YAMAHA), 1:39.300
6. Alvaro BAUTISTA, Spain (HONDA), 1:39.509
7. Nicky HAYDEN, USA (DUCATI), 1:39.654
8. Stefan BRADL, Germany (HONDA), 1:39.847
9. Andrea DOVIZIOSO, Italy (DUCATI), 1:39.848
10. Hector BARBERA, Spain (FTR-Kawasaki), 1:39.980
11. Andrea IANNONE, Italy (DUCATI), 1:40.087
12. Bradley SMITH, UK (YAMAHA), 1:40.356


Combined Qualifying Results:

1. Jorge LORENZO, Spain (YAMAHA), 1:38.673
2. Dani PEDROSA, Spain (HONDA), 1:38.920
3. Marc MARQUEZ, Spain (HONDA), 1:38.971
4. Cal CRUTCHLOW, UK (YAMAHA), 1:39.262
5. Valentino ROSSI, Italy (YAMAHA), 1:39.300
6. Alvaro BAUTISTA, Spain (HONDA), 1:39.509
7. Nicky HAYDEN, USA (DUCATI), 1:39.654
8. Stefan BRADL, Germany (HONDA), 1:39.847
9. Andrea DOVIZIOSO, Italy (DUCATI), 1:39.848
10. Hector BARBERA, Spain (FTR-Kawasaki), 1:39.980
11. Andrea IANNONE, Italy (DUCATI), 1:40.087
12. Bradley SMITH, UK (YAMAHA), 1:40.356
13. Aleix ESPARGARO, Spain (ART-Aprilia), 1:40.085
14. Michele PIRRO, Italy (DUCATI), 1:40.182
15. Randy DE PUNIET, France (ART-Aprilia), 1:40.466
16. Hiroshi AOYAMA, Japan (FTR-Kawasaki), 1:40.654
17. Danilo PETRUCCI, Italy (SUTER-BMW), 1:40.852
18. Bryan STARING, Australia (FTR HONDA), 1:41.324
19. Claudio CORTI, Italy (FTR-Kawasaki), 1:41.513
20. Colin EDWARDS, USA (FTR-Kawasaki), 1:41.536
21. Yonny HERNANDEZ, Colombia (ART-Aprilia), 1:41.779
22. Michael LAVERTY, UK (PBM-Aprilia), 1:41.935
23. Lukas PESEK, Czech Republic (SUTER-BMW), 1:43.220
24. Karel ABRAHAM, Czech Republic (ART-Aprilia), no time recorded




More, from a press release issued by Yamaha MotoGP Team:

Lorenzo Celebrates Birthday With Perfect Pole in Jerez

Jerez de la Frontera (Spain), 4th May 2013

Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo celebrated his 26th birthday in style today, taking pole position in qualifying for tomorrow’s Gran Premio Bwin de España at the Jerez de la Frontera Circuit in Southern Spain. The reigning World Champion was the man to beat for the second day of the Grand Prix weekend, starting qualifying at the front with a blistering 1’38.876 lap on his first qualifying tyre. The time remained unbeaten until Lorenzo came out on his second tyre and delivered a stunning 1’38.673 on his sixth lap to secure the number one slot on the grid in front of his home crowd.

Valentino Rossi was one of several riders to fall victim to front end crashes in the hot qualifying session. The Italian was unable to save his M1 on his right knee on the fast right hand turn 11 on his fastest lap, resulting in a dramatic crash with just two minutes of qualifying remaining. Luckily Rossi was uninjured and was back smiling in the pit garage shortly afterwards. His quickest lap of the session was 1 ’39.300, putting him on the second row of the grid in fifth, 0.627 seconds from his teammate on pole.

Jorge Lorenzo
1st / 1'38.673 / 8 laps

“I’m happy with this pole position, it’s a good present for my birthday! I knew the track was not perfect, it’s very warm and there were a lot of crashes in Moto2 and the previous qualifying. I just tried to make the perfect lap, unfortunately I couldn’t; I made a mistake in two braking zones and went wide and lost some tenths. Anyway, in the other corners I was really quick and at the limit so it was enough to make it. It’s going to be tough tomorrow, normally the lap time you make for qualifying you can't repeat in another time because the tyre drops. We hope to improve the bike a little bit to get more comfortable with pace. Anyway I think we can fight for the win or at least for the podium tomorrow.”

Valentino Rossi
5th / 1'39.300 / 6 laps

“Today the practices were not so bad. The position is the best qualifying for us this year. The second row is quite good; we can also do better. Unfortunately at the end I had a crash but I’m ok, I don't have any problems so we are more or less ready for tomorrow. The bigger issue is how high the rhythm will be with the used tyre. Especially with the hot conditions the rear tyre slides a lot so it is important to see how high the rhythm is after seven or eight laps. Now we try to make the best setting and we will see tomorrow.”

