MotoGP: Vinales Earns Pole Position At Red Bull Ring (Updated)

MotoGP: Vinales Earns Pole Position At Red Bull Ring (Updated)

© 2020, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. By David Swarts.

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More, from a press release issued by Dorna:

Viñales defies the odds to take pole in enemy territory

Yamaha hadn’t been on pole at the Red Bull Ring since the track returned to the calendar… until 2020, with Viñales heading a front row covered by less than a tenth

Saturday, 15 August 2020

 

Maverick Vinales (12). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Maverick Vinales (12). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

For most people, a tenth of a second isn’t even the blink of an eye, but in MotoGP™ it can decide a lot. And in the myWorld Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich, even less that that covers the three riders on the front row of the grid, with Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales set to start from pole. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) kept him honest in second, with Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) completing the front row – just 0.087 off Viñales. The entire top 12 were covered by half a second, which is the closest we’ve witnessed since 2007.

In Q1 it was Brno podium finisher Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) who came out on top and moved through, ahead of and alongside a jubilant Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) after the Italian had missed the cut in the morning. Somehow though, there was a maybe even bigger talking point in the session – with Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) getting into some serious beef. They both just missed the cut too and will start P13 and P14 respectively, next to each other on the grid…

Once Q2 kicked off though, it was all eyes on Viñales as he came flying out the blocks first, before Quartararo then took over at the summit by a tenth. Soon enough, however, there were red sectors flashing up all over the timing screens, with the field all bang on the money from the off. Miller went P3 before Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3), Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) then all exchanged the provisional third, but the Australian took it back as Viñales also truck back against Quartararo at the top.

That lap for the factory Yamaha rider got cancelled, however, and it was suddenly Quartararo back in the driving seat. Viñales wasn’t done there though, and the Spaniard went even quicker to set a 1:23.694 to take over at the top again, this time hanging onto it. Pol Espargaro then shot up to P5, just two tenths adrift, with Mir going third again. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) slotted into P6 at the end of the first runs, and Quartararo managed to closed the gap to Viñales as the dust settled – briefly – and some fresh rubber went in.

The lull in activity didn’t last long, and the hills were soon alive with the sound of MotoGP™ machines once again. The times were about to get even quicker, too. ‘Top Gun’ Viñales improved his time to move the goalposts, with Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) then going P3 to make it a provisional Yamaha 1-2-3 in Austria. Dovizioso was about to remind everyone of his stellar pace at the Red Bull Ring though, the Italian taking P1 away from Viñales for provisional pole… but it still wasn’t done.

2017 and 2019 race winner Dovizioso didn’t stay at the top for long. Viñales, following Mir, went back to the top of the timesheets to go over a tenth clear of the field as he bounces back in style from a tough race in Brno, and despite some red sectors for the likes of Dovizioso and Pol Espargaro, no one could quite manage to overhaul that lap. That makes Viñales the first premier class polesitter for Yamaha in Austria since Christian Sarron at the Salzburgring in 1988… not bad going at a traditionally tougher track for the Iwata marque!

Pol Espargaro’s initial threat to Viñales became a provisional third, but Dovi – after getting shuffled down by the KTM rider and Quartararo – hit back to push ‘Polyccio’ back off the front row himself. Was anyone going to be able to get amongst it in the final few seconds? You bet.

It was a Pol Espargaro and Jack Miller last chance dash at the end, and the Spaniard couldn’t improve but the Australian certainly did. It wasn’t quite enough for pole but the number 43’s final push split the Yamahas and sees Miller start second behind Viñales, with the ‘holeshot device’ primed, just ahead of Quartararo…

Dovizioso will head up Row 2 just after he announced he will be leaving Ducati at the end of the season, with the Italian veteran and two-time Austrian GP winner not losing a grain of focus as he prepares to push for a third victory. Pol Espargaro lines up fifth and is another, like Dovizioso, who seems to have some serious race pace… they will certainly be hoping they can bypass the likes of Viñales, Miller and Quartararo in the early stages. Joan Mir starts sixth after an impressive Q2 for the Spaniard, edging out Brno podium finisher Morbidelli.

The number 21 Yamaha heads up the third row ahead of Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), with Czech GP poleman Zarco with more work to do on Sunday in Austria if he’s to grab a repeat podium finish. It’s ninth for the Frenchman, who finishes 0.044 ahead of Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu). Oliveira briefly owned a provisional front row place but will start 11th, just 0.489 from pole, with Q1 graduate Valentino Rossi ending Q2 in 12th… despite finishing only 0.545 off his teammate’s time. It is, after all, the closest top 12 in over a decade.

That’s it from Saturday, with only half a second covering the Q2 field and even more stories down the order. Czech GP winner Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) will start 17th as the last KTM rider, with fellow rookie Iker Lecuona (Red Bull KTM Tech3) starting just ahead of him. Ahead of that, meanwhile, Row 5 is jam-packed with experience, speed and that small slice of beef with Petrucci and Aleix Espargaro joined by Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol).

Got your breath back yet? Viñales grabbed the bull by the horns on Saturday at the Red Bull Ring, but who will come out the fight on top on Sunday? And what will the skies look like as race day dawns? Find out if the Ducati dominance in Spielberg will come to an end at 14:00 local time (GMT+2)!

Maverick Viñales: “I’m really happy because the objective was the front row but suddenly I felt an incredible feeling with the bike, also in FP4 from this morning we’ve made a really big improvement, the team has done a really good job. We need to try to understand for tomorrow’s race what will be the best tyre but the bike is working fantastic, very different to Brno. So I’m very happy and enthusiastic and we know on one lap we’re very fast.”

