MotoGP: Quartararo Takes Another Pole Position, At Jerez

MotoGP: Quartararo Takes Another Pole Position, At Jerez

© 2021, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. By David Swarts.

MotoGP Comb Qual

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Dorna:

Quartararo, Morbidelli, Miller: Jerez front row split by a tenth

It’s four from four for the Frenchman but just 0.105 is all that splits the top three on Saturday, with some surprises further down the grid

Saturday, 01 May 2021

Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) has now taken every MotoGP™ pole position that he’s contested at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto, with this year’s Gran Premio Red Bull de España seeing the Frenchman make it a full house of four in a row since he entered the premier class in 2019 – including two last year, both of which he converted into wins. It was close as ever though, with Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) pulling a stunner out the hat to take second, just half a tenth back, and Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) taking third and with it his first front row of the year. The three are split by just 0.105.

First, however, came a blockbuster Q1 with a good few key names looking to move through – including eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), Morbidelli, Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT). Marquez found himself there after a high speed trip into the gravel in FP3 and via a double-check at local hospital, but the Spaniard was fit to contest the session and that he did.

However, neither he nor fellow frontrunner Binder had an answer for Morbidelli as the Italian got into the 1:36s, topping the session to bounce back from a late cancellation of his best lap in FP3. Binder took second and slammed past Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) at the final corner in more of a Sunday move than a Saturday one, but the South African moved through as Marc Marquez languished, suffering his worst qualifying ever in the premier class so far in P14.

Once the pole shootout of Q2 was on, it was a familiar duo at the top though: Quartararo and Morbidelli. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) was hanging on in third as his impressive Jerez pace continued, but Miller was on a charge and tagged onto the back of teammate Francesco Bagnaia. That would prove the key change in the final minutes as Quartararo found himself competing against only himself, shaving a little off his best but looking impervious and imperious as the Ducati duo pipped Nakagami down to fifth.

And so it’s four from four in Jerez for Quartararo now, even though the Frenchman said the lap wasn’t perfect, and it’s his former teammate Morbidelli alongside him on the front row in a familiar but now different liveried sight. Miller takes his first front row of the season in third and pips Bagnaia to the honour as the Italian is forced to settle for fourth, but both Bologna bullets will likely be huge threats once the lights go out.

Nakagami’s return to the 2020 chassis seems to be going rather well as he lines up fifth, with Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) for company on the outside of Row 2. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) had a more muted day at the office and lines up seventh, with Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) for company in P8 and P9 respectively.

Reigning Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) starts tenth despite some FP3 heroics to make a big leap up the timesheets, with more work to do on race day once again… although he’s no stranger to a podium taken from further back. Binder shook off his final corner divebomb to take P11 in Q2, and HRC test rider and wildcard Stefan Bradl impressed as ever, taking 12th.

Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) bounced back from a carbon copy of his teammate’s Turn 7 crash, and not long after him, to qualify 13th, just ahead of said teammate Marc Marquez. Rookie Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama) takes P15 as Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) saw himself relegated to 16th after having a lap scrubbed for track limits. Rossi starts alongside the Portuguese rider, down in P17.

Four in a row and two wins last year are quite some benchmark from Quartararo, but the points are given out on Sunday. Can the Frenchman continue his masterclasses of late, or can the fast-starting Ducatis and/or his former teammate give him a real run for his money? We’ll find out on Sunday at 14:00 (GMT+2) as the closest, most competitive era of MotoGP™ ever goes racing at Jerez once more.

Fabio Quartararo: “It feels really good, I would say that was one of the qualifying sessions where I was more on the limit, at Turn 6 and Turn 13 I thought I was going to crash and I made a mistake at Turn 6. But finally the most important thing is we have pole today, the front row was the goal so yeah, I’m happy. Let’s see what we can do tomorrow but I’m feeling good.”

Gardner lays down a lap record as Diggia and Bezzecchi home in

The Championship leader takes pole in Jerez, with the front row split by just 0.086 and Lowes crashing out

Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo) may have only described his pole position lap at the Gran Premio Red Bull de España as “decent”, but the 1:40.667 is actually a new lap record at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto and secures the Australian his first pole of the season. It was close though, with Fabio Di Giannantonio (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) just 0.071 off and Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46) within 0.086 as they complete the front row. Polesitter in the first three races, Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) crashed out but will start the fourth showdown of the season from fifth.

Q1 saw rookie Cameron Beaubier (American Racing) take to the top and the American moved through along with teammate Marcos Ramirez, Bo Bendsneyder (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) and Nicolo Bulega (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) as the Italian denied compatriot Stefano Manzi (Flexbox HP 40) on his last push for the top.

So the stage was set for Q2, and the pace was hot from the off as Gardner slammed in a 1:40.667 to lead the way. Di Giannantonio and Bezzecchi got within a tenth, but the Australian held on at the top as the clock ticked down. Some drama then hit for Aron Canet (Inde Aspar Team) as he slid off, although he was able to get back out, before Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team) also hit the deck but was also able to rejoin.

Meanwhile, red sectors started to appear for Lowes. Two tenths under in the third split, the Brit was making a march for the top – but a bobble at the final corner put paid to that. He did improve but stayed fourth, and not long after suffered more drama as he crashed at Turn 2, out the fight. And that was all she wrote, with the front row unchallenged and Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) then pushing Lowes down a place further to fifth.