Wilco Zeelenberg
Team Manager
“It's a good birthday present to get pole, of course we are happy with that. More important is tomorrow, everybody is struggling quite a bit, as we saw in qualifying with many crashes. The conditions are very hot and the tyre life is limited so we need to find the best balance as possible for the race. This means that the race can go any way, the guy who has less problems will win but I don’t think the fastest guy in the beginning will be able to win. It's a very long race, it's difficult to judge which bike is going to be better over long distance as we’re not riding 24 laps under the same conditions with the same tyre.”

Massimo Meregalli
Team Director
“A super pole position, Jorge did a really great lap as usual. Unfortunately Vale crashed during his best lap. Anyway, we are pretty satisfied with the speed we have. The main issue will be the race distance as we have seen over the last two days that the tyre life could create some problems, but it looks like everybody has the same issue. We are still working to improve this aspect and we are pretty optimistic for tomorrow. So far everything has gone very well.”




More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:

Front row start for Repsol Honda duo

Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez will again start side-by-side on the front row for tomorrow's Grand Prix of Spain in Jerez.

A productive morning session saw both riders advance to Q2, and a chance to fight for pole position. However, on his second run in the 15 minute session, Dani had a crash in turn 8 on his final flying lap. Thankfully he remained unhurt and his fastest time from the session, 1'38.920, was enough to retain second place on the grid tomorrow. Teammate Marc also had a crash in FP4 earlier in the day but was unhurt. His fastest time on his first run in Q2 - 1'38.971, just 0.05 off Dani, secured him third place on the grid for tomorrow's 27 lap race.


Dani Pedrosa 2nd 1'38.920

"The session went well, but at the end I had a crash in turn eight, as I maybe pushed a little too hard and lost the front. We've ridden well all weekend and the bike is working great, so we are hoping that tomorrow we can continue in the same way. Pace is the most important thing and I hope to get a good start and have a strong race"


Marc Marquez 3rd 1'38.971

"I'm pretty happy, because the session went better than I expected. We knew it would be a tough and difficult weekend, but I think we had a very good qualifying session and starting from the front row is very important. I know that Dani and Lorenzo are one step ahead at the moment, but I will still try to give one-hundred percent and ride my own race. It will be hard, hot, and very demanding on the tyres, but we will try to get a good result in front of the home fans"




More, from a press release issued by Pramac Racing:

Just a few laps into this morning’s FP3, Andrea Iannone turned a 1:39.687 lap that put him in fifth place for most of the session, but the pain in his forearm returned after just ten laps. Nonetheless, the Italian still finished ninth, just seven-tenths from first-place Cal Crutchlow, putting him directly into Q2.

FP4 kicked off at 1:30 p.m. in sunny and warm conditions, with track temperature at 50° C (122° F), and less than three minutes from the end, Andrea had a hard fall in turn 13, suffering a deep wound to his left knee. Following treatment by Dr. Costa’s Clinica Mobile, and permission from race direction, the brave rider was able to return to the track for Q2, in which he earned the eleventh spot on tomorrow’s starting grid.

The Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team is satisfied with the respectable times and with the technical solutions that were found on this challenging day, and it looks forward to tomorrow’s race.

Andrea Iannone – Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team
“I hit quite hard when I crashed, and I kept tumbling along with the bike. The clinic stapled the cut, but I’m worried for tomorrow because it burns and is quite painful. Also, the problem with my arm returned this morning, so although I’m able to do a few more laps, I can’t say my fitness is at 100%. I’m having a hard time with changes of direction, where I had to save my arm a bit by using my knees, but we did a good time before I crashed, four-tenths faster than this morning. I’m satisfied that we’re a couple of tenths from the Ducati riders, but I don’t have a clear idea for tomorrow’s race. We’re suffering quite a bit in this heat because we’re obviously losing grip. I was one of the first to crash, but it seems like it was a common problem. We used a hard front tyre, which we think is better, but I don’t know what solution we’ll try for the race.”




More, from a press release issued by Ducati Corse:

Row 3 for Ducati Team riders at Jerez

In a hot qualifying session during which traction was scarce and crashes were common, Ducati Team riders Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso kept their Desmosedici GP13 machines upright and finished with the seventh and ninth-best times, respectively, putting them at opposite ends of the third row for tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix.

After having the season’s first two qualifying sessions affected by a fluke problem with his wheel, the American was pleased to have a largely drama-free Q2 today at Jerez despite still dealing with a swollen right wrist. Like most of the riders, Dovizioso struggled with a lack of grip in the warm conditions, but he was pleased to improve upon his bike setup from yesterday.

Although Ducati Test Team rider Michele Pirro didn’t make it into the Q2 session, his good performance in Q1 put him on the fifth row for tomorrow.

