Pole position

MotoGP – Pedrosa takes stunning pole at Barcelona

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Dani Pedrosa delivered an astonishing performance this afternoon in the Catalan sunshine, taking pole position for the second time this year.

Pedrosa started the day by setting the second-fastest time in the FP3 session before going on to top the standings in both FP4 and qualifying. He was the only rider able to crack the 1’44” barrier, setting a 1’43.870 time that earned him his 30th pole in MotoGP and the 48th of his career.

Pedrosa said: “I’m very happy because taking pole is always very difficult, and doing it in front of your home fans is just amazing. Last year we struggled a lot in qualifying, while this season we’ve already earned two poles, so I wish to thank my team for the good work. We’ve worked really hard on this aspect, and we’re getting better and better.

“The conditions were quite difficult today, especially for the tyres as it was very hot and the grip wasn’t the best. We tried to manage the situation as well as possible, working a lot on the setup to improve tyre life. The tyres will be the key to the race tomorrow; it’d be great to have the same feeling from today, but we’ll wait and see. We’ll just remain focused and be prepared to do our best.”

MotoGP – rampant Pedrosa storms to pole at Jerez

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Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa took an incredible pole position in qualifying for the Gran Premio Red Bull de España, securing the top spot with a sensational flying lap in the final minutes of the session at Jerez.

The Spaniard took  his 29thin MotoGP and the 47thin his career, edging teammate Marc Marquez by just half a tenth in a breath-taking battle for the top spot, with LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow in third completing  an all-Honda front row for the first time since the German GP in 2014 (at the Sachsenring).

Pedrosa has looked rejuvenated at Jerez, leading every session this weekend apart from today’s FP4, riding consistently fast in every condition. It will be Pedrosa’s first start from pole since Malaysia in 2015, and he’ll do so at the 3,000th Grand Prix of the world championship.

Factory Yamaha rider Maverick Viñales took fourth to head up the second row ahead of Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone , with rookie Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) in sixth.

Fourteen world titles start the Spanish GP from the third row, with Championship leader Valentino Rossi in seventh on the second Factory Yamaha just ahead of Ducati Jorge Lorenzo. Tech 3’s Jonas Folger is ninth in another solid showing for the German rookie.Jack Miller backed up his Friday pace with direct entry to Q2 and a top ten start on his Marc VDS satellite Honda despite a crash, with Pramac Ducati’s Scott Redding in eleventh and Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro in twelfth.

Pedrosa said: “This was probably one of the best poles of my career because it was a really hard battle. It was a strategic end of the session with Marc there right behind me, so for a moment I wasn’t sure if I should push or not. There was no choice anyway, so I just went for it. I’m very happy because our main target for the GP was to be on the front row. The feeling was really good, and it has been good all weekend, so I told myself, Okay, let’s try it. It has been a while since I’ve led in qualifying; I’ve struggled a lot last season so I’m very happy with today.”

BSB – Haslam to start from pole position on combined Donington Park practice times

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Leon Haslam will start from pole position for the opening race of the 2017 BSB season at Donington Park after the qualifying session was cancelled and the grid was formed by combined free practice session times.

Haslam will head the front row onboard the JG Speedfit Kawasaki at his home round ahead of his team-mate Luke Mossey and returning champion Josh Brookes who fired his Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha into third place.

Row two will be headed by Peter Hickman onboard the Smiths Racing BMW who edged out defending champion Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne by just 0.091s and James Ellison completes the second row of the grid for McAMS Yamaha.

John Hopkins, despite two crashes will head the third row of the grid onboard the Moto Rapido Ducati ahead of 2014 World champion Sylvain Guintoli who makes his race debut with Bennetts Suzuki and Glenn Irwin.

Christian Iddon completes the top ten for Tyco BMW after he narrowly edged out rookie Bradley Ray.

MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Donington Park, grid for race one:

  1. Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) 1m:29.323s
  2. Luke Mossey (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) +0.132s
  3. Josh Brookes (Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha) +0.168s
  4. Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) +0.420s
  5. Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) +0.511s
  6. James Ellison (McAMS Yamaha) +0.521s
  7. John Hopkins (Moto Rapido Ducati) +0.603s
  8. Sylvain Guintoli (Bennetts Suzuki) +0.633s
  9. Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati) +0.641s
  10. Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW) +0.689s

 

MotoGP – Marquez claims seventh pole of season at Phillip Island

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Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez has taken pole position at Phillip Island, as the new World Champion chose the perfect moment to head out in the changeable conditions on full slick tyres. It was his 37th pole in MotoGP and the 65th in his career, which is also the new historical record, at just 23 years of age. It’s also Marc’s seventh pole of 2016, meaning that the Spaniard has already won the BMW M Award for the best-qualifying MotoGP rider of the season, a feat he has achieved every year since entering the premier class.

