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Apr 20, 2013

Marquez Claims Pole Position For Inaugural Red Bull Grand Prix Of The Americas

FIM MotoGP World Championship: Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez (93) will start the inaugural Red Bull MotoGP of The Americas from pole position.
FIM MotoGP World Championship
Circuit of The Americas
Austin, Texas
April 20, 2013
Qualifying Results (all on Bridgestone tires):

From Qualifying Session Two:

1. Marc MARQUEZ, Spain (HONDA), 2:03.021
2. Dani PEDROSA, Spain (HONDA), 2:03.275
3. Jorge LORENZO, Spain (YAMAHA), 2:04.100
4. Cal CRUTCHLOW, UK (YAMAHA), 2:04.267
5. Stefan BRADL, Germany (HONDA), 2:04.445
6. Andrea DOVIZIOSO, Italy (DUCATI), 2:04.873
7. Alvaro BAUTISTA, Spain (HONDA), 2:04.942
8. Valentino ROSSI, Italy (YAMAHA), 2:05.380
9. Aleix ESPARGARO, Spain (ART-Aprilia), 2:05.389
10. Nicky HAYDEN, USA (DUCATI), 2:05.568
11. Bradley SMITH, UK (YAMAHA), 2:06.740
12. Ben SPIES, USA (DUCATI), 2:07.044

From Qualifying Session One (top two advance to Qualifying Session Two, remaining riders fill grid spots 13 and higher):

1. Aleix ESPARGARO, Spain (ART-Aprilia), 2:06.112
2. Bradley SMITH, UK (YAMAHA), 2:06.591
3 (13). Andrea IANNONE, Italy (DUCATI), 2:06.872
4 (14). Randy DE PUNIET, France (ART-Aprilia), 2:07.129
5 (15). Hector BARBERA, Spain (FTR-Kawasaki), 2:07.717
6 (16). Yonny HERNANDEZ, Colombia (ART-Aprilia), 2:07.738
7 (17). Michael LAVERTY, UK (PBM-Aprilia), 2:08.259
8 (18). Colin EDWARDS, USA (FTR-Kawasaki), 2:08.475
9 (19). Claudio CORTI, Italy (FTR-Kawasaki), 2:08.792
10 (20). Danilo PETRUCCI, Italy (Suter-BMW), 2:08.825
11 (21). Hiroshi AOYAMA, Japan (FTR-Kawasaki), 2:09.062
12 (22). Bryan STARING, Australia (FTR-Honda), 2:10.098
13 (23). Lukas PESEK, Czech Republic (Suter-BMW), 2:10.507
14 (24). Blake YOUNG, USA (APR-Kawasaki), 2:10.606
15 (25). Karel ABRAHAM, Czech Republic (ART-Aprilia), 2:23.317
16 (26). Mike BARNES, USA (GPtech/BCL-Suzuki), no time recorded




More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:

Marquez and Pedrosa dominate front row with fantastic 1-2 in qualifying

Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez will start from pole position for tomorrow's Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas after setting the fastest time on two wheels around the 5.5km Texas racetrack with a lap time of 2'03.021. Teammate Dani Pedrosa, was just two tenths off Marc, setting a time of 2'03.275 and will start alongside him in second place for the 21 lap race.

Track conditions improved again today and the riders dropped their times steadily throughout the practice sessions. However, in this morning's FP3 session Marc had a big highside crash in T19 on his outlap but fortunately escaped without serious injury. The team were left with a mammoth task to rebuild the heavily damaged bike, but managed to achieve it and give Marc the best chance for qualifying.

With this result, Marc is youngest rider - 20 years and 62 days, to start from pole position in the premier class, taking the record from Freddie Spencer who qualified on pole at Jarama in 1982 at the age of 20 years and 153 days.

Today also marks the 10th anniversary of the death of Daijiro Kato, who sadly passed away after a tragic accident in Japan in 2003. As a mark of respect, both Marc and Dani displayed his number 74 on the front fender of their RC213V machines.

Marc Marquez 1st 2'03.021
"We are happy of course, because we took our first pole position which is important and always exciting! We knew beforehand that we could fight for pole, but you never know what will happen in the session. Both Dani and Jorge are fast over a single lap, and we managed to overcome them. The important stuff starts tomorrow, because we have a long, physical race with many of changes of direction to deal with. We need to be ready, because tomorrow is what really counts and I will do the best that I can!"

Dani Pedrosa 2nd 2'03.275
"The session was a little tense, as in fifteen minutes you only have time for four good laps. Fortunately we didn't have any problems with traffic this time, and I was able to focus and put in a strong lap - faster than all but one in the end! It was a good session, and we took second on the grid which is positive, because Marc put in a fast lap and is close by. We need to try to increase the rear grip for tomorrow and work towards having a strong race"




More, from a press release issued by Cardion AB Motoracing:

Abraham injured after collision in qualifying practice, undergo surgery in Austin

Karel Abraham will not be ready to MotoGP race at the Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin. Czech MotoGP broke his collarbone after collision with Bryan Staring during MotoGP Qualifying Practice 1.