Nicky Hayden - Ducati Team, 7th (1:39.654)
“With it being the first European race, with lots of spectators, it felt like race day; it was intense, and it was clear from the number of crashes that everybody was pushing hard. We made a little step this morning, and our bike was working okay on the cool track. Like yesterday, that changed with the heat this afternoon, and performance suffered. In the end though, it went better than qualifying at the first two races, where I had a problem with my rear wheel. We didn’t have any problems today, and I was able to enjoy it and get a better grid position. I was actually going a little quicker at one point, but debris on the track from Rossi’s crash ruined the lap, which happens sometimes. I know tomorrow won’t be an easy race, especially with my condition, but it’ll be nice to start a bit closer to the front.”

Andrea Dovizioso - Ducati Team, 9th (1:39.848)
“I’m pleased with the work we did today because we improved the setup from yesterday and the feeling from the last two races returned. When the temperature is cool, like this morning, we’re able to push harder and do times that are a bit closer, but the gap grows when it gets hot. It was very difficult to do a good time this afternoon, and it was clear from the number of falls that everyone had problems with the front. The race will be much different from the practice sessions, because when the tyres wear, the times get much higher, so we’ll see who’s really prepared. It will certainly be a long, tough race.”

Michele Pirro – Ducati Test Team, 14th (1:40.182)
“I’m a bit disappointed with myself because I made some mistakes. I did a 1:40.2 by myself right away in my first exit, but when I put on a new tyre, I wasn’t able to improve that little bit that I needed to get into Q2. I’m pleased because my level is pretty good at this point, though I’m sorry because I know I could’ve done better; the potential was around that of the other Ducati riders. Anyway, the team did a good job, so we hope to take another step tomorrow, collect as much information as possible, and get a good result.”




More, from a press release issued by NGM Mobile Forward Racing:

Edwards and Corti struggle in qualifying at Jerez
NGM Mobile Forward Racing Riders struggled during qualifying at the Circuito de Jerez de la Frontera.

Claudio Corti was hoping to find a better pace for the race but a problem with his FTR- Kawasaki’s brakes seems to have slowed him down. The Italian rider was unable to match the fast lap he did during the last preseason winter tests here in Jerez.

His teammate Colin Edwards also encountered a series of problems that slowed him down, but he tested some modification that have made the bike feel more balanced. Unfortunately the American rider crashed during the second lap of the QP1 session, making it impossible for him to improve his lap time.

The team will be going over today’s data in order to be put both Edwards and Corti in the best possible conditions for tomorrow’s race.

Claudio Corti – 21st (1´41.513)
“Today we’ve had a series of problems with the brakes that have slowed me down during the morning practice but that seemed to have been solved during qualifying. I am not happy because I was not able to match the lap times that I did during the last IRTA test here but the pace seems faster, faster than the one I had yesterday. We are struggling this weekend; I see that both Colin and I are in the same situation. We haven’t been able yet to find that little something extra that will help us make that step that would allow us to fight with the faster CRTs. We can’t let got, we need to keep working on it. Tomorrow’s race will be 27 laps and we need to push for a better result. Unfortunately the pace is not as fast as I was hoping for, but we will go over the data tonight and maybe we will find in it something that will help us gain a few tenths per lap that would make all the difference.”

Colin Edwards – 22nd (1´41.536)
“Qualifying didn’t go as we planned. We struggled this morning, did a couple of things to the bike, went out on track and the times were the same. So we tried a different bike thing in the afternoon during the last thirty minutes session and it felt better but only got about five laps, the bike felt more balanced. Went out there for qualifying, the first lap was the fastest lap I had done so far. Then I came out of one and it hooked up, got into to a little bit deep, just being stubborn I was not about to give up a lap and I just squeezed it and squeezed it and it kind of caught over the transition and thought: “I got this, its coming back!” As soon as I thought that it went away from me and crashed. Thanks to all my team, they have been working a lot, it’s not for lack of trying, we just didn’t find the traction.”

Sergio Verbena – MotoGP Technical Director
“Yesterday we were hoping to have a better qualifying session but today we had unexpected problems. Both riders seem to have the same lack of grip and that has been their main limiting factor during qualifying. With Colin we have tested a few modifications that seem to make him have better feeling but unfortunately he crashed on the second lap and was unable to improve his lap time after that. Claudio has improved his lap times from this morning but not enough to get him among the best CRTs. We will be going over the data to see what exactly has been he cause of our problem in order to be ready for tomorrow’s race.”




More, from a press release issued by Bridgestone:

Lorenzo lands on pole position in sizzling Spanish MotoGP™ qualifying

Round 3: Spanish MotoGP™ - Qualifying Practice One & Two
Circuito de Jerez, Saturday 4 May 2013

Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium; Rear: Extra-soft, Soft, Medium (Symmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Hard (Main), Soft (Alternative – front), Extra-hard (Alternative – rear)
Weather: Dry. Ambient 26-27°C; Track 48-53°C (Bridgestone measurement)

On his twenty-sixth birthday Jorge Lorenzo was the life of the party at a sunny Jerez circuit, the Spaniard guiding his Yamaha Factory Racing M1 to pole position with a scorching time of 1’38.673.