 

Gardner sets new lap record for Red Bull Ring pole

The Australian overhauls Martin to head the grid, with the front row completed by Schrötter 

 

Remy Gardner (87). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Remy Gardner (87). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Remy Gardner (Onexox TKKR SAG Team) secured his second Grand Prix pole position thanks to a 1:28.681 in Moto2™ Q2 at the myWorld Austrian Grand Prix, setting a new lap record in the process. It’s the Australian’s first front row start since his 2019 Assen pole position, and he edged out Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) by just 0.036. Liqui Moly Intact GP’s Marcel Schrötter picks up his first front row since the 2019 German GP in P3, just 0.064 off the top despite coming through Q1.

The number 23 was the fastest in that Q1 session and moved through along with Joe Roberts (Tennor American Racing), Nicolo Bulega (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) and Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) to fight it out for pole, with the rain staying away too and promising a fight to the finish.

The Q2 session was slightly delayed due to technical issues, but once we got the 15-minute pole position scrap underway, it was Championship leader Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) on top as the riders came round to complete their first flying laps. Sky Racing Team VR46’s Marco Bezzecchi and Luca Marini soon changed that, before rookie sensation Aron Canet (Inde Aspar Team) took over on provisional pole.

With eight minutes to go Bastianini was back at the top, but Martin then beat Nagashima’s previous lap record by just 0.001 to claim provisional pole position at the team’s home race. Gardner then turned up the wick to snatch it back though, keeping it together to cross the line and take his second ever front row start – both of which have been poles. Ultimately, no one was able to challenge him despite a few red sectors, with 0.036 remaining the gap back to Martin and Schrötter looking back on form with P3, just 0.064 adrift.

Bastianini starts fourth and will be eyeing a hat-trick of wins when the Moto2™ riders attack the Red Bull Ring on Sunday, but the points leader has Canet for close company in P5. Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) had to settle for P6 after topping almost every session until qualifying, but amazingly, just 0.037 splits Lowes in P6 to Bezzecchi in 10th, with P1 to P10 covered by just 0.250. Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) recovered from a heavy FP3 crash to head up Row 3 in P7, with Marini and Tom Lüthi (Liqui Moly Intact GP) slotting in ahead of 10th place Bezzecchi.

Roberts starts 11th after a solid Saturday, ahead of Augusto Fernandez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) in P12. Baldassarri took 13th ahead of Bulega, with Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing) completing the fastest fifteen.

Former points leader Tetsuta Nagashima (Red Bull KTM Ajo) crashed out in the session, and he’ll therefore face a fight back from P18 on the grid.

Who could bet on a winner from that tantalising grid? Martin and Lowes look like they could have the edge on Sunday, but when the lights go out, anything can happen. Will it be wet, will it be dry? Tune in at 12:20 local time (GMT+2) to find out who will take the Moto2™ glory in Austria.

Remy Gardner: “It’s good to be back for the first time since Assen last year, it was a really good lap and I tried to do it on my own, until the fifth or sixth lap i was banging out laps trying to perfect everything. There was one decent one but coming out the last corner I had a big old slide and lost the drive to the line, I think I lost about a tenth, and then I was like alright… time to look for a draft. So I cut off a lap, saw Navarro coming, slotted in behind him and luckily he didn’t shut the gas for the whole lap. I got a pretty good slipstream into Turn 1, 1-2 and 3-4, ultimately that really helped, and out of Turn 7 to Turn 9, I found a bit of speed there with the draft which I think helped the lap. It was a good lap and it feels good to be back!”

 

On a roll: Fernandez takes home pole for Red Bull KTM Ajo

The Spaniard followed up his maiden pole position with another, but the front row are split by just 0.029

 

Raul Fernandez (25). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Raul Fernandez (25). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Raul Fernandez has followed up his maiden pole taken in Brno with a perfect rinse and repeat at the Red Bull Ring at the myWorld Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich. It was close at the front though as the Spaniard heads up the grid by 0.011, with Championship leader Albert Arenas (Valresa Aspar Team) making it a 1-2 for KTM machinery as he took second. Arenas’ key rival, John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing), starts third but was only 0.029 off the top.

In Q1 in Austria, it was Riccardo Rossi (BOE Skull Rider Facile Energy) on top as the Italian deftly negotiated a gaggle of four all pushing to slipstream, including both Red Bull KTM Tech 3 riders, Ayumu Sasaki and Deniz Öncü, who also made it through. Jeremy Alcoba (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) split the two Tech 3s to advance to Q2 as well and with that, the stage was set in the fight for the top 18 places on the grid.

Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) was the man in charge first, before he was deposed by Arenas – the Spaniard using the Italian’s own slipstream – but at the end of a classic mad Moto3™ dash it was Fernandez who came out on top, seemingly out of nowehere. Arenas and McPhee are close, however, and Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) in fourth is still within a tenth of pole as Moto3™ stays on brand as some of the closest racing on Earth.

Joining Masia on Row 2 are Vietti and Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse), who was in the group with both the number 13 and Arenas in Q2 in a fight that seemed more like a race at times. The third row is headed up by Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3), with Friday’s fastest, Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team), just behind him in P8. Rossi, after his impressive Q1 form, takes a best ever qualifying position in ninth – beating his previous best by a whopping eight places. Öncü completes the top ten in his second best qualifying ever on the world stage.