Abraham underwent examination in MotoGP Mobile Clinic which showed dislocation of the broken left collarbone. He was driven to the University Hospital in Austin to undergo surgery. Recovery will take few weeks.




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

Crutchlow close to front row in Texas

Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Cal Crutchlow will start the inaugural Grand Prix of the Americas from fourth place on the grid after the British rider just missed out on a front row spot for the second race in succession in 2013.

In a breathless 15-minute QP2 to decide the top 12 grid positions, Crutchlow produced another fantastic qualifying performance in gloriously sunny conditions at the new Circuit of the Americas (COTA) to set a best time of 2.04.267.

That put him in fourth position and just 0.167s from claiming a ninth front row start in his MotoGP career. Crutchlow’s phenomenal progress throughout his first visit to COTA was confirmed in FP3 and FP4 when he secured the fourth best time, the 27-year-old improving his pace set yesterday by two seconds to move up from sixth. He knocked another big chunk of time off his pace again in QP2 and is confident that he can fight for a place in the top five in tomorrow’s 21-lap race.

Bradley Smith’s second appearance for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team will start from 11th on the grid. The British rider ended the opening three practice sessions in 12th position, a result that meant he just missed being seeded straight through to QP2 by two places.

Smith knew that a top two placing in the 15-minute QP1 session would secure him a spot in QP2 where grid positions for the first four rows are decided. A best lap of 2.06.591, which was over 1.2s faster than his previous best all weekend, brilliantly put him into QP2 and continued his climb up the order to qualify in 11th by overhauling Ben Spies.

Cal Crutchlow 4th 2.04.267 – 7 laps
“I am really happy to qualify in fourth, even though it would have been nice to be back on the front row again. But coming here with no previous track experience meant it was always going to be an uphill battle, so to finish so close to Lorenzo and be ahead of Bradl and Valentino, who both tested here last month, is a great achievement for myself and the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team. This is a long and technical track but fortunately I have been able to learn it very quickly and my crew have also got their heads around what I need to go fast and together we have done a great job to be so far up the grid. I’m obviously quite a long way off Marquez and Dani but so is everybody else. It will be a really tough race and very physical for 21-laps but having come here without any prior track knowledge, I always said a top six finish will be mission accomplished for me and that remains my goal.”

Bradley Smith 11th 2.06.740 – 6 laps
“It has been a really hard two days but in the end it turned out very well and I'm happy with my performance. Trying to understand the bike and the Bridgestone tyres around this incredibly technical circuit has not been an easy task but it is nice that I made it into QP2 and then pick up another place on the grid as well to start from 11th. At one stage it didn’t even look like I’d make it through to the final qualifying so I’m happy. I improve each time I go out and to be honest going into QP1 was a benefit for me because it meant I got a few more laps under my belt to understand the track more. My only goal for the race is to make it to the finish after the crash in Qatar. I need to gain experience over a race distance and while 21-laps here is going to be really tough, I am really looking forward to it.”




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

Lorenzo Secures Front Row in Challenging Austin Qualifying

Austin (Texas, USA), 20th April 2013

Yamaha Factory Racing rider Jorge Lorenzo took third position in the first ever qualifying session for the Grand Prix of The Americas today at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. The MotoGP World Champion was quick to find pace on his first time attack in the new format 15 minute qualifying heat, taking provisional pole briefly with ten minutes left on the clock. Unfortunately a mistimed trip through pit lane as the last minutes died away left him unable to mount another hot lap. The result sees Lorenzo take the third position on the front row of the grid next to rival Dani Pedrosa.

Team mate Valentino Rossi continued to struggle under braking today and was unable to find a set up for his YZR-M1 that would enable a challenge for the front row. The Italian pushed hard through the final practice and subsequent qualifying session, eventually settling for eighth position on the third row of the grid for tomorrow’s race.

Jorge Lorenzo
3rd / 2'04.100 / 6 laps
“What happened in qualifying is more or less what happened in all the sessions: our rivals are much more fast than us in pace and on a fast lap. Our best position we could do today was third. Tomorrow in the race anything could happen. If something strange happens we can fight for the win but in normal conditions third is a really good position for tomorrow. We hope that the race is going to be better than qualifying and we can be closer to Marc and Dani.”

Valentino Rossi
8th / 2'05.380 / 6 laps

“We expected to go better today but we were unable to fix the problem in braking, especially in the first part, and I lose too much time. We still have tomorrow, we knew that this weekend on this track it could be difficult and in fact it is. We have to make a good race and try to take as many points as we can.”

Wilco Zeelenberg
Team Manager
“The front row is very good so we are satisfied with that, I think it was the maximum for today. The last tyre didn't go well in qualifying, Jorge ended up in a group so he went in to the pit lane and didn't realise we didn't have enough time for another time attack. At the moment we are just one metre from pole position. The race is tomorrow and the bike is behaving ok so lets see what we can do as It’s quite clear we don't have the advantage we had in Qatar. Anything can happen, the fast guys can make mistakes and the race is a long one, you have to stay focused and Jorge is very good at doing that.”

