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MotoGP™ is a sport that is all about marginal gains. A thousandth of a second here, a thousandth of a second there is normally what everyone is aiming for. Well, not today. There isn’t enough fingers and toes on a human body to count how many times the words ‘new fastest ever lap’ were muttered throughout Saturday, but in the end it was a massive 0.773 of a second that was sledgehammered off of LCR Honda Castrol’s Cal Crutchlow’s previous best ever around the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto courtesy of Petronas Yamaha SRT’s Fabio Quartararo.
Add to that the fact the top 16 on the MotoGP™ grid went under the pole position lap of 2018, the pace at the Gran Premio Red Bull de España was eye-watering. Also, you have to spare a thought for Aprilia Racing Team Gresini’s Aleix Espargaro who, despite bettering Crutchlow’s 2018 pole position lap, will start Sunday’s race from the sixth row of the grid in 16th.
A lot of the reasoning behind this three quarters of a second stride forward in the premier class has to go down to the resurfacing work done over the winter months. Michelin Motorsport Two-Wheel Manager, Piero Taramasso, warned of a “big test” ahead of the weekend with the French factory bringing four front and four rear tyres in order to try tackle the challenge best.
Michelin Ideal Lap at the Circuito de Jerez - Angel Nieto
But the new surface has worked a dream and has been praised by many in the paddock, in particular Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez, who said on Friday that the grip the new tarmac offers is “incredible” and the settings of his factory Honda machine from the test in November to now bare very few similarities.
It’s not just the premier class category taking full advantage of the new surface though, with Moto2™ and Moto3™ riders all going under the previous best ever laps in their respective classes. In Moto2™, just like in MotoGP™, the top 16 riders in qualifying went under Lorenzo Baldassarri’s 2018 pole time. Plus, the middleweight poleman Jorge Navarro (HDR Heidrun Speed Up) is now in the history books as the fastest ever Moto2™ rider around the Circuito de Jerez - Angel Nieto, thanks to his Q2 lap.
Somewhat surprisingly, the fastest qualifying time from Moto3™ came from Q1 rather than Q2, with Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) going under the reigning World Champion Jorge Martin’s 2018 pole lap, as well as the eventual pole man, Leopard Racing’s Lorenzo Dalla Porta, also bettering last year's best. But the proud owner of Moto3™ history is Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) after his FP3 laptime bettered Martin's previous best ever from 2017.
So that’s Quartararo, Navarro and Rodrigo all walking out of the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto this evening with brand new fastest ever laps in MotoGP™, Moto2™ and Moto3™ in their back pockets. You could say the new tarmac has done the trick.
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