Brno winner Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) joins Öncü on the fourth row in P11, with Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46) in 12th. Championship contender Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) had a tougher Saturday as he lines up in 13th, and he’ll be pushing from the off to get back on terms with Arenas and McPhee, and make sure he keeps his near faultless season intact. Filip Salač (Rivacold Snipers Team) and Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) took P14 and P15, respectively.

Kaito Toba (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was the sole crasher of the session as he highsided at Turn 10, heading for the Medical Centre but judged fit thereafter.

That’s it for Saturday, the grid is decided and it’s an interesting one for race day – as is the weather forecast. How will it play out? Find out from 11:00 (GMT +2) as the lights go out for Moto3™.

Raul Fernandez: “Qualifying was incredible. Yesterday the feeling with the bike wasn’t good, and this morning in the wet we didn’t try the new settings, I tried it in qualifying. On the first exit I couldn’t stop the bike, I don’t know why, I couldn’t brake. On the second it was a bit better, but then I don’t know how I did this super good lap! Tomorrow we need to improve this aspect, but I’m really happy for me, my team, my family and tomorrow I hope we’ll be fighting for the podium.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Red Bull KTM Tech3:

Oliveira and Lecuona primed to start from row four and six at Red Bull Ring
Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Miguel Oliveira delivered a stunning second day at Red Bull’s and KTM’s home soil in Austria. With the seventh fastest time in the combined practice sessions, the Portuguese secured a direct Q2 spot for the first time in his career. In Qualifying Oliveira squeezed out everything of himself and his KTM RC16 and ended up in 11th of the ultra-competitive field, only 0.489 seconds behind the pole setter.

At the same time, Iker Lecuona was showing a strong performance in Qualifying one. The premier class rookie did a 1:24.405, which was his fastest time of the weekend so far. The Spaniard missed out on Q2 by just half a second and placed himself in P6, which means he equals his best Qualifying performance from last weekend in Brno, starting from row six of the grid again when the red lights go out at 14:00 local time tomorrow.

 

Miguel Oliveira (88). Photo courtesy Red Bull KTM Tech3.
Miguel Oliveira (88). Photo courtesy Red Bull KTM Tech3.

 

Miguel Oliveira
 

Position: 11th

Time: 1:23.939

Laps: 9

“It was a tough Qualifying, everyone was very close. It was already not easy to do a good lap time in FP4, my feeling was not perfect. We managed to do some changes to the bike, but finally not enough to make me go a little bit faster. Tyre choice is still a question mark for us, but anyway I’m positive for the race. Our pace is quite good and it will be interesting. Hopefully we can get a good start, stay out of trouble in the first laps and do a good race.”

 

Iker Lecuona (27). Photo courtesy Red Bull KTM Tech3.
Iker Lecuona (27). Photo courtesy Red Bull KTM Tech3.

 

Iker Lecuona
 

Position: 16th

Time: 1:24.405

Laps: 9
 
“About today, I’m really happy! In FP3 it was difficult to manage the weather, we started in wet conditions and later it dried up, so it was hard to improve. I tried it, I was very positive and had a great feeling with the bike plus was full of confidence, but eventually I did some mistakes on my fastest lap. But I continued to work in FP4, which was really strong for me. In the first run, I did some very consistent times, changed the base a bit and in the second run, I improved the lap time. Later in Qualifying, I pushed incredibly hard, I didn’t have any more to give. But still, I’m super delighted about my job done today, I was missing out on Q2 by only 0.5 seconds, so it was very close. We will see how the weather will be tomorrow, but about today, I’m truly glad. A huge thank you to my team for their help!”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:

Repsol Honda Team make qualifying progress at the Red Bull Ring

Steps forward continue for Alex Marquez and Stefan Bradl as the pair achieve their best grid positions of the season so far.

Consistent afternoon conditions at the Red Bull Ring led to steady gains for the Repsol Honda Team on Saturday, both Alex Marquez and Stefan Bradl pleased with their overall pace as well as advances made in Qualifying. Times around the rapid Red Bull Ring meant that even the smallest of mistakes could cost multiple positions in the standings as one second regularly split 19 riders.

Eager to gain as much information as possible, Moto2 World Champion Alex Marquez was not afraid of heading out in the wet during the morning session. Alex was the first rider to push when it began drying Free Practice 3 session, moving to the top of the timing screen with just under 15 minutes of the session remaining. Unfortunately, conditions did not allow the MotoGP rookie to improve his overall time and he arrived in Q1 again, challenging for a top spot from the first lap. A 1’24.490 saw Alex take 18th on the grid, his best result so far and within 0.6s of a transfer spot.

Stefan Bradl’s weekend has continued to progress with the German test rider lapping half a second faster than in FP1 on Friday. Like his fellow Repsol Honda Team rider, Bradl was able to make improvements in Q1 and will start the Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich from 19th – three places higher and two tenths faster than his 2019 result with the team. Bradl is aiming to make a good start and push for points in tomorrow’s race.

Nakagami was again the leading Honda, qualifying his LCR Team RC213V in tenth place on the grid. This is his second top-ten grid position of the year.

The lights for the first of two races at the Red Bull Ring are scheduled to go out at 14:00 Local Time. 20 minutes of morning Warm Up will give both Repsol Honda Team riders a final chance to refine their setup and adapt to any weather changes before the 28-lap race.

 

Alex Marquez (73). Photo courtesy Repsol Honda.
Alex Marquez (73). Photo courtesy Repsol Honda.

