These just in from Tuscany
FIFTH ROW START FOR CRUTCHLOW IN ITALY
Cal Crutchlow will start the Italian Grand Prix from the fifth row of the grid after a difficult day in scorching conditions at Mugello in Tuscany. The LCR Honda man had been one of the favourites for pole position on the Italian soil after holding top spot on the timesheets overnight, but unfortunately a spill on his out lap in the morning practice conditioned the rest of his day.
The Brit was forced to go through the preliminary Q1 qualifying session, and as track temperatures reached well in excess of 50°C, the greasy surface made fast laps hard to come by. His final lap of 1’47.220 would have been good enough for row three in the qualifying final, however he wasn’t in the top two places and so starts Sunday’s GP from the fifth row of the grid in 13th.
Nonetheless, the 31 year-old is confident of a solid performance in the race, with his pace during practice meaning he feels capable of bringing some joy to the whole LCR Honda Team and the vast number of sponsors in attendance at the event.
Cal Crutchlow – 13th
(1’47.220 – lap 6 of 8)
“I managed to drop 12 places in one day, it was a bad day, but that happens. Yesterday was good and today not so much. I never got the best out of the bike after what happened in the morning. It was completely my own fault this morning, I went out with a used tyre and it seemed warm enough because I had pushed in all the left-hand corners already on the lap. I thought it was enough to heat the tyre, but although went through it slower than yesterday, I crashed”
“That hindered us all day, because the second bike was completely different to the first and it wasn’t great. That meant I missed out on Q2, and never got through Q1. I made a mistake, had a big shake in the last sector and lost four-tenths to Zarco there. Nobody is to blame, and we start 13th, but my pace is much better than that for the race. We will be battling for top positions tomorrow and I think top five is possible.”
Second-row start for Pedrosa and Marquez in hard-fought Italian qualifying
This afternoon, Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez concluded positively enough another day of hard work in preparation for tomorrow’s Italian Grand Prix, both securing start positions on the second row of the grid.
After earning a direct passage to Q2 in a very close morning FP3 session, Dani focused on refining the setup of his RC213V in FP4 before fighting hard in qualifying. His 1’46.999 time, less then 2 tenths off a front-row position, will see him starting his 265th GP tomorrow from the fifth place on the grid (putting him fifth on the list of riders with most GP starts, matching Angel Nieto).
Marc was able to find a good race pace over the day, setting the second-fastest time in FP3, the third-quickest in FP4, and then the sixth-best in qualifying, after getting stuck in traffic during his second flying lap.
“I think all in all, we achieved a good qualifying result today, because at this track it’s quite easy to be followed and lose some positions. But in the end, I think fifth is a good result. Lap times weren’t extremely fast, maybe because it was very hot and it was difficult to do good lap times. Anyway, we worked a lot with the tyres, gathering the information to make our choice tomorrow. There are several other riders with a good pace, but we must focus on our bike and tyres, trying to do our best with them, to get a good start, to be strong in the first couple of laps, and then to keep up a good pace.”
“Honestly, I didn’t have my best qualifying today. I made a few mistakes and then I calculated the slipstream wrong when I caught Zarco too early on my last flying lap. I had the second-best ideal time, but we didn’t do it in one lap! In FP4 I was able to have quite a fast race pace on used tyres, which is positive, but then in qualifying we didn’t do our best, in part because we struggled with the front tyre, which is a bit too soft. Anyway, we’re not far off with the setup, so tomorrow we must make the right choice with the front and then I think we may fight for the podium.”
Italian GP front row start for Andrea Dovizioso, third in qualifying at Mugello. Fourth place and row 2 for wild-card Michele Pirro, and row 3 for Jorge Lorenzo, seventh in Q2
Andrea Dovizioso went third quickest in qualifying today at Mugello with a time of 1’46.835 that put him on the front row for the Italian Grand Prix. The Ducati Team rider was eighth quickest in the morning’s FP3 session and went through directly into Q2.
Team-mate Jorge Lorenzo will start from the third row: the Spanish rider this morning was third quickest in FP3 and then set the seventh fastest time of 1’47.152 in qualifying.
Wild-card rider Michele Pirro was on good form in his debut race in this year’s MotoGP season. The Ducati Test Team rider, seventh this morning, clocked a best time of 1’46.878, just 64/1000ths slower than second-placed Valentino Rossi.
The 23-lap race gets underway tomorrow at 14.00 CET.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 1’46.835 (3rd)
“I am very happy to start from the front row here at Mugello! Qualifying wasn’t easy at all because it was very hot and the track grip was lower. Mine wasn’t a perfect lap but it was good enough to earn me a front row slot and confirmed the good job we’ve done this weekend. I’m also satisfied with my race pace because in FP4 we started with very used tyres and we had the same speed as the other riders. I’m confident for tomorrow, when we’ll see if the excellent job we’ve done these last couple of days will be enough to fight for the podium.”
Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team #99) – 1’47.152 (7th)
“I’m quite pleased despite my grid position not being what I had hoped for. We are actually much better with race pace than when it comes to setting a time, but in any case this is my best qualifying performance this year after Austin. The most important thing is that we have found a setting that I think can work well tomorrow in the race and also in the future. As for the race itself, we are all very close and it’s complicated to make any predictions, but I think that if I can get off to a good start I can fight with the leading group.”
