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Nov 11, 2017

MotoGP: Marc Marquez Claims Final Pole Position Of 2017, At Valencia (Updated)

Marc Marquez (93).

Gran Premio Motul De La Comunitat Valenciana

FIM MotoGP World Championship

Circuit de Comunitat Valenciana

Valencia, Spain

November 11, 2017

Qualifying Results (all on Michelin tires):

From Qualifying Session Two:

1. Marc Marquez, Spain (Honda), 1:29.897, crash

2. Johann Zarco, France (Yamaha), 1:30.246

3. Andrea Iannone, Italy (Suzuki), 1:30.399

4. Jorge Lorenzo, Spain (Ducati), 1:30.460, crash

5. Dani Pedrosa, Spain (Honda), 1:30.589

6. Michele Pirro, Italy (Ducati), 1:30.764

7. Valentino Rossi, Italy (Yamaha), 1:30.848

8. Aleix Espargaro, Spain (Aprilia), 1:30.857, crash

9. Andrea Dovizioso, Italy (Ducati), 1:30.961

10. Alex Rins, Spain (Suzuki), 1:30.972

11. Pol Espargaro, Spain (KTM), 1:31.044

12. Jack Miller, Australia (Honda), 1:31.190, crash

From Qualifying Session One:

13. Maverick Vinales, Spain (Yamaha), 1:31.030

14. Tito Rabat, Spain (Honda), 1:31.197

15. Danilo Petrucci, Italy (Ducati), 1:31.216

16. Cal Crutchlow, UK (Honda), 1:31.297

17. Bradley Smith, UK (KTM), 1:31.300

18. Karel Abraham, Czech Republic (Ducati), 1:31.325

19. Mika Kallio, Finland (KTM), 1:31.361

20. Hector Barbera, Spain (Ducati), 1:31.487

21. Alvaro Bautista, Spain (Ducati), 1:31.578

22. Scott Redding, UK (Ducati), 1:31.625

23. Loris Baz, France (Ducati), 1:31.775

24. Sam Lowes, UK (Aprilia), 1:31.816

25. Michael Van Der Mark, Netherlands (Yamaha), 1:32.504



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

Phenomenal Zarco storms to 2nd in Valencia GP qualifying – Van der Mark ready to race

Johann Zarco impressively sealed his fourth consecutive front row start with a superb performance in the last qualifying shootout of the season. The French star began the day with instant speed after finishing FP3 in 2nd. Then, in QP2, he blazed to a personal best that left him as the leading Yamaha rider on the grid, and confirmed his sixth top three qualifying result of the year. The top Independent rider seeks to clinch a podium tomorrow to end his debut season in MotoGP on a high.

On the other hand, Michael van der Mark produced a relentless effort today as he progressed in every session before qualifying on the ninth row. The stand-in rider seeks to undertake a strong start tomorrow and then challenge for a point scoring finish as he makes his second appearance for Monster Yamaha Tech3 whilst stepping in for the recovering Jonas Folger.

Johann Zarco

Position: 2nd - Time: 1'30.246 - Laps: 8

“It was a great qualifying performance. I started quite well with a 1’30.5 lap time, but then it got to the stage where it was tricky to go faster. However, we changed something on the bike, which allowed me to do a 1’30.2. It was not possible to match the pole time today, yet, I think that even though I couldn’t do this, I will be able to run a very solid pace in the race tomorrow. Plus, I hope to have a good battle. There will be a lot of riders who will be quick and they all want to win or go for the podium. So I will be ready to fight, and I'll use this second place qualifying result to stay at the front. It will be 30 long laps but I think I can run the pace that I need to and stay focused. In addition, I must keep my energy until the end.”

Michael van der Mark

Position: 25th - Time: 1'32.504 - Laps: 9

"This morning we made some changes on the bike and I started to feel better and better. I was still getting used to the YZR-M1 and I didn’t feel totally comfortable on it yet. However, we made steps forward and towards the end of the session, I cut my lap time again, not as much as I wanted to, but I was still happy. In FP4 I tried two different bikes and we found one with a slightly better setup so I was able to run good lap times on used tyres, which was satisfying. In qualifying, I improved again on my first lap, and then, at the end with new tyres, I did the same lap time. I am pleased that I made progress in every session, but I wanted to make bigger steps. We need to find a better riding position for me, and we also have to adjust the bike a bit more for my style and feeling. The team are working really hard and we are advancing every time we go out on the track, which was my goal, but I hope that tomorrow in the race, we can make another step and then fight with some of the guys in front of us."