 

Alex Marquez

18TH  1’24.490

“I’m in a better situation here than in Brno, from the first moment I felt good with the bike and I felt like I could be faster. Our race pace is again looking good, there’s one or two small details we need to confirm for tomorrow. We improved our speed over one lap, but I wasn’t able to do anything more with the second new tyre for some reason. We’ll try to make a good start tomorrow and stay in the group. I am close to the other rookies and they are a good target.”

 

Stefan Bradl (6). Photo courtesy Repsol Honda.
Stefan Bradl (6). Photo courtesy Repsol Honda.

 

Stefan Bradl

19TH  1’24.662

“The weekend has not been easy with the weather; we have had to make the most of the track time because FP2 and FP3 weren’t ideal. I’m still trying to improve my feeling with the bike, but we found something interesting in Qualifying and this gives me some optimism about tomorrow. I think it will help us with the performance in the race and we can fight more in the race. I am actually looking forward to tomorrow, we have learned a lot today and I just hope the weather stays dry.”

 

 

 

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

AUSTRIAN GP AWAITS CONFIDENT MIR AND RINS, 6TH AND 8TH.

Grid positions for Austrian GP:

Joan Mir: 6th – 1’23.673 (+ 0.223)
Alex Rins: 8th – 1’23.731 (+ 0.281)

Despite a wet start to Saturday in Spielberg, Joan Mir and Alex Rins were able to confirm their positive feelings with the GSX-RR and gain good grid spots for tomorrow’s Grand Prix.

After both posting times in the Top 10 on Friday, it looked as though Rins and Mir were guaranteed direct passage to Q2 when rain fell around the Red Bull Ring in FP3. But with 15 minutes left in the session, the riders were required to make a quick switch to slicks as times tumbled. Comfortable with their set-up, the Suzuki pair placed themselves firmly in the Top 10 to progress to final qualifying.

FP4 allowed both riders to confirm their dry set-up and try tyre options, carrying out the usual Saturday routine. This session was solid for Mir and Rins and served as a good intro into qualifying.

A frantic Q2 was the order of the day as everyone was keen to lay down a fast lap before a possible change in the weather. Mir and Rins were both able to do short strings of fast laps in their two exits, with Mir showing front row pace. They will start tomorrow’s Grand Prix from sixth and eighth respectively, less than three-tenths-of-a-second from the top.

Davide Brivio – Team Manager:

“For sure we’ve improved compared with the last couple of races. All the riders are very close on times, but both our riders put a lot of effort in and had good pace. Joan managed to be on the second row, and Alex tried hard in his physical condition and he’ll start 8th. We worked really well and it seems like we can be competitive here. Let’s go racing and see what happens.”

 

Joan Mir. Photo courtesy Suzuki.
Joan Mir (36). Photo courtesy Suzuki.

 

Joan Mir:

“I’m happy because I usually struggle with qualifying, but today I’ve been really strong and I’m only two-tenths-of-a-second behind the pole. I still feel that my race pace is better than my one-lap pace so it will be interesting to see how the race goes. I feel I have potential. It can be difficult here against the other manufacturers but the Suzuki is strong and fast in the corners, so we’ll play our cards! I’m aiming for Top 5.”

 

Alex Rins (42). Photo courtesy Suzuki.
Alex Rins (42). Photo courtesy Suzuki.

 

Alex Rins:

“I’m on the 3rd row but the times are so tight, so it’s not bad at all! I feel that my rhythm is good enough to fight at the front so I’m feeling positive about what I can do. I did feel pain with my shoulder today, but I’m used to suffering with the pain now and I have to push through it. I’m confident about tomorrow’s race.”

 

 

 

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

DEMANDING DAY FOR ALEIX AND BRADLEY, BUT THE PACE IS THERE

Although the position on the grid after qualifying is not the sensational one from Brno, Aleix Espargaró is optimistic at the end of the Austrian Saturday. On a track that has historically been complicated for Aprilia, the Spanish rider once again confirmed his improved feeling astride the 2020 RS-GP. An in-depth analysis of his performance demonstrates this. In a scenario where the pole position time has worsened compared to 2019, Aleix shaved six tenths off his best time from last season. This is an important and concrete signal even if we shift our attention to an analysis of the race pace.

Bradley also demonstrated substantial growth in terms of the technical package, which is possibly not as evident because of how young the project is. The constant changes to the setup which, on one hand contribute to increasing the team’s and riders’ knowledge of the new bike, on the other hand, do not make it simple to find the best lap time. These first races should be seen as an “investment”, destined to bear fruit in the future.

 

Aleix Espargaro (41). Photo courtesy Aprilia.
Aleix Espargaro (41). Photo courtesy Aprilia.

 

ALEIX ESPARGARO’

“I’m quite satisfied, to be honest. The 2020 RS-GP has confirmed that it is a step ahead here too compared to last year. Let’s not forget that this track is less than ideal for us, so having a good feeling in Austria is very important for me. What race result can we aim for? I don’t see the top 10 as far off – to the contrary. Any worse result would leave a bitter taste in my mouth. The weather conditions will be fundamental, but above all, we will need to stay focused and avoid any mistakes on the important braking sections of this track.”

 

Bradley Smith (38). Photo courtesy Aprilia.
Bradley Smith (38). Photo courtesy Aprilia.

 

BRADLEY SMITH

“It may seem strange, but we’re making progress. We are still in a phase where it is important to work on the balance of the bike, changing the setup often in order to figure out how this new bike will react. It’s a job divided up between Aleix and me. When you do this, doing the best times may become more complicated, but we are building a base for this season and for next year. I am pleased that I have not had any of the chattering problems we were worried about in Brno and here. For tomorrow, the goal is to stay in the group and not push past the limit. Riding in the race alongside the other riders is a fundamental opportunity to grow the 2020 RS-GP.”