With Q1 seeing some incredibly high profile casualties, it was LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow and Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo who moved through to fight for the front, leaving Suzuki’s Maverick Viñales and Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi behind – with Rossi in P15 on the grid in his worst qualifying since 2011.

The track was drying in Q1, and drier by the start of Q2. With rain forecast to hit halfway through the second qualifying session however, the pressure was on to do a good lap – and choose the right tyre. With some heading out on intermediates, Marquez then came back in quickly to switch to slicks – untouchable from that point on, and 1.5 seconds clear a few minutes later until the grid began to reel him closer. Tech 3’s Pol Espargaro was late to switch, attempting a fast lap on the intermediates, before coming back in for slicks and then taking the front row – as Crutchlow didn’t quite take the full gamble, and set his front row qualifier on an intermediate front and slick rear.

Suzuki’s Aleix Espargaro shone in the session to challenge for the front – just beaten over the line by his brother – and will start fourth, ahead of Aussie Jack Miller on the Marc VDS at his home race, who completed the top five in his best ever qualifying result. Locking out Row 2 is Octo Pramac Yakhnich rider Danilo Petrucci.

Nicky Hayden, riding in place of injured Dani Pedrosa at Repsol Honda, took an impressive P7 on his return to MotoGP, ahead of Aprilia Racing Team Gresini rider Stefan Bradl – who is also set to become Hayden’s teammate in 2017 at Honda World Superbike Team. Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso is ninth to complete the third row, finding going a little tougher as the track dried. His teammate, Hector Barbera – standing in for injured Andrea Iannone – completed the top ten.

Pramac’s Scott Redding will start from eleventh, ahead of five-time world champion Jorge Lorenzo, who once again struggled in the tricky conditions after having graduated from Q1.

Marquez said: “I’m happy because, in addition to the pole, I was able to put in five laps and I noticed some things we can improve tomorrow. For example, we can get more grip, especially with the rear and on corner entry. In FP4, in the wet, I felt very comfortable, so this weekend we’re getting things right and we have to maintain this dynamic. Tomorrow’s race is still an unknown because we aren’t sure what tyres we’ll use, nor who our rivals will be, but we’ll try to make the best of any situation we find.”

 

MotoGP –Rossi sparkles in the sun at Motegi to claim pole

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Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi scored a sensational pole after posting a blistering lap the Twin Ring Motegi for the Japanese GP, as the Italian legend fought off Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez in a close Q2 to take his 64th pole – and equal the number of pole positions held by both Marquez and Rossi’s teammate, reigning Champion Jorge Lorenzo.

Rossi said: “It’s my third pole position of the year. I’m very happy because this year in qualifying I’m strong. We were struggling during this weekend to find the right balance and I’m also not a 100% fit, I’m suffering physically, I’m not feeling fantastic. In FP4 we improved the balance of the bike a lot and I did a very good lap and great braking in turn 11 and that was good. Starting from pole is always important and now we wait for tomorrow.”

Day two at the Twin Ring Motegi was characterised by more somewhat uncharacteristic sunshine, with the venue providing near-perfect conditions as Q2 got underway. Marquez was the early leader in the session after also going fastest in FP3 and FP4, with the championship leader then finding himself trailing Rossi on a hot lap and running wide – as the Italian then took over at the top.

Marquez regrouped and was looking good in his final attempt but an incident in front of him on track for LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow forced him to roll off, thus thwarting is bid for pole.

Lorenzo, battered and bruised following a highside in FP3 that saw the five-time world champion heading to hospital for a CT scan, came back in stunning ‘Spartan’ style in qualifying to grit his teeth through the pain barrier, qualifying in third as he looks to take a record fourth premier class win at the venue.

2014 polesitter Andrea Dovizioso, piloted his Ducati to fourth on the grid as the lead bike from the Borgo Panigale factory, with former teammate Crutchlow crashing in the final minutes of the session. However, the Brit, who won at Brno, was still quick enough to secure fifth, and he will be lining up alongside Suzuki’s Aleix Espargaro. Surprisingly Espargaro outpaced teammate Maverick Viñales at the Hamamatsu factory’s home race, and the younger Spaniard lines up in seventh.

Hector Barbera had a solid session as he replaces injured Andrea Iannone on the Factory Ducati to qualify eighth, with Pramac’s Danilo Petrucci and Satellite Yamaha pilot Pol Espargaro completing the top ten.

 

 

MotoGP – Lorenzo rides ‘best ever’ lap to claim Misano pole

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Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo took a record-breaking pole position at Misano World Circuit, beating his own pole lap from 2015 and putting in the first ever 1:31 lap of the Adriatic venue.

