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Apr 6, 2013

Yamaha's Lorenzo Grabs MotoGP Pole Position In Qatar (Updated)

FIM MotoGP World Championship: Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo (99) captured the first MotoGP pole position of the 2013 season, at Losail Circuit in Qatar.
FIM MotoGP World Championship
Losail Circuit, Qatar
April 6, 2013
Qualifying Session One Results (top two advance to Qualifying Session Two, all on Bridgestone tires):

1. Aleix ESPARGARO, Spain (ART-Aprilia), 1:57.151
2. Andrea IANNONE, Italy (DUCATI), 1:57.203
3. Ben SPIES, USA (DUCATI), 1:57.440
4. Randy DE PUNIET, France (ART-Aprilia), 1:57.551
5. Lukas PESEK, Czech Republic (SUTER-BMW), 1:57.926
6. Yonny HERNANDEZ, Colombia (ART-Aprilia), 1:58.058
7. Hiroshi AOYAMA, Japan (FTR-Kawasaki), 1:58.263
8. Karel ABRAHAM, Czech Republic (ART-Aprilia), 1:58.271
9. Colin EDWARDS, USA (FTR-Kawasaki), 1:58.361
10. Danilo PETRUCCI, Italy (SUTER-BMW), 1:58.486
11. Claudio CORTI, Italy (FTR-Kawasaki), 1:58.755
12. Hector BARBERA, Spain (FTR-Kawasaki), 1:58.806
13. Bryan STARING, Australia (FTR-Honda), 1:58.912
14. Michael LAVERTY, UK (PBM-Aprilia), 1:59.572

Qualifying Session Two Results (all on Bridgestone tires):

1. Jorge LORENZO, Spain (YAMAHA), 1:54.714
2. Cal CRUTCHLOW, UK (YAMAHA), 1:54.916
3. Dani PEDROSA, Spain (HONDA), 1:55.151
4. Andrea DOVIZIOSO, Italy (DUCATI), 1:55.160
5. Stefan BRADL, Germany (HONDA), 1:55.477
6. Marc MARQUEZ, Spain (HONDA), 1:55.645
7. Valentino ROSSI, Italy (YAMAHA), 1:55.711
8. Alvaro BAUTISTA, Spain (HONDA), 1:55.870
9. Bradley SMITH, UK (YAMAHA), 1:56.315
10. Andrea IANNONE, Italy (DUCATI), 1:56.523
11. Nicky HAYDEN, USA (DUCATI), 1:56.667
12. Aleix ESPARGARO, Spain (ART-Aprilia), 1:57.064

Combined Qualifying Results:

1. Jorge LORENZO, Spain (YAMAHA), 1:54.714
2. Cal CRUTCHLOW, UK (YAMAHA), 1:54.916
3. Dani PEDROSA, Spain (HONDA), 1:55.151
4. Andrea DOVIZIOSO, Italy (DUCATI), 1:55.160
5. Stefan BRADL, Germany (HONDA), 1:55.477
6. Marc MARQUEZ, Spain (HONDA), 1:55.645
7. Valentino ROSSI, Italy (YAMAHA), 1:55.711
8. Alvaro BAUTISTA, Spain (HONDA), 1:55.870
9. Bradley SMITH, UK (YAMAHA), 1:56.315
10. Andrea IANNONE, Italy (DUCATI), 1:56.523
11. Nicky HAYDEN, USA (DUCATI), 1:56.667
12. Aleix ESPARGARO, Spain (ART-Aprilia), 1:57.064
13. Ben SPIES, USA (DUCATI), 1:57.440
14. Randy DE PUNIET, France (ART-Aprilia), 1:57.551
15. Lukas PESEK, Czech Republic (SUTER-BMW), 1:57.926
16. Yonny HERNANDEZ, Colombia (ART-Aprilia), 1:58.058
17. Hiroshi AOYAMA, Japan (FTR-Kawasaki), 1:58.263
18. Karel ABRAHAM, Czech Republic (ART-Aprilia), 1:58.271
19. Colin EDWARDS, USA (FTR-Kawasaki), 1:58.361
20. Danilo PETRUCCI, Italy (SUTER-BMW), 1:58.486
21. Claudio CORTI, Italy (FTR-Kawasaki), 1:58.755
22. Hector BARBERA, Spain (FTR-Kawasaki), 1:58.806
23. Bryan STARING, Australia (FTR-Honda), 1:58.912
24. Michael LAVERTY, UK (PBM-Aprilia), 1:59.572