Michele Pirro (Ducati Test Team #51) – 1’46.878 (4th)
“First of all I’d like to thank the guys in the Ducati Test Team who I work with all year, and who deserve some of the merit for this good performance. Unfortunately I missed out on the front row because of a small mistake I made in the final sector, where I can improve a bit more and where we’ll work on tomorrow in the warm-up. Fourth place on the grid is any case a good result, but tomorrow I’ll have to get a good start, stay with the leading group and try and set consistent lap times to do a good race.”
Movistar Yamaha Scores Masterful 1-2 in Mugello Qualifying
After showing a stunning pace in Free Practice 3, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi promoted to Q2 and flexed their muscles at the Autodromo del Mugello circuit in the fight for pole position. The teammates secured first and second place respectively on the grid for tomorrow’s Gran Premio d’Italia Oakley.
Having amended the setting of his bike to his liking in FP4, Viñales knew what he had to do to get the job done today. He was quick to leave pit lane as qualifying got underway and he didnt hold back. He put in a 1’47.271s on his second flying lap to slot into second place before returning to the box with seven minutes on the clock, but he knew he had more in store for the second stint.
Back on the track, one and half minute later, it was the Spaniard’s time to shine. He dominated the field with his third hot lap, a 1’46.575s, to take first place in the rankings. His lap remained unbeaten over the remainder of the session, earning Viñales his third pole of the season, with his teammate coming within 0.239s of his time.
The still recovering Rossi had an eventful start to the day, topping the FP3 and combined time sheets and walking away from a late crash in FP4, but he was his cool and collected self at the start of Q2. Riding with a special Mugello helmet that pays tribute to Nicky Hayden, Marco Simoncelli, and retiring Italian football captain Francesco Totti, the Doctor put his head down on his second flying lap. He dropped a 1’47.539s to take provisional fifth place, before returning to the pits for fresh tyres with seven and half minutes to go.
He left the box almost three minutes later, giving the competition a head start to ensure clear space on track as he joined an intense battle for the front row. Finding himself in eleventh place, he pushed hard to shave a big chunk off his time with his 1’46.814s third attempt, securing second position on the grid, next to his teammate.
Position 2nd – Time: 1’46.814
Today we did great work, carrying on from yesterday. My condition improved and we also improved the setting of the bike. This morning was the first practice that I ended in P1 this season, so Im very happy because I did a great lap time. This afternoon I was also strong, but unfortunately I made a stupid mistake at the end of FP4 and I slid. Fortunately it was no problem, also because it was with the second bike, I didn’t damage the right bike. However, I lost a bit of feeling, so to make this second place was good, even better than normal, because when you start with a mistake, maybe you need it sometimes. I think the race will be very tough from every angle, because it looks like there are six other bikes with the same pace, so to start from the front row is very important.
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – Team Director
Today was not without its challenges, but in the end we couldnt have asked for a better result. Maverick already showed great speed yesterday and today he got his chance to set the pole position lap exactly right, with a very strong 1’46.575s. Valentino also gave a seriously impressive performance, starting with the free practice session this morning and he again delivered in the afternoon. Despite his injury he has been showing superb form, finishing just 0.239s off pole. We still have some doubts concerning the set-up that we have to look into, so tomorrows warm up is going to be decisive.
Tech3 duo primed for round six battle tomorrow in the Tuscan hills
Tech3 duo primed for round six battle tomorrow in the Tuscan hills Johann Zarco will begin the Italian Grand Prix from the fourth row of the grid after delivering a spirited performance in the challenging qualifying campaign today. After topping FP4, the French star coolly waited until the final six minutes of Q1 before taking to the track. He then set a superb lap, which saw him clinch 1st and able to progress through to Qualifying 2. Here, he continued pushing and eventually finished with a time that was just 0.269 back from the second row.
Meanwhile, Jonas Folger will surge forward from 15th on the grid. The young German got straight to work in Q1 but his promising charge was unfortunately cut short after a fall in the final moments at turn 11. Nevertheless, he sustained no injuries and his confident performances so far this weekend leave him fully fired up for the race.
Position 11th – Time: 1’47.319
“It was the best decision to wait in Q1 and then push in the last moments. However, when you give all of your energy to set a good time, its difficult to give the same amount in the second session without risking everything. I made it through to Q2, yet there, the other riders had a lot of grip with the new tyres and they could take advantage of this for a single lap, but I have not quite able to do that so far this weekend. I did my best but I didnt want to crash so eventually I finished 11th. It was a bit of a tough Saturday overall, and in the morning all the riders got a better feeling, yet, I began to struggle a little bit, which meant that I lost out on Q2. Anyway, I am very happy about my performance in FP4 because riding with the soft tyres was ok, but when we ran with the harder compound there was an improvement. There are some positive points when the tyres become worn so this can be my advantage tomorrow. When I start from 11th, I need to keep calm, but from the midpoint of the race I can make a difference and I am confident.”
