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Row 2 start for Jorge Lorenzo and Michele Pirro, fourth and sixth in qualifying for the Valencia GP. Andrea Dovizioso, in ninth place, will start the last race of the 2017 season from row 3
Jorge Lorenzo and Michele Pirro will start tomorrow’s final round of the 2017 season, the Valencia GP, from the second row of the grid after finishing fourth and sixth in qualifying. Title contender Andrea Dovizioso could only go ninth quickest in Q2 and will start the MotoGP World Championship decider from the third row.
In the morning’s FP3 session both Lorenzo and Pirro had managed to improve on the times they set in FP2 yesterday to finish fourth and seventh respectively in the combined standings, while Dovizioso, thanks to yesterday’s time, finished the decisive session for access to Q2 in eighth.
Despite a spectacular crash in qualifying on his first run, Jorge Lorenzo powered to fourth fastest time in 1’30.460, while Michele Pirro and Andrea Dovizioso finished the session in sixth (1’30.764) and ninth (1’30.961).
The Valencia Grand Prix, held over 30 laps, will get underway tomorrow afternoon at 14.00 CET at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Cheste (Valencia).
Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team #99) – 1’30.460 (4th)
“It’s a pity I couldn’t manage to start on the front row, but overall it was a positive day for me. I was lucky I didn’t hurt myself in the crash because I was going really fast, and I’m disappointed about that because I was doing a great lap, with a time that was maybe good enough for pole. On the second run my confidence with the rear tyre was worse and I was unable to improve my time. The most important thing however is that I’m one of the riders with the best race pace, and even though Marquez is a bit quicker, the fact that he’s fighting for the world title could be an advantage for me. In the last few races I’ve always improved my feeling with the bike and now I can be fast and consistent and this will be important for tomorrow’s race.”
Michele Pirro (Ducati Test Team #51) – 1’30.764 (6th)
“I’m happy about my qualifying session today, especially because I set my time on my own, without any help from anyone. We had decided on a strategy with Jorge and we went out of the box together, but in the end his crash ruined our plans. I’m sorry for Dovi, who starts a bit further back, but for sure the race will be another story and we will try and do our best, even though we know it’s not going to be easy. I want to thank Ducati and the guys in the test team because it’s the first time I’ve gone so strongly at Valencia: this means that the bike has improved a lot, and the rider is not bad either …”
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 1’30.961 (9th)
“Today wasn’t a great qualifying session for me, and that was a real pity, but this afternoon we managed to improve our pace and we’re not looking too bad for the race. I think that tomorrow we’ll have a chance of fighting for the podium, but we know it’s going to be tough as there are several riders who have good pace. Marquez is very fast, but there also were a lot of crashes and this means that even our rivals don’t have much of a margin. We have to continue to work tomorrow morning in the warm-up and ride in a smoother and less aggressive way, but in the race we will try right until the very end!”
Valencia (Spain), 11th November 2017
An incident-packed last Q2 session of the season, held at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit this afternoon, saw Movistar Yamaha MotoGP‘s Valentino Rossi secure seventh place on the grid for the Gran Premio de la Comunitat Valenciana. His teammate Maverick Viñales took part in Q1 and only just missed out on a place in the top-2, to promote to Q2. He will start tomorrow‘s race from 13th position.
Rossi was impatient to get things going in today‘s Q2 session. As soon as the pit lane lights went green he dashed out on track aboard his YZR-M1, but he had to hold back due to traffic on his first lap. Once the nine-time World Champion found himself some clear track space, he settled into tenth position. He went on to improve his time on his third try, but didn‘t better his position and held tenth place as he returned to the pits.
The Doctor was back out on track again with five minutes of the shoot-out remaining. Having dropped to 11th place, he put his head down and climbed up to eighth. He gained another position on his fifth attempt. The Italian had one lap remaining after the flag had come out, but he didn‘t improve on his 1‘30.848s and remained in seventh place, 0.951s from pole. He will start the final showdown from the third row of the grid.
Viñales was not among the first riders to get out at the start of the Q1 session. He lingered in the pit box for a while at the start of the 15-minute session, to be ensured of free space so he could focus on dropping a hot time. His first lap, on a medium rear tyre, put him in third place. As the other riders started to speed up, the local hero was setting personal best sectors on his second flying lap, to move up from 12th to 6th. He was keen on continuing the momentum, but ran wide in the first corner and aborted the lap to return to the box for a soft rear tyre.
He was back on his bike with six minutes left on the clock, determined to further improve on his best time. He moved up from seventh to second, posting a 1’31.030s on his fifth full lap, but was pushed back to third as the times dropped in the final minutes. He had one more try left, but was unable to better his lap time and ended the session in third place, 0.137s from first place in Q1. He will start tomorrow‘s race from 13th place on the grid.
