Movistar Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi has snatched MotoGP pole position for tomorrow’s Jerez clash, demoting team-mate Jorge Lorenzo by more than a tenth of a second with his final lap of the session.
The Doctor put in a string of laps in the short qualifying session which culminated in a 1’38.736 which usurped Lorenzo’s 1’38.858 from the lap before while Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez took the final front-row slot with a 1’38.891.
Marquez had been on a pole schedule lap twice in the final minutes but lost it on the run to the line as his works RC213V struggled with acceleration out of the last corner and the gap to Lorenzo for second was just half a tenth.
None of the front row men dropped out of the 1’39s in the 15-minute session and all three were into the 1’38s. Lorenzo lap with three minutes to go looked an all-but-certain pole but Marquez had other ideas with his penultimate lap.
But the acceleration problem put paid to it and he dropped into second and then Rossi set up a run with a 1’39.365 which warmed the Italian up nicely for his pole lap, which seemed to discombobulate Lorenzo in parc ferme.
Andrea Dovizioso found a lap from nowhere to bag fourth but only snuck into the 1’39s twice and he was under threat from Ecstar Suzuki’s Maverick Vinales whose final effort was just 0.001s behind the works Ducati man.
Aleix Espargaro found himself behind his Suzuki team-mate in sixth while Dani Pedrosa, who has recovered well from his rear-grip nightmare yesterday, too seventh.
The little Spaniard is fighting the Honda at every turn and looks more like Marquez, while Marquez has smoothed out his style a little to take wider, more Yamaha-like lines but the former champ is still having to hang it out.
Pol Espargaro failed to capitalise on his performance in free practice three, where he followed Marquez to fourth place, and slipped back to eighth, one ahead of Hector Barbera, who could surrender his ‘Caravan’ nickname to the younger Espargaro brother.
Cal Crutchlow came through from qualifying two but couldn’t find enough pace to get any higher than tenth while Andrea Iannone won’t have done his case for keeping his Ducati seat any favours with an 11th place. Loris Baz also came through Q1 to take up 12th place.
Alvaro Bautista almost hauled the new Aprilia into Q2 but was beaten back by Baz’s final effort. The Spaniard still stuck in a time good enough for 13th place, one ahead of the suffering Bradley Smith who just hasn’t found a setting for Jerez.
Eugene Laverty twice led Q1 but ended in 15th place with team-mate Yonny Hernandez one place further back. Scott Redding can do nothing about wheelspin on the Octo Ducati and languishes in 17th, one ahead of Stefan Bradl.