In similar circumstances to yesterday, Lorenzo was able to hold off the challenge of Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa who set a time of 1’38.920 to slot into second place on the grid. Third quickest in qualifying was Marc Marquez on the other Repsol Honda RC213V, the rookie the only other rider able to lap in the 1’38 bracket in QP2 and finishing 0.298 seconds off pole. Avintia Blusens’ Hector Barbera continued his impressive pace from yesterday, qualifying directly for QP2 and posting a best lap time of 1’39.980 to claim P10 for tomorrow’s race and highest placed of the CRT riders. Barbera was able to qualify just 1.3 seconds from pole position by utilising the extra-soft rear slick option that is available only to CRT riders here at Jerez.

With the sun beating down on the circuit, track temperatures soared to the highest level seen in Jerez in years, reaching a peak of 53°C in Qualifying Practice 2. Generally, harder slick tyre options are preferred in hotter conditions as harder rubber compounds are able to sustain higher temperatures, however, the demand for superior edge grip at the Jerez circuit resulted in all riders setting their best times on the softer rear slick options. Tyre choice for tomorrow’s race should be similar to what was used in qualifying, with rider comments indicating that the preference for rear edge grip and front-end stability will result in combination of the softer rear with the harder front slick options being widely used.

Tomorrow’s twenty-seven lap race commences at 1400 local time (GMT +2), with the riders taking to the track for morning Warm Up at 0940.

Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department

“Today we experienced very hot track conditions, the warmest we’ve had in Jerez for at least five years and this presented challenging track conditions for the riders. Despite the hot conditions which usually result in riders choosing harder compound rear tyres, riders found they had better bike balance using the combination of the softer rear and harder front slicks and I believe this is what we will be used by most riders tomorrow. Similar track temperatures are forecast tomorrow, so riders will apply the lessons learned today about grip levels in the very hot conditions to get the best performance from their tyres during the race.”




More, from a press release issued by Power Electronics Aspar Team:

ESPARGARÓ AND DE PUNIET TO START ON FIFTH ROW

The POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar riders are showing similar pace this weekend and are ready to fight for the best CRT finish in Sunday's race

Cleaning of the Jerez track surface after a crash strewn Moto3 qualifying session meant the final MotoGP practice and qualifying runs were delayed by a few minutes at Jerez on Saturday. The track temperature in southern Spain was over 50º early on Saturday afternoon and although it did not prevent some hot lap times there were several crashes on a 'greasy' surface. Crutchlow, Rossi and Pedrosa all crashed, fortunately without any drastic consequences. For the second consecutive round there are three Spanish riders in the front row and once again that strong top five features the same top names (Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Márquez, Crutchlow and Rossi). Lorenzo is dominating his birthday weekend and only Pedrosa looks capable of stopping him. The CRT battle is looking interesting with several contenders fighting to be top dog and to challenge the prototypes.

POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar's Aleix Espargaró, just missed out on Q2 having been knocking on the door in free practice and Q1. Narrowly missing out on making it through to Q2 for the third time Aleix is nonetheless satisfied with his set-up for another strong race on Sunday. A light crash in the morning did not prevent him from improving in every session and the Catalan rider is ready to push for best CRT finish in the race for the third time this season. Unlike at Austin, Randy de Puniet is much closer to his teammate this weekend and despite the grip problems affecting all the riders the Frenchman was able to get within four tenths of Espargaro. At a circuit he loves De Puniet will go out full gas on Sunday to fight for CRT top spot.

13th Aleix Espargaró 1.40.085: "Yesterday I was hoping I'd make it through to Q2 today. This morning we were close to qualifying but I made a mistake and crashed which cost me time. I gave it my all in Q2 but it was tough, as it was so hot and the bike was really sliding. I just missed out but I'm not worried because we have great pace and our set-up feels good for the race. The heat will make the race seem long and we have to be sure to avoid errors. The track was greasy this afternoon and having seen so many crashes we need to be careful tomorrow in the race."

15th Randy De Puniet 1.40.466: "Track temperature is really affecting our work, but we adapted well and luckily didn't struggle as much as some others did. I was close to Aleix in lap times and I followed him on some sectors. He went through some of the fast corners quicker than me but I was able to stay quite close. We're getting some chatter perhaps due to the heat, but we're going in the right direction if we're close to Aleix's times. We will make some adjustments in warm-up and I think we can fight with Aleix during the race. I'm not that happy with my grid slot but I'm gaining more and more confidence. We need to be patient but ready to ponce when we can."