 

 

 

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

VIÑALES STORMS TO POLE IN SPIELBERG

Spielberg (Austria), 15th August 2020

GRAND PRIX OF AUSTRIA

QUALIFYING

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Maverick Viñales will be starting tomorrow‘s Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich from pole position. Valentino Rossi bravely battled his way through Q1 to take twelfth place on tomorrow‘s grid.

1st MAVERICK VIÑALES 1’23.450 / 9 LAPS

12th VALENTINO ROSSI 1’23.995 / 10 LAPS

The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team were on the edge of their seats during today‘s qualifying sessions at the Spielberg circuit in Austria. Nobody was able to match Maverick Viñales in Q2. He secured his 11th pole position with Yamaha, his first since the 2019 Australian GP. Valentino Rossi also impressed with his speed in Q1, securing a place for Q2 in the final moments. He will start tomorrow‘s race from P12.

Viñales was fired up and ready to go at the start of Q2. He was the first rider out of pit lane, and his first flying lap saw him in second place. His next try put him in the top spot ever so briefly, before it was cancelled due to exceeding track limits. However, the Spaniard coolly reproduced the hot lap and set a 1‘23.694s for provisional pole.

With more than seven and a half minutes remaining, the number-12 rider arrived back in the garage for a quick rear tyre switch. When he returned to the track, he set a 1‘23.643s to increase the gap to the runner-up to 0.073s. It turned out this still wasn‘t enough, but the Yamaha rider had one more ace up his sleeve. When he was pushed to second, he responded with a 1‘23.450s to take pole by 0.068s.

Rossi left it to the final moments of Q1, when the chequered flag had already come out, to make his mark. He had been pushed back to fourth in the provisional rankings and needed to dig deep. The Doctor delivered, though, and the Factory Yamaha team celebrated as his 1‘23.891s last lap earned him second position and a place in Q2.

Shortly after, the Italian continued his charge in the second qualifying session. He initially put his YZR-M1 in fifth place, but there were red sectors all over the live timing, indicating the fight was far from over. Rossi defended his position by bettering his time, but it wasn‘t enough. He was lying in eighth by the time he returned to the pit box with eight minutes remaining.

After a short stop, he continued the hunt for a front row start. He bettered his time but not his placement once more on lap 7. Unable to make any further strides on the next three attempts, he finished the session in 12th place, 0.545s from pole.

MASSIMO MEREGALLI

TEAM DIRECTOR

Compared to yesterday, we made great progress. Maverick was feeling a lot more comfortable in damp and dry conditions, and that translated in a competitive time in FP3, FP4, and this really strong pole. Valentino also put in a great performance in FP4 and also immediately after in Q1. Unfortunately, the second rear tyre he used in Q2 didn‘t work as well for him as the ones he used in Q1, so he has to start from the fourth row. In FP4, earlier today, we have been able to compare the soft and medium rear tyres, both might be an option for the race. The final choice will be made during the Warm Up, if it‘s dry. Even though this traditionally isn‘t one of our best tracks, purely based on track lay-out, we have a Yamaha on pole and another one in third place. We have been making steps in the right direction, and this is a great boost for everyone involved in the Yamaha MotoGP Division. Tomorrow we‘ll try to deliver similar positive results.

 

Maverick Vinales (12). Photo courtesy Monster Energy Yamaha.
Maverick Vinales (12). Photo courtesy Monster Energy Yamaha.

 

MAVERICK VIÑALES

I’m really happy because my objective today was to be on the front row, but suddenly I felt an incredible feeling with the bike, also in FP4. From this morning we made a really big improvement. The team has done a really good job last night, so we need to try to understand which tyre will be the best option for tomorrow’s race. Anyway, the bike is working fantastic, very different from Brno. So, I’m very happy and enthusiastic. We know that on one lap we can be very fast.

 

Valentino Rossi (46). Photo courtesy Monster Energy Yamaha.
Valentino Rossi (46). Photo courtesy Monster Energy Yamaha.

 

VALENTINO ROSSI

We worked well during FP4. Unfortunately, this morning the conditions were difficult, but in the afternoon we made a good improvement with the bike. I was strong in FP4, but the Q1 is always very tricky, because you need to make a lap time close to pole position to go into Q2. So, as always, we were all very close. In Q2 I did a very good lap time with the medium tyre, because I was running out of softs. Unfortunately, with the last soft I was not able to improve a lot, I didn‘t feel very comfortable with the soft and I could improve just one tenth. And now it‘s like this, you have to improve with the second tyre, if you don‘t, you have to start from behind. But we will see. We need to decide on the rear tyre, soft or medium. And after that we‘ll keep an eye on the weather, because also for tomorrow the weather forecast is not fantastic.

 

 

 

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

Fourth front row start of 2020 for Quartararo

Fabio Quartararo continues run of front row starts this year after qualifying third in Austria, Morbidelli to start from seventh

PETRONAS Yamaha SRT’s Fabio Quartararo maintains his 100% record of front row starts in 2020 after finishing today’s Austrian GP qualifying session third. The Frenchman hasn’t been off the front row since the British Grand Prix last year. Team-mate Franco Morbidelli will be starting tomorrow’s race from seventh on the grid.

