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Points leader takes it by three tenths, with Viñales and Zarco on the front row – and Dovizioso in P11
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) will be starting from pole at Phillip Island, as the reigning Champion took back the honour on his final lap after being threatened at the top by Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) and Motegi polesitter Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), who now join the reigning Champion on the front row. Marquez’ key title rival Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) had a tough session, taking P11. Skies were dry, but it remained far from tropical on the Island.
Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) heads up the second row as one of the key protagonists of the 2015 Island Battle was unleashed in Q2, with Jack Miller (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) another notable performance in P5 – equaling his best ever qualifying result, also gained at Phillip Island last season. Miller is also back on the grid for the first time since breaking his leg in training three weeks ago, making the second row start even more impressive.
Sixth on the grid is yet another stunning display of progress for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing as Pol Espargaro took the marque onto the second row – and in fully dry conditions. Espargaro has a good record at the Island, including the biggest winning margin in Moto2™ history in 2012.
Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) – the man who led the charge from Q1 – took P7, with Friday’s fastest Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) just behind in eighth. Bradley Smith (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), who followed Rossi through from Q1, will line up ninth – making it all KTM riders in Q2 in the dry for the first time. In 2014, Smith took his first premier class podium at the venue.
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) crashed out on a hot lap and was left to complete the top ten, with Andrea Dovizioso just 0.067 seconds behind the Brit. A tough day at the office, ‘DesmoDovi’ will want to replicate his form from the early stages of the Japanese GP, when he moved through from P9 to get in the fight at the front and then take that stunning win. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) was P12.
Just left behind in Q1, Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) will start thirteenth, ahead of Tito Rabat (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and Karel Abraham (Pull&Bear Aspar Team). Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) qualified in P16 after a big crash in FP3 – rider ok, but with a sprained left ankle. The Majorcan will be looking to his stunning record at smashing the pain barrier to move forward on Sunday.
It’s Phillip Island, it’s uncertain weather, and it’s 11 points in it. Make sure to watch the rumble Down Under on Sunday, with lights out at the slightly later hour of 16:00 local time (GMT +11).
MotoGP Qualifying Results
1 – Marc Márquez (SPA – Honda) 1’28.386
2 – Maverick Viñales (SPA – Yamaha) +0.333
1st Independent Team Rider:
P 3 – Johann Zarco (FRA – Yamaha) +0.358
Red Bull KTM takes best ever qualifying position in MotoGP with 6th at Phillip Island
QUALIFYING 16th Rd. MotoGP 2017 – Phillip Island (AUS)
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing have taken their first second row grid slot in MotoGP today with Pol Espargaro clinching sixth position in qualifying for tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix. The speed over one of the best race tracks in the world for the KTM RC16 was evident throughout all of the four free practice sessions as a KTM was in the top 10 every time of asking, the best of which was Saturday morning when Pol Espargaro was third. The KTM Moto2 was equally as stunning as the Red Bull Ajo duo qualified brilliantly with Miguel Oliveira getting his fourth front row start of the season in third and 2016 Moto3 World Champion Brad Binder fourth. KTM were on the front row in Moto3 with Gabriel Rodrigo taking his fourth front row start of the season in what promises to be a stunner of a race tomorrow.
The Phillip Island racetrack in Australia saw the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing squad take their best qualifying position so far in MotoGP when Pol Espargaro sped to 6th position and a second row start. The sinuous, flowing ribbon of tarmac that makes up the 4.4km ocean-side circuit is often called one of the best circuits to race a Grand Prix motorcycle at, meaning the result has extra meaning for the Austrian manufacturer in its first season of MotoGP.
Team mate Bradley Smith on the sister KTM RC16 sped his way through Q1 to advance into Q2 for the first time in dry conditions, but his focus and drive meant that he progressed to his second top ten grid slot in two races with a tenacious ninth.
Both KTMs headed the top speed charts in final qualifying with 340 and 338kph (211 and 210mph) respectively. Following on from a two day test after the Aragon MotoGP, this weekend has been the first time the KTM crew have had to confirm their engineering settings in the dry as last weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix was wet throughout all three days.
Espargaro: “Awesome! It has been the best two days here and arguably some of the best two days of the season. We were in the top ten through every free practice and for two of them inside the top five so it was a huge boost of confidence. I was enjoying riding the bike as it felt natural, pure and good especially on this track even with the wind that can make changing direction a little tricky. All this stuff makes it incredibly difficult but the bike has taken it brilliantly, plus I’m happy with my riding too. We are all doing a good job in the team; all the guys in the factory are developing a good bike so we should all feel proud of today as we can see the results of last month’s Aragon test here today.”