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

Six row for Karel Abraham at Qatar MotoGP season start

Karel Abraham will start the 2013 season first MotoGP race in Qatar from 18th place. Abraham reached 8th fastest tim during the fifteen minutes long qualification (Q1) with 1,120 second gap to the fastest Aleix Espargaro. Czech rider speeded up about 0,909 second compared to the Friday´s practice and reached 1:58,271. Abaja will join Yonny Hernandez and Hiroshi Aoyama on sixth row.

Karel Abraham:
„Yesterday I said that it would be hard to be cut one second from Friday lap time. We did it, but we needed to be even faster and cut another half second gap. We must decide which tyres to use in tomorrow warm-up. We´re not sure if the soft can make whole race, so we must check if I can make good lap time on hard. It won´t be easy race, but I believe that we can fight for points.“

Marco Grana, chief-mechanic Cardion AB Motoracing
„We cut another second from our time, but we needed more to be satisfied.We´ll try to adjust the setup of the rear part in the warm-up. Bike is even better prepared after today´s practices, we´ve eliminated yesterday´s chattering which was making problems for Karel. I think we´re ready for the race. We can make fast times constantly, and that´s the most important for whole race. Our goal is to stay together with De Puniet after the start and to finish as one of three fastest CRT bikes.

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

Lorenzo Conquers New Qualifying Format for Stunning Pole in Qatar

Losail (Qatar), 6th April 2013

Reigning MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo became the first MotoGP rider to take pole position under the new qualifying format tonight at the Losail International Circuit for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Qatar. The new quick-fire format allowing just 15 minutes for the riders to deliver their best lap proved an intense session.

Lorenzo was quick to move to the top of the time sheets with a fast lap only to be relegated to third by rival Dani Pedrosa and then fellow Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow. The Champion then responded with a stunning 1’54.714 second lap, over two tenths clear of Crutchlow in second to take his first pole of the season.

Having set a threatening pace over the practice sessions Valentino Rossi looked promising for a strong qualifying session. Unfortunately the Italian nine-time World Champion was held up in traffic on his second outing with a fresh tyre and was unable to make it to the front row for tomorrow’s race. Rossi will start his first Grand Prix back with Yamaha from the third row in seventh place.

99 Jorge Lorenzo
1st / 1'54.714 / 7 laps

“I’m really happy, for three or four laps we pushed to the limit. I knew Cal was really fast over one lap so I had to push to the maximum. I’m very happy with this pole position. The important thing is that the Yamaha works here at this track. I think for the first time of the new qualifying format it has been very positive and for the fans it is very good to watch. For the riders you are a little more nervous and you have less time to make a fast lap. I knew I was competitive but the ten minutes before the qualifying we had some problems with the set up of the bike so it was more difficult to make the time. We had to change to yesterday’s setting. The important thing is to make a good start tomorrow. The last simulations I made were better than yesterday so I’m quite confident for the start. If there are problems in the first laps we have to be patient and wait for the middle of the race.”

46 Valentino Rossi
7th / 1'55.711 / 7 laps

“The qualifying was not fantastic for us, especially as we lost the second row. Our performance during free practice was better than this, we’ll wait for tomorrow. Unfortunately in the qualifying session with the second tyre where we had to improve I was stuck in traffic so I could not improve my lap time and I lost some positions. For sure tomorrow it becomes more difficult to start from further behind but we have a good pace so we can be quite competitive.”

Yamaha Factory Racing Wilco Zeelenberg
Team Manager

“The new qualifying system has been run for the first time and Jorge got the pole. It was very exciting I have to say. Everything is focused on just 15 minutes so you are more nervous than with an hour qualification. He did very well and was happy with his performance and with the bike also. We are looking forward to tomorrow’s race. There are three or four guys who are strong, but we will try to win the race and if not be on the podium! The first challenge is the start and we'll see from there.”