Massimo Meregalli
Team Director
“We are continuing to work hard to close the gap to the front. We will make some changes tonight and we will hopefully see the result in warm up. We know this is not the best circuit for us but we will continue to give 100%. Jorge made a good qualifying session but unfortunately he missed the opportunity to improve his lap time due to the mistake. To start this race from the front row is important. As a result of qualifying Vale will need a very aggressive start to the race. If we can make another step with the set up then he can definitely catch the riders in front of him.”




More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda:

SECOND ROW START FOR BRADL AT THE TEXAN RACE TRACK

Austin, 20 April: under new regulations from the start of the 2013 season, qualifying is divided into two segments and LCR racer Stefan Bradl secured a QP2 phase at Austin race track thanks to his overall best lap times from across the opening trio of practice sessions. The German impressed with his third position in yesterday first outing at the new MotoGP venue, and he repeated his strong performance even in the qualifying session posting the 5th fastest lap time (2’04.445) on his RC213V.

“Today it was a good day for us because we could use the full potential of the hard tyre which is a positive sign for us. In the fourth practice we were able to make a longer distance evaluating the reaction of the hard tyre. We improved our consistency and I am pleased with the bike set-up so far because we can be fast from the first lap till the end of the race… Today’s qualifying went well but I am not totally happy with the result. However top five is our target and we can stay with the guys up in the pack”.




More, from a press release issued by Bridgestone:

Marquez takes pole position for inaugural Americas MotoGP™ race

Round 2: Americas MotoGP™ - Qualifying Practice One & Two
Circuit of the Americas, Saturday 20 April 2013

Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft & Medium; Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
Weather: Dry. Ambient 24-24°C; Track 45-46°C (Bridgestone measurement)

Marc Marquez set a scorching time of 2'03.021 to claim pole position for the inaugural Americas MotoGP race as the Repsol Honda rider continued to dominate proceedings at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas.

Marquez qualified 0.254 seconds ahead of teammate Dani Pedrosa, the pair ensuring a Repsol Honda lockout of the top two grid positions. Rounding out the front row is Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo who set a personal best time of 2’04.100. In what was an impressive qualifying performance for a CRT machine, Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro took full advantage of the new CRT-specific soft compound rear tyre to set a time of 2'05.389 to secure P9 on the grid.

Track conditions for qualifying improved compared to yesterday with less wind and a peak track temperature of 46°C in Qualifying Practice. The better grip levels enabled riders to make a large reduction in lap times from yesterday and evaluate different tyre options for the race. Many riders used the warmer temperatures today to assess the harder front slick and both front slick options are likely to be used tomorrow. Rear slick choice today favoured the softer option as it offers better overall grip in the sweeping sections of the circuit and it is expected that the softer rear slick will be the popular race choice.

Tomorrow morning’s Warm Up session at 0940 local time (GMT -6) will provide a final opportunity for riders to decide on tyre choice before the twenty-one lap race starts at 1400.

Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“After two days of activity the track condition has continually improved and in qualifying we began to see the true pace of the circuit. The warmer temperatures in the afternoon allowed teams to try some different tyre combinations and get an idea of what options they have for the race. I expect that front tyre choice will be split between the harder and softer slick options while for the rear, the softer slick options seem to be preferred at this stage. This is the first race where we have provided the CRT riders with their own, softer rear slick and the feedback we have had on this option is very positive. Aleix’s qualifying time today is a good example of how this option can be used to close the performance gap to the works riders.”




More, from a press release issued by Ducati Corse:

Second and fourth rows for Dovizioso, Hayden in Austin

The first MotoGP qualifying sessions to be held at the Circuit of the Americas took place today in beautiful weather conditions, and Ducati Team riders Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden put their Desmosedici GP13 machines directly into Q2, reserved for the top ten riders from the free-practice sessions.

In the action-packed, 15-minute Q2 session, Andrea Dovizioso continued his positive weekend trend, and his penultimate lap put him sixth on the time sheets. As happened two weeks ago at round one, his teammate, Nicky Hayden, experienced vibration on his first exit in qualifying, but after pitting, he posted his best time on his final lap. The American will start tomorrow’s race from the tenth spot on the grid.

Andrea Dovizioso - Ducati Team, 6th (2:04.873)
“We’ve been going well the whole weekend, so I’m pleased. The track is really nice, especially because the grip is nearly normal now, which makes riding more fun as well. The gap to the front is pretty big, but it’s sort of like that for many of the riders. The race will be strange because the circuit is new for everyone. The tyres aren’t wearing because they don’t have to 'work' hard here, so I doubt that the performance will fall off much. I managed to adapt pretty quickly to this new track, and I’m pushing hard because in some respects I feel good with the Ducati. We know we have limits, but we’re working well. I see optimism on the team, because we want to return to the top.”