More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda:

FRENETIC SECOND DAY AT JEREZ FOR BRADL

Jerez, 4 May: this morning session at sweltering Jerez de la Frontera circuit was the third of four practice periods over the race weekend and the final one in which MotoGP riders can classified for qualifying. LCR Honda racer Stefan Bradl had to cope with some front-end issues which saw the German qualified only 11th in the morning practice. For the first time this season, Bradl had to contest for both qualifying sessions but his remarkable progression and determination secured him the
8th spot on the grid (1’39.847).

Stefan: “I made this second day in Jerez very exciting for everybody in the Team. Obviously we are far away from the front group and this is not our standard pace. I was expecting to go faster today and to perform only in Q2 but something stopped us. We struggled very much with the front-end which prevented me to push more than this. After yesterdays’ crash, we tried to get some confidence back but it seems that we are not taking the right direction to improve the front feeling”.




More, from a press release issued by Monster Yamaha Tech 3:

Crutchlow close to front row in Spain

Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Cal Crutchlow will start tomorrow's Gran Premio bwin De Espana from fourth position on the grid after the British rider experienced a day of contrasting fortunes at the Jerez track today.

The British rider's sparkling form in the early part of 2013 continued this morning when he topped the timesheets in FP3 with a best time of 1.38.975 that was close to a full second faster than Dani Pedrosa's current lap record.

Crutchlow was looking strong and confident to continue that hot streak of form in hot and sunny conditions in FP4 when he crashed unhurt at Turn 5 while placed inside the top three.

The 27-year-old was determined to bounce back from the earlier spill to challenge for a second front row start of the 2013 World Championship campaign when he fell heavily in a dramatic 15-minute QP2 session.

Pushing hard to try and move into the top three, Crutchlow lost the front of his YZR-M1 machine at the final corner shortly after the halfway stage. Demonstrating tremendous determination and courage, Crutchlow rushed back to the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team garage to immediately return to the track and try again to clinch a place on the front row for the ninth time in his MotoGP career.

But despite a heroic effort he had to settle for a best time of 1.39.262 that was only 0.291s away from Marc Marquez in third. Crutchlow underwent medical checks in the Clinica Mobile immediately after the session after complaining of lower back pain but he has been given the all-clear to start tomorrow's race.

Teammate Bradley Smith will start the 27-lap race from 12th position after he enjoyed a positive day at the Circuito de Jerez.

Smith produced a brilliant display in QP1 to post a lap of 1.39.990 that put him into one of the top two places he needed to advance into QP2 where the top 12 grid positions are determined.

Satisfied to have claimed a place on one of the front four rows for the third time in his rookie season, Smith was less than 0.5s away from a top 10 place on the grid. And the 22-year-old is confident he can battle for a second successive points scoring finish in tomorrow's race, which is predicted to take place in searing heat and humidity in Southern Spain.


Cal Crutchlow 4th 1.32.262 - 6 laps :
"It has been a very difficult day for obvious reasons. The two crashes were very big but the second one was particularly hard because it was very fast. The first crash the temperature was quite a lot different from the morning and I just got caught out and it was my own mistake. In the second crash some people felt there was something on the track but I don't think that was the case to be honest. I made a mistake in the braking and rather than going straight the front brake level locked into my hand. But this was a really big crash and I'm proud that I got back to the garage and went back out to try and go faster. It seems in the warmer conditions it is quite difficult but I am not the only one feeling this. I'm looking forward to the race and we will make some changes with the bike to try and improve the front feeling in the hot conditions. It seems everybody is struggling and it is not like me to have two crashes in one day. I'm a bit battered and bruised but it won't stop me from giving it 100% in tomorrow's race."


Bradley Smith 12th 1.40.356 - 8 laps :
"It was a great job to get into QP2 again today because I really had to fight to make that happen. My race pace is quite good and I am confident but it is going to be a very long and difficult race in the heat. I need to be confident when the tyres drop because it looks like the grip drops down a lot after only three laps and tyre management will be vital. I have made slow progress again all weekend and once again I am working on the same things I've been trying so far since I first rode the YZR-M1 machine. It is my riding style and how I am riding the bike where I need to work on but tomorrow is another learning day. I need to get a good start and see if I can follow some of those in the top 10 to get as much as experience as I can."




More, from a press release issued by Honda:

DOUBLE FRONT ROW FOR HONDA AT JEREZ

Factory Honda team-mates Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda
RC213V) will start tomorrow’s Spanish GP side by side on the front row of the grid, after a fraught but thrilling final qualifying in blazing sunshine.

The Honda pair qualified second and third, less than a quarter of a second behind pole qualifier Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha), in a crash-strewn, all-action 15-minute session. It made an all-Spanish front row, for a second race in succession, but in reverse order compared with the last race.

