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Tito Rabat will start the Gran Premio bwin de España from pole position for the second time in his GP career.
From Friday practice Rabat has been fast and looked more comfortable on his Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex bike than in the opening three rounds. Throughout all of Free Practice Rabat was no lower than third and in each session focused on long runs for the race. His pace was steady in the mid to low 1’43s in both FP3 and the hotter conditions of Qualifying.
In the Qualifying itself Rabat led from the off, not being topped throughout the session having set his lap of 1’42.875 on his 11th lap of 22. “It has been difficult start to the year and never pole, but now we get it and I am so happy for the team. We enjoy this but start working for tomorrow,” reflected Rabat. Having yet to score a podium finish this season, tomorrow’s race will be critical to his title defense as the Spanish rider looks to become the first double Moto2™ World Champion.
As a Moto2™ rookie, Alex Rins continues to impress with his quick learning and consistency. The intermediate class is incredibly competitive with many experienced riders and a multitude of race winners, yet Rins has established himself not only as a front-runner but also as a serious title threat. In just his fourth race he starts from second and hunts his third podium of the season. Much like Rabat, Rins’ best time came midway through the Qualifying session. “We’ve taken it step by step and worked really hard with the team. We’ll see what happens tomorrow, I think the race will be very difficult,” he said.
A technical issue made Qualifying a very nervous affair for Jonas Folger. After setting a 1’43.179, a faulty sensor on his bike forced him into the pits for much of the session as his AGR Team frantically tried to diagnose the problem. With just over two minutes remaining Folger left the pits but was unable to improve his time, instead using his out lap and the one flying lap to ensure that everything was in working order. He will start third tomorrow and said, “I had to just wait in the box and hope no one beat my time. We finally found the problem and I was able to do one more lap but the tyre wasn’t ready, as we’d spent so much time in the box. I was lucky.”
Aside from Rabat’s stellar performance throughout the 2014 season, the story of Nakagami’s struggles also caught much attention. The Japanese rider found it difficult to get back on the podium after an illegal air filter saw him disqualified from Round 1 last year. Jerez has shown glimpses of his former pace, the IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia rider able to qualify in fifth position, his 2nd second row of the year.
Joining Nakagami on the second row is Sam Lowes, the highest placed rider not on a Kalex bike. On the opening day of practice the high temperatures and lack of grip caused the Speed Up rider to struggle but he and the team have since tried a variety of different settings, especially with his suspension, and improved the bike in the hotter conditions. This was one of the major weaknesses of the Speed Up frame but Lowes believes they have found their best setting yet for when track temperatures rise and is confident he can battle for the podium tomorrow.
Ninth is by far Johann Zarco’s worst qualifying position of the 2015 season. The Championship leader suffered a crash at Turn two forcing him to return to the pits unable to improve his time. Zarco himself admitted it has not been the best weekend, stating, “I cannot go fast and it's a difficult situation. For qualifying I used the strategy of going as fast as possible, but it was probably the wrong strategy.”
There were also falls for Nakagami and Lorenzo Baldassarri. Both riders were uninjured. Louis Rossi has been ruled out of tomorrow’s race due to a broken fourth metacarpus sustained in Qualifying. He aims to return for his home GP at Le Mans.
Julian Simon committed a technical infringement that will see him start the race from last position on the grid. He did not receive a penalty point.
Check out the full Moto2 Qualifying results and grid positions; Sunday’s race is due to start at 12:20 local time.
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