Yamaha Factory Racing Massimo Meregalli
Team Director

“There’s no better way to start the season than with a pole. The lap that Jorge did was amazing. The pace he has is really good and I think we can be pretty optimistic for tomorrow. Unfortunately Vale had some traffic during his last tyre and that compromised his possibility to do two fast laps. He has to start from the third row but he is a fighter and what we have seen from the last two days means we know he can do well. We are ready for tomorrow.”

More, from a press release issued by Pramac Racing:

First Top Ten start for Andrea Iannone

The floodlights were back on for the third consecutive night at Qatar’s Losail International Circuit, which was covered by a thin layer of sand following a day of strong winds in Doha.

Andrea Iannone continues to suffer from arm pump in his right forearm, which prevented the Italian from riding his bike aggressively during this evening’s qualifying sessions. Nevertheless, the runner-up position obtained in Q1 allowed him to take part in the Q2, in which he clocked an excellent time of 1'56.523, putting him in tenth position on the starting grid for tomorrow night’s race.

Andrea Iannone – Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team
“Unfortunately, after riding in Q1, I only had one soft tyre left for Q2, or I probably could have done something better. Along with my team, I want to understand how to change my riding, because I have some problem in tight corners. However, I improved my time in every session, and I think that’s absolutely a positive. My goal now is to finish the race inside the top ten.”

More, from a press release issued by Bridgestone:

Lorenzo leads under lights in Qatar qualifying

Round 1: Qatar MotoGP™ - Qualifying Practice One and Two
Losail International Circuit, Saturday 6 April 2013

Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft & Hard; Rear: Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
Weather: Dry. Ambient 25-24°C; Track 27-26°C (Bridgestone measurement)

Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo laid down a lap of 1’54.714 on his penultimate lap in QP2 to claim pole position for the first race of the 2013 MotoGP™ season at Qatar’s Losail International Circuit.

Lorenzo’s time eclipsed that of Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow by 0.202 seconds, the two riders ensuring a Yamaha 1-2 at the front of the grid. Rounding out the front row was Respol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa who made a big improvement from yesterday to set a best time that was four-tenths off pole position. Aleix Espargaro impressed again on the Power Electronics Aspar ART machine, the Spaniard the only CRT rider to make into QP2 and finishing twelfth overall.

Track temperatures were cooler today with a peak of 27°C and windy conditions coated the circuit in more dust, keeping grip levels low and as a result tyre choice was dictated by the need to have the best possible edge grip from the rear tyre and braking stability. All of the riders in the QP2 set their best times on the combination of the softer rear and harder front slick and this option could feature in tomorrow’s race.

The twenty-four MotoGP™ riders have one final session tomorrow – Warm Up at 1800 local time (GMT +3) – to hone their setup and work out their tyre strategy before the twenty-two lap race commences at 2200.

Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“We had similar track conditions to yesterday with a lot of sand on the circuit and so the combination of the harder front and softer rear slick was once again widely used for today’s qualifying sessions. Sand on the track not only reduces grip, it also increases abrasion so I am pleased with the performance of both specification of our rear slick tyres so far this weekend. Also, with the top seven riders setting a qualifying time within one second of each other, the signs are promising for an exciting contest tomorrow.”

More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda:


Losail, 6 April: the opening round of 2013 season continued today under the lights of Losail circuit with the new qualifying session split up into two segments which decided the first starting grid of Qatar Grand Prix that will get underway tomorrow at 22:00 local time. LCR racer Stefan Bradl used free practice 4 to prepare his RC213V for the 15 minute shootout – QP2 which saw the 23-year-old achieving a massive 5th fastest time (1’55.477).

Stefan: “The fifth position is our target because the rivals are very strong in every circuit and in every condition, so we must be very happy with our performance today. During the free practice 4 we improved our set-up and our front-end feeling which was the key for going faster. I was not completely happy so we made another adjustment before the QP and we have been lucky because it worked good. This new qualifying system made everybody nervous but, at the end, it has been exciting. All the riders used the same strategy and there was a lot of traffic but we will get used to this and I think it’s more fun for our fans”.