Pedrosa was one of several riders to fall, after rising ambient temperature heated the track surface, costing grip and predictability. The 27-year-old Spaniard was not hurt, but robbed of the chance to take the top slot in the closing minutes of the session. He admitted he had been “pushing too hard” in an attempt to secure his first pole position of the season. His final time was less than a quarter of a second off pole.

Valentino Rossi and Cal Crutchlow (both Yamaha) also crashed unhurt in the session.

The close contest for top qualifying honours promises a thrilling race for the Spanish fans, who reliably flock to the Andalucian circuit for what has become the traditional opening round of the European season. Fine weather is forecast for the race, after two sunny days of practice.

Pedrosa has not finished off the rostrum at Jerez since he joined the MotoGP class seven years ago with the factory Honda team, including victory in 2008.

Newcomer Marquez, reigning Moto2 champion but a rookie in the senior MotoGP class, is fresh from becoming the youngest ever GP winner. The 20-year-old from Catalunya is guarded about his chances of claiming a second win, at one of very few circuits where he has yet to claim a victory in any class.

Fellow-Spaniard Alvaro Bautista (Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini RC213V) was sixth, and will start the race directly behind Marquez on the second row of the grid. Bautista is the only rider using Showa suspension, combining racing with a testing and development role, and gained time and positions after finishing tenth in free practice to guarantee himself a place in final qualifying.
Under the new-this-year system, only the top ten automatically run in the intense final 15 minutes, to decide the front four rows of the grid.

German rider Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V) did not make the top ten and was obliged to ride again for his chances with the slower group, taking top time at the last gasp after crossing the start line barely a second before the end of that session. It allowed him another lap, and he moved to the top of the list. This gave him the chance to join the other factory riders. Bradl was eighth, and will start from the third row of the grid.

Rookie Bryan Staring (GO&FUN Honda Gresini FTR Honda), still finding his feet in the top class of bike racing, qualified 18th, significantly his best so far. The Australian moved from the back to the middle of the CRT pack, taking a step closer in his quest to win his first points in the premier class.

Spanish rider Tito Rabat (Tuenti HP40 Pons Kalex) claimed a career first pole in the Honda-powered
Moto2 class, the 23-year-old seizing control from Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) to prevent the British points leader from taking a second successive pole.

Rabat’s hard-won margin, on a track where increasing heat meant reducing levels of grip, was by better than four tenths of a second, in a class where gaps are more usually measured in tenths and hundredths. It came two laps from the end of the session, while Redding had set his best time after only six of 18 laps.

Takaaki Nakagami (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex) was third to complete the front row; first-race winner Pol Espargaro (Tuenti HP40 Pons Kalex) led the second from Jordi Torres (Mapfre Aspar Team
Moto2 Suter) and Xavier Simeon (Desguaces La Torre Maptaq Kalex); with the winner at Austin a fortnight ago, Nico Terol (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2 Suter) heading the third.

Honda’s Moto3 riders took over the second row of the grid, with South African Brad Binder (Ambrogio Racing Suter Honda), Australian Jack Miller (Caretta Technology – RTG FTR Honda) and Italian Niccolo Antonelli (GO&FUN Gresini FTR
Honda) fourth, fifth and sixth, enjoying the useable horsepower of the Honda engine at a track without long straights but with strings of complex corner sets.

Danny Webb (Ambrogio Racing Suter Honda) and Alexis Masbou (Ongetta-Rivacold FTR Honda) were 12th and 13th, in the thick of typically close lap times in the ultra-competitive smallest class.

Isaac Vinales (Bimbo Ongetta-Centro Seta FTR
Honda) was 16th, John McPhee (Caretta Technology – RTG FTR Honda) 17th and Romano Fenati (San Carlo Team Italia FTR Honda) 18th in another all-Honda row of the grid.


Honda MotoGP rider quotes

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: second, 1m 38.920s “The session went well, but at the end I had a crash in turn eight, as I maybe pushed a little too hard and lost the front. We’ve ridden well all weekend and the bike is working great, so we are hoping that tomorrow we can continue in the same way. Pace is the most important thing and I hope to get a good start and have a strong race.”

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda: third, 1m 38.971s “I’m pretty happy, because the session went better than I expected. We knew it would be a tough and difficult weekend, but I think we had a very good qualifying session and starting from the front row is very important. I know that Dani and Lorenzo are one step ahead at the moment, but I will still try to give 100 percent and ride my own race. It will be hard, hot, and very demanding on the tyres, but we will try to get a good result in front of the home fans"

Alvaro Bautista, Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini: sixth, 1m 39.509s “It wasn’t an easy session today and we had to work really hard to find a solution to the problems we had with the rear yesterday. We didn’t completely solve everything but we will try to find a solution in the warm-up tomorrow morning. I tried my best in qualifying but the track conditions were difficult, which made it hard on the front tyre, especially when we put the softer rear on. I think that’s why we saw so many crashes. I was close to crashing a few times but luckily I stayed on the bike. Overall the second row is a positive result and I am confident we can stay with the second group tomorrow even though the front three are out of reach. I have to say thanks to the guys in the team for a great job today and hopefully we can finish the weekend off with a good result.”