The Spaniard had been written off by many in the paddock as he struggles to gel with the Michelin tyres, but Lorenzo the reigning champion struck back in style, putting in a new lap record in qualifying to beat his own from 2015, laying down a marker at a track that, while behind enemy lines, has proven one of the Mallorcan’s best.

After just missing the 1:31 bracket in that first run, the ‘Spartan’ then came back out and lowered the lap time once again to put in 1:31.868 and smash the record. The pole at Misano is his 64th in the world championship – taking him one above Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez and local idol Valentino Rossi.

Lorenzo said: “I was delighted with these lap times because already the first one was unbelievable, a 1’32.0s, but with riding over the limit more than normal I was able to improve this lap time by two tenths. When I saw I got pole I was delighted and very proud and I probably made the best lap ever for me. We made great progress with the setting, improving the bike little by little in all the corners, and in qualifying I had a great bike. Let’s try to improve the small details for tomorrow, but I think we have a great pace to fight at least for the podium and let’s see if we can fight for the win.”

Team-mate Rossi was half a second behind Lorenzo in second, with Suzuki’s Maverick Viñales finishing third quickest. Marc Marquez qualified fourth, ahead of the Ducati factory duo of Michele Pirro, who is replacing the injured Andrea Iannone, and Andrea Dovizioso.

LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow heads up the third row as top Independent Team rider from Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, with Suzuki’s Aleix Espargaro Yamaha’s Pol Espargaro completing the top ten.

MotoGP – Crutchlow continues to reign in the rain to take pole at Silverstone

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Britain’s Cal Crutchlow has taken an incredible home pole position at the Octo British Grand Prix, as the LCR Honda pilot kept his stunning wet weather form from the Czech GP to claim his third career pole. Crutchlow became the first British rider to win in the premier class in 35 years last time out at Brno, and his performance in the tricky conditions means he’s now the first British rider to claim pole position in a home GP since 1977.

The heavy rain meant qualifying became a frantic and fascinating affair, with Eugene Laverty and Jack Miller topping Q2 to make it through to Q1 – Laverty’s performance particularly catching the eye.

Q1 saw nearly every rider make a break from the pits from the off, eager to set a time before the weather worsened.

Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo looked nervous, his wet weather voodoo obviously causing his concern, but compatriot Marc Marquez on the finiky Honda oozed confidence.

The difference between the two was marked – at Copse Lorenzo would shut off the throttle as the bike squirmed, whereas Marquez would keep it pinned.

That bravery would catch the Repsol Honda man out through, and he lost the front at speed, tumbling through the gravel in front of the Valentino Rossi Fan Club stand, just like he did in last year’s race.

The final five minutes saw the rain come down harder, and Crutchlow dug deep to claim pole. It looked like Laverty was going to continue his sensational Q2 form and snatch it from him – he was under Crutchlow’s time for the first two time splits on his last lap – but he tucked the front and crashed out of contention.

Crutchlow said: “I didn’t honestly believe I was pushing. In the first sector I was not so fast and I had a little bit of a moment, then the rest of the lap I just tried to keep the lap together and thought. But on the next lap when I started to push I nearly crashed at Turn One.

“But then I looked at the laptimes and saw that everyone else at that time was quite a lot slower, so I thought that maybe I was taking some risks. I cruised around for the rest thinking that if somebody starts to come a little bit faster, then I’ll go, but I knew with the rain starting to come heavier it was a little bit more difficult.

“I saw Marc crash at Turn One on the big screen and I’d had a moment there as well, so I thought if I had to push again it would be quite dangerous. I took the risk at probably the right time.”

Rainmaster Valentino Rossi claimed second, Suzuki’s Maverick Viñales claimed third and Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa crossed the line on his final effort to pip teammate Marc Marquez to fourth. Laverty’s time was another to put him behind Marquez in sixth, while hard charger Scott Redding piloted his Ducati to an impressive seventh. Ducati factory rider Andrea Iannone had an uncharacteristically anonymous session in the wet to cross the line for eight, just ahead of reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo, who endured more misery in the wet. Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso looked nervous throughout the wet sessions and fell during Q2, and finished qualifying in tenth – he was subsequently taken to the Medical Centre and declared fit.

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BSB – Haslam sets fastest ever lap of Cadwell Park to claim pole position

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Kawasaki’s Leon Haslam delivered an inch perfect lap to claim pole position in qualifying ahead of tomorrow’s at Cadwell Park, smashing his own lap record in the process.

