Manuel Pagliani sits in pole position for the two Czech rounds of the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup after holding off Stefano Manzi and Joan Mir under threatening skies in Brno.
The 18-year-old Italian smashed Karel Hanika's record 2013 pole time early in qualifying as he and fellow countryman, 15-year-old Manzi, distanced themselves from everyone but 16-year-old Spaniard Mir.
“That was great,” exclaimed Pagliani after the session. “I love this track, it is really amazing and the bike is working perfectly. We will touch nothing before tomorrow, I am really looking forwards to a great race, I think I can win it.”
Just 0.189 seconds slower, Manzi was just as happy. “That's my best ever qualifying in Rookies Cup. We worked on the bike a bit today, made some improvements and I am quite happy but the front is not perfect so we will probably change things a little for tomorrow.”
Mir was timed just 0.034 off Manzi and was very pleased with that. “My best qualifying in Rookies Cup, I really enjoyed that, we improved the bike through the day, especially the front suspension and I managed to go with Pagliani and put in a good time early.”
Those left to their own solo efforts struggled a bit and it was not until his final lap that 17-year-old Briton Brad Ray managed to lift himself to fourth. “I kept coming round seeing, P9, P6 on the board and though that I had better try and pull my finger out for the last lap. I couldn't find someone top get a tow from up the hills but I just went for it and managed to get all that I could out of it on the last lap.”
“We worked on the front suspension quite a bit today, the track is a whole lot bumpier than last year, put more preload on the front, that helped but then a bit more towards the end of the session was too much so we'll go back for the race,” explained Ray.
While Ray's last lap effort worked out Cup points leader Jorge Martín was frustrated. "No I am not happy with that, I was pushing on towards the end, I needed a better lap and I was on a good one but with two corners to go a slower rider just suddenly came across my line and we almost crashed, I have no idea what he thought he was doing.”
“That was the last lap so chance to improve,” explained the 16-year-old Spaniard who qualified 6th, completing row two, just behind Assen winner Bo Bendsneyder. “We still need to improve the bike for the race, I cannot get on the gas when I need to,” concluded Martín.