Nicky Hayden - Ducati Team, 10th (2:05.568)
“We made some progress this morning, and I thought we could be a little bit more competitive in Q2 than I was. When I first went out, I had a vibration issue with the rear tyre that was similar to what I had in qualifying in Qatar. I came in and changed tyres, and it went away immediately. Starting tenth here isn’t good. We’ll see how things go tomorrow, especially at turn one, where it will be interesting to see if everyone can get through cleanly on the start. We still have some problems with the front, which hurts your confidence. We also need to improve in the esses, so we’ll try something in the warm-up. Regardless, I’m looking forward to the race."




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

ALEIX ESPARGARÓ SECURES NINTH POSITION ON GRID WITH GREAT PERFORMANCE

POWER ELECTRONICS man makes it through to Q2 for the second round in succession, going on to take ninth and showing his strength; teammate Randy De Puniet, next best CRT in 14th place

Once again today at Austin the new MotoGP qualifying format worked brilliantly as spectators enjoyed the show and the riders gave it their all throughout every minute of both sessions. The pace was frenetic in Q1 as the riders went in search of those valuable last two slots for the second session. Although the battle for pole seemed to be an exclusive affair between Márquez and Pedrosa, elsewhere there were plenty of intriguing contests going down. Ultimately Marquez would emerge with the top spot and the rookie is favourite to win Sunday's race, with an all Spanish front row completed by Pedrosa and Lorenzo. The three titans all chase one crown. The tight times mean the race is hard to call, but Marquez appears to have the edge.

What seems far more obvious is how likely Aleix Espargaró is to be the top CRT, after his excellent ninth place grid finish. The POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar rider appears to have no limits, repeating his Qatar feat of making it through to Q2 with ease. Setting the fastest Q1 time took him through to play with the big boys. In the final 15 minutes of MotoGP action on Saturday the Catalan set down a superb 2'05.389 marker, a time which would see him take ninth on the starting grid - just 0.009s off Rossi in eighth. From the third row he will try to fight with the Factory riders but his main objective is to stay ahead of the CRT pack. His main rival in that battle is likely to be his teammate Randy De Puniet. The Frenchman was one of the stronger riders in Q1 and almost made it through to the later session with his colleague, a hard braking corner on a flying lap just hindering him. Randy is constantly improving at the American circuit and hopes to fight for top CRT spot on Sunday.

9th Aleix Espargaró 2.05.389: "I'm really satisfied with the way things turned out in qualifying today and in the last half hour of practice I did a ten lap race simulation on used tyres. That went really well and I felt so smooth, with an incredible pace in the low 2'06 region, which was very good. Then in qualifying I was able top ut in some realy fast times with an almost empty tank and the job we're doing is great, to be so close to the official bikes. With the chassis we have an almost perfect set up and that means I can ride confidently. I've been working with this team for a year and a half now and the teamwork is amazing, we're getting the absolute maximum from our material. I usually like faster circuits but with this bike I'm able to ride well on hard braking sections here. The first five laps will be crucial in the race and I don't want to let the factory bikes get away. Although they are fighting a different battle we will aim to be on top in the CRTs."

14th Randy De Puniet 2.07.129: "In final free practice I tried my second bike and was happy with the way I was riding. Throughout the day corner entry was getting easier, the balance is improving and I'm turning much better. I really pushed to try and make Q2 but just overdid it and rode off line. That was a shame as I think I could have improved. Overall I'm pleased with the progress made throughout the weekend and I'm gaining confidence. We'll work on braking during the warm up. Aleix is riding so well, but I'm going to try and catch him as best CRT."




More, from a press release issued by Pramac Racing:

A beautiful, sunny day greeted the MotoGP riders for the second, important day of the championship’s second round, raising the air temperature to 24° C and the asphalt temperature to 43° C.

Both Pramac Racing Team riders took to the technical, challenging Austin circuit, determined to improve their times, along with the bikes’ settings ahead of the race.

Despite a good improvement in FP3, giving him a time of 2:07.749 (two seconds faster than yesterday), the Italian had to take part in Q1. He’ll start tomorrow’s race from the 13th position on the grid.

Andrea Iannone – Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team
“It was a busy day, and although we improved steadily during the sessions, it wasn’t enough to make it into Q2. Unfortunately, when I went into Q1, I went slower than my best time, so I didn’t get a good qualifying position. Anyway, the situation isn’t bad. I have a hard time on this track, so we have to try to solve our problems in order to improve. I’m satisfied with the team and with the work that we’re doing. I’ll give myself some more races to improve, but I hope that soon I’ll manage to take a step forward and go faster.”




More, from another press release issued by Pramac Racing:

A beautiful, sunny day greeted the MotoGP riders for the second, important day of the championship’s second round, raising the air temperature to 24° C and the asphalt temperature to 43° C.

Both Pramac Racing Team riders took to the technical, challenging Austin circuit, determined to improve their times, along with the bikes’ settings ahead of the race.

