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Pole and pace

Pole and pace

Marquez may have secured pole, but does Lorenzo hold an ace up his sleeve over race distance?

The combination of the Repsol Honda and Marc Marquez have shattered three pole position records in 2015 and have shown demonic one lap pace. Jorge Lorenzo has classically done better over race distance, his style kinder to the tyres and his race pace reaching robotic levels of consistency. Brno demonstrated that when Lorenzo is left unchallenged at the front he is able to produce inch perfect races lap after lap, taking his own flowing lines to maximise the strong points of the Yamaha M1. No doubt Marquez has been paying attention.

Race starts are a key area of Lorenzo’s success; getting stuck behind traffic in the opening corners can be detrimental and upset his rhythm dramatically. But, beyond a solid start, Lorenzo’s success comes down to his race pace. While others put in new tyres to set fast times on Saturday, Lorenzo has slaved away on old tyres at Silverstone in attempts to perfect his pace at the end of the race. Despite missing pole position this work has left him confident of challenging for the race victory, but Marquez may surprise many.

Free Practice 4 is, in theory, the best session in which to explore race pace, as times do not count towards passing directly into Q2, so the pressure of setting a fast lap is removed. Marquez flew out of the gates in FP4, setting a 2’01.491 on just his second flying lap. This would be the fastest lap of the session. “After FP4 the feeling with the bike was really good and I did a good rhythm so the target was pole or the front row at least,” said Marquez after securing pole. What’s surprising is just how strong this pace was.

During the half hour of FP4 Marquez managed two laps in the mid 2’01s and seven laps in the high 2’01s. This is an incredibly formidable rhythm; Lorenzo was unable to set a single 2’01 in FP4 and only managed two in FP3 earlier on Saturday. With pole in hand and a clear advantage on race pace, Marquez appears to have things significantly in his favour for Sunday’s race.

Lorenzo’s saving grace may come from his extreme focus on worn tyres, many riders were reporting a rapid drop in grip when the conditions were cooler on Friday. Weather for Sunday's race is still an unkown and will play a major role. Marquez’s riding style is often more abrasive on tyres than that of Lorenzo which may also play a deciding role in Sunday’s race. The run of  2’01s in FP4 was not close to race distance, Lorenzo will be hoping Marquez is unable to maintain them.

As the race is in England there is of course the chance of rain. Current weather reports are mixed, some say sun, some say rain and some in-between. Rain is known as the great leveller in MotoGP™ and could introduce any number of other riders into the Marquez-Lorenzo battle, especially with so many hungry Brits starting in the top ten.

MotoGP, 2015, OCTO BRITISH GRAND PRIX, Q2, Dani Pedrosa, Marc Marquez, Jorge Lorenzo, Repsol Honda Team, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP

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