More, from a press release issued by Pramac Racing:

Challenging qualifying night for Ben Spies

The floodlights were back on for the third consecutive night at Qatar’s Losail International Circuit, which was covered by a thin layer of sand following a day of strong winds in Doha.

Having just missed out on making the top ten in the free-practice sessions, which would have advanced him directly into Q2 for this evening’s debut of MotoGP’s new qualifying format, Ben Spies had to take part in Q1.
However, just minutes into the final free-practice session, the American lost the front end of his bike on the slippery track surface and suffered a hard fall. Fortunately, he didn’t land on his still-recovering left shoulder, but the crash nonetheless affected his performance in Q1.

Ben Spies - Ignite Pramac Racing Team
“The session was going okay for us at first. We were just working on race setup with old tyres on from yesterday, and we actually started to get faster and gain some confidence. Then I just got into turn 2 too hot and I grabbed a lot of front brake and went down at pretty good speed. Fortunately, we were able to get up and go out with the second bike. The problem was that the back of the bike had a completely different setting, and I couldn’t get up to the same speed that I was at before and get into Q2. Overall, it was good to get back on the bike, and it was good that we were getting up to speed. I’m sorry for the team, and we’ll come back tomorrow.”

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


Aleix Espargaró and Randy De Puniet remain as the top CRT riders with the Catalan making it through to QP2 with a great performance and his French teammate reducing the deficit after making set-up improvements

Although it is still early days it looks like the new MotoGP qualifying session is already going down very well indeed. The final sessions before race day are divided into three parts, a half hour free practice, then there is a ten minute break and the riders outside the Friday FP top ten contest Q1 over 15 minutes. Then after another 10 minute break the Q2 session sees the top ten joined by the fastest two Q1 riders for a final 15 minutes showdown. The result is that the riders have to go for it right from the start and every minute of each frantic session is absolutely vital. Lorenzo was the most alert rider in this new format of qualifying and he achieved the first pole of the year. In addition to Lorenzo's pole success there was a triumph for Espargaró who made it through as the only CRT rider to make it through to Q2.

After winning the CRT title last year and having had a great preseason Aleix Espargaró appears to be enjoying his role as the top CRT rider in MotoGP. The POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar rider seems to be untouchable at present, improving his times over each day in Qatar, leading Q1 and getting through to Q2 - which previously might have seemed imposible. He is 12th overall and it looks unlikely that any other CRT rider can challenge him as the top man. Indeed the only rider who appears capable of getting close to hi mis his teammate Randy De Puniet. After three days of work the Frenchman has finally found a solution to a front end issue and his performance is improving, with him now within half a second of Aleix.

12th Aleix Espargaró 1.57.064: "Although we still have the most important part of the weekend to come, things are already going really well here. It's crucial to start the season charged up, motivated and working hard. Myself and the team are so pleased and we want to make the most of this in the race. We had the new format of qualifying and it was great to get through to the second round. In addition to that we have a good race pace and with this good work under our belts we want to continue as top CRT. The new qualifying sessions were brilliant as you have to perform well from the word go, with less traffic on track, so it's also great for the spectators."

14th Randy De Puniet 1.57.551: "Finally a day with some good news! Today we made a big step forward and I'm pleased because we've found some solutions to issues which were holding us back. I've also reduced the gap to Aleix, from over a second to five tenth, with the adjustments we've made especially to the front end. That gives me more confidence on the bike but I still need to try a few more things before the race in warm up, continuing on the same path as today. Aleix looks really strong here at this first GP but with today's improvements maybe we can challenge him as top CRT."

More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:

Front row start for Pedrosa with Marquez on second row in 6th

Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa will start tomorrow's Qatar GP from 3rd position on the grid, with teammate Marc Marquez in 6th, after an exciting introduction to the new qualifying format.

Yesterday, both riders qualified for the second heat of qualifying - Q2, which is a 15 minute time trial for pole position. They both chose to complete two flying laps, then pit for a new soft rear tyre, before their second attempt at the time attack. With most riders taking the same option, it left heavy traffic on the track which spoiled Dani and Marc's third flying lap, with their final laps deciding their grid spots.

