Valentino Rossi has made much of his need to be on the pace right from the start and he this afternoon has proved he is a man of his word as he took pole position in an ultra competitive qualifying session in Jerez.
Rossi was amongst a clutch of riders who have consistently lapped the Spanish circuit in under 1’40seconds over the course of free practice in the last 24 hours with Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa, Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone all pushing hard for that P1 ahead of the race tomorrow. Ducati bound, Lorenzo, initially hit the top of the timesheets before Marquez took over, but the reigning World Champion was to soon lead the session again as the clock ticked down as he was the first man to get under 1’39 mark.
In the background Rossi had started to turn up the heat and with the chequered flag coming out to mark the end of the electrifying qualifying session the Italian blasted his way to the front. 1’38.736 was the time set and it was to push his team-mate down to second place but Marquez was still out there with a chance to nudge his way to pole. However, the Repsol Honda rider couldn’t unseat either Rossi or Lorenzo finishing qualifying in third position, just .155 behind the number 46 and within three hundredths of a second adrift of the second placed YZF-M1.
The man who Lorenzo may replace at Ducati, Dovizioso, came home in fourth place as ever confident Maverick Viñales was within a whisker of getting ahead of the Italian, but he came one thousandth of a second behind the snarling Desmosedici in fifth. Just behind Viñales in sixth was his countryman across the Team Suzuki ECSTAR garage, Aleix Espargaro. Dani Pedrosa couldn’t match his early morning promise coming home in seventh with the second of the Espargaro brothers, Pol, taking Monster Tech 3 Yamaha to an 8th place start who was the last rider to be within a second of pole sitter, Rossi.
Further down the pack the Brits struggled a little around the shortest circuit on the calendar, with Cal Crutchlow rounding out the top ten after coming through from Q1 a little earlier.
Bradley Smith hasn’t had the most productive of weekend’s so far, his qualifying time only quick enough to see him 14th on the grid, Eugene Laverty just behind him in 15th place with Scott Redding struggling the most, the Pramac Ducati rider down in 17th fastest.
Can Rossi win again? Will Marquez race to victory or will it be a return to the top for Lorenzo in front of his own fans or will Viñales and Suzuki win on home soil and of course… What about Dovizioso who will no doubt want to show the management at Ducati he’s still worth his ride? It promises to be a very interesting Sunday afternoon at the Spanish Grand Prix.
Top 10 times.
- Valentino ROSSI ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1’38.736
- Jorge LORENZO SPA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 287.7 1’38.85
- Marc MARQUEZ SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 286.0 1’38.891
- Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Ducati Team Ducati 292.0 1’39.580
- Maverick VIÑALES SPA Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki 285.0 1’39.581
- Aleix ESPARGARO SPA Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki 282.3 1’39.588
- Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 286.9 1’39.678
- Pol ESPARGARO SPA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 287.6 1’39.720
- Hector BARBERA SPA Avintia Racing Ducati 290.4 1’39.742
- Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR LCR Honda Honda 286.7 1’39.881 1.145 / 0.139