The Valencia Grand Prix is proving to be a challenge for us this year. On a positive note, Valentino seemed to have found something in the free practice sessions that improved his feeling. He was gaining momentum throughout most of the Q2 session. It was a pity that a mistake in the final corner lost him time, but he still secured seventh place on the grid. Maverick wasn‘t feeling as confident, though he tried many things in the practice sessions. He started the Q1 on the medium rear tyre, hoping that he would have the pace to position himself inside the top-2 without using one of the softer rear tyres, but this turned out to be impossible today. He set a good time on his second run with the softer tyre, but unfortunately it wasn‘t enough in the end to promote to Q2 and he took 13th position. We know that tomorrow is going to be a tough race for us. After challenging sessions, it‘s difficult to be confident for the race, but we still believe that we can prepare something for tomorrow.
I‘m quite happy, because I was able to arrive directly in the Q2 with a tenth place, and after I improved a little bit in the afternoon. In qualifying I was improving my position. It was a good lap and I could have stayed on the second row, but unfortunately I made a mistake in the last corner, I arrived too fast, so I lost time. Anyway, the seventh place is not so bad, considering this weekend and our speed. I think we will do a very hard race tomorrow, because our pace isn‘t fantastic, but it‘s just the Saturday, so we need to try to do something for tomorrow and we‘ll see.
Normally it‘s difficult to really improve the bike throughout the weekend, so this is not a special scenario. However, this weekend seems to be even more difficult, but that doesn‘t mean we‘ll be settling. Anyway, I would like to remain optimistic, that we can find new options that we can test in tomorrow‘s warm up. In any case, I will do my best as always.
The Championship leader takes pole despite a crash – with Dovizioso facing a fight from ninth
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) set a scintillating lap mid-way through qualifying at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo and that proved enough for pole for the Championship leader ahead of the #FinalShowdown – despite then taking a tumble after a front end washout on his final run. Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) takes second after improving on his final lap, three tenths off polesitter Marquez, with Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) completing the front row in another show of good pace in the season finale.
Friday’s fastest Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) heads up the second row after a fast crash when setting red sectors – rider ok – with the five-time World Champion only a tiny margin off a top three start at the venue where he holds the pole lap, race lap and most premier class wins records. The rider with the most victories at the circuit across all classes, Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team), is just behind Lorenzo in fifth after ending Day 1 in P2. Ducati Team test rider and wildcard Michele Pirro completes the second row.
Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) took P7 to edge Q1 graduate Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) by only nine thousandths, with the Spaniard crashing out late on but eighth despite returning from injury and suffering with illness. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) will start ninth – and he has won from there before – but faces a mountain to climb on race day if he is to win the race and retain a chance at the crown.
Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) completes the top ten, ahead of Q1 graduate Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), who went eleventh fastest but will start from pitlane due to an engine penalty. Jack Miller (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) takes P12 and was another to crash in the session, moving one place forward on race day as Espargaro’s penalty shuffles the grid forward.
That’s good news for Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) after a tough day at the office for the rider from Roses, qualifying in P13 and gaining one place. He’s followed by Tito Rabat (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), with Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) and Q1 faller Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) completing the fastest sixteen and the top fifteen on the grid.
The #FinalShowdown is now ready to race, with the lights going out at 14:00 (GMT +1) on Sunday and the crown on the line.
LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow will start from the sixth row at the Valencia Grand Prix after a disappointing day in qualifying at the final round of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship. Having gone seventh fastest on Friday, the Briton was hoping to secure a spot towards the front of the grid but he ended the morning session in 12th position and failed to progress. The 32-year-old could only manage sixth spot in the Q1 session after an heavy crash in the last minutes. Todays’ pole man is Title contender Marc Marquez followed by Zarco and Iannone.
Cal Crutchlow – 16th
(1’31.297 – lap 3 of 54)
“MotoGP is always a tough race, but starting from back there is going to make it difficult. I could have done with starting from the front two rows which I thought potentially we could have at one point, but I didn’t make it directly through to Q2 and after that I always knew it was going to be hard. I needed that one lap, but I had a typical Valencia crash on the right hand side there, I crashed there last year too, and I’m not happy at all to be honest.
“We’ll see what we can do in the race tomorrow. We’ll be a lot faster and a lot more positive in the race, our race pace is about top six or seven, but it’s just getting through everyone. We’ll try and our hardest and see what happens.”
APRILIA, NICE THIRD ROW WITH ESPARGARÓ
ALEIX GOES THROUGH THE FIRSTS QUALIFIERS WITH THE SECOND PLACE TIME AND THEN FINISHES WITH EIGHTH OVERALL
Aleix Espargaró earned a spot on the third row in tomorrow’s GP on the Valencia track which will close out the 2017 MotoGP Championship. It is a nice result, also in light of Aleix’s less than optimum physical conditions. The rider is returning following surgery on his left hand fifteen days ago and he is fighting a pesky bout of bronchitis that has continued to weaken him for the past few days.
In the morning FP3 session, because of a crash right at the end of the session, Aleix missed going straight through to Q2 by just 61 thousandths of a second. But in the qualifying round, he was able to redeem himself, putting a nice time of 1’30.913 on the sheets which placed him on safe ground against his adversaries’ attacks. In the end, his time was the second best of the session, earning him a spot in Q2.
Once there, the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini rider improved further, riding his RS-GP to a lap time of 1’30.857 and taking the eighth best time which earns him the centre spot on the third row of the grid, alongside Rossi and Dovizioso.