Smith: “Today was a great day for the KTM team. It started with some rain this morning but I got through Q1 into Q2 and I was making improvements step by step. The team did a fabulous job and we are especially happy as that’s our first advance into Q2 in the dry rather than the wet of Le Mans, Sachsenring or Japan. Now we’re going to work on some data and look forward to the race around this glorious race track.”
Sebastian Risse (Technical Director MotoGP): “Finally we were back in the dry this weekend and what we see on one hand is 120% commitment from both riders at a riders’ track and on the other it is the results of our post Aragon GP test from which we’ve made some more technical changes on the bike. Motegi last weekend was all wet and now we see in the dry how the bike is and it seems we’ve made a good step forward. Sure, this is on one track but Phillip Island is special in itself as you need confidence with the bike to go through a lap essentially with one straight.”
Phillip Island (Australia), 21st October 2017
The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team faced an eventful second day at the Phillip Island circuit, with changing conditions throughout and Valentino Rossi having to take part in Q1, but they confronted the challenge head-on. Maverick Viñales showed great form in Q2, securing second place on the front row. Rossi successfully promoted to Q2 and took seventh place on the grid for tomorrow‘s Michelin Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix.
Viñales was quick out of the gates at the start of the 15-minute Q2 heat. His first flying lap of 1‘30.116 saw him very briefly hold eighth place, but he was just getting started. His third attempt saw him climb up to sixth, behind his teammate, but there was yet more in store for him. He headed back to the pit lane for a tyre change with less than seven minutes of the session remaining.
Two minutes later the Spaniard was back out on track and showed he meant business, immediately dropping a 1‘29.146s lap to swap places with teammate Rossi, for fifth place. He kept piling on the pressure on his next lap and briefly secured pole with a 1‘28.719s, before being pushed back to second place, by 0.333s. Thanks to this strong performance, he will start tomorrow‘s race from the first row of the grid.
Rossi had to negotiate his way through Q1 and made it look easy. He was one of the last riders to leave the box to be ensured of some clear track as he fought for a place in Q2. His first flying lap put him in fifth place, but it soon turned out that this was only a dress rehearsal for the 1‘29.665s he posted on his next try, which secured him provisional first place.
Unable to improve on his next attempt, he ended his first run with six and a half minutes remaining. A minute and a half later he checked out of pit lane again to defend his number one spot. With the pace heating up in the final minutes, the Doctor responded by flashing red-helmet times in all sectors and clocking a 1‘29.346s on his last lap to maintain the top position with a 0.359s margin, allowing him to successfully promote to Q2.
The Italian continued where he left off when he started the second qualifying session. He exited the pits as the last rider, hoping to find some clear track again for his qualifying efforts. His second flying lap of 1‘29.260s was enough to put him in fifth position, 0.376s from provisional pole. He made a quick pit stop with eight minutes remaining, before continuing his strong qualifying challenge.
The nine-time World Champion was back out with five minutes left on the clock. He was on the attack once more, but he was unable to better his time on his next lap. He continued pushing and set a 1‘29.203s, improving his time, but he dropped back to sixth place. Not able to make further strides on his last lap he was pushed back to seventh, with a 0.817s margin to first. He will start in tomorrow‘s race from the third row of the grid.
The extended imagery of today’s Qualifying sessions is available on
Following a wet morning practice, that gave us good information in case we have a wet race tomorrow, we worked hard over the course of FP4 to find further setting tweaks. We‘ve tried several settings and different tyre options and made a significant step forward before qualifying. Maverick and Vale both gave their 100% as usual. Maverick rode a very strong second run in Q2 and set a 1‘28.719s. That lap earned him second place on the grid, only losing out on securing pole position in the final stages. Vale did exactly what was needed in Q1 and promoted to Q2 without any difficulties. He was quickly on the pace again, but had some issues on the corner entry at the end of the second qualifying session that kept him from securing a position on the first two rows, so he will start from seventh place. The team will continue to work this evening to find further setting variations to offer the riders for warm up tomorrow morning in preparation for the race. There are going to be different key elements that will play a big role in tomorrow‘s GP, including the weather and the tyre choice. We will have to be ready for all possible circumstances.
Honestly, this was a better result than I expected. Especially in FP4 I didn‘t feel so good on the bike. I didn‘t feel as great as I did in the winter tests, because the tyres are different, especially the front. During qualifying, in the second run, I felt good and felt I could push, so I‘m happy about that. We have been struggling a little bit this weekend, but I think we found a way now and we will try to give our best tomorrow. For sure we will be hoping for dry conditions, but we are finding ways of improvement in the wet, so I‘m happy that today‘s practice sessions helped us learn a lot. Tomorrow I‘m going to ride my own race. For sure I will push and apply pressure to my main rivals if I can, and do my best.