That means Championship leader Gardner takes his first pole of the season and becomes the first rider other than Lowes to start from the front this year. ‘Diggia’ takes second, with Bezzecchi back in the mix in a big way on Saturday to take a front row in third and within 0.086 of the top. Raul Fernandez is fourth, ahead of Lowes who is at least in sight of some of his biggest rivals. Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing) completes the second row.

Augusto Fernandez (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) took P7 ahead of Roberts and rookie Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), with Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing) completing the top ten despite an earlier crash. Canet, another crasher, took P11 ahead of Jorge Navarro (Lightech Speed Up).

The title and race favourites all near the front, Lowes looking to recover his imperious form from Qatar, and Gardner now the man on a charge as he heads into the race as the points leader. What will Moto2™ bring at Jerez? Find out at 12:20 (GMT +2) on Sunday.

Remy Gardner: “I guess I could say I know this track really well! I’ve done a few laps around here. Everyone’s fast here so it’s always tough in Jerez, but I feel good, the bike was working pretty well from FP1, there wasn’t much to play around with on the bike side. The lap was decent, wasn’t perfect but enough to get me on pole so I’m happy.”
 

Suzuki puts in a stunner for third successive pole at Jerez

Three’s a magic number for the Japanese rider as he makes it three poles in a row at the venue, ahead of Alcoba and Migno

Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) seemingly can’t stop taking pole position at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel-Nieto. The Japanese rider took a stunning third straight pole at the venue in qualifying for the Gran Premio Red Bull de España, hitting the top early and no one able to depose him. Via a trip through Q1, Jeremy Alcoba (Indonesian Racing Gresini Moto3) nabbed a late second place, with the front row completed by Portimão polesitter Andrea Migno (Rivacold Snipers Team) after more impressive speed from the Italian on Saturday.

On a sunny but cool day at Jerez, Q1 got qualifying going and the first big question since his pitlane start in Doha was asked of Championship leader Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) as the Spaniard found himself looking to move through. Seemingly immune to the pressure, however, the number 37 topped the session with his last flying lap and headed for Q2 ahead of fellow rookie Izan Guevara (Solunion GASGAS Aspar Team), Carlos Tatay (Avintia Esponsorama Moto3) and eventual front row starter Alcoba to fight for the top 18 positions on the grid.

Once Q2 was underway, it was 2020 Spanish and Andalucia GP polesitter Suzuki on top with exactly two tenths in hand over Migno after the first runs for most, but there was one bit of drama not long coming for Darryn Binder (Petronas Sprinta Racing). The South African had a mammoth highside at Turn 7 – rider perfectly ok – but lost his chance to improve further, stuck watching the timesheets to see how far his 1:46.288 for a provisional P4 would get shuffled down the order.

As it turned out, it wouldn’t be by that much. The field headed back out with only a couple of minutes remaining on the clock but only a handful of riders were able to make it count, with many missing the cut once again. The first improvers were Ayumu Sasaki (Red Bull KTM Tech3) and teammate Deniz Öncu as they moved into the top ten, but as the clock ticked down there was a dearth of red sectors and only a few more riders to cross the line. Gabriel Rodrigo (Indonesian Racing Gresini Moto3) was one of the few improvers as he shot up into third for a provisional front row, with Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) and Alcoba looking like the only two remaining threats on the top – in that order on the road. Could they make an assault for pole?

Fenati was first over the line and he did enough to shoot up into fourth at least, but it was short-lived as Alcoba blasted over the line just behind him. From Q1, the Spaniard took second and with that just pushes teammate Rodrigo onto Row 2, to start just ahead of Fenati.

And so Suzuki remained unthreatened at the front and the Japanese rider takes a third straight pole at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto, ahead of Alcoba in second and another impressive Saturday from Migno as the veteran Italian completes the front row. Rodrigo is shuffled down to head Row 2, which is completed by Fenati and Petronas Sprinta Racing’s John McPhee.

Binder, despite his earlier crash, was seventh quickest and only lost a few places to his forced exile on the sidelines, and he’s joined on Row 3 by Sasaki and 2019 Jerez winner Niccolo Antonelli (Avintia Esponsorama Moto3). Öncü completes the top ten ahead of the last of the late lunges from Q1 graduate Izan Guevara, who pipped Filip Salaç (Rivacold Snipers Team).

That means that Acosta is forced to settle for P13 for his first Moto3™ race on home turf, with veteran teammate Jaume Masia (Red Bull KTM Ajo) also facing a fight back from 15th. Will that be a hurdle on race day or does the freight train forgive more easily once the fight’s underway? Find out on Sunday as the lights go out for the Moto3™ race at 11:00 (GMT +2).

Tatsuki Suzuki: “During the winter I got Covid just one week before the winter test in Qatar so I missed the three days of testing, and that’s why I wasn’t quite competitive form the beginning of the season. I was struggling at the end of races on a used tyre, so this weekend me and the team worked a lot on the used tyre, normally we use two or three new tyres in FP1 and 2 but we used only two. As you see on Day 1 I wasn’t fastest but we knew with a new tyre we were quite competitive, so this afternoon in Q2 I really focused for the first flying lap, cause you know it can be a big mess In Moto3, especially in the last moments, so we decided to do good a lap as soon as possible. Unfortunately I took the flag and couldn’t improve on the last lap but let’s say I was a bit lucky and it’s nice to be here on pole position again this year.”

