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Andrea Dovizioso claimed a sensational pole position in Qatar, with Ducati filling 3 of the top 5 positions on the grid for Sunday’s race.
After the free practice sessions we knew that it would be close in qualifying, but few would have predicted the outcome of QP2. Andrea Dovizioso blitzed his way to pole in spectacular fashion as he took advantage of the softer tyre option to set a time two-tenths quicker than the rest of the field, and funnily enough, seemed quite pleased: “I am very happy because the pole today is the result of a group effort: after two years in which we have suffered, we finally managed to achieve a competitive motorbike, and I honestly did not think we would have been so fast right away with the GP15.”
The Italian rider also feels that the GP15 is not just quick on a flying lap, but might also have good race pace: “With the soft tyre, we managed to set a really awesome time, but even in the fourth free practice session with the medium tyre the feeling with the GP15 was something special, so I’m confident and I think that tomorrow we can fight for the podium.”
One of the surprises of QP2 was the pace of Dani Pedrosa as he out-qualified his teammate Marc Marquez to finish in 2nd. The Spaniard was delighted to get onto the front row: “It was fantastic, because I think that it was one of my fastest laps at this track. It was vital to set a good lap time today, without making any mistakes, due to the fact that at this track all the times are very close together.”
The reigning MotoGP™ World Champion Marquez finished over three-tenths off the pace of Dovizioso, he now feels the Ducati’s have a serious chance in the race on Sunday: “It will be difficult to keep up with Andrea [Dovizioso] because, besides a fast one-off lap, he also has good race pace.” Marquez was pleased with his final position though, and feels he can challenge for the win: “Our objective was to get onto the front row and we succeeded, so I’m happy. Of course, you always want to do more, and I would have liked to have set a better lap, but we have a good setup for tomorrow and a good pace, which is the most important thing.”
Andrea Iannone was disappointed to miss out on a front row start on the second Ducati Team GP15, as he finished in 4th, but feels that they did not utilise the optimum set-up on his bike: “I would have liked to have started on the front row, but as I had hardly ever used the soft tyre I didn’t have much of a feeling with it and in addition we had a bit too much power on my bike and the set-up wasn’t the best”. He also acknowledged that it will be hard to challenge for the win in the race come Sunday as Marquez and Dovizioso “have a very good pace.”
The biggest surprise package in the second qualifying session was Yonny Hernandez. The Columbian on the Pramac Racing GP14.2 finished as the top satellite rider in 5th, ahead of the factory Yamaha’s, and he was delighted with his performance: "It's a great lap time and I am very happy. The work the whole team is carrying out is going in the right direction. This is a level significantly better than last year. The feeling with the bike is really good.” Hernandez feels that the race though, will be the real test: “Tomorrow is the moment of truth. We will fight 100% to do the best and to try to finish in the Top 10”.
It was another disappointing day for the Movistar Yamaha’s of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, who will start tomorrow’s race in 6th and 8th place respectively. Lorenzo did point out though that 3 of the five riders ahead of him did have an advantage with their choice of the softer tyre option, and thinks that the race will be a lot more unpredictable: “We don‘t know what‘s going to happen tomorrow on the long distance with the softer tyre. It‘s going to be hard to maintain our pace throughout the whole race, but I‘m physically and mentally prepared to give the maximum.”
Rossi stated that while “it‘s just Saturday” he acknowledged that his team still have a lot to do to make any impression come the race: “We have to work, try to improve and save the tyre’s as much as possible to have a better pace at tomorrow‘s race.”
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Bradley Smith, who only just made it through from Q1 with last lap of the session will start from 7th, admits he didn't make it easy for himself, but was happy to be so close to the second row. The British rider has struggled with tyre issues but is looking forward to he race: “I will start the race from 7th on the grid and I will certainly be in the hunt for a good result. I am feeling optimistic and my race pace is positive so I’m confident of a strong finish to begin this year.”
Cal Crutchlow, who ended the practice sessions 2nd fastest overall, crashed out at turn 14 and will have to start the race from the back of the fourth row: “Thankfully it’s just my pride that is hurt today, but obviously I’m not happy. I made a stupid mistake. The positive is that we were very fast and we had a great chance to get on the front row and my ideal time would have put us there. But hey, that’s racing! The other guys did a better qualifying and we were 12th.”
One thing that we can definitely take from qualifying is that nothing is as clear as it seems ahead of the first race of the 2015 MotoGP™ season, and we will have to wait until the lights go out at 21:00 local time in Qatar on Sunday to find out who can be truly competitive.
Click here for the full results from qualifying.
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