Stefan Bradl, LCR Honda MotoGP: eighth, 1m 39.847s “I made this second day in Jerez very exciting for everybody in the team. Obviously we are far away from the front group and this is not our standard pace. I was expecting to go faster today and to perform only in Q2 but something stopped us. We struggled very much with the front end which prevented me from push more than this.
After yesterday’s crash, we tried to get some confidence back but it seems that we are not taking the right direction to improve the front feeling”.

Bryan Staring, GO&FUN Honda Gresini: 18th, 1m 41.324s “I am happy because we have secured our best grid position of the season so far. I feel we have made progress even though we still have plenty of room for improvement and I’m hoping we can take another step forward in the race tomorrow. I have to thank the team for helping us so much and for giving me the time I need to improve.”


Moto2 rider quotes

Tito Rabat, Tuenti HP40 Pons: pole position, 1m 43.251s “This is my first time on pole position, and it feels great, especially here in Jerez. In the afternoon we started to slide a lot in the heat – but we found a good setting from the beginning of the weekend, so I am happy. During qualifying in the last sector, especially the last two corners I had some problems, but the team changed something and I was able to make it easier... and that is when I set my time.”

Scott Redding, Marc VDS Racing Team: second, 1m 43.698 “I’ve been fast and comfortable in every session, but Rabat’s been strong all weekend and consistently quicker than me. In qualifying I was working hard and managed to hold onto pole for most of the session, until Rabat put it all together at the end. I haven’t seen his lap, but I know it must have been something special; I could get to within a couple of tenths, but I felt really on the limit doing it. For me the front row is enough and we’re pretty much set for tomorrow’s race. The bike’s working well, we know what to expect from the tyres, so we’ll just have to see how we go.”

Takaaki Nakagami, Italtrans Racing Team: third, 1m 43.855s “For sure I tried my best – pole is always the target but our situation is not such that we could make an extremely fast lap time today.
Every session we improved settings and the feeling, and in fact in some places the feeling is good, and others not yet Third is good anyway, if we consider tomorrow’s race. Starting from the front row here is of the utmost performance. And I am a good starter. The hot temperatures are making it difficult with the tyres. There is a chance that at our race time tomorrow the temperature will be lower, and that would be great. All in all I am quite happy – we know our weak points, and how to solve the problems.”


Honda Moto3 Rider quotes

Brad Binder, Ambrogio Racing: fourth – 1m 47.517 “The first section, T1, is perfect, T2 is good – the only sector in which I am really losing time is the last one. I’m battling a little bit with the front, and it’s difficult to get it perfect every single lap. And the wind is blowing in that direction, against you, so if it picks you up it destroys your lap. So, at the end I decided not to risk to ruin a good qualifying. I’ve been on the second row once before – last year at the Sachsenring, when I was sixth, so this is the best qualifying so far. The race can be very good, if we can improve a little bit the set-up according to the needs of our tyres.”

Jack Miller, Caretta Technology – RTG: fifth, 1m 47.613s
“Not too bad ... we keep stepping forward and going in the right direction. I did all my laps alone in qualifying, without any slipstream, and that makes a big difference. You are not so quick. It’s good to be on the second row. I’ll aim to keep with the group, and then see what happens in the race. Compared with the last two tracks with very long straights, we are at less of a disadvantage here, so basically it’s looking positive.”

Niccolo Antonelli, GO&FUN Gresini: sixth, 1m 47.742s “I am happy with a second row start even though I was hoping for the front row and probably could have made it, but for whatever reason we didn’t make the most of our final run. Maybe I lost my concentration a little but we are confident about tomorrow. We start with the front group and we’ll give our best to stay there. ”




More, from a press release issued by Dorna Communications:

Jorge Lorenzo clinched his second pole position of the 2013 MotoGP™ season at the Gran Premio bwin de España today, topping an incident-packed qualifying session in on his 26th birthday ahead of Dani Pedrosa, Marc Marquez, Cal Crutchlow and Valentino Rossi, who will fill positions two to five despite all four riders suffering falls this afternoon.

With the sun shining and thousands pouring into the Circuito de Jerez for the first European qualifying session of the year, the front row was locked out by riders from the home nation, with Yamaha Factory Racing’s Lorenzo delivering a best lap time of 1’38.673 to see off Repsol Honda Team’s Pedrosa by just under three tenths of a second.