Position 15th – Time: 1’47.305
“Although I will start the GP from further back than where I would like, Im certain that we can still do a good job tomorrow. FP4 went positively and we found the confidence that we needed for the qualifying and then, at the beginning of Q1, I felt comfortable and I completed two solid laps. Just after this, I returned to the pit box to change the tyres and I decided to keep the same front. In the end, I pushed really hard but at the 11th corner, at the exit of the chicane, I lost the front. We have to analyse why this happened, yet I didnt hurt myself and my final lap time was ok. Im sure that I could have improved but when you get close to the limit, sometimes these things happen. We still have to decide on which tyre we will use for tomorrows race, but nevertheless, I am looking forward to the fight.”
ALEIX ESPARGARÓ RIDES HIS APRILIA DIRECTLY INTO Q2 AND TOMORROW WILL START FROM THE FOURTH ROW IN THE MUGELLO GP
EIGHTH ROW FOR SAM LOWES
With an excellent FP3 session where he even led the provisional standings, battling with the best and finishing with a time of 1’47.173 just over six tenths from the leader, Aleix Espargaró went straight through to Q2.
In the final, decisive session that defines the top spots on the starting grid for the Italian GP, a crash during the first lap compromised Aleix’s qualifying, so with only five laps done, the best in 1’47.475, he will start tomorrow from the twelfth spot on the fourth row of the grid. This is a good placement which, however, does not reflect the true value of the Espargaró/RS-GP package, capable of doing decidedly better times in practices. But the good race pace and the satisfaction drawn from the performance that the Aprilia has achieved on a challenging track like only Mugello can be, make Aleix and the entire Aprilia Racing Team Gresini optimistic about the race tomorrow.
Sam Lowes finished the first qualifying session (Q1) with a time of 1’48.416. He was also unable to repeat his performance from the morning practice sessions, so he will start from the eighth row with his 22nd best time.
“I am obviously disappointed with the way qualifying went because the RS-GP is working well this weekend. This race is important for the team and I am giving 100% in every session. Unfortunately, I crashed unexpectedly as I was following Maverick, so I wasn’t able to take advantage of my good lap. It’s a pity because I had the right feeling to be able to battle for the first or second row, a position that would have been a fantastic gift for all the guys at Aprilia. In any case, with used tyres, our pace is really good. In the race we will definitely be able to have our say.”
“My race pace is rather good, despite the fact that this is not an easy track for us to be fast on. I was able to be quicker than the times the RS-GP did last year and that is a good point of reference for the work we are doing. We need to try to improve engine brake management on some corners, but overall I am confident. Based on what we saw in practice, we should be able to use the soft rear tyre and that could give us an advantage to fight for the points zone.”
Rabat qualifies tenth for Italian GP at hot and sunny Mugello
With his best ever MotoGP qualifying performance Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Tito Rabat has claimed a top ten starting spot for tomorrow’s Italian Grand Prix.
At a sun-kissed Mugello circuit Rabat posted a time of 1’47.282 to qualify tenth on the fourth row in the final Q2 session. He missed a front-row spot by just over four tenths of a second.
Rabat ramped up the pace today after his team made major set-up changes to his Honda RC213V and the Spaniard hit top form in the hot and sunny conditions at the 5.24km Tuscany circuit.
The performance came on the back of Rabat’s strong and consistent pace in the Saturday morning FP3 session when he was sixth fastest, which put him into the crucial Q2 session for the first time.
Australian rider Jack Miller has taken time to adapt to the new specification Michelin front tyre introduced at this race with his pace not helped by lingering discomfort in his right hand, an injury suffered in Le Mans two weeks ago.
A lack of braking power and confidence with front feeling finally took a positive turn in FP4 with Miller’s crew chief Ramon Aurin making important geometry changes to the front set-up.
Miller is confident he has now made a step forward with his preparation for the 23-lap race, with his qualifying lap of 1’47.961 his fastest of the weekend so far.
Tito Rabat: – 1’47.282
“I am very happy with today, we had a strong performance in both practice sessions and then qualifying. I learnt a lot today and now I just want to focus on carrying this forward to the race and get a good result. We made a lot of changes from Friday practice and now I am much more comfortable. The plan for the race is to go full gas from the fourth row and don’t think too much!”
Jack Miller: 19th – 1’47.961
“It has been a difficult start to the weekend. I’ve been pushing really hard with this new front tyre and I think we found a good feeling in FP4 and then in the Q1 session made some further progress. I think missing the test in Barcelona last week cost us set-up time. In practice on Friday and this morning I could not push the front enough, I was sliding in the corners. We’ve made a lot of geometry changes and my crew chief Ramon has some more ideas for the race. Finally it was nice to crack into the 1’47s.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“When I saw Tito’s sixth position in FP3 I was a little surprised but it was a very good performance. I think the risks his team have taken to change the set-up of the bike compared to yesterday has paid-off. While the team made some good choices the rider still has to deliver on the track and Tito did a perfect job, he looks strong for the race. I’m a little disappointed for Jack, this is not the position he should be in, and I hope we can find some solutions to allow him to go top ten in the race.”
Position 1st – Time: 1’46.575