At the end of that session, the Texan was tenth-best after lowering his best time from yesterday by over a second, advancing him directly into Q2, where he earned the 12th spot on tomorrow’s grid.

Ben Spies – Ignite Pramac Racing Team
“I’m not happy at all. We made some changes to the bike this morning and I kind of went backwards. I’m pretty disappointed, but realistically, if the bike setting would’ve been good, we only would have been one row ahead, so it doesn’t make a big difference. We need to look at some data to try to figure it out and get a good start and try to be in the top ten in the race again. I struggle a little bit in the hard braking zones, but anyway, I’m giving a 100% like always.”




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

Edwards and Corti looking forward to Austin race

The second day at COTA has ended with NGM Mobile Forward Racing riders Colin Edwards and Claudio Corti qualifying in 18th and 19th position with their FTR-Kawasaki bike.

After yesterday’s inconsistent weather conditions and today’s troubles with the gearbox, both the American and Italian riders have improved their times by four seconds since their arrival at the Texan racetrack. Both show good race pace, making the team hopeful at the Texas Tornado’s home GP for a good result and getting the first points of the season at COTA.

Colin Edwards – 18th – (2´08.47)
“ The field is so small, everybody sits around and waits and waits to get behind somebody and I vow to myself that I wouldn’t let anyone follow me this year. Normally I wouldn’t care but the way that the situation is you just can’t let anybody follow you. I did all I could do. We had some gearbox trouble today, kept missing a few gears in that free practice time I missed a gear and a big crunch and I think we did damage he chassis. We have some ideas for tomorrow, so we’ll take advantage of the warm-up and see what we can do.”

Claudio Corti – 19th (2´08.79)
“At the end of the day things are looking ok, we have been able to get laps under 2´09.00, managing to get in laps on 2´08.79 and our goal was to get there today. I was hoping to do better, would have wanted to use bike 1 during qualifying but we set a drastic modification on it and ended up using bike 2. I was hoping to get my lap times on the lower 2´08s range to be honest but I have seen that I have a consistent race pace, the race is long and the tires seem to be holding us well so we will have to see tomorrow how the race goes.”

Sergio Verbena – MotoGP Technical Director
“Yesterday we had many problems finding the right setting for Colin, today it looks like we finally found it and we have improved a lot, we are four seconds faster than yesterday. Even though we have improved it, its still not enough because we will start the race form the eighteenth position for Colin and the nineteenth for Claudio on the grid tomorrow. The race pace is not bad, its very similar the pace of the other FTR-Kawasaki bikes but we still have work ahead of us in order to get closer to the top CRTs. At the moment the Aprilias are one step ahead of us, we need to close this gap. We are focused on getting our first points of the season for both riders.”




More, from a press release issued by Blusens Avintia Racing:

Barberá overcomes the free practices problems and manages to be fifth in the Q1 and the third CRT

Aoyama will start from the seventh row with chances of moving up

Austin, 20 April 2013. So far, the Grand Prix of The Americas has not been as the Avintia Blusens MotoGP team expected, despite the fact that in the qualifying session the situation improved perceptibly in relation to the free practices, especially for Barberá. Unfortunately, the Avintia Blusens rider was dogged by problems and was not able to complete the practice sessions without visiting the pit-boxes more than it was desired. On Friday he could not finish the planned work with the second bike to get it ready in case of need, and today in the training session before the last free practice and the Q1 he had to enter the pit-box without being able to finish it. Fortunately the qualifying went much better and, once solved the problems, he did a good lap, achieving the third place among the CRTs and being fifth in the session.

For his part, Aoyama was able to carry on with his line of work as usual during Friday and Saturday morning practices, but a problem with the first bike forced him to ride the second bike in the Q1 and he did not have good feeling. Finally he was eleventh in the session and, although he will be far from the first rows, he is thinking of a comeback.

8 Héctor Barberá (5th Q1, 2.07.717): We are happier than in Qatar because we will start from a better position and that is good news for the race. Having problems has been a pity because it has limited our work. Yesterday we could not finish the practices and something similar has happened this morning. So we have to approve this qualifying and think it is good. We can still improve, I have to adjust the change and fix small details that can allow us to be higher. We have not been able to make the most of the usual practice time, so the warm up will be the key to get the bike ready. Tomorrow I will start next to one of the official Aprilia and I hope to finish ahead of it.

7 Hiroshi Aoyama (11th Q1, 2.09.062): We have had a problem with the first bike at the qualifying time. The truth is that I am upset because I had to go out on the track with the second bike and I knew that I was not going to have the same feeling. We had not worked enough with the second bike and I have not been able to ride with the same strength. I hope to have the first bike tomorrow and get it ready during the warm up. It is a shame because before this problem everything was pretty good and we were improving in each session. It is a difficult track and it is important to ride as much as possible in here. I hope that tomorrow everything will go well and I will be able to do a good race.