Warm up will take place tomorrow at 18h00 local time and the 22 lap race will begin at 22h00.

Dani Pedrosa 3rd 1'55.151
"Today we were able to improve a lot and take a front row start for tomorrow. It is important to start high up the grid whenever you can, because there are some very fast riders up against us. We still need to improve a few things with the bike and I hope that we can have a good race. The key will be to choose a good tyre compound and find a strong pace"

Marc Marquez 6th 1'55.645
"Today was my first MotoGP qualifying session and the first time that we'd had the short 15 minute run, but the result was what we had expected. I still need a bit of explosivity and to push hard from the start. We got the sixth fastest time, as on the opening two fast laps I made mistakes and we lost some thousandths of a second. That is something that we have to improve. We still have the warm up tomorrow, in which we need to continue working on our pace and from there, we need to choose the best tyre for the race. The important thing will be to make a good start and see what happens"

More, from a press release issued by Ducati Corse:

Impressive Dovizioso close to front row for Qatar Grand Prix

In the debut of MotoGP’s exciting new qualifying system and his first qualifying session as a Ducati Team rider, Andrea Dovizioso had a successful Q2, with just .009 seconds separating him from the front row for tomorrow night’s season-opening Qatar Grand Prix, and just .446 seconds between him and pole-qualifier Jorge Lorenzo.

Thanks to solid performances over the previous two days, both the Italian and his teammate Nicky Hayden had advanced directly into tonight’s 15-minute Q2 session, which was made particularly challenging by an extremely dirty track surface. Dovizioso was pleased with his setup and was able to ride to his bike’s limit, whereas Hayden struggled with chatter in his first run and pitted for a fresh tyre after just one lap. His second exit was affected by unfortunate timing and mistakes.

Andrea Dovizioso - Ducati Team, 4th (1:55.160)
“I’m very pleased to make the second row, just a few tenths from first place. I didn’t expect to do a 1:55.1 lap, or especially to be so close to Lorenzo. It was nice to have a good feeling with the bike when I tried to push hard with a new tyre in the last laps. I’m really happy with the work that the team did this weekend because we managed to make it to qualifying with a perfect setup of our electronics, so we were quickly able to use the bike to its full potential. Starting from the second row will be important for the race. I still have some big question marks for the race because everything is still new for me, but I’m very motivated for tomorrow. We’ll see how things are in the race.”

Nicky Hayden - Ducati Team, 11th (1:56.667)
“In the first run, I had a lot of chatter from out of nowhere. I went back out, and right when I went to start my hot lap, the other guys were pulling out of the pits, and I just made too many mistakes in the traffic. I’m certainly not thrilled, especially because last year I was one second faster in qualifying. It was a poor job by me when it counted, but credit to Andrea for a really good session. I think our setups are very similar, but we’ll definitely have to check his data.”

More, from a press release issued by Dorna Communications:

In a dramatic qualifying session under the Losail floodlights, reigning MotoGP™ World Champion Jorge Lorenzo claimed pole position for the season-opening Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar ahead of Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow and Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa.

Saturday marked the debut of MotoGP’s new-look qualifying format, whereby the top 12 riders go head-to-head in a 15-minute shootout for the top spot. Maintaining his 100 per cent front row record at the Losail International Circuit, Lorenzo sealed his seventh career pole at the track with a best effort of 1’54.714. Crutchlow, the leading British representative, started his campaign in strong fashion and missed out on pole by two tenths of a second, having abandoned his final run at Turn 1.

Pedrosa had had a quiet weekend up until qualifying, concentrating mainly on race pace, but sealed a front row placing as he pipped Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso by nine thousandths of a second. Dovizioso was the surprise of the session, showing just how far the Desmosedici has come since last year, and how well he is gelling with the machine at the track.

LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl and Repsol’s 20-year-old newcomer Marc Márquez will complete the second row, with the Spaniard lucky not to have run in the back of his teammate in the early stages. Valentino Rossi could manage no more than seventh position on his high-profile return to Yamaha, citing that he had made the wrong judgement on where to join the short session, leaving him in traffic on his final hot lap. Making up the rest of the third row will be GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista and Tech 3’s Bradley Smith.