Although Lorenzo has looked extremely strong since the start of the weekend, he was aided by high-speed crashes, which either disrupted or terminated his closest rivals’ sessions. Pedrosa’s teammate Marquez had tumbled in the final free practice session, whereas Yamaha Factory’s Rossi and Pedrosa’s errors came at almost the same moment as qualifying reached its climax. Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Crutchlow visited gravel traps in both sessions and was fortunate to re-join the action and qualify fourth quickest. He visited the medical centre for further checks at the end of the day for precautionary checks.

Behind Rossi, the second row is completed by GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista, who out-qualified Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden, LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl - who progressed to the pole shootout from Q1 with a trilling last ditch effort - and Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso. Hector Barbera led the CRT riders and impressed with a top ten position, but he too would be a crasher by the time the chequered flag flew.

11th place was an achievement for Andrea Iannone, as the Energy T.I. Pramac Racing rider had sustained cuts to his left leg in a Q1 accident, while Tech 3’s Bradley Smith had been the last man to enter Q2. That left Power Electronics Aspar out of the shootout for the first time in 2013 to the disappointment of Aleix Espargaro, who will start 13th from Ducati wildcard Michele Pirro and Aspar teammate Randy de Puniet.

Row six consists of Avintia’s Hiroshi Aoyama, Came IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci and Gresini’s Bryan Staring on the team’s CRT machine. The NGM Mobile Forward Racing attack will be spearheaded by Claudio Corti from 19th spot, who out-qualified Colin Edwards after the Texan crashed in Q1. The grid is completed by PBM pairing Yonny Hernandez and Michael Laverty, plus Lukas Pesek, whose Ioda bike was yet another to end the day off the circuit.

Cardion AB Motoracing was not in action for qualifying, as Karel Abraham’s broken right collarbone provided too much pain on Friday. Also on the sidelines is Ignite Pramac Racing’s Ben Spies, who since the race in Texas has been advised by doctors to rest in order to rectify an on-going problem with a pectoral muscle.


Moto2

Spain’s Esteve Rabat earned a career-first pole position for the Moto2™ Gran Premio bwin de España, as the Tuenti HP 40 rider shared the front row with championship leader Scott Redding and Takaaki Nakagami.

The result marks the second time in as many races that a rider has sealed a first-career-pole while competing in the Moto2 class, as Redding did in Texas a fortnight ago. On this occasion, the Marc VDS Racing Team rider is well placed to defend his championship lead from second, ahead of Italtrans Racing Team’s Nakagami who finished on the podium of the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix.

Rabat proved untouchable on Saturday afternoon, lapping the first European track of the season in 1’43.251, which was almost half a second up on Redding. Erstwhile championship leader and pre-season favourite Pol Espargaro starts fourth for Tuenti HP 40, sharing the second row with Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2’s Jordi Torres and Desguaces La Torre Maptaq’s Xavier Simeon.

On the second Aspar bike, Austin winner Nico Terol could manage no more than seventh place, beating Desguaces La Torre SAG’s Marcel Schrotter by just nine thousandths of second as one full second covered the top ten. That particular group was rounded out by Interwetten Paddock Moto2’s Tom Luthi on his return to the championship, and Australian Anthony West for the QMMF Racing Team.


Moto3

Fresh from his maiden career victory in Texas, Alex Rins stormed to a second consecutive pole position for the Gran Premio bwin de España in Jerez today. The Estrella Galicia 0,0 rider will share the front row with Team Calvo’s Maverick Viñales and Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Luis Salom, his two closest challengers in the championship.

The achievement for Rins marks not only his second pole position in a row, but also his second successive pole at Jerez, and the third of the 17-year-old’s short career. It was earned in confident fashion, as the leading lap time of 1’46.660 was almost half a second quicker than Viñales, who returned to Jerez this weekend for the first time since the pre-season testing crash that injured his right hand. Salom is hoping for a strong start from third as he looks to repeat his Qatar win.

The second row is made up of Ambrogio Racing’s South African Brad Binder, Caretta Technology – RTG’s Jack Miller and GO&FUN Gresini Moto3’s Niccolo Antonelli thanks to strong efforts all round. Antonelli’s teammate Lorenzo Baldassarri was less fortunate and crashed his bike at Turn 7, suffering a dislocated right shoulder. His participation in the race will be decided on Sunday morning.

Also falling during the session were Avant Tecno’s Niklas Ajo, who however still qualified eighth, and both Estrella Galicia 0,0 riders within one minute of each other. Alex Marquez, down in 22nd, was the first to lose control, less than ten minutes into the session, with Rins then high-siding. The latter was already quickest and, never headed atop the timesheet, re-joined to go faster still.

Ahead of Ajo on the third row will be Jonas Folger in seventh place, despite the Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3 rider having topped Friday’s second practice session. Jakub Kornfeil qualified ninth, with the Redox RW Racing GP rider having arrived at the circuit only today after completing compulsory exams on Friday.