More, from a press release issued by Dorna Communications:

On only his second MotoGP™ race weekend, Repsol Honda Team’s 20-year-old Marc Marquez achieved his first premier-class pole position for the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas ahead of teammate Dani Pedrosa, as championship leader Jorge Lorenzo appeared to miscalculate his final run en route to third place.

During Q2 it was Marquez who posted the quickest ever MotoGP lap time at the Texan venue, delivering a 2’03.021 and thus undercutting 1983 and 1985 World Champion Freddie Spencer to become the youngest ever pole-sitter in the top class of the sport.

Pedrosa lowered his personal best on the final run but missed out on pole by two and a half tenths, whereas Lorenzo tried to avoid following traffic by touring through the pit lane - only to re-join the track too late to post a last-gasp challenge. Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow, who had not attended the test last month, heads up Row 2 from LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl and Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso. The top eight is completed by GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista and Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi.

Ninth on the grid will be leading CRT rider Aleix Espargaro, as the Power Electronics Aspar rider not only jumped up from Q1, but proceeded to out-qualify both Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden in 10th, and Ignite Pramac Racing’s Ben Spies in 12th. Sandwiched Between the two Americans is Tech 3 newcomer Bradley Smith, starting 11th in Round 2.

The fifth row will be headed up by Energy T.I. Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone, who, like 14th-placed Randy de Puniet on his Aspar ART, had challenged, but failed to earn a spot in Q2. In 15th position, Hector Barbera will be the leading Avintia Blusens rider, starting the race in front of PBM duo Yonny Hernandez and Michael Laverty, NGM Mobile Forward Racing pairing Colin Edwards and Claudio Corti, Came IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci and Blusens’ Hiroshi Aoyama. The back row will consist of Gresini’s Bryan Staring, Ioda’s Lukas Pesek and Attack Performance Racing’s wildcard rider Blake Young.

Despite 26 riders on the initial entry list, unfortunately only 24 riders will start Sunday’s race. Wildcard Michael Barnes on his GPTech bike failed to make the 107% threshold, whereas Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham sustained a fracture to his right collarbone following a collision with Staring in Q1. He was taken to Brackenridge University Hospital in Austin to undergo surgery.


Moto2

Marc VDS Racing Team’s Scott Redding will start at the front of the grid for Sunday’s Moto2™ race in the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, having achieved his first pole position in any category of the World Championship, with Italtrans Racing Team’s Takaaki Nakagami and Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2’ Nico Terol alongside him.

Redding, who sits second in the standings, registered a 2’10.577 and was almost seventh tenths of a second quicker than Nakagami. Terol, who achieved his first Moto2 front row, was just two hundredths of a second down on Nakagami as Tuenti HP 40’s Esteve Rabat and Technomag carXpert’s Dominique Aegerter rounded out the top five.

There was drama in the way of falls in the closing stages, as Dynavolt Intact GP’s Sandro Cortese and QMMF Racing Team’s Rafid Topan Sucipto fell simultaneously. Just minutes later, Blusens Avintia’s Toni Elias saw his last lap go up in smoke as he also lost control. All three riders escaped injury, although Cortese, the reigning Moto3™ title-holder, was frustrated to be left 20th on the grid.

Pol Espargaro and Tuenti HP 40 had improved from seventh place on Friday to the top of the classification in final practice, but the Spaniard, suffering a lack of front-end grip, was knocked back down to his previous position in qualifying. He will start the race behind NGM Mobile Racing’s Simone Corsi. Joining Espargaro on Row 3 will be Desguaces La Torre Maptaq’s Xavier Simeon and Redding’s teammate Mika Kallio, as Julian Simon completed the first ten on the second Italtrans machine.


Moto3

Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Alex Rins dominated Moto3™ qualifying session for the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, taking pole position for tomorrow’s race, with Red Bull KTM Ajo’s championship leader Luis Salom and Team Calvo’s Maverick Viñales sharing the front row.

Having already topped the final practice session earlier in the day, Rins proceeded to register a blistering lap of 2’16.396 and firmly placed his Estrella Galicia 0,0 bike at the front of the grid. Salom proved to be the closest challenger, but was still almost half a second adrift while third-placed Viñales was the only other rider within a second of pole. Highly unusual as it may be for Moto3™, but there were huge time margins between riders across the 5.5 kilometres of Circuit of the Americas.

Caretta Technology – RTG’s Jack Miller will start fourth, heading the second row from Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3’s Jonas Folger, who put in a committed lap to improve from 15th to fifth place on his final tour. The Estrella Galicia 0,0 team completed the top six with Alex Marquez, who escaped from a scare at Turn 1, having been demoted by Folger in the last knockings. Row 3 will consist of Avant Tecno’s Niklas Ajo, Ambrogio Racing’s Danny Webb and Ognetta-Rivacold’s Alexis Masbou, while Arthur Sissis rounds out the top ten for Red Bull KTM Ajo.