One of three rookies in the top ten, Energy T.I. Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone heads the fourth row from Ducati’s Nicky Hayden who is 11th. With Ben Spies having suffered a hard fall in the preceding fourth practice session, the opportunity was very much open for a CRT bike to head into Q2, with Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaró taking full advantage. However he couldn’t beat the prototypes, yet starts from a very credible 12th. Spies, riding the Ignite Pramac Racing machine, could manage only third place in Q1, which translates to 13th on the grid.

Aspar’s Randy de Puniet, who pushed hard in an attempt to make Q2 but lost out in the second half of the lap, will be 14th, whilst impressing many was Czech newcomer Lukáš Pešek who will start his first MotoGP race from 15th on the grid for Came IodaRacing Project after finding good form with a soft front tyre – which most riders did not use.

The rest of the top 20 is made up by PBM’s Yonny Hernández, who has suffered two crashes this weekend, Avintia Blusens’ Hiroshi Aoyama, Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham, NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards and Ioda’s Danilo Petrucci. The 24-rider grid is completed by Forward’s Claudio Corti at the start of his first full MotoGP campaign, Avintia’s Héctor Barberá, who suffered technical problems at the start of Q1, Australian Gresini debutant Bryan Staring and PBM’s Michael Laverty on the team’s own-built bike.


Tuenti HP 40’s Pol Espargaró collected the first Moto2™ pole position of 2013, coming back from a crash to deliver a remarkable final lap at the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar, with Italtrans Racing Team’s Takaaki Nakagami and Marc VDS Racing Team’s Mika Kallio in tow.

Riders were challenged with much traffic and an extremely dusty track surface from the off. This was confirmed by an assortment of falls, not least for Espargaró himself who went down within the first five minutes. Adding to the early surprises, Nakagami, another pace-setter so far this weekend, was stuck in his garage with problems early on.

Amid the early dramas, the Marc VDS bike of Scott Redding headed the timesheets and appeared to be losing less ground on the start/finish straight than in previous sessions. He eventually settled for fourth place as Espargaró surprised many, including himself, to pick up a remarkable half a second in the final sector alone, sealing the top spot with 2’00.882. One and a half tenths cover the top three, with Nakagami, deprived of a career-first pole by just over a tenth, eventually managing 15 laps as Kallio improved his personal best in the last knockings.

Behind Redding, row two is completed by Technomag carXpert’s Dominique Aegerter and second Italtrans representative Julián Simón. Nico Terol will start seventh for the Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2, making up the third row with Tuenti’s Esteve Rabat and Desguaces La Torre SAG’s Marcel Schrotter. JiR Moto2’s Mike di Meglio was tenth, as less than a second covered the first 13 riders; that particular group was rounded out by reigning Moto3 Champion Sandro Cortese, who managed to re-join the session for Dynavolt Intact GP following an earlier highside from which he escaped unharmed.

Also falling during the 45 minutes were Interwetten Paddock’s Sergio Gadea, substituting for the injured Tom Lüthi, and NGM Mobile Racing’s Mattia Pasini.


Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Luis Salom will head an all-Spanish front row for the opening Moto3™ race of 2013 at the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar, as the Mallorcan topped Saturday’s qualifying session from Team Calvo’s Maverick Viñales and Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Alex Rins.

Despite no less than 32 bikes in the field and plenty of sand remaining off the racing line at the desert circuit, times continued to tumble and fluctuate across the course of the 40 minutes, as the fight for pole quickly transpired to be between the eventual front row men plus Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3’s Jonas Folger and Mahindra Racing’s Miguel Oliveira.

Returning to the top with two minutes to go, Salom navigated his way around slower runners to go even quicker as the chequered flag flew, sealing pole with a lap time of 2’07.229. This edged out Viñales by a tenth of a second, as he fought through the pain following his testing accident at Jerez, from which the stitches had been removed only two days ago.

Rins had been fastest for much of the session and also sealed his front row spot with a last-gasp effort, moving ahead of Folger as Oliveira returned to the second row and fifth place. Sixth on the grid will be CIP Moto3’s Alan Techer, with the Frenchman having beaten Redox RW Racing GP’s Jakub Kornfeil who heads the third row. Efrén Vázquez and Alex Márquez complete Row 3 for Mahindra and Estrella Galicia respectively, with Australia’s Arthur Sissis rounding out the top ten for Red Bull KTM Ajo.