Mayor of Jerez de la Frontera presented with Best Grand Prix award

This season, the award for 2020 Best Grand Prix will be presented to all those who played host to an event last season in order to recognise and thank each track for their incredible support and collaboration in a history-making year full of challenges overcome by the FIM MotoGP™ World Championship.

The third of those awards was presented just ahead of the Qualifying Press Conference on Saturday at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto, with IRTA President Herve Poncharal and Dorna Sports CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta handing over the trophy to the Mayor of Jerez de la Frontera, Mamen Sánchez Díaz, and Deputy Mayor, Laura Alvarez Cabrera, to thank all those involved in making the 2020 Andalucian GP such a success.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Tech3 KTM Factory Racing:

Tech3 KTM Factory Racing faces Spanish challenge
Sunny Saturday at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto started with some strong improvements in Free Practice 3 this morning. Danilo Petrucci went half a second quicker than on Friday and was on his way to move up further, but was slowed down in his progress when he lost the front by the end of FP4. The Italian made the best of the situation in Qualifying 1 straight after and concluded the session in P8, which means he’ll line up in row seven for tomorrow’s fourth round of 2021.

At the same time, Iker Lecuona made some steps throughout Saturday and went quicker from FP2 to FP3 and again in Q1. His Qualifying time was 0.574 seconds under his personal best from Friday, which made him end up in 11th position of Q1. The Spanish youngster is set to start the Gran Premio Red Bull de España from the seventh row this Sunday at 14:00 local time.

Danilo Petrucci
 

Position: 19th

Time: 1:38.065

Laps: 8

“It has been a difficult Qualifying. I crashed in FP4 with my preferred bike and the setup I had on the second bike was not as good as on the first one. We had some small vibrations on the front during Qualifying and my lap time was not good. Unfortunately, we’ll start quite far, but on the positive side, our pace is pretty good. So, for tomorrow, we need a strong start and keep focusing to do our pace. The target is to score some points.”

Iker Lecuona
 

Position: 21st

Time: 1:38.139

Laps: 7

“I continued to improve throughout today. I feel better with the bike each time I go out and I worked a lot with my crew. We tried something on the base and finally, I could do better lap times on my own in FP4 and also in Qualifying. We have been working a lot for the race, I think we have a decent pace and we know tomorrow is an important day. We will try to stay inside the group and fight for points.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Sky Racing Team VR46:

P18 FOR LUCA MARINI IN QUALIFYING AT JEREZ

The rider of the Sky VR46 Avintia rider closes the Q1 with the eighth fastest time

Jerez de la Frontera (Spain), May 1st 2021 – Luca Marini will start from the 6th row of the starting grid in 18th place at the Spanish GP which will be hosted tomorrow in Jerez de la Frontera.

After yesterday’s good progress and in a really short ranking after the last free practice sessions, the rider of the Sky VR46 Avintia was back on the Ducati for the Q1 where he finished in eighth place (1’37.925) with a gap of only five tenths from the access to the second QP session.

Luca Marini:

A complicated qualifying, compared to the free practices there was more wind and I have struggled a bit. I am not satisfied with the result: I set my best time with an used rear tire of three laps and a front one of seven, not the most optimal conditions. A shame, there was a lot of traffic on the track and maybe I was more penalized than others. The feeling with the bike is quite ok and we can make a step forward in turning. We have already decided the tires for the race and we are happy about our choice. Tomorrow it will be important to have a great start and push at 100% in the first laps.

Ruban Xaus:

As I said yesterday, we know that here in Jerez the Ducati struggles if it is not perfect. It is a complicated track, all the riders know it well and they have raced here from the lower categories. On a MotoGP, with more power, it is a track to manage. However, we took a step forward, we are struggling a bit in turning, but Luca as a best lap time in 37 and it’s a good result even if it wasn’t enough to be able to be in front with the very top guys. With the rising in the temperatures due to the starting time and presumably a group race, we have to consider a drop in the tires and work on it.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Honda Racing Corporation (HRC):

Bradl battles in Jerez Q2

Stefan Bradl’s impressive Spanish Grand Prix performance continued on Saturday as the German ended Free Practice 3 in third overall, passing directly into Q2 as the second fastest Honda rider. A Free Practice 4 session spent working towards Sunday’s race left Bradl feeling confident for the upcoming 25-lap race in Jerez. When the lights go out at 14:00 Local Time on Sunday, Stefan Bradl will start from 12th on the grid after setting a 1’37.502 in Q2.

Stefan Bradl  6

Rider – MotoGP

“Saturday was good, especially in FP3. We worked a lot on deciding which chassis to use for the practices and we did a great job in FP3 to finish third. Unfortunately, in Q2 everything didn’t really go as plan and I found myself in traffic. We could have been closer, but we are there, we are showing our potential so it is not all bad. Tomorrow is about enjoying the race and seeing what we can do. I am pleased with how the team has worked this weekend and what we have been able to do.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Monster Energy Yamaha:

FABIO QUARTARARO FLIES TO SPANISH GP POLE POSITION

Jerez de la Frontera (Spain), 1st May 2021

Today, Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Fabio Quartararo secured his fourth-consecutive pole position with Yamaha at the Circuito de Jerez – Ángel Nieto. Maverick Viñales booked great progress on the second day in terms of race pace but was unable to put in the hot lap he had in mind in Q2. He ended the session in seventh place.