The 40-minute session was not short of drama, not least for La Fonte Tascaracing’s Hyuga Watanabe who experienced two falls; the second was by far the scariest, as the Japanese rider and Kiefer Racing’s Toni Finsterbusch touched in the braking zone for Turn 12. The touch resulted in Watanabe’s front brake being pulled on fully, sending him flying over the front of his Honda. Following a check-up at the Brackenridge University Hospital in Austin, he was confirmed to have suffered a fracture of the T4 in his spine. As the chequered flag flew, an incident took place between Sissis and Mahindra Racing’s Efren Vazquez; the duo shook hands before walking away. Sissis suffered some pain in his right wrist, but was cleared of any injury with an x-ray.




More, from a press release issued by Honda:

MARQUEZ BECOMES YOUNGEST-EVER MotoGP POLE MAN

Factory Honda team-mates Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) have dominated both days of practice and qualifying for the inaugural Grand Prix of the Americas here in Austin, Texas, making the pair firm favourites for tomorrow’s race.

Marquez took pole position this afternoon with a thrilling display of aggressive riding. It was another impressive performance from the 20-year-old rookie who bounced back from a heavy tumble during this morning’s third practice session. Marquez – who has led all but one session here – is now the youngest-ever rider to have achieved pole position in the premier class, bettering Freddie Spencer, who has held the record since he took pole at the 1982 Spanish Grand Prix at Jarama, Spain.

Tomorrow Marquez will bid to become the youngest-ever winner of a premier-class motorcycle Grand Prix. If he does so, he will once again take the record from Honda rider ‘Fast Freddie’ Spencer who won the Belgian Grand Prix in July 1982 at the age of 20 years and 196 days. Marquez will start tomorrow’s race at 20 years and 64 days old.

So far Pedrosa is the only man to have bettered Marquez in a practice session at the Circuit of the Americas, the Spaniard ending this morning’s FP3 session almost four tenths ahead of his compatriot. In qualifying former 125 and 250 World Champion Pedrosa was 0.254 seconds down and is hoping to make overnight improvements to rear-end grip to help him challenge his team-mate in the race.

The new Circuit of the Americas is proving a real hit with riders who are enjoying its many different challenges. The track features 20 corners – more than any other on the MotoGP calendar – and also the championship’s longest straight, at 1.2km/0.746 miles. The mix of corners – from very slow hairpins to high-speed sweepers – is a real test for both riders and engineers, who must work to find a compromise in their machine settings. Yesterday morning the asphalt was very ‘green’ and slippery. Since then it has gained grip and lap times fell almost six seconds between FP1 and qualifying.

Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V) will start tomorrow’s race from the middle of the second row of the grid after qualifying fifth quickest. The German is going well here and ended yesterday’s first two sessions third fastest, making it a Honda one-two-three at the end of the first day.

Alvaro Bautista (Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini RC213V) will start from the third row. His seventh-fastest time came after several set-up changes and a decision to run a hard rear tyre, with which he felt much more comfortable. The Spaniard thinks he might’ve made the second row if he hadn’t got held up by a group of riders during the final minutes of qualifying.

Rookie Bryan Staring (GO&FUN Honda Gresini FTR Honda) had a coming together with Karel Abraham (ART) during qualifying which didn’t help his efforts to go for his best-possible lap time. He ended the session in 22nd place.

Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) scored his first Grand Prix pole position in this afternoon’s Honda-powered Moto2 qualifying session with a brilliant final lap that put him almost seven tenths of a second ahead of Takaaki Nakagami (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex). Spaniard Nicolas Terol (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2 Suter) completed the front row, just 0.021 seconds behind the Japanese.

Championship leader Pol Espargaro (Tuenti HP40 Pons Kalex), who took pole and race victory in Qatar, had a difficult session, ending up seventh quickest, which puts him at the top of the third row. The second row consists of fourth fastest Esteve Rabat (Tuenti HP 40 Pons Kalex), Dominique Aegerter (Technomag carXpert Suter) and Simone Corsi (NGM Mobile Racing Speed Up).

Honda’s Moto3 riders had a better time in qualifying at COTA today than they had at Losail two weeks ago. Jack Miller (Caretta Technology – RTG FTR Honda) had a brilliant session to end up fourth quickest, which puts him at the top of the second row for tomorrow’s first race of the day. The 18-year-old Australian attributed some of his impressive performance to recent engine updates from Honda.

Honda has two other riders in the top ten here: Danny Webb (Ambrogio Racing Suter Honda) and Alexis Masbou (Ongetta-Rivacold FTR Honda) who were eighth and ninth this afternoon. The Briton and the Frenchman were happy with their form and hoping for even better in the race.

Isaac Vinales (Bimbo Ongetta-Centro Seta FTR Honda) was 11th, Brad Binder (Ambrogio Racing Suter Honda) 14th, Alessandro Tonucci (Team La Fonte Tasca Racing Honda) 16th and Romano Fenati (San Carlo Team Italia FTR Honda) 17th.