It was a tense FP3 session for Quartararo, who found himself out of the automatic Q2 places with only a few minutes left on the clock. The Frenchman had a series of laps disallowed for exceeding track limits, but was able to make his last flying lap count and book himself a place in Q2. The MotoGP qualifying session proved to be an intense one with all 12 riders lapping within 0.545secs of each other. Fabio started the session strongly and was consistently at the sharp end for the majority of the session. The closing minutes saw the positions constantly changing at the top of the timing screens, with most riders showing improvements, before the chequered flag was waved. Quartararo’s 1min 23.537secs lap, which was only 0.087secs shy of pole, saw him qualify third and maintain his 100% front row start streak in 2020.

Morbidelli took advantage of the wet conditions at the start of the morning’s Free Practice session to gain some knowledge of how the wet tyres behave around the Austrian circuit, something that could prove crucial with thunderstorms forecast over the weekend. Although times started to tumble in the closing stages, the Italian’s time from yesterday was good enough to secure a spot in Q2. Franco, who now has the holeshot device on his Yamaha YZR-M1, has enjoyed a series of improvements across the sessions so far this weekend. With the times so close in qualifying, he was unfortunate to miss out on a spot within the first two rows of the grid. After setting a 1min 23.719secs lap time, Morbidelli will start tomorrow’s race seventh.

The morning Warm Up session for Fabio and Franco will take place tomorrow at 9.40am local time (3.40pm MYT), before the lights go out for the 28-lap MotoGP race at 2pm local time (8pm MYT).

 

Fabio Quartararo (20). Photo courtesy PETRONAS Yamaha SRT.
Fabio Quartararo (20). Photo courtesy PETRONAS Yamaha SRT.

 

Fabio Quartararo

3rd (1’23.537)

It was really important to get on the front row so I am very happy that we have done this. Our pace is fairly good so let’s see what happens in tomorrow’s race. It won’t be easy, we’ll have to manage what happens in the best way possible and try to fight with the top guys. I think we have made a big step forward though with the old tyres, which we had on in FP4, and it feels good to know this. I think we can still improve a little bit more but I’m ready for tomorrow. It looks like there are many contenders for the top-three so it could be a very interesting race. I’m hoping that I can step on the Austrian podium again, as I finished third here last year.

 

Franco Morbidelli (21). Photo courtesy PETRONAS Yamaha SRT.
Franco Morbidelli (21). Photo courtesy PETRONAS Yamaha SRT.

 

Franco Morbidelli

7th (1’23.719)

It was a difficult qualifying session because the margin between each of the riders was so small. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to put in a good lap, but seventh position is okay because we were still so close to the top. It will be important to get a good start tomorrow and then see what will happen. I now have the holeshot device on my bike, so I think that will help me tomorrow at the start. It’s great to have that, so my thanks go to Yamaha for all the support they are giving us. I believe there will be a large group together in the race because the times are so close; it will definitely make it interesting! I feel like we have improved our pace round here with the soft tyre and it’s similar to those at the top of the timings. I want to be in the mix for a top-five finish and I’m really excited for the race tomorrow.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Ducati:

Second-row start for Andrea Dovizioso, fourth in qualifying at the Red Bull Ring. Danilo Petrucci barely missed out to access in Q2 and will start the Austrian GP from thirteenth position

Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci will start respectively from the fourth and thirteenth spots of the grid at the Austrian GP scheduled for tomorrow at the Red Bull Ring.

Second at the end of FP3 this morning, the rider from Forlì took part directly into Q2 this afternoon. Third in 1:23.606 just a few instants before the time ran out, Dovizioso missed the front row by only 69 thousand of a second, as he was pushed back into fourth place by the Desmosedici GP bike of Jack Miller – rider of the Pramac Racing Team – who moved up into the second position.

Danilo Petrucci will start from Row 5 with the thirteenth fastest time. The Umbrian rider, who was twelfth at the end of FP3 this morning, had to take part in Q1 this afternoon where, as he was also slowed down by the traffic on track, he couldn’t go beyond the third-fastest lap time and missed by only 24 thousands of a second the access to Q2.

 

Andrea Dovizioso (04). Photo courtesy Ducati.
Andrea Dovizioso (04). Photo courtesy Ducati.

 

Andrea Dovizioso (#04 Ducati Team) – 1:23.606 (4th)

“I am pleased with today’s result. We managed to set some good lap times and find a good feeling with the bike, especially in braking. Unfortunately, I couldn’t be fast in all sectors in one lap. Otherwise, I would have got on the front row. Tomorrow there will be many riders fighting for the victory, but we also have a good pace for the race. We still have some aspects that need to be improved, but, in general, I am satisfied with our work.”

 

Danilo Petrucci (9). Photo courtesy Ducati.
Danilo Petrucci (9). Photo courtesy Ducati.

 

Danilo Petrucci (#9 Ducati Team) – 1:23.915 (13th)

“Both this morning and this afternoon we missed the access to Q2 by only a few thousandths of a second but in general I am still satisfied. In FP4, we were able to find a solution that allowed us to improve our race pace. I’m adapting to riding the bike differently, and I think there’s still room for improvements. Our starting position for the race is not the best, but I am still positive. My goal for tomorrow is to stay as close as possible to the front.”

Tomorrow at 9:40 AM local time the Ducati Team riders will head back out on track again for the final 20 minutes of warm-up before the race, which will start at 2:00 PM local time on a 28-lap distance (GMT +2.00).

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Esponsorama Racing:

ESPONSORAMA RACING COMPLETES AUSTRIAN GRAND PRIX QUALIFYING

 

Tito Rabat (53). Photo courtesy Esponsorama Racing.
Tito Rabat (53). Photo courtesy Esponsorama Racing.