More, from a press release issued by Aprilia Gresini Racing:

APRILIA, NICE THIRD ROW WITH ESPARGARÓ

ALEIX GOES THROUGH THE FIRSTS QUALIFIERS WITH THE SECOND PLACE TIME AND THEN FINISHES WITH EIGHTH OVERALL

Aleix Espargaró earned a spot on the third row in tomorrow's GP on the Valencia track which will close out the 2017 MotoGP Championship. It is a nice result, also in light of Aleix's less than optimum physical conditions. The rider is returning following surgery on his left hand fifteen days ago and he is fighting a pesky bout of bronchitis that has continued to weaken him for the past few days.

In the morning FP3 session, because of a crash right at the end of the session, Aleix missed going straight through to Q2 by just 61 thousandths of a second. But in the qualifying round, he was able to redeem himself, putting a nice time of 1’30.913 on the sheets which placed him on safe ground against his adversaries' attacks. In the end, his time was the second best of the session, earning him a spot in Q2.

Once there, the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini rider improved further, riding his RS-GP to a lap time of 1’30.857 and taking the eighth best time which earns him the centre spot on the third row of the grid, alongside Rossi and Dovizioso.

Sam Lowes fell victim to a crash just as he was on his best lap of Q1, so he finished 24th - therefore on the eighth row - with a time of 1’31.816.

ALEIX ESPARGARO'

"Until now, this weekend and not been the simplest for me and not because of my hand. Unfortunately, I've had bronchitis and a fever that sap my energy. In any case, we managed to improve the bike, especially today. I crashed because I was pushing beyond the limit. I really want to finish this season well. We are eighth on the grid and that is a good position. Tomorrow it will be a long race where it will be fundamental not to make mistakes. Our pace is good and we have an excellent chance of finishing the race well."

SAM LOWES

"On the first outing in qualifying I did a good time that I thought I would be able to improve on the second run. Unfortunately, Rabat crashed in front of me and when I braked to avoid him I lost the front end. In any case, we did some good work, lapping a lot with used tyres and maintaining an interesting pace without making any mistakes. There are a lot of riders within a few tenths of one another. We have the potential to stay in the group and to play our cards."



More, from a press release issued by Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS:

Miller and Rabat set for strong finish to the season in Valencia

In near perfect conditions Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Jack Miller has qualified 12th fastest for Sunday’s final race of the season in Valencia.

Boosted by his impressive pace in free practice Miller is targeting a top ten finish in the 30-lap race. The Australian was ninth on the timesheets in FP3, just 0.7s off the pace of Honda factory rider Marc Márquez.

Miller was unfazed by a harmless tumble that saw an early end to his Q2 session when he crashed at the final turn while on target for his best lap of the session.

Miller is expected to start the 30-lap race from position 11, moving up one position because Pol Espargaro must start from pit lane.

Miller’s teammate Tito Rabat was all smiles after qualifying 14th despite also ending the session with crash at turn six. The determined Spaniard is motivated for a strong finish to the season after a stunning surge to post the fourth fastest time in race trim in the FP4 session.

Rabat carried this form into Q1 and missed out by just 0.05s on joining Miller in the top 12 shoot-out in Q1.

The Valencia race is the 18th and final round of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship.

Jack Miller: 12th - 1’31.190

“It has been a positive weekend so far in terms of my race pace, even though I’ve had three harmless crashes, and being ninth fastest in FP3 was a boost for me. In qualifying I got held up on the first tyre and still did a ‘131.1 lap and feeling comfortable. I was on target for a better time in my second run when I missed a downshift into the final corner and got off line and that was it, session over. A shame to end like that but I’m feeling confident for the race and looking to get away with the lead group.”

Tito Rabat: 14th - 1’31.197

“I really enjoyed myself today especially when I was fourth fastest in FP4 on used tyres, which is a good platform for the race. In qualifying I set my time riding alone before I had a small crash at the end. I feel really comfortable at this circuit and now I need to focus on a good start. I think I have the potential to go for my best result of the season tomorrow.”

Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal

“Jack had a very strong pace in free practice and then in qualifying he was pushing for a third row start, which looked to be on the cards after FP3. So it was pity he crashed after making it through to Q2 but he is looking good to challenge for a top ten finish in the race. Tito’s performance in race trim in FP4 shows he also has the potential for a good race result and he only just missed out on progressing through to Q1.”



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

Reale Avintia Racing riders in search of rhythm and confidence in Valencia

The sun was shining again at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit today and the MotoGP riders enjoyed excellent conditions in the last free and qualifying practice sessions of the season. However, Reale Avintia Racing team riders Hector Barbera and Loris Baz did not have the confidence to do a fast lap on the 4.0km circuit in Q1 and tomorrow they will start the race from 20th and 23rd place, respectively.

Tomorrow’s race will be the last of the year and also the last for Barbera and Baz with Reale Avintia Racing. Both riders worked all day to improve their race pace and to overcome their problems with the aim of finishing their time in the MotoGP class and their work with the team in the best possible way. The local rider is very optimistic and in the past we have seen him making big comebacks in the races, while Baz aims to climb positions during the race to score some points.

Hector Barbera | 1'31.487 | P20

“It was not the best qualifying of the year, but at least we are the first Desmosedici GP16 and we are ahead of Bautista and Redding. Today we did the same lap times that we did during the winter tests, so we have not made any progress this year with the bike. But I’m happy because I gave my best to improve during the season. I’m confident for the race. I knew in advance that I could not make a fast lap with this bike, but our race pace is not bad and we still can get a good result.”

Loris Baz | 1'31.775 | P23

“Today was as difficult as yesterday. We knew that we would have problems here and we tried many things, but with those changes, we are still within the same lap times. We didn’t manage to take the step forward that we thought. The only good thing is that we have improved our pace a little bit, but I don’t know if it is enough to be in the points tomorrow. We’ll see what happens.”



More, from a press release issued by Octo Pramac Racing:

Difficult qualifying for Octo Pramac Racing. Petrux 15th and Scott 22th on the grid of #ValenciaGP

The last qualifying session of the 2017 MotoGP season has not given any emotions to the Octo Pramac Racing. Danilo Petrucci and Scott Redding are unable to solve Friday's problems and have to settle for the fifth and eighth row respectively.

Petrux tries to solve the difficulties of Friday free practice working on the set up and manages to increase his speed. However, the problems cornering the corner speed in the middle of the circuit remain. In Q1 the rider from Terni tried to push but could not find the conditions to conquer the Q2 closing in 15th position.

For Scott a very disappointing Saturday. The English rider’s pace is good (13th lap time in FP4s at 2 tenths from fourth place) but a crash at the end of the FP3 reduced his confidence. Scott is not competitive in Q1s and ends up in 22th position.

15th Danilo Petrucci - 1'31.216

“We had a lot of difficulties this weekend, we changed a lot, we also went back to the set up of the beginning of the season but we didn't manage to take a major step forward. However, I think the Top 10 is possible”.

22th Scott Redding - 1'31.625

“Tomorrow we will start from the back so we can only improve. If I have to be honest, the race pace is good but it won't be easy to get a good result. It's a very difficult weekend for me”.



More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:

Marquez takes final pole position of the season at Valencia. Second row start for Pedrosa

Marc Marquez today extended his career pole count to 73 (45 in MotoGP), with his eighth pole of the season in Valencia. Together, with the three claimed by teammate Dani Pedrosa, this brings the Repsol Honda Team’s tally to 11 pole positions in 2017.

After showing quick race pace and taking P1 in both FP3 and FP4 sessions, Marc was the only rider able to dip under the 1’30 barrier in qualifying, setting a 1’29.897 that proved unbeatable by his opponents, even if the Spaniard suffered a crash in turn 4 during his second run, which prevented him from further improving on that time.

Dani also showed a competitive race pace today, ending FP4 in third place and lapping fast in qualifying, though unable to go as quick as expected as he encountered some traffic during his last flying lap. Nevertheless, Pedrosa recorded a solid fifth fastest time and will start from second row in tomorrow’s showdown, scheduled for 14:00.