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Fabio Quartararo went all in during today‘s Q2 at the Circuito de Jerez – Ángel Nieto. He was dead set on claiming his second-in-a-row pole position and did so in superb style, with both his first and last hot lap being faster than any other rider’s best effort. Maverick Viñales proved to have strong race pace at the Andalusian track in today‘s FP4, taking second place. However, he didn‘t have the feeling he was looking for in the Q2 session. He will start the Gran Premio de España from seventh position on the grid.

Quartararo and Viñales both waited for a while after the lights at the end of pit lane turned green for the start of the 15-minute Q2 shoot-out to avoid any other rider trying to trail them.

When Quartararo hit the track his game face was on. His 1‘36.807s benchmark lap immediately put him in provisional pole position. He pushed hard on his next try but wasn‘t able to better his time. Nevertheless, he remained in the lead by 0.005s as he returned to the garage for a fresh set of tyres.

With five and a half minutes left on the clock, the Frenchman started his second run, keen to dig even deeper. He set two red sectors but made a small mistake in sector 3, forcing him to abort the lap. It didn‘t slow him down, though. His first lap would also have kept him in pole, but El Diablo still put his head down again to replicate his effort. He ended the session with a 1‘36.755s to secure the first spot on the front row with a 0.057s advantage over his closest rival.

Viñales had high hopes for qualifying after a very positive FP4 session, but the feeling wasn‘t quite there. His first attempt put him in ninth place. As the times improved, he dropped to eleventh, but with his next flyer he moved up to fifth position, before heading back into the pits with seven and a half minutes remaining.

He set out on his fresh tyres after a quick stop fully intending on closing the 0.263s gap to pole at the time. However, he wasn‘t able to make any further progress. His 1‘37.070s best lap was 0.315s off today‘s pole and enough to put him in seventh place, on the third row of the grid for tomorrow‘s race.

MASSIMO MEREGALLI

TEAM DIRECTOR

Fabio was really strong today. The team did a good job. They found a solution for what he was missing yesterday, and that helped him a lot. He tried the soft, medium, and hard tyres, and he‘s fast and consistent on all of them, so that gives us many options for tomorrow. Another pole is great for him and for the team, but we are even more pleased with his race pace. His lap sequence in FP4 is a really positive sign. The same can be said for Maverick. He made good progress in the free practice sessions, especially in FP4. We had hoped for a spot on the first two rows for him, but he was unable to put in the hot lap he had in mind in Q2, with the second rear tyre not providing the grip that was expected. We will look for some final set-up tweaks that we can try in Warm Up and then make our tyre decision tomorrow morning.

FABIO QUARTARARO

It felt really good today. Jerez is one of the tracks that I really like. I have ridden a Yamaha four times at this track and four times I got pole position. It‘s quite an amazing moment, I‘m really happy about this. But I will say that today‘s Q2 session was a qualifying where I was more on the limit. I thought I was going to crash in Turn 6 and Turn 13. I made a mistake in Turn 6, but ultimately what matters is that we got the pole position today. Tomorrow it‘s not going to be easy, but I feel prepared and that I have good potential. The medium and hard tyre are both working well, so we will use the Warm Up tomorrow to decide which one we will use.

MAVERICK VIÑALES

The feeling was good, but not enough. I don‘t know why I couldn‘t do anything on the second stint, not even one lap. I tried, but it was impossible. So, basically, what we‘re planning to do is improve in all the areas. That‘s also what we did today. FP4 was very positive, so because of that I‘m quite calm, because we have a good rhythm. But we need to make a perfect start tomorrow, so we‘ll see what happens. Honestly, it all depends on what the rhythm will be like during the race.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:

Repsol Honda Team riders set for 1000th Grand Prix start

On the eve of the Gran Premio Red Bull de España, Pol Espargaro and Marc Marquez prepare to take the Repsol and Honda partnership across the 1000th race start barrier together.

A relationship which began in 1995 has flourished and become the reference point in Grand Prix racing over the 27 years. Combined, all Repsol Honda Team riders have now amassed 1000 Grand Prix starts together. Legendary riders such as Mick Doohan (59 starts for the Repsol Honda Team), Alex Criville (99 starts), Nicky Hayden (100 starts), Dani Pedrosa (217 starts) and Marc Marquez (130 starts in Jerez) alongside a long list of others have helped the Repsol Honda Team take 15 Riders’ Championships, 10 Teams’ Championships and 180 wins. Since the introduction of the MotoGP class in 2002, the Repsol Honda Team have achieved the Triple Crown on nine occasions, more than any other team.

Repsol and Honda continue to strive for excellence together as they push forward into an ever-expanding set of milestones and achievements. Pol Espargaro and Marc Marquez will start in 13th and 14th respectively as they help the Repsol Honda Team achieve this latest milestone.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Pramac Racing:

Spanish GP – Second row for Johann Zarco tomorrow, Tito will start from the twenty-third position.

