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Marquez blitzes rivals on way to pole

Marquez blitzes rivals on way to pole

Marc Marquez took a blistering pole to finish 0.5s ahead of his rivals, with Aleix Espargaro and Andrea Iannone completing the front row.

MotoGP™ riders took to the 4.8 km Termas de Rio Hondo circuit on Saturday for Qualifying, to decide who will be starting where, when the lights go out for the race on Sunday. As usual the top ten riders from Practice automatically made it through to the second qualifying session, along with the top two riders from Q1.

A hotly contested Q1 saw Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Bradley Smith and the Open class Avintia Racing Ducati of Hector Barbera make it through to the second qualifying session, at the expense of the Satellite bikes of Yonny Hernandez and Smith’s teammate Pol Espargaro, who will start from the 6th row of the grid in 18th.

The excitement in the air was palpable before riders took to the track for Q2. Could this be the first time Suzuki would claim a pole position since Chris Vermeulen at Assen in 2007? Or would we see another dramatic last minute lap from Marquez as we did in Austin?

It was time to find out as Q2 got underway in near perfect conditions, with the sun shining and a track temperature of 42 degrees.

As we got to the business end of the 15 minute session, riders headed out on fresh rubber to set a flying lap, and it was Marc Marquez who laid down a marker to the rest of the field with just over 5 minutes to go. Marquez improved on this time as the session drew to an end to finish with a 1’37.802, as none of the other riders had a response to the Spaniards pace. Marquez alternated between his two bikes to take advantage of three fresh tyres during the session, and seemed to enjoy himself: “It was a lot of fun, because we used a three-tyre strategy and it worked well.”

The reigning MotoGP™ World Champion expects things to be harder on Sunday though: “We expect a pretty tough race with even higher temperatures than today. My strongest rivals - Jorge and Valentino - are starting from the second row, so I hope to have a good start and a strong race.”

The Team Suzuki Ecstar GSX-RR of Aleix Espargaro (+0.514s) finished in 2nd, continuing an excellent weekend for the returning manufacturer. The fast and flowing Termas de Rio Hondo circuit plays to the strengths of the chassis of the Suzuki, with the absence of a long straight allowing Espargaro to be quick despite the bikes lack of power. The Spanish rider alluded to the fact the race will be tougher: “We will use the hardest tyre, not because we are using the tyre up, but because after the first 2-3 laps the chattering is unbearable. We don't have the pace of Vale, Jorge or Marc on the hard tyre, but we are not that far away, and our objective is to try and finish in the top 6.”

Andrea Iannone (+0.665s) completed the front row on the Ducati Team GP15 as he, like Espargaro, took advantage of the softer tyre option available to both teams to set a flying lap. The Italian said he will use the harder tyre compound during the race, after expressing his joy at achieving his first front row start of the season: “I am so happy as it is really important for us start the race in front of the others, I am very happy about this. Tomorrow I will try and fight for the top 5, and I will be trying my best to look after my tyres.”

CWM LCR Hondas Cal Crutchlow (+0.683s) will start from the front of the second row, as he once again impressed during Practice and Qualifying. The British rider was not happy with his final time despite finishing in 4th: “I made a mistake one time on my own to miss a lap, but the two other times I came up behind a slower rider. Lorenzo decided in the middle of the lap that he wanted to go fast, but then in the last sector was really slow and I nearly hit him. I lost three-tenths in that sector, which would have put me second. The next lap I pushed, I met Viñales after he slowed following his best lap so I never had enough time to get back to the flag. This is racing though, and we start from fourth. I’m disappointed because we had the pace to be in the 1‘37s,"

Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo (+0.683s) finished in 5th, after recording a lap time identical to Crutchlow, but due to the fact his 2nd fastest lap was slower than the British rider's, the Spaniard has to start behind him on the grid: “In qualifying my first lap was very good but the second one I made too many mistakes and I couldn't improve the time. It's a pity because without any mistakes I could be in second place. That's racing; sometimes you don‘t get the perfect lap.”

Lorenzo admitting he also is facing a tyre conundrum: “We will probably go for the harder rear tyre but we still have to decide on the front for tomorrow‘s race.”

Iannone’s teammate Andrea Dovizioso (+0.718s) will complete the 2nd row as Ducati continued to impress by getting both bikes on the front two rows, although questions remain as to how the medium and hard tyre compounds will fare during the race compared to the extra hard: “I was unable to put together a good complete lap, and it’s a pity that I missed out on the front row by so little, but it’s not a big problem. In my opinion it will be a very difficult race because everyone will have to manage their rear tyres, but we are fast and so it will be very important to get a good start.”

Pramac Racing’s Danilo Petrucci will start from 7th on the grid, with the Movistar Yamaha of Valentino Rossi over a second off the pace of Marquez in 8th. Rossi wasn’t happy with his performance: “I am very upset for the qualifying because I feel I could do better. Our strategy was not perfect, we arrived in traffic and unfortunately it was not possible to improve. On the other side, with the hard tyres the bike works well and I have a good pace, that is most important for the race.”

Maverick Viñales completed the third row in 9th, with Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Bradley Smith rounding out the top ten, ahead of the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Racing Honda of Scott Redding.

Hector Barbera heads the Open class in 12th and will start in front of the Satellite bikes of Yonny Hernandez (13th) and Pol Espargaro (18th), while Eugene Laverty was the leading Open Honda and will start from the 5th row in 14th place.

Click here for Matthew Birt's in-depth analysis of the tyre situation for tomorrow's race.

Click here for the full MotoGP™ Qualifying results and line up for Sundays race, which is due to start at 16:00 local time in Argentina.


MotoGP, 2015, GRAN PREMIO RED BULL DE LA REPÚBLICA ARGENTINA, Q2, Andrea Iannone, Marc Marquez, Aleix Espargaro

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