Marc Marquez 93

POLE 1'29.897

“I’m extremely happy that today we’ve achieved our goal of starting from the front row, as the start is very important at this track. I had a crash in qualifying that frustrated me for a bit, though only for a few minutes. The fact is that I did not feel totally comfortable with the front in turn 4 during my first flying lap, and when I told Santi (Hernández) before going out for my second run he told me to pay attention to this. I kept pushing because I knew that I had to do so if I wanted to be faster, but then I fell. As I said on Thursday, the ‘Marquez style’ will be okay until after the warm up, and that I want to work in the same way as always, pushing hard during the practices. The most important thing is that we’ve worked well all weekend and that we’ve got a good pace on used tires. For the race we must make a switch and change. We must see where Dovi is, where we can finish and do our best.”

Dani Pedrosa 26

5TH 1'30.589

“We worked a lot on the pace this weekend but still have to make our final tire choice for the race, because the temperature may change tomorrow. The qualifying session did not go as well as we would’ve liked because unfortunately I couldn’t do the perfect lap, and also because I came across some traffic during my fastest lap. Still, even though we are starting from the 5th position tomorrow, we’ll try and make a good start and to stay at the front from the beginning. There are a handful of riders with a good pace, including Marc, Lorenzo and a few others, but in the race we’ll have to see what the strategy is for each of them, which depends on their tire choices. Regardless, we’ll be sure to give 100% because it would be great to finish the season with a strong result.”



More, from a press release issued by Movistar Yamaha:

MOVISTAR YAMAHA SEARCH FOR SOLUTION ON SECOND DAY IN SPAIN

The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team continued working on their bikes‘ settings on a sunny second day at the Circuito de la Comunitat Valenciana - Ricardo Tormo. Valentino Rossi grabbed hold of seventh place in Q2. Maverick Viñales pushed hard in the Q1 session and secured 13th place on the grid for tomorrow‘s race.

Valencia (Spain), 11th November 2017

An incident-packed last Q2 session of the season, held at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit this afternoon, saw Movistar Yamaha MotoGP‘s Valentino Rossi secure seventh place on the grid for the Gran Premio de la Comunitat Valenciana. His teammate Maverick Viñales took part in Q1 and only just missed out on a place in the top-2, to promote to Q2. He will start tomorrow‘s race from 13th position.

Rossi was impatient to get things going in today‘s Q2 session. As soon as the pit lane lights went green he dashed out on track aboard his YZR-M1, but he had to hold back due to traffic on his first lap. Once the nine-time World Champion found himself some clear track space, he settled into tenth position. He went on to improve his time on his third try, but didn‘t better his position and held tenth place as he returned to the pits.

The Doctor was back out on track again with five minutes of the shoot-out remaining. Having dropped to 11th place, he put his head down and climbed up to eighth. He gained another position on his fifth attempt. The Italian had one lap remaining after the flag had come out, but he didn‘t improve on his 1‘30.848s and remained in seventh place, 0.951s from pole. He will start the final showdown from the third row of the grid.

Viñales was not among the first riders to get out at the start of the Q1 session. He lingered in the pit box for a while at the start of the 15-minute session, to be ensured of free space so he could focus on dropping a hot time. His first lap, on a medium rear tyre, put him in third place. As the other riders started to speed up, the local hero was setting personal best sectors on his second flying lap, to move up from 12th to 6th. He was keen on continuing the momentum, but ran wide in the first corner and aborted the lap to return to the box for a soft rear tyre.

He was back on his bike with six minutes left on the clock, determined to further improve on his best time. He moved up from seventh to second, posting a 1'31.030s on his fifth full lap, but was pushed back to third as the times dropped in the final minutes. He had one more try left, but was unable to better his lap time and ended the session in third place, 0.137s from first place in Q1. He will start tomorrow‘s race from 13th place on the grid.

MASSIMO MEREGALLI

TEAM DIRECTOR

The Valencia Grand Prix is proving to be a challenge for us this year. On a positive note, Valentino seemed to have found something in the free practice sessions that improved his feeling. He was gaining momentum throughout most of the Q2 session. It was a pity that a mistake in the final corner lost him time, but he still secured seventh place on the grid. Maverick wasn‘t feeling as confident, though he tried many things in the practice sessions. He started the Q1 on the medium rear tyre, hoping that he would have the pace to position himself inside the top-2 without using one of the softer rear tyres, but this turned out to be impossible today. He set a good time on his second run with the softer tyre, but unfortunately it wasn‘t enough in the end to promote to Q2 and he took 13th position. We know that tomorrow is going to be a tough race for us. After challenging sessions, it‘s difficult to be confident for the race, but we still believe that we can prepare something for tomorrow.