Johann Zarco will start on the second row of the grid at the circuit of Jerez tomorrow. Tito Rabat will start from twenty-third on the grid. It has been an encouraging qualifier for Johann Zarco, who ended the session with the sixth best lap-time. The French rider, after having set the ninth best time in FP3, earned direct access to the Q2 session. He set his best time at 1.37.054 on the last lap of his second run. Tito Rabat improved on yesterday’s lap-times today in FP3. He improved by 5 tenths, his time now being 1.38.412, and took part in the Q1 session. Tomorrow he will start from the twenty-third position.

Tito Rabat

The feeling with the bike has improved since yesterday and I improved on the lap-times. I am struggling with the rear, but I am delighted by how the FP3 session went this morning. I have gained more confidence with the bike and I will try to do as well as possible tomorrow.

Johann Zarco

I am happy with the qualifying result; it will be important to be on the second row. We still need to improve some things, but the bike has great potential, and I would like to get the most out of it. It is going to be very important to be able to get off to a good start from the second row.
 

More, from a press release issued by PETRONAS Yamaha SRT:

Morbidelli battles back to claim front row start at Jerez

Second for Franco Morbidelli in SpanishGP qualifying, Valentino Rossi 17th

Despite having two lap times cancelled in FP3 and having to go through Q1, PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team’s Franco Morbidelli battled back to end Jerez qualifying in second and claim his first front row start of the year. Team-mate Valentino Rossi will start tomorrow’s SpanishGP from 17th on the grid.

Morbidelli faced a difficult route through qualifying, after having two laps cancelled for exceeding track limits in FP3. Although the Italian originally thought he was through to Q2 in seventh – 1min 37.083secs – the lap deletions placed him 11th. The Italian made short work of the first qualifying session though, posting the fastest time – 1min 36.916secs – and advancing into Q2. This good form around Jerez continued, with Franco’s first Q2 lap of 1min 36.812secs putting him second. He was able to hold onto this position and ended the session just 0.057secs shy of pole.

Team-mate Rossi was immediately able to improve upon his best time from Friday’s Free Practice sessions and move himself up the order. Despite making improvements and ending FP3 0.719secs shy of the fastest rider, the Italian found himself in 15th and had to head into Q1. In qualifying, Valentino experienced electronic issues and his initial qualifying run placed him eighth in the timings. Pushing hard in the closing moments of Q1 he was able to improve his lap time to 1min 37.915secs, which saw him end the session seventh and claim a 17th place grid start in tomorrow’s race.

Tomorrow’s action will start with Warm Up at 9.20am local time (3.20pm MYT) for Morbidelli and Rossi, with the 25-lap MotoGP race bringing the SpanishGP to its conclusion at 2pm local time (8pm MYT).

Franco Morbidelli

2nd (1’36.812)

The feeling with the bike has been great today and I knew that if I had the right chance I could do something good. We had good potential today, but we had to go through many difficulties to get there. We were able to overcome them though and I’m really happy about that, plus the team did a great job as well today. I wanted to go all or nothing on one lap in qualifying, to be on the limit, and I ended up folding the front. I was prepared for it though and was able to recover it, which I’m really happy about. I have a good feeling going into tomorrow and I’m able to maintain my rhythm for quite a lot of laps, so I’m quite confident about what I can do. I need to see what the other riders can do but starting from the front row is good for our podium chances.

Valentino Rossi

17th (1’37.915)

Today was a bit better because we modified the setting on the bike and it was an improvement. This morning my time was 0.719secs from the top position, but everyone else is also really fast so I was 15th. In the afternoon I was thinking that I could improve and do better, but unfortunately we had some electronic issues on the bike and so it was only possible for us to be 17th. I think we need to understand the conditions for the tyres, because there was some wind here today, and then try something else with the bike to hopefully be stronger tomorrow. If you have a good pace here you can overtake in the race, but it is always difficult. I don’t have a particular strategy, just get the best start possible and then see what happens.

 

 

 

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

ALEIX ESPARGARÓ GOES STRAIGHT THROUGH TO Q2 FOR THE FOURTH TIME IN A ROW

HE’LL START FROM THE THIRD ROW IN THE SPANISH GP IN JEREZ

LORENZO SAVADORI IMPROVES HIS PACE BUT STILL PAYS THE PRICE FOR INEXPERIENCE IN QUALIFYING

The RS-GP improves and Aleix Espargaró confirms, once again in Jerez, that he is at ease in the top spots of the MotoGP standings. For the fourth consecutive time in as many race weekends, he goes straight through to Q2, thanks to the fifth-place time earned in the morning FP3 session with a fantastic time of 1’37.049.

In fact, two crashes in the FP4 session just a few minutes before qualifying forced him to change bikes for the decisive session. Aleix reacted extremely well, lapping only a few thousandths of a second off his time in the practice sessions and, with a time of 1’37.085, he took the centre spot on the third row of a starting grid characterised – as it usually is these days – by extremely narrow gaps between the top riders.

Lorenzo Savadori made clear progress in terms of pace, but had to pay the price of being a rookie in MotoGP during qualifiers. He finished with a time of 1’38.325 (but in FP3 he had lapped at 1’37.814) which places him on the eighth row of the starting grid for tomorrow.