Further down the field female rider Ana Carrasco impressed by sealing 23rd spot for Team Calvo, despite having missed out on track time for much of the weekend so far due to technical issues.

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

The Qatar floodlight await the first race for NGM Mobile Forward riders Edwards and Corti

NGM Mobile Forward Racing riders completed the first qualifying session of the season with the new qualifying format here in Qatar. The American rider and his Italian teammate will both start the race from the seventh row.

Edwards seems to have found a reliable electronics setting that makes him confident for tomorrow’s race and makes him believe that the fight between the CRTs during the race will be close. His teammate Corti has significantly improved his feeling with the bike and believes that he can improve his lap times and maintain a good race pace for tomorrow with his FTR - Kawasaki bike.

The CRTs have become very competitive bikes and we will expect to see a very exciting first race under the floodlight in Qatar.

Colin Edwards - (1´58.361) 19th
“We made a little change to the bike today for the qualifying; we kind of came back to what we had but wasn’t the golden piece and because we have no major dramas with the electronics since we kind of found something that works, so we didn’t try to do anything too crazy today, kind of stick to what we’ve got. We went out to qualify and went four tenths faster than I had gone all weekend, I am excited for the race tomorrow. The new qualifying system was pretty cool, instead of sitting around for an hour it was down to business; you only had a certain amount of time and it was done. I enjoyed that. As far as where we qualified today, it doesn’t look good but that is all we had today so we will have to wake up bright and early and wait for the race and get on the gas.”

Claudio Corti - (1´58.755) 21st
“I am pretty happy even if the lap times are not incredibly fast because the feeling with the bike has improved. We have been able to make the bike easier to ride and in terms of the race that means that it will be easier to maintain a good race pace. I could have improved of a few tenths the lap times since I realized that during my fast lap I made a few mistakes. Yesterday we found our selves having a few problems after the free practices but we managed to overcome them in time for tomorrow’s race. I hope to have a good start and a good race; I want to get close to Colin and the other FTRs. We can’t let our guard down and we have to double our efforts. We will see what the result is after they wave the checkered flag tomorrow!"

Sergio Verbena – MotoGP Technical Director
“Last year after the first qualifying of the season we were the best CRT. This year we are we are a little bit behind, the level of the competition has definitely improved and the level is very high even within the CRTs. We have reduced the gap of half a second form yesterday’s lap times, finding a good race pace for tomorrow and we only have to find a bit more grip in order to allow Colin to go faster. We are close to the other FTR- Kawasaki bikes and that means that we are close to having the ideal setting. During the warm up we will try to work to provide Colin with the consistency needed for the race, considering the sand on track. Claudio had some problems throughout the weekend but today he has proved he can have a good consistency in terms of his lap times. He has been able to ride through the problems and if we are able to find the ideal setting he could be able to put up a good fight.”

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

Electrical problems prevent Héctor Barberá from doing a good qualifying session in Q1

Aoyama, fifth CRT and seventh position in Q1, expects to improve tomorrow

Qatar, 6 April 2013. The obtained result by the Avintia Blusens MotoGP riders has not been the expected one given the prospects for this first Grand Prix of the World Championship, after a good pre-season and good practice sessions before the qualifying. Barberá, who was fast and competitive during Thursday and Friday practices, has had electrical problems that prevented him from doing a good qualifying in the new MotoGP format, in which the positions are defined in two sessions (Q1 and Q2). The problems have appeared before the start of the free practice and, despite the efforts of the entire team, they have not been able to solve them for the Q1. That is why Héctor has not been able to do anything to qualify for the Q2. Meanwhile, Hiroshi Aoyama has fought to be as high as possible achieving a fifth place among the CRTs and being seventh in Q1, but the Japanese rider is convinced of improving that in the race.