Unfortunately I’m not fast like last year. It was already quite good to recover some positions coming through Q1, which is always dangerous. I’m seventh, which is not fantastic, because I was able to ride a quite good lap time very early, but after that I was too much on the limit at the corner entry. I wasn’t able to improve on the last lap to start tomorrow’s race from a top-5 position. We have to work, also because the setting is not fantastic. We have to try to modify something and after that the weather will be very important. We hope that the weather tomorrow at four o’clock will be like today and that we can race with the slicks. We will see.
Difficult qualifying session for Ducati Team riders at Phillip Island. Andrea Dovizioso, eleventh, and Jorge Lorenzo, sixteenth, to start from row 4 and 6 respectively in tomorrow’s Australian GP
Andrea Dovizioso will start from the fourth row of the grid in the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, which takes place tomorrow at 07.00 CET (16.00 local time) at the Phillip Island circuit. After finishing eighth in FP3 in the morning and then crashing without harm in the next free practice session, the Italian took part in Q2, which was held on a dry track, and finished eleventh with a time of 1’29.496.
It will be a sixth row start for Jorge Lorenzo, who after yesterday was outside the top 10 and who this morning was not able to improve his time in the wet FP3 session. The Spanish rider crashed out spectacularly, suffering bruises and a sprained left ankle. Jorge however took part both in FP4 and in Q1 but was unable to do any better than sixth (1’30.085) and will start the race from row 6.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 1’29.496 (11th)
“The crash in FP4 conditioned my qualifying session a bit. We could surely have gone quicker, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to ride as well as yesterday and so we start down the grid. A real pity, but that’s the way it went and now we have only to think about tomorrow to try and work out where we can improve, because in any case my pace with the medium tyre is not bad. We’re not going to give in and we’ll see what we can do in the race.”
Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team #99) – 1’30.085 (16th)
“It was a very tough day because things went totally in the wrong direction. This morning the rain meant that it was going to be impossible for us to improve enough to get into Q2 and obviously the crash didn’t make the situation any better. It was a bad crash and I rolled over a number of times in the gravel: I immediately thought I had broken something, but luckily the x-ray ruled out any fractures and only confirmed a sprained left ankle, which hurts a lot. In this condition we weren’t able to improve the bike in the dry and tomorrow, if it doesn’t rain, we’ll go back to our original settings on Friday to try and make a step forward. It’s going to be a long hard race but I will try and find a good pace and fight to the finish.”
ESPARGARÓ ON THE THIRD ROW AFTER THE PHILLIP ISLAND QUALIFIERS
WEATHER PERMITTING, GOOD POTENTIAL FOR APRILIA AND THE SPANISH RIDER
After leading the Friday sessions and proving to be fast in FP4 in race setup, the Espargaró-Aprilia duo took on qualifying setting their sights on the first two rows. The result eluded them only because of traffic on the track that Aleix ran into on all of his flying laps. In spite of it all, the Spanish rider rode his RS-GP to the third row with an eighth place time (1’29.271).
In any case, Aleix can count on the good feedback from the fourth session, the one that most reflects the race situation. In addition to his fourth best time, just a shout from the leaders, Espargaró turned a series of fast laps, showing a rather consistent pace. Unless there is a change in the weather, something that is anything but improbable on this track, a top 5 finish seems to be a goal well within reach for the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini.
Sam Lowes had a bit of difficulty in qualifying, struggling to maintain the optimum range of use for the tyres due to the low temperatures. With just a few available laps, the English rookie had to settle for the eighth row.
“I expected more from qualifying after the potential we showed in the other sessions. Unfortunately, I was never able to get in a clean lap because of traffic. There were a few slow riders in front of me and to be honest, I am not able to ride to the limit in these conditions. In any case, we showed that we have a good pace, especially in FP4, which is the session that best reflects our situation for the race. The third row in such a long and demanding race is not a big limit. A few of the riders in front of us don’t seem to have a particularly competitive race pace, so fighting for the top 5 is a realistic goal.”
“I am rather satisfied with our work, although compared to yesterday I had more difficulty maintaining tyre temperature. It was a condition that was quite clear in qualifying, where it is hard to get the tyres into the right temperature range because of the little time available. It’s a vicious cycle: you’re not able to push because you don’t have the right feeling, but you should do just that to warm up the tyres and get them to work right. In the race things are different. We showed that we have a good pace and, as always, my Aprilia is able to manage wear over race distance well.”