An intense qualifying session first saw Tyco BMW’s Christian Iddon crash out unhurt in Q2 at Mansfield to end his run prematurely, leaving him 13th on the grid for race one. He wasn’t the only rider to slide out of the action as Dan Linfoot was narrowly holding ninth before a crash at the Mountain. The Honda Racing rider was luckily able to still make the cut for Q3 and the team rapidly made the changes to get him back out in the final session to qualify ninth.

Buildbase BMW’s Lee Jackson was the first to complete a flying lap, putting the Buildbase BMW at the top of the times, but just a few minutes later his team-mate Richard Cooper forged ahead.

Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne was on a charge, but the Be Wiser Ducati rider couldn’t quite better Cooper’s time initially and moved into second place. It wasn’t long before Haslam moved ahead, pushing Byrne back to third with Cooper still holding the top spot.

There was just 0.003s between Cooper and Haslam, but the ‘Pocket Rocket’ was on his final run and in the last minute he set the fastest ever lap of the Lincolnshire circuit to go to the top of the times, breaking his record time which has stood since 2007.

Byrne’s final lap put him second, just ahead of Cooper who completes the front row. Jackson was pushed back onto row two in the final seconds ahead of Jason O’Halloran on the leading Honda Racing Fireblade and Luke Mossey on the Quattro Plant Teccare Kawasaki.

Tommy Bridewell’s last lap push saw him move up to seventh ahead of James Ellison and Linfoot, with the top nine covered by just 0.754s ahead of tomorrow’s opening race!

Cadwell Park qualifying:

  1.  Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) 1m:25.923s
  2.  Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) +0.236s
  3.  Richard Cooper (Buildbase BMW) +0.239s
  4.  Lee Jackson (Buildbase BMW) +0.286s
  5.  Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) +0.450s
  6.  Luke Mossey (Quattro Plant Teccare Kawasaki) +0.459s
  7.  Tommy Bridewell (Bennetts Suzuki) +0.494s
  8.  James Ellison (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) +0.710s
  9.  Dan Linfoot (Honda Racing) +0.754s

MotoGP – bravery, audacity and talent see Marquez land pole in Brno

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Honda’s Marc Marquez dug deep in Brno today, earning pole with an audacious last lap during an intense qualifying session.

Reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo looked set to have put his recent crisis of confidence behind him with an imperious riding display, posting a blistering lap time to lead the field. However, Marquez had other ideas, and on the last lap of the session he posted the fastest time in the second and third sectors, quickly closing in on the Yamahas of Valentino Rossi and Pol Espargaro. It looked like he was about to get held up by the duo ahead of him, but in an outrageous display of bravery, accuracy and skill, the Spaniard pounced, diving under Rossi to place his bike just inches behind Espargaro, gaining a handy tow from his compatriot on the drag to the line. It was enough to land him his 63rd pole position, a result which sees him equal Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo in career poles.

Marquez said: “I honestly didn’t expect to get this pole position. I saw myself fighting for second place or to be on the front row, which was our main objective. Lorenzo had a great lap this morning that I believed would be difficult to match, but I was able to find a good reference that helped me during the qualifying session.

“Espargaro and Rossi were in front, and I was able to take advantage of their slipstream and overtake them in the final corner without losing time. In the end we did a very good time and I’m especially happy with how FP4 went, as we took a step forward in terms of our pace. “We’ve completely changed the set-up and things have gone much better. If the race is dry tomorrow it gives me hope, because I was finding things tough. If it rains then it will be more difficult, but I’m happy because we’re competitive.”

MotoGP – Rossi claims sensational pole at Mugello, Lorenzo reignites fued

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Valentino Rossi claimed a sensational pole at Mugello yesterday, using a tow off next year’s team-mate Maveric Viñales to devastating effect.

The move reignited the bad blood between the Doctor and current team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, with the Spaniard accusing Rossi and Viñales of working together to improve the veteran’s starting position.

The reigning world champion, who struggled to match his pre-qualifying form, said: “Was it a coincidence that Rossi and Viñales just happened to find each other on track? Well if it’s a coincidence, it’s a coincidence which has been repeated five or six times. So to have so many repeated coincidences… But it could be. Who knows?”

Marc Marquez, the two-time world champion who had a spectacular falling out with Rossi last season, was less cryptic. He said: “I was watching the practice and I saw that Viñales did the time behind Valentino and then the opposite. It looks like they speak and they organize.”

Rossi responded with his trademark humour, dismissing the accusations by saying that he was very scared they would send a note home to his mother for copying from another student.

However, he was clearly irked at the suggestions, and told the Italian media that Lorenzo should have the decency not to talk about riders conspiring together, once again fanning the fire of his own conspiracy that Lorenzo and Márquez had worked together to prevent Rossi from winning the 2015 championship.

Sunday’s race just got a whole load more interesting…