Honda MotoGP rider quotes

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda: pole position, 2m 03.021s “We are happy of course, because we took our first pole position which is important and always exciting! We knew beforehand that we could fight for pole, but you never know what will happen in the session. Both Dani and Jorge are fast over a single lap, and we managed to overcome them. The important stuff starts tomorrow, because we have a long, physical race with many of changes of direction to deal with. We need to be ready, because tomorrow is what really counts and I will do the best that I can!"

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 2nd – 2m 03.275s “The session was a little tense, as in fifteen minutes you only have time for four good laps. Fortunately we didn’t have any problems with traffic this time, and I was able to focus and put in a strong lap – faster than all but one in the end! It was a good session, and we took second on the grid which is positive, because Marc put in a fast lap and is close. We need to try to increase the rear grip for tomorrow and work towards having a strong race.”

Stefan Bradl, LCR Honda MotoGP: 5th – 2m 04.445s “Today was a good day for us because we could use the full potential of the hard tyre which is a positive sign. In the fourth practice session we were able to make a longer distance evaluating the reaction of the hard tyre. We improved our consistency and I am pleased with the bike set-up so far because we can be fast from the first lap until the end of the race. Today’s qualifying went well but I am not totally happy with the result. However top five is our target and we can stay with the guys up in the pack.”

Alvaro Bautista, Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini: 7th, 2m 04.942s “In terms of the lap time we are a long way from pole position but we are quite close to the front row and we have done a good job this afternoon to make the right changes to the settings. We decided to use the hard tyre and the bike felt completely different, I had more confidence with it even after a lot of laps. My first run in qualifying was quite good but then on my second one I got held up by a bunch of riders looking for a tow and missed out on the chance to move up to the second row, which I think I could have done. The important thing is that we are working well and we have a good feeling with the bike for the race tomorrow. The front three are out of reach but I think we can fight for fourth if we can get a good start and push.”

Bryan Staring, GO&FUN Honda Gresini: 22nd, 2m 10.098s “I’m not happy because I still haven’t worked out the fastest way around this incredible track. I don’t have the right line and speed through the corners and we’re struggling. At the end we also got taken out by Karel Abraham so that didn’t help but tomorrow we’ll try to get a good start and finish with a respectable result.”


Moto2 rider quotes

Scott Redding, Marc VDS Racing Team: pole position, 2m 10.577s “The big thing for the race will be saving the rear tyre because after three or four laps it drops down a lot. I will have to focus very hard to control that. To be on pole is great, I’ve taken a lot of confidence from it. I’ve not found the track difficult to learn but the grip is always changing – it was slippery yesterday morning, then it got better and then it went away again in qualifying, so we will have to adapt to it in the race as well as we can.”

Takaaki Nakagami, Italtrans Racing Team: 2nd, 2m 11.266s “Being second for the second race in a row isn’t boring, even if I would have preferred pole. Anyway, the general feeling is positive because we have been up front all weekend and a front-row start was what I wanted. It will be a very difficult race because no one knows how long the tyres will last, but it’s the same for everybody. We are still looking for a sweeter setting because the bike is still a little too harsh.”

Nicolas Terol, Mapfre Aspar Team: 3rd, 2m 11.287s “Throughout the weekend we’ve kept a great pace. In this circuit I felt comfortable from the first moment. In Qatar I also felt good but in the race things went wrong. Before qualifying here it was clear that we could fight for the first row, as throughout the GP I’ve had a great feeling with the bike. I am very happy to reach third position. In this circuit we have to take tyre consumption into account, because they degrade quickly. I noticed this today – when the track has more grip it seems to burn up the tyres. In warm-up we will try to optimise the set-up to minimise tyre wear. In the race it will be important to be gentle with the throttle. The race will be tough and I will have to fight hard.”


Honda Moto3 Rider quotes

Jack Miller, Caretta Technology – RTG: 4th, 2m 18.303s “The FTR chassis is working really well here, it turns great. I felt comfortable out there and although we’re down a little bit on speed, we’re getting closer, step by step. We are definitely closer than we were in Qatar. This is quite a difficult track for set-up because you’ve got a lot of little 90 degree turns and then you’ve got some high-speed stuff. I’m feeling pretty positive and we’ll just keep plugging away.”

Danny Webb, Ambrogio Racing: 8th, 2m 18.899s “The beginning of the session was not so bad. In the middle we got stuck sometimes, and sadly we went a bit the wrong way with the setting. So we came back to not quite the same set-up as yesterday afternoon, but something very similar, and that made a big improvement. On my last lap I gave it everything I had, and the time wasn’t so bad. If we have a good first six, seven laps we can also so a good race.”

Alexis Masbou, Ongetta-Rivacold: 9th, 2m 18.906s “All free practice was very difficult, we didn’t find a good setting. Then this morning we tried a lot of different things, maybe too many. Finally for qualifying we went back to a safer setting.
I’m finding the slow corners quite difficult, because it’s not easy to find a settings compromise for all the slow corners and all the fast corners. We will check the data again and I think we can improve for the race, a little bit.”