VALENTINO ROSSI

I‘m quite happy, because I was able to arrive directly in the Q2 with a tenth place, and after I improved a little bit in the afternoon. In qualifying I was improving my position. It was a good lap and I could have stayed on the second row, but unfortunately I made a mistake in the last corner, I arrived too fast, so I lost time. Anyway, the seventh place is not so bad, considering this weekend and our speed. I think we will do a very hard race tomorrow, because our pace isn‘t fantastic, but it‘s just the Saturday, so we need to try to do something for tomorrow and we‘ll see.

MAVERICK VIÑALES

Normally it‘s difficult to really improve the bike throughout the weekend, so this is not a special scenario. However, this weekend seems to be even more difficult, but that doesn‘t mean we‘ll be settling. Anyway, I would like to remain optimistic, that we can find new options that we can test in tomorrow‘s warm up. In any case, I will do my best as always.



More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda:

TOUGH QUALIFYING FOR CRUTCHLOW IN VALENCIA

LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow will start from the sixth row at the Valencia Grand Prix after a disappointing day in qualifying at the final round of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship. Having gone seventh fastest on Friday, the Briton was hoping to secure a spot towards the front of the grid but he ended the morning session in 12th position and failed to progress. The 32-year-old could only manage sixth spot in the Q1 session after an heavy crash in the last minutes. Todays’ pole man is Title contender Marc Marquez followed by Zarco and Iannone.

Cal Crutchlow – 16th

(1’31.297 – lap 3 of 54)

"MotoGP is always a tough race, but starting from back there is going to make it difficult. I could have done with starting from the front two rows which I thought potentially we could have at one point, but I didn’t make it directly through to Q2 and after that I always knew it was going to be hard. I needed that one lap, but I had a typical Valencia crash on the right hand side there, I crashed there last year too, and I’m not happy at all to be honest.

“We’ll see what we can do in the race tomorrow. We’ll be a lot faster and a lot more positive in the race, our race pace is about top six or seven, but it’s just getting through everyone. We’ll try and our hardest and see what happens.”



More, from a press release issued by Ducati Corse:

Row 2 start for Jorge Lorenzo and Michele Pirro, fourth and sixth in qualifying for the Valencia GP. Andrea Dovizioso, in ninth place, will start the last race of the 2017 season from row 3

Jorge Lorenzo and Michele Pirro will start tomorrow’s final round of the 2017 season, the Valencia GP, from the second row of the grid after finishing fourth and sixth in qualifying. Title contender Andrea Dovizioso could only go ninth quickest in Q2 and will start the MotoGP World Championship decider from the third row.

In the morning’s FP3 session both Lorenzo and Pirro had managed to improve on the times they set in FP2 yesterday to finish fourth and seventh respectively in the combined standings, while Dovizioso, thanks to yesterday’s time, finished the decisive session for access to Q2 in eighth.

Despite a spectacular crash in qualifying on his first run, Jorge Lorenzo powered to fourth fastest time in 1’30.460, while Michele Pirro and Andrea Dovizioso finished the session in sixth (1’30.764) and ninth (1’30.961).

The Valencia Grand Prix, held over 30 laps, will get underway tomorrow afternoon at 14.00 CET at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Cheste (Valencia).

Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team #99) – 1’30.460 (4th)

“It’s a pity I couldn’t manage to start on the front row, but overall it was a positive day for me. I was lucky I didn’t hurt myself in the crash because I was going really fast, and I’m disappointed about that because I was doing a great lap, with a time that was maybe good enough for pole. On the second run my confidence with the rear tyre was worse and I was unable to improve my time. The most important thing however is that I’m one of the riders with the best race pace, and even though Marquez is a bit quicker, the fact that he’s fighting for the world title could be an advantage for me. In the last few races I’ve always improved my feeling with the bike and now I can be fast and consistent and this will be important for tomorrow’s race.”

