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A time of 1’39.720 put Pol Espargaro eighth on the grid for the Gran Premio Red Bull de España and as the leading Independent Team rider.
The Spanish GP got off to a mixed start for Pol Espargaro who spent Friday struggling outside the top ten. His pace took a significant step forward on Saturday during Free Practice 3 when he was able to end third with a 1’39.435 and earn a spot in Q2. The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider would only be able to produced a 1’39.720, good enough for eighth on the grid and within a second of Valentino Rossi’s (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) pole time. Eighth place on the grid is Espargaro’s best Qualifying result of 2016 and sees him start the Gran Premio Red Bull de España as the leading Independent Team rider.
With only factory riders ahead of him on the grid it was mission accomplished for Espargaro on Saturday, but the real work begins on Sunday when the lights go out for the Spanish GP. He remains realistic about his goals for the race, knowing that the top factory guys are a step above in terms of pace. But Espargaro believes he can challenge the likes of his brother Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and the Ducati Team riders in the race and fight for a top five finish potentially. From his two previous MotoGP™ World Championship starts in Jerez, Espargaro has a best finish of fifth.
Pol Espargaro: “Overall, I must say it is mission accomplished today, because the top independent position is the one that we have to achieve and having done this, we can be optimistic for the race. The top factory guys are clearly quicker but for us tomorrow, our goal has to be the leading satellite bike placement again. We made progress in this morning’s practice session but I might have to thank Marc, because I discovered some different racing lines by following him, which allowed me to increase my corner speed in several turns. In qualifying itself, I could have gone slightly quicker but I made a mistake on my fast lap and dropped a bit of time. Nevertheless, I am satisfied with what we achieved and my overall feeling with the Michelin tyres is improving at every event and I am becoming more confident. This, along with the setting of the bike, makes me feel comfortable and eager for this race, even if the setup itself is quite different from the other Yamaha’s. Anyway, I am looking forward to the GP and if we can fight with the Suzuki and Ducati’s, I will be very pleased.
4 years ago