7 – Hiroshi Aoyama (7th Q1, 1’58.263): "Tomorrow I expect to do more than in today qualifying. It is the first race of the year and I want to put my best foot forward. Espargaró is one step ahead so it will be very hard to be at his level, but we are improving constantly and tomorrow we will see how much we can move forward. Here in Qatar the weather conditions have changed every day and we will see what happens tomorrow. If all goes well, we will be able to fight for CRT top positions, that it is my goal."

8 – Héctor Barberá (12th Q1, 1’58.806): "Until today we have been very competitive and everything indicated that we could be one of the best in the category, but when it was about to start the free practice, the bike has not started. I have gone out on the track with the other bike but I have hardly been able to ride. Something like this has happened in the Q1. The first bike still failed and I have been back into boxes to go out with the second bike, but this was not in the same conditions and it was impossible to ride at the same pace that we were able to with the first one when it worked correctly. It is a pity because, after a good pre-season and riding well the day before yesterday and yesterday, not being able to compete at the moment of truth makes you get a little bit angry. We hope it will be solved for tomorrow so that I will get the bike ready in the warm up and we will be able to fight in the race."

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

Crutchlow storms to stunning front row in Qatar

Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Cal Crutchlow will start the 2013 MotoGP World Championship from the front row of the grid in Qatar tomorrow night after he starred in a dramatic and tense new qualifying format.

A new qualifying system, which saw the fastest 12 riders go into a 15-minute shootout for pole position in QP2, created some pulsating action on track and British rider Crutchlow was in contention for a career first pole throughout at the floodlit Losail International Circuit.

His third lap was a blistering 1.54.916 that put him 0.248s clear of Dani Pedrosa and the in-form 27-year-old, who topped the timesheets in the fourth and final practice session earlier this evening, looked certain to further improve his fast pace.

Crutchlow launched a determined attack on his second Bridgestone soft compound rear tyre but he was unable to i mprove his pace. Such was his sensational speed he still managed to claim his eighth front row start in MotoGP by taking second behind reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo.
Crutchlow was only 0.202s behind Lorenzo and the former World Supersport Champion is confident he has the pace in full race trim to challenge for a third MotoGP podium in tomorrow night’s eagerly anticipated 22-lap race.
Just as impressive as Crutchlow’s outstanding ride was the performance of Monster Yamaha Tech 3 teammate Bradley Smith in his first MotoGP qualifying session.

He’d performed brilliantly last night in FP3 to ensure he was seeded straight through to tonight’s QP2 session. Tonight was only the second time Smith has been thrust into full blown time attack mode and he delivered superbly when it mattered to finish in a fantastic ninth position.
A best lap of 1.56.315 on the fourth of his eight laps completed secured him a place on the third row of th e grid with Alvaro Bautista and nine-times World Champion Valentino Rossi. He is now confident that he can mark his MotoGP debut with a strong ride into the top 10.

Cal Crutchlow 2nd 1.54.917 – 7 laps:
“It is a very positive way to be starting the first race from the front row of the grid and thanks to my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team because I had a great bike underneath me tonight. I was confident going into QP2 of being able to challenge for the front row because I was fastest in FP4 and the bike felt like it was working really well. I must admit the 15-minute format is really exciting and I think it is great for the Championship and for the fans. I’d have liked it to have been only 10 minutes long because that would have put me on pole position! But credit to Jorge because he pulled a brilliant time out of the bag, though I am really satisfied because starting from the front row is always important. It is going to be a very difficult race but I am ready for it. I think there are six of us that can be fighting for the podium and I will cer tainly be giving it my all to make sure I am one of them.”

Bradley Smith 9th 1.56.315 – 8 laps:
“I was really happy to make it into QP2, so to claim a place on the third row for my first MotoGP race is an incredible feeling. I’m particularly pleased because I only used one soft tyre in the 15-minute session and it looks like everybody else set their best time on their second soft tyre. I used an extra one last night in FP3 to make sure I made into the top 10 for QP2 and I want to keep another soft tyre for the Warm-up session to give me some feeling ahead of the race tomorrow night. So to be on the third row is better than I expected and to be in front of Nicky (Hayden) is a bonus. Hopefully tomorrow night I will be able to get in a battle. That’s the best way for me to learn how to ride this bike more and gain more experience, and I don’t have a target other than that."
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