ALEIX ESPARGARO’

“I don’t think the result in qualifying is entirely indicative. Today we once again demonstrated great competitiveness. In race configuration with used tyres, I think that only a few other riders have a pace better than ours. Unfortunately, we may still be missing a bit of power in qualifying to take full advantage of the soft tyre’s grip, but if we look at the gaps, we’re really only talking about thousandths of a second. For the race, it will be essential to get a good start, which will allow us to gain a few positions in the early stages. After that, everything will play out based on tyre wear in the final laps. I’m not obsessed by the result. The thing that comforts me most is that we have been among the favourites for an important position every race weekend so far. This means that we’ve taken a clear step forward and that we are working in the right direction.”

LORENZO SAVADORI

“Things went rather well overall today. In terms of pace, we were able to improve my feeling. On the other hand, I still need time to work on riding at the limit, for example in qualifying, where things get more complicated for me. It seems repetitive, but these bikes are extremely stiff and, compared to the factory derivative bikes, movements are far less accentuated. This doesn’t help me when I’m trying to find the limit and, given the high competitiveness of the championship, you always have to ride at 100%. The increased wind in the afternoon also didn’t help, as my crash in FP4 demonstrates.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by KTM Factory Racing:

BINDER FEISTY AND FAST THROUGH SPANISH MOTOGP™ QUALIFICATION TO CAPTURE 11TH ON THE GRID

MotoGP 2021 – Round 04 of 19, Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto (ESP)

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Brad Binder set the 11th fastest lap for the Gran Premio Red Bull de España and the first of four events on the Spanish mainland this season. The Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto has been staging Grand Prix for almost four decades and the short but demanding mix of fast and tight corners was another intense challenge for the MotoGP grid.

– Binder makes the Q2 cut for the first time in 2021

– Less than eight tenths of a second split the entire Q2 qualification pack

– Remy Gardner sets new Moto2 lap record on the way to first Moto2 Pole Position of ‘21

Compared to the 2020 round at the same venue twelve months ago the fourth fixture of MotoGP began in bright but cooler conditions. Brad Binder sprung out of the pitbox to set the fastest lap in Free Practice 1 and both the South African and teammate Miguel Oliveira remained in contention for direct Q2 entry throughout Friday.

Binder suffered a crash in the entry to Turn 5 during FP3 on Saturday morning and the tumble meant he didn’t have enough time to improve. The session was incredibly close and saw the top ten separated by less than two tenths of a second.

The 15-minute Q1 dash took place in the warmest but windiest climate of the weekend and Binder set a rapid 1min 37.3 on his third attempt to sit in the first two slots for most of the period. He moved through to Q2 and the chance for a better grid position but was limited by the remaining tire choice in his allocation. Binder ended Saturday’s action with 11th meaning the fourth row and five positions ahead of Oliveira in 16th. Tech3 KTM Factory Racing’s Danilo Petrucci registered 19th while Iker Lecuona will sit two spots behind.

The 110km, 25 lap race begins at 14.00 CET on Sunday.

Brad Binder: “Today was a bit up and down. I felt really quite good in FP3 but made a big mistake while trying to change my line in Turn 5 and missed my braking marker by a mile. It was quite a big crash but luckily nothing serious and all is fine. Q1 was OK but difficult to make a quick, single lap and then in Q2 I had only one new tire left, so I was pretty happy with the lap I could make in the circumstances. In FP4 we had tried a few things on the bike and some worked and others didn’t but it was great to use that session in a positive way and understand some things for Sunday. Overall, I’m really happy. I think our pace for tomorrow is very good, especially for the end of the race.”

Miguel Oliveira: “It was not the best day to be honest but I had a very good lap cancelled because I triggered the track limit sensors out of Turn 10. We’re 16th for tomorrow but I feel that the race can be good. Here in Jerez it is usually a long race, a long marathon to the finish. Our pace is looking decent and I am comfortable on the bike so let’s see what we can do.”

Danilo Petrucci: “It was a difficult qualifying. I crashed in FP4 with my preferred bike and the setup I had on the second was not as good. We had some small vibrations on the front during Qualifying. Unfortunately, we’ll start quite far back but on the positive side our pace is pretty good. So, for tomorrow, we need a strong start and keep focusing to do our pace. The target is to score some points.”

Iker Lecuona: “I continued to improve throughout today. I feel better with the bike each time I go out and I worked a lot with my crew. We tried something on the base setting and finally, I could do better lap times on my own in FP4 and also in Qualifying. We have been working a lot for the race, I think we have a decent pace and we know tomorrow is an important day. We will try to stay inside the group and fight for points.”

KTM GP Academy: Moto2 & Moto3

One second split the top fifteen riders in the Moto3 Q2 session during a sunny but breezy afternoon of qualification. Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Ayumu Sasaki was half a second from the Pole Position effort and is the highest ranked KTM RC4 rider on the grid in 8th place. Niccolo Antonelli was 9th and Sasaki’s teammate, Deniz Öncü, fills the final spot in the top ten. Double GP winner this year and world championship leader, Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Pedro Acosta, emerged in 1st place from Q1 and rested 13th fastest in Q2.

Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Remy Gardner clipped tenths of a second away from the Moto2 lap record during FP3. The Australian also fronted Q2 from the first minutes of the session. Gardner secured 1st place by just seven hundredths for his first Pole Position of the year and the fourth of his career. Raul Fernandez will start from 5th and the second row for his home Grand Prix. The Spaniard was just a tenth of a second from his teammate.

Remy Gardner: “I know this track pretty well! Everyone is fast so it is always tough here. The bike is working well and feel good. The lap was decent and not perfect but still enough to get me on Pole so I’m happy.”

Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup

Jerez welcomed the elite of the 2021 line-up for round two and after 16 laps on Saturday afternoon it was Daniel Muñoz, from nearby Seville, who raced to the checkered flag first. The second dash of the meeting takes place on Sunday.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda Castrol:

ÁLEX MÁRQUEZ HOPING FOR A CHANGE OF FORTUNE IN JEREZ

Álex Márquez will start the Spanish Grand Prix from the seventh row of the grid after a tough day of qualifying at Jerez. Despite his best efforts, the LCR Honda CASTROL rider could not find the improvement he was chasing and finished the day in 20th position overall in the MotoGP class.

The Spaniard bettered his time from Friday by nearly a second in an ultra-competitive FP3 session, but still had to settle for 14th spot despite being only six tenths behind pacesetter, and LCR team-mate, Taka Nakagami.

Álex Márquez – 20th

(1’38.069)

“Today was not our day obviously. It’s been a difficult weekend for us to find a solution to get a good rhythm with the bike. We’re struggling to have everything under control and to feel good with the bike, but tomorrow in the warm up we’ll try again to find some solutions. I’m a little bit worried as I’m struggling more than I expected, especially at this track. In general, I think we need to make a step forward and also me in pace. In qualifying we didn’t show our potential as we made mistakes in the good laps. But I’m looking forward to tomorrow and making a good start, from this point we just have to be positive and move things forward.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda Idemitsu:

TAKA TOPS FP3, CLAIMS SECOND ROW SPOT FOR SPANISH GP

Takaaki Nakagami laid down a marker ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix as he went fastest in FP3 before qualifying on the second row for Sunday’s race. Having impressed on Friday, the LCR Honda IDEMITSU rider consistently challenged with the MotoGP pacesetters and will be targeting the podium at the Circuito de Jerez-Ángel Nieto tomorrow as he again finished as the leading Honda.

Looking to improve in FP3 to secure his spot in Q2, the Japanese star did just that as he posted the fastest lap of the weekend to top the session, before underlining his race pace by claiming fourth in FP4. He was in the mix for a front row berth throughout Q2, but eventually had to settle for a place on the second row after ending a competitive session in fifth.

Takaaki Nakagami – 5th

(1’37.008)

“I’m pretty happy with the qualifying session, we got a P5 which is the second row for tomorrow’s race which is good. Also, in FP4 we were able to do good race pace and that’s really good for the race. I have good confidence for the race, I’ll try to make a good start and enjoy it. Hopefully we can fight for the top positions.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:

Falls limit the potential of Espargaro and Marquez in Jerez

Incidents during the day for both Repsol Honda Team riders left Pol Espargaro and Marc Marquez unable to deliver on their full potential over one lap.

Saturday at the Gran Premio Red Bull de España began with the ever-important Free Practice 3 session, a final chance to earn a direct pass into Q2. Marc Marquez was one of the first riders to go faster in the session, jumping from outside the top 15 to fifth within the opening minutes of the session. Unfortunately, Marquez suffered a fast fall at Turn 7 in the final minutes of FP3, crashing heavily but escaping major injury. This was confirmed by a brief visit to local hospital for a CT scan.

Back on track for Free Practice 4, Marquez confirmed his physical condition and did what work remained before Q1. Initially setting the pace in the 15-minute session, a number of moments later in the session saw Marquez unable to improve beyond fourth, lining up in 14th for Sunday’s Gran Premio Red Bull de España.

Turn 7 would prove a challenge for Pol Espargaro as well, falling in the final minutes of Free Practice 4. While walking away unharmed, Espargaro was left with a single Repsol Honda Team machine for Q1. Until this point, Espargaro had been steadily working to improve his pace and feeling on the RC213V, enjoying a very positive FP4 overall.

With a 1’37.407 in Q1, Espargaro missed a Q2 position by just 0.057s as he qualifies in 13th for Sunday’s race. Espargaro’s Q1 time would have placed him 11th in Q2. Nevertheless, Espargaro is determined to show what he can do in tomorrow’s race.

Takaaki Nakagami ended the day as the fastest Honda, clinching a fifth place start on his LCR Honda machine.

The race marks a milestone as Repsol Honda Team riders are set to make their 1000th Grand Prix start in tomorrow’s Spanish GP. A relationship which began in 1995, Repsol and Honda have taken 15 Riders’ Championship and 10 Teams’ Championships in the journey to this 1000th start.
Pol Espargaro

13TH  1’37.407

“After the fall at Turn 7 I am fortunately fine. It was a fast crash, and it didn’t leave us in the best situation for Qualifying. In FP4 we made some changes, and everything was going very well, I was feeling confident, and the bike was working well. I got a little over excited and crashed but I was only 0.050s off a spot in Q2 after. If you look at our ideal time, we are second in the session but that’s how it is. We keep working for the race and I am feeling strong for tomorrow, much better than what I was expecting the last few days.”