Michele Pirro (Ducati Test Team #51) – 1’30.764 (6th)

“I’m happy about my qualifying session today, especially because I set my time on my own, without any help from anyone. We had decided on a strategy with Jorge and we went out of the box together, but in the end his crash ruined our plans. I’m sorry for Dovi, who starts a bit further back, but for sure the race will be another story and we will try and do our best, even though we know it’s not going to be easy. I want to thank Ducati and the guys in the test team because it’s the first time I’ve gone so strongly at Valencia: this means that the bike has improved a lot, and the rider is not bad either …”

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 1’30.961 (9th)

“Today wasn’t a great qualifying session for me, and that was a real pity, but this afternoon we managed to improve our pace and we’re not looking too bad for the race. I think that tomorrow we’ll have a chance of fighting for the podium, but we know it’s going to be tough as there are several riders who have good pace. Marquez is very fast, but there also were a lot of crashes and this means that even our rivals don’t have much of a margin. We have to continue to work tomorrow morning in the warm-up and ride in a smoother and less aggressive way, but in the race we will try right until the very end!”



More, from a press release issued by Dorna:

#FinalShowdown: Marquez lights up Valencia for pole

The Championship leader takes pole despite a crash – with Dovizioso facing a fight from ninth

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) set a scintillating lap mid-way through qualifying at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo and that proved enough for pole for the Championship leader ahead of the #FinalShowdown – despite then taking a tumble after a front end washout on his final run. Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) takes second after improving on his final lap, three tenths off polesitter Marquez, with Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) completing the front row in another show of good pace in the season finale.

Friday’s fastest Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) heads up the second row after a fast crash when setting red sectors – rider ok – with the five-time World Champion only a tiny margin off a top three start at the venue where he holds the pole lap, race lap and most premier class wins records. The rider with the most victories at the circuit across all classes, Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team), is just behind Lorenzo in fifth after ending Day 1 in P2. Ducati Team test rider and wildcard Michele Pirro completes the second row.

Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) took P7 to edge Q1 graduate Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) by only nine thousandths, with the Spaniard crashing out late on but eighth despite returning from injury and suffering with illness. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) will start ninth – and he has won from there before – but faces a mountain to climb on race day if he is to win the race and retain a chance at the crown.

Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) completes the top ten, ahead of Q1 graduate Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), who went eleventh fastest but will start from pitlane due to an engine penalty. Jack Miller (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) takes P12 and was another to crash in the session, moving one place forward on race day as Espargaro’s penalty shuffles the grid forward.

That’s good news for Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) after a tough day at the office for the rider from Roses, qualifying in P13 and gaining one place. He’s followed by Tito Rabat (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), with Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) and Q1 faller Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) completing the fastest sixteen and the top fifteen on the grid.

The #FinalShowdown is now ready to race, with the lights going out at 14:00 (GMT +1) on Sunday and the crown on the line.

Pacesetter: Alex Marquez strikes early for pole

EG0,0 Marc VDS rider takes another pole position on home turf - just ahead of teammate Morbidelli

Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) will finish the Moto2™ season with a start from pole, taking to the top early in the session and no one able to topple the home hero. Teammate Franco Morbidelli came close as the new Champion prepares for his final race in the intermediate class, ending the session 0.065 seconds off P1. Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) showed more impressive qualifying form once again, with the veteran Italian completing the front row.

Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) – winner of the last two races – starts from the head of the second row, with teammate Brad Binder for close company in P5. Dominique Aegerter (Kiefer Racing) completes Row 2 after solid pace throughout the Valencia GP.

Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) shot back up the timesheets on Saturday afternoon for seventh, pipping Rookie of the Year Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) by just 0.005. Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing) completes the third row, with Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) completing the top ten.

Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysian) starts the season finale from P11, with Axel Pons (RW Racing GP), Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP), Ricky Cardus (CarXpert Interwetten) – Tom Lüthi’s injury replacement – and Isaac Viñales (BE-A-VIP SAG Team) rounding out Saturday’s fifteen fastest.

The season finale begins for the intermediate class at 12:20 (GMT +1), with Morbidelli and Nakagami gunning for one last top step before moving up to the premier class.