Sam Lowes fell victim to a crash just as he was on his best lap of Q1, so he finished 24th – therefore on the eighth row – with a time of 1’31.816.
“Until now, this weekend and not been the simplest for me and not because of my hand. Unfortunately, I’ve had bronchitis and a fever that sap my energy. In any case, we managed to improve the bike, especially today. I crashed because I was pushing beyond the limit. I really want to finish this season well. We are eighth on the grid and that is a good position. Tomorrow it will be a long race where it will be fundamental not to make mistakes. Our pace is good and we have an excellent chance of finishing the race well.”
“On the first outing in qualifying I did a good time that I thought I would be able to improve on the second run. Unfortunately, Rabat crashed in front of me and when I braked to avoid him I lost the front end. In any case, we did some good work, lapping a lot with used tyres and maintaining an interesting pace without making any mistakes. There are a lot of riders within a few tenths of one another. We have the potential to stay in the group and to play our cards.”
Espargaro & Red Bull KTM Factory Racing through to Q1 again at 2017 MotoGP finale
QUALIFYING 18th Rd. MotoGP 2017 – Comunitat Valenciana – Ricardo Tormo (ESP)
As the Red Bull KTM MotoGP Factory Racing team go forward to the final race of their first season in the premier class, Pol Espargaro qualified through to Q2 once more as the pace of the KTM RC16 continues to shine en route to 11th position this afternoon. Mika Kallio will continue to be in KTM colours next year after a new contract was signed in Valencia today.
As with the KTM MotoGP team, the Moto2 squad complete their first full season this weekend with the pair of the KTM Moto2 motorcycles qualifying at the forefront of the second row while in Moto3 Gabriel Rodrigo will start from the front row with his KTM RC250 GP.
The Valencia MotoGP race tomorrow has been a sell out for weeks so with the weather set fair it is sure to be a spectacular finale to a historic season.
Pol Espargaro was the top KTM rider in MotoGP today as he steamed through Q1 to the all important Q2 session for the top 12 places on the grid. Espargaro started the weekend brilliantly with third position in the first free practice showing the immediate speed of the KTM RC16 following successful tests and updates throughout the autumn. A little limited with tyre choice, he still qualified eleventh and in amongst very illustrious company, however, Espargaro will not be able to start from that well earned place as he has used an extra engine outside his annual allocation.*
Bradley Smith had a good day as he found over a second from yesterday and will thus start seventeenth as his current form flourishes too.
For the fourth time this year there will be three RC16s on the grid as Mika Kallio returns for a wildcard. The Finn, already a winner here on 125cc and 250cc KTMs will start 19th on the grid. Mika will continue to be in KTM colours next year after a new contract was signed in Valencia today. Kallio will also ride as a wildcard in selected Grands Prix during the 2018 season.
*Due to several engine (screamer to big bang changes at Jerez) and chassis updates (Misano and Aragon), Pol Espargaro has had to use a 10th engine this weekend which will mean he will start the final race of the 2017 MotoGP season from the pit lane. In his original allocation of nine engines there are still four with many kilometres remaining on them, but due to the aforementioned chassis updates these engines are physically unable to be installed into the current chassis.
Espargaro: “I did a good lap today after a good FP4 but I knew I got go to another level in qualifying. I didn’t use the harder front until FP4 which is a qualifying tyre for us but we only had one tyre for both sessions so I was at a little bit of a disadvantage in Q2. I reckon I could be third row otherwise. Tomorrow I start from the pit lane but this happens as it’s not anyone’s mistake just the ‘good problem’ of development by KTM meaning the existing engines now don’t fit our chassis. The first laps will feel like I’m leading as I won’t see anyone in front but we know what my rhythm is and I’ll battle until the last lap to take some points. I will not give up until the flag.”
Smith: “I feel we made a really good step today as the lap time jump was over a second and then I did a good run on older tyres in FP4 getting faster towards the end of the run. I was a little bit disappointed I didn’t nail my qualifying lap as I left maybe 0.1 or 0.2 seconds out there as it would’ve put me a row further up. A good start tomorrow with good weather after some small refinements and I’m ready to do battle.”
Kallio: “We’re faster than year, obviously, and although that step has been made I actually expected to be a little quicker. We’ve played with all kinds of set ups but the rear grip isn’t quite there and we haven’t quite found a solution so I’m losing some time into the corner. In the warm up I’ll try some big steps to try other things for the race.”
Sebastian Risse (Technical Director MotoGP): “Well, first of all looking back to us here last year always makes you smile but when we look at our lap times it’s a great result for us. Tyre choice will be very interesting for many riders, but for Pol he has a very special race not due to any problem here but due to our development and progress. Now we finish the second half of the season we are so happy we’ve finished in the top eleven at every race since Brno. We have been on another level since Brno and we’re more than happy about it but we’ve put a lot of effort to stabilise the situation and not make too much of a step and then lose it. It was a question of keep developing but not lose this pace and know what you have already. Now over the winter we want to make another step, but before then we must finish the season.”