 

After the Austrian Grand Prix qualifying session, Esponsorama Racing will start tomorrow’s race at the Red Bull Ring – Spielberg with Johann Zarco and Tito Rabat in 9th and 21st position respectively.

Despite the great pace shown during yesterday’s and this morning’s free practice, Johann Zarco had to go through Q1 which, after setting the best time of the session, qualified to Q2. Despite not being able to complete a perfect last lap when he was disturbed by an opponent, thanks to a time of 1:23.828 and being only three tenths of a second off pole position, Zarco will start from the third row of the grid, which will allow him to fight for a good result from an advanced position.

Tito Rabat showed a positive evolution from the first free practice yesterday morning until the qualifying session. The Barcelona-based rider, after setting a time of 1:25.287, will be fighting for points positions from the seventh row of the grid.

Tomorrow at 14:00 the Austrian Grand Prix will start, which will be the fourth race of the season for the MotoGP class.

JOHANN ZARCO – P9 (1,23.828)

“Happy about today. Overall, this afternoon the job has been good. When I missed the good lap this morning in FP3 it was a shame to have to do de Q1, but finally it has been a good opportunity to do more laps. FP4 has been quite good and then in Q1 I did a good lap, so I could be qualified and go to Q2. Then I expected to improve my lap time but it was not easy and at the end I finished 9th, only three tenths of the top and this is positive. I have a lot of chances to do tomorrow a good race, I just need to see how are going to be the conditions because it seems we can have some rain. So, I am working with the team to improve and to see what I can do better. We’ll see if tomorrow I can do all these things.”

TITO RABAT – P21 (1’25.287)

“Difficult weekend and there’s been a lot of rain. In the first FP3 the track was very dirty and it was difficult to be consistent in the times. In FP4 we tried to be as consistent as possible and have a good base of information for tomorrow’s race. In qualifying, on the first attempt I went long in turn 3 and on the second I ended up in the gravel, luckily I didn’t crash. Tomorrow in the warm-up we will go as far as we can and I am optimistic for the race.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Pramac Racing:

Austrian GP – Amazing Jack Miller, tomorrow will start from the first row, difficult day for Michele Pirro

 

Jack Miller. Photo courtesy Pramac Racing.
Jack Miller. Photo courtesy Pramac Racing.

 

It was an extraordinary Saturday for Pramac Racing at the Red Bull Ring circuit. Jack Miller will start tomorrow from the front row in second position, unfortunately Michele Pirro had a difficult qualifying session. After an amazing FP3 this morning  closed in second place, Jack Miller took part in the Q2 and was able to push hard since the first run. The last lap of the second run with a best time of 1:23.518 allowed the Australian rider to be at the parc fermè in second place. Michele Pirro, who had found a good feeling with the bike during the FP3 conquering the 12th position was not able to replicate this result in Q1 and tomorrow will start from P22

Michele Pirro

I’m happy because one Ducati will start from the front row tomorrow, but I’m also very disappointed because  we could be close to the top ten, unfortunately we made a mistake during the  qualifying. Tomorrow I’ll try to do my best anyway and we see!

Jack Miller

I’m Very happy with today’s result, strange weather conditions, but I am very happy to start from the front row, this was really important for us especially in this circuit. The bike was fantastic, the feeling was great and we worked really well on the race pace. We will try to give our best tomorrow!

 

 

 

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

CRUTCHLOW ON THE FIFTH ROW IN SPIELBERG

15 August 2020 | Austrian GP Qualifying

LCR Honda CASTROL rider Cal Crutchlow will start from the fifth row in the Austrian Grand Prix as weather again played its part at the Red Bull Ring on Saturday. The Briton – who finished fourth in Spielberg back in 2018 – remains hopeful of producing a positive result on Sunday, but will now have to come from 15th on the grid.

Having finished Friday in 14th position, Crutchlow’s hopes of forcing his way into Q2 were undermined by rain in the morning which meant FP3 took place on a drying track. Although he went 10th quickest in the session, the 34-year-old remained in 14th in the combined times and was then unable to progress from an ultra-competitive Q1 session that featured the likes of Valentino Rossi, Johann Zarco and Danilo Petrucci.

 

Cal Crutchlow (35). Photo courtesy LCR Honda.
Cal Crutchlow (35). Photo courtesy LCR Honda.

 

Cal Crutchlow – 15th

(1’24.228)

“Today I didn’t find the feeling in the qualifying session to be able to go any faster, evidently I was pushing, I’ve been pushing every session here to try and do a lap time, but at the moment it doesn’t seem that everything has clicked and we haven’t found a good way to ride with the bike. On a brighter note, my arm has started to feel a little bit better this race weekend. My left wrist has been difficult to manage for the last couple of race weekends and I feel better here, so that’s good and a positive thing for the race. We’ll try and work with the team overnight to make some changes and improve for the race tomorrow, it will be a long 27 laps. I’ve had a great result here in the past, in 2018, and we’ll try to do it again.”

 

 

 

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

TAKA TO START FROM TENTH IN SPIELBERG

15 August 2020 | Austrian GP Qualifying

Takaaki Nakagami will start the Austrian Grand Prix from tenth position as he bids to continue his impressive form in the revamped 2020 MotoGP season. After his excellent performance on Friday, the LCR Honda IDEMITSU rider comfortably made it through to Q2 but had to settle for a spot on the fourth row as he was unable to find his best in the final shoot-out.