Martin in a class of his own for ninth pole of 2017

Spaniard takes pole position at Valencia ahead of reigning Champion Mir, making it nine poles out of 18 this season for the Gresini rider

Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) took a stunning ninth pole of the year in the final round on home turf at Valencia, making it half the season that the Spaniard has gone fastest in qualifying. Still searching for that first win, Martin has had the pace all weekend and will be gunning for the top step on Sunday. Just over four tenths in arrears is reigning Champion Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) as he prepares for his final appearance in the class, with Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Racing) keeping his good Saturday speed rolling at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo to go third fastest.

Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) heads up Row 2 after an impressive session, ahead of the Estrella Galicia 0,0 pairing of Enea Bastianini and Aron Canet. Canet suffered a big highside in FP3, but is fit to continue on home turf.

Ayumu Sasaki’s (SIC Racing Team) superstar weekend continued as the Asia Talent Cup graduate took seventh following impressive pace throughout practice, and the fastest rookie set exactly the same laptime as the man in eighth, Marcos Ramirez (Platinum Bay Real Estate) – with the second fastest lap for each then the deciding factor for the grid. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) was ninth fastest, with Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) completing the top ten.

Juanfran Guevara (RBA BOE Racing Team) is P11, with Adam Norrodin (SIC Racing Team), Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers), Niccolo Antonelli (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and wildcard Dennis Foggia (Sky Junior Team VR46 Academy) locking out the fastest fifteen. Foggia is a double winner at the track in the FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ Junior World Championship and was the quickest wildcard in qualifying.

Moto3™ hit the tarmac for the final race of the year at 11:00 (GMT +1) on Sunday.



More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki ECSTAR:

IANNONE TAKES THE FIRST ROW (P3) IN VALENCIA QUALIFYING

Andrea Iannone: P3 - 1'30.399 +0.502

Alex Rins: P10 - 1'30.972 +1.075

Andrea Iannone capitalized on the positive improvements made at the weekend and put together a very effective qualifying round, with one lap in 1'30.399 that gave him third place in classification and tomorrow’s grid. A consistent Alex Rins took 10th place with 1'30.972.

It was a good start to the day for both Iannone and Rins, who settled their GSX-RRs in the top ten at the beginning of the session. As the times began improving lap by lap, Iannone was able to take advantage of the better feeling with the bike and clock 1'30.501 which gave him 3rd place in the session’s classification, and also third in the combined. The young Rins made even bigger improvements compared to yesterday’s performance, cutting nearly one second off his FP2 time and getting under the 1’31 wall. The 1'30.846 in today’s FP3 was 5th fastest of the session and 6th fasted in the combined. This was enough to get direct access to Q2.

Not having to dispute the Q1 session, both riders could focus their afternoon on FP4 and Q2. In the early session of the afternoon, Iannone and Rins demonstrated a solid and fast pace, finalizing good setups for tomorrow. In qualifying things heated up, with many riders improving their lap times considerably. Iannone gained confidence during the battle and kept his performance alongside the top part of the class. His ability to take advantage of the new tyres in the last round paid off with the 3rd place finish, which gives him a good chance in tomorrow race.

There is also a good chance for a positive GP for Alex Rins, who classified tenth in qualifying, but has a renewed enthusiasm for the direct access to Q2. He also showed his performance was both solid and consistent in terms of pace.

Davide Brivio – Team Manager

“So far it has been a nice weekend and it is beautiful to get back in front row after a very difficult season. Since yesterday Andrea has been able to ride very fast and he continued to do so today. Finally he got in the front row, so hopefully he will be able to make a good start, keep pace with the top guys, and complete a good race. Alex is having a good weekend as well. He had a great FP3, going into Q2 directly. He is starting from 10th position, but he can have a good race. We have a good pace with both riders so we hope to finish the season in the best way, with a nice race.

Andrea Iannone

“The qualifying has been very positive. I’m happy also because we´ve been fast consistently throughout all the sessions. We struggled but we managed to be close to the fastest. We did a great job and I feel in shape. I feel confident and I hope to get a good result in the race. The race itself won’t be easy; we are still missing something in the pace and moreover, we will need to manage the tyres well and conserve them for the final seven or eight laps. We have some room for improvement. The engineers already have some ideas; we will try to work something out in the warm-up. The start will be important as well, both the first corner and the early laps.”