Marc Marquez

14TH  1’37.489

“It was a very fast and hard fall at Turn 7, we knew that the first crash of the season would come but I chose maybe one of the worst corners to have this first crash. When you push for a fast lap, you don’t think about the risks and after being conservative yesterday, today was about attacking. The impact against the air fence was at a very high speed and thanks to the air fence I am here. I went to the hospital just for some further checks to be sure of my condition and it was all clear. This crash impacted my Qualifying, it made me choose the soft front to feel a bit safer, but this was the wrong choice because the limit throughout qualifying was the front. It’s a shame because I was feeling strong and today was the first day I had really started to ‘feel’ the bike.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Ducati Lenovo Team:

Front-row start for Miller, third in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix. Bagnaia, fourth, will start from Row 2 at Jerez

Jack Miller will start from the front row in the Spanish Grand Prix scheduled for tomorrow at the Circuito de Jerez – Ángel Nieto as he closed third in qualifying today.

After ending as eleventh fastest this morning in FP3, which saw once again close gaps, the Australian finished among the ten riders qualified directly to take part in Q2, as Morbidelli’s lap time was cancelled later. In the qualifying held this afternoon, the Ducati Lenovo Team rider closed with a fastest lap in 1’36.860, taking the third spot on the grid on the front row.

Also, Francesco Bagnaia took part directly into Q2 as he was seventh overall at the end of FP3 this morning. The Italian set the fourth fastest time in this afternoon qualifying, just as the chequered flag came out, closing 205 thousandths off Quartararo’s pole position and conquering the start from the second row of the grid in tomorrow’s race.

Jack Miller (#43, Ducati Lenovo Team) – 3rd (1:36.860)

“Starting from the front row here will definitely be a big help: Jerez is a very tight and technical track where it’s quite difficult to overtake and, if I can get a good start, I can then try to manage the race in the best way possible, and stay calm especially in the first laps. After a complicated start to the season, it is a relief to be back at the front for me. Obviously, this was only qualifying, and we still have the race tomorrow to look forward to, but for now, I’m happy to have been able to tick this first target off the list.”

Francesco Bagnaia (#63, Ducati Lenovo Team) – 4th (1:36.960)

“It has been a pretty difficult day. This morning, due to another yellow flag, I went close to miss the access to Q2 but fortunately, I’d managed to complete one final lap and end in the top ten. In qualifying, I closed fourth, which is a good result considering that I wasn’t able to take full advantage of the soft tyre. In FP4, we worked on the race pace, and I set a good lap time with a tyre that had done already 26 laps. For the race, we are still missing something, but I am sure that tomorrow morning in the warm-up, we will make another step forward”.

Tomorrow at 9:20 am (CEST), the Ducati Lenovo Team will return to the track for the final 20-minute warm-up, while the Spanish Grand Prix race (25 laps) is scheduled for 2 pm.

 

 

 

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

RINS AND MIR READY FOR SPANISH GP FROM TOP 10 SPOTS
Saturday morning’s FP3 session proved to be extremely competitive with times dropping early on and the first 11 riders covered by just two tenths of a second. Team Suzuki Ecstar quickly set to work to ensure both riders could get into the much coveted Top 10 and this paid off as Joan Mir and Alex Rins proceeded to put in a string of fast laps, moving themselves firmly into Q2 progression with fourth and 10th respectively.

FP4 was windier and cooler than expected, but the Suzuki squad proved their consistent pace by putting in long runs in the early-to-mid 1’38s. Rins had a small crash at Turn 5 without consequences and he held on to a great third place and Mir was close by in seventh.

The final qualifying session of the Spanish GP was a tricky one, and despite Suzuki’s riders timing their stops perfectly allowing for three flying laps, they struggled to bring their hot-lap pace down. However, they held on to Top 10 grid spots with Rins ninth and Mir 10th, and both are feeling confident for tomorrow’s race battle.

Ken Kawauchi – Technical Manager:

“Today gave us mixed feelings, because both riders went directly to Q2 for the first time this year and that was really good. But our expectations for qualifying were higher – we thought we could get on the front two rows. In the end 9th and 10th is OK, and especially because our race pace is quite solid. Alex had a crash today but luckily no damage done. We’ll be hoping for a good race tomorrow.”

Alex Rins:

“Today was pretty good, but not 100% good; during qualifying I put in a strong lap time on my first exit with the fresh tyre, but then I couldn’t improve on my second exit because I struggled to get the best feeling. I was really hoping to improve my time, because after FP4 I was really motivated to qualify well. I wasn’t far behind but I still ended up 9th because it was all very close between everyone. The crash didn’t have an impact on my performance, so that’s good, and I’m aiming to get a strong start tomorrow and give my best.”

Joan Mir:

“Overall my day was positive, I can’t ask for much more because I was really close to the top time and in the other sessions I had strong pace. In qualifying we were less than half a second behind the top time but we are in 10th place, so it’s a shame. But anyway, we’re getting closer and we can still improve more, for sure qualifying is one area we always try to work on. I hope tomorrow I can manage the race well, let’s see what we can do.”

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