Sitting in third position overnight, Taka was unable to improve his time on a drying track in FP3 but had already done more than enough to secure his place in Q2. The Japanese star was then 16th fastest in FP4 as he concentrated on improving his set-up for the race and, despite not being satisfied with his final qualifying position, remains confident of his chances tomorrow.

 

Takaaki Nakagami (30). Photo courtesy LCR Honda.
Takaaki Nakagami (30). Photo courtesy LCR Honda.

 

Takaaki Nakagami – 10th

(1’23.872)

“P10 is not the best qualifying position, we were expecting to get on the front two rows and dropped to P10 so I was a little bit disappointed with my performance. But the race is a completely different story and we did a lot of work on our race pace in FP4 which was very important as we got a lot of information for the race. We have already decided which tyres we’ll use for the race and also this track is difficult for fuel consumption and we’ve managed it quite well. So we’re not that happy with qualifying, but we’re ready to fight for a good position in the race. It will be difficult from P10, but we’ll do our best and fight for the top.”

 

 

 

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

SECOND ROW START FOR ESPARGARO AT HOME GRAND PRIX

MotoGP 2020 – Round 04, Red Bull Ring (Austria)

Red Bull KTM showed fierce pace and strong competitiveness in qualification for the first of two home Grands Prix at the Red Bull Ring. Pol Espargaro sealed 5th position after Q2 at the myWorld Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich and after heading two of the four Free Practice sessions across Friday and Saturday with his KTM RC16.

Sunshine and stormy showers created tricky conditions around the spectacular but deserted Red Bull Ring circuit during Friday and Saturday for the first ‘double-header’ at the Austrian venue. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pol Espargaro missed the support of the public and the roar from the KTM grandstand but continued his impressive speed from the Czech Republic last weekend to place 1st in FP1 and FP4; demonstrating excellent race pace in the final practice session. A crash in FP4 disrupted his preparation for Q2 but he still pushed for his first Pole Position and missed out by just over a tenth of a second.

Sensational winner in Brno last Sunday, Brad Binder, reminded onlookers of his rookie status for 2020 as he suffered with a lack of effective laps on the RC16 around the Red Bull Ring straights and curves. The South African, who claimed victory in the 2019 Moto2 sprint at the track, worked on his race set-up and orientation and will start his fourth MotoGP outing from 17th.

Red Bull KTM Tech3 duo Miguel Oliveira and Iker Lecuona will launch from the fourth (11th) and sixth (16th) rows of the grid. The Portuguese in particular has strong potential at Red Bull Ring. He scored an 8th position in the race during the summer of 2019: it was his highest classification of a maiden campaign in the premier class.

 

Pol Espargaro (44). Photo courtesy KTM.
Pol Espargaro (44). Photo by Polarity Photo, courtesy KTM.

 

Pol Espargaro: “Overall, it was amazing. In FP4 we had by far the best race rhythm on the grid and that’s super-important for tomorrow. I was then getting more and more pumped and I was going faster and faster and maybe just a bit too fast for the front wheel and I crashed. For sure that didn’t help for qualifying; I had to use my second bike also and we were milliseconds from the Pole Position. Imagine how tight that was!I think we can do a good race. We have a good rhythm. We are quite confident, and the set-up of the bike is awesome.”

 

Brad Binder (33). Photo courtesy KTM.
Brad Binder (33). Photo by Polarity Photo, courtesy KTM.

 

Brad Binder: “Today I really felt the effects of not much track time. I was making a lot of mistakes on track and not finding my markers. It it hasn’t been easy so far. I made a little step forward in FP4 which I was happy about.I tried to improve and managed to do that slightly but there was much more potential there today. So, I will go through my data, reset and go again tomorrow.”

Miguel Oliveira: “It was a tough qualifying and everyone was very close. It was not easy to do a good lap time in FP4, my feeling was not perfect. We managed to do some changes to the bike but finally not enough to make me go a little bit faster. Tire choice is still a question mark for us but anyway I’m positive for the race. Our pace is quite good and it will be interesting.”

Iker Lecuona: “About today, I’m really happy! In FP3 it was difficult to manage the weather, we started in wet conditions and later it dried up, so it was hard to improve. I had a great feeling with the bike and was full of confidence but eventually I made some mistakes on my fastest lap. But I continued to work in FP4, which was really strong for me. Later in Qualifying, I pushed incredibly hard, I didn’t have any more to give. But, still, I’m super delighted about my job done today. I missed Q2 by only 0.5 seconds, so it was very close. A huge thank you to my team for their help!”

Moto2 & Moto3

Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Raul Fernandez toasted his second consecutive career Pole Position in the Moto3 class with a lap-time that was only a hundredth of a second ahead of fellow KTM RC4 rider (and current world championship leader) Albert Arenas. The two Spaniards will lead the front row at one of the fastest circuits on the calendar. In Moto2 Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Jorge Martin was only three hundredths of a second from the top spot filled by Remy Gardner. His teammate Tetsuta Nagashima was 18th.

In the first outing of the 2020 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup, Pedro Acosta (the 2019 runner-up) narrowly grabbed the checkered flag to celebrate his fourth race triumph.

Raul Fernandez: “Today was very positive. I took it easy in the last Free Practice session because of the shape the track was in, and I wouldn’t have been able to draw many conclusions. However, in the afternoon we managed to take another pole and I am happy about that. Now we have to continue working to improve some aspects of the bike with our sights set on tomorrow’s race. If we can get me feeling a little more comfortable, we could be fighting for the podium.”

Races: August 16th, 2020 – Moto3 11.00 | Moto2 12.20 | MotoGP 14.00 CET

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