Alex Rins

“It´s been a very positive weekend. I’m very happy with the work during FP3 and FP4. We achieved the first goal, to get into the Q2, and the next goal will be to finish at least in the Top 10. Now we have to check which the best tyre to use for the race is. It will depend on the track temperature.” 



More, from a press release issued by KTM:

ESPARGARO & RED BULL KTM FACTORY RACING THROUGH TO Q1 AGAIN AT 2017 MOTOGP FINALE

QUALIFYING 18th Rd. MotoGP 2017 – Comunitat Valenciana - Ricardo Tormo (ESP)

As the Red Bull KTM MotoGP Factory Racing team go forward to the final race of their first season in the premier class, Pol Espargaro qualified through to Q2 once more as the pace of the KTM RC16 continues to shine en route to 11th position this afternoon. Mika Kallio will continue to be in KTM colours next year after a new contract was signed in Valencia today.

As with the KTM MotoGP team, the Moto2 squad complete their first full season this weekend with the pair of the KTM Moto2 motorcycles qualifying at the forefront of the second row while in Moto3 Gabriel Rodrigo will start from the front row with his KTM RC250 GP.

The Valencia MotoGP race tomorrow has been a sell out for weeks so with the weather set fair it is sure to be a spectacular finale to a historic season.

MotoGP

Pol Espargaro was the top KTM rider in MotoGP today as he steamed through Q1 to the all important Q2 session for the top 12 places on the grid. Espargaro started the weekend brilliantly with third position in the first free practice showing the immediate speed of the KTM RC16 following successful tests and updates throughout the autumn. A little limited with tyre choice, he still qualified eleventh and in amongst very illustrious company, however, Espargaro will not be able to start from that well earned place as he has used an extra engine outside his annual allocation.*

Bradley Smith had a good day as he found over a second from yesterday and will thus start seventeenth as his current form flourishes too.

For the fourth time this year there will be three RC16s on the grid as Mika Kallio returns for a wildcard. The Finn, already a winner here on 125cc and 250cc KTMs will start 19th on the grid. Mika will continue to be in KTM colours next year after a new contract was signed in Valencia today. Kallio will also ride as a wildcard in selected Grands Prix during the 2018 season.

*Due to several engine (screamer to big bang changes at Jerez) and chassis updates (Misano and Aragon), Pol Espargaro has had to use a 10th engine this weekend which will mean he will start the final race of the 2017 MotoGP season from the pit lane. In his original allocation of nine engines there are still four with many kilometres remaining on them, but due to the aforementioned chassis updates these engines are physically unable to be installed into the current chassis.

Espargaro: “I did a good lap today after a good FP4 but I knew I got go to another level in qualifying. I didn't use the harder front until FP4 which is a qualifying tyre for us but we only had one tyre for both sessions so I was at a little bit of a disadvantage in Q2. I reckon I could be third row otherwise. Tomorrow I start from the pit lane but this happens as it's not anyone's mistake just the 'good problem' of development by KTM meaning the existing engines now don't fit our chassis. The first laps will feel like I'm leading as I won't see anyone in front but we know what my rhythm is and I'll battle until the last lap to take some points. I will not give up until the flag.”

Smith: “I feel we made a really good step today as the lap time jump was over a second and then I did a good run on older tyres in FP4 getting faster towards the end of the run. I was a little bit disappointed I didn't nail my qualifying lap as I left maybe 0.1 or 0.2 seconds out there as it would've put me a row further up. A good start tomorrow with good weather after some small refinements and I'm ready to do battle.”

Kallio: “We're faster than year, obviously, and although that step has been made I actually expected to be a little quicker. We've played with all kinds of set ups but the rear grip isn't quite there and we haven't quite found a solution so I'm losing some time into the corner. In the warm up I'll try some big steps to try other things for the race."

Sebastian Risse (Technical Director MotoGP): “Well, first of all looking back to us here last year always makes you smile but when we look at our lap times it's a great result for us. Tyre choice will be very interesting for many riders, but for Pol he has a very special race not due to any problem here but due to our development and progress. Now we finish the second half of the season we are so happy we've finished in the top eleven at every race since Brno. We have been on another level since Brno and we're more than happy about it but we've put a lot of effort to stabilise the situation and not make too much of a step and then lose it. It was a question of keep developing but not lose this pace and know what you have already. Now over the winter we want to make another step, but before then we must finish the season.”