Dani Pedrosa set a new pole position record in qualifying, the Repsol Honda rider setting a remarkable lap time of 1’40.893 to claim the first slot on the grid for tomorrow’s Catalan Grand Prix. He broke a record held by Casey Stoner since 2008, en route to pole position for his home round. The new marker time for the track gave Pedrosa his second consecutive start from the front of the grid. Repsol Honda teammate Marc Marquez will take off from the second row, in sixth place. He also set a new record on Saturday, with the fastest ever top speed of 342.4km/h at the Circuit de Catalunya. That bested a feat held by Alex Barros since 2004. Pedrosa’s storming lap saw him qualify more than six-tenths of a second ahead of his nearest rival, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 M1 of Cal Crutchlow whose best time of 1’41.608 placed him in second position. Rounding out the front row of the grid in third place and 0.065 seconds adrift of Crutchlow was Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo. Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro was the best CRT qualifier, his time of 1’42.878 placing him twelfth overall.
Jorge Lorenzo continued his unbroken run as the only rider to consistently start from the front row this season, taking third on the grid for tomorrow’s Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya. The reigning world champion had only the last minutes of the brief qualifying heat to record a best time after a clutch issue forced him to pit shortly after the session started. Despite the setback he was able to salvage a front row start in third with a 1’41.566 after completing just seven laps. Lorenzo was able to walk away uninjured from a crash in the morning’s third free practice after losing the front at turn five. Conditions were even hotter than yesterday with track temperatures hitting up to 57 degrees over the afternoon.
Cal Crutchlow stormed to his second front row of 2013 in scorching heat at the Circuit de Catalunya this afternoon, the British rider continuing his hot streak of form to qualify as the fastest Yamaha rider ahead of the sixth round of the MotoGP World Championship. The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider saved his best for last with a blistering lap of 1.41.501 on his eighth and final lap moving him ahead of reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo to secure second position on the grid for tomorrow’s 25-lap race.
Crutchlow delivered an ice cool performance to challenge for a ninth career front row right from the start of the 15-minute QP2. The 27-year-old was immediately inside the top three and he never looked like missing out on his front row start since the opening round in Qatar, his quickest lap making him the fastest Yamaha rider by 0.065s ahead of home crowd hero Lorenzo.
Having been the fastest rider yesterday Valentino Rossi continued his competitive pace into the third free practice this morning, ending in fourth but just 0.156 seconds from first. Having mastered race pace the nine-time champion turned to qualifying, allowing most of the field to leave the pits before venturing out to find some clean track. Using the harder front and soft rear tyre option he delivered a best time of 1’41.959 to take seventh on the third row of the grid, less than four tenths from his team mate Lorenzo on the front row.
It was a positive day for Hayden, who was the second-quickest rider in the morning session, then backed it up with his best qualifying session of the year thus far. The American had also set the circuit top-speed record in free practice aboard his Desmosedici GP13, although the mark was subsequently eclipsed by Marc Marquez in the afternoon. Meanwhile, Dovizioso improved his pace from yesterday, but had back luck in qualifying and didn’t manage to put together a good lap. He’ll share tomorrow’s all-Italian third row with Valentino Rossi and Andrea Iannone.
Andrea Iannone and his team had a busy qualifying day today, taking part in every MotoGP session, but by day’s end they had earned the eighth spot on the starting grid–their best of the season so far.
The FP4 session had gone well, with some positive changes being found ahead of Q1, helping the Italian to make the third row for tomorrow. There are still some aspects to work on, and no decision has yet been made regarding which tyre to use in the race, although with today’s high temperatures–30° air and 52° asphalt–Andrea preferred the soft option.
Yesterday’s hot weather intensified today with track temperatures soaring to 58°C in QP1. Many riders took to task in the free practice sessions to evaluate both options of rear slick, and amongst the works riders the consensus is that despite the extremely high track temperatures, the superior edge grip of the softer rear slick has the better overall performance at this circuit which features prolonged periods at high lean angles. With many fast and flowing corners, the harder front slick is preferred due to its more stable feel.
“I am very happy, because we put in a great lap and took a great qualifying time. It was a fantastic pole position for me. We also broke the circuit record and were able to do so in front of the home fans. I am also happy about improving our race pace, as this is the most important thing. We hope to put on a good show tomorrow and take full advantage of the front row start.”
“I am fairly happy and satisfied, because we achieved our objective of getting onto either the first or second row. In the morning I felt more comfortable, with the track temperatures lower than in the afternoon. When they rose sharply, we had more problems. Despite this, I think that we have done a good job. We will try to test out a few things in the warm up tomorrow and see if we can gain a little more confidence when the track is hotter.”
“I’m very disappointed because today we had a problem with the clutch in a crucial moment and this lap time was the best I could do. I also had not so much confidence on the front to make a perfect lap. We hope for race distance we can remain constant and fight for the win. We will need to be strong and concentrate for the whole race; we don’t know what can happen in the 20th lap.”
“We have to be happy today because we are really close to the front row of the grid tomorrow. I felt good as soon as we put the soft tyres on in qualifying this afternoon and I was able to push the bike with conviction. We have done different tests to weigh up our options in terms of tyre choice for tomorrow, which I think will be the biggest problem for everybody. This afternoon we went back to the setting from yesterday because I didn’t feel confident with the front forks we used in the last free practice. Tomorrow will be a tough race but our starting position is good and I need to make the most of it if I want to run at the front. Tyre management will be crucial to the result and we will do our best with it.”
“We worked hard today; it’s not so bad but unfortunately we are not able to start from a better position on the grid. We tried everything but I still don’t have the maximum feeling to improve a bit more. The race tomorrow is going to be very interesting because of the tyre choice and the rhythm. There are four or five riders who are very fast and very constant so we hope to do a good start and good first laps to stay with the top guys and check our performance.”
“Dani [Pedrosa] had a spectacular pole lap, but the front row wasn’t out of the question for me today. That would’ve been nice, but this is still my best qualifying position of the year so far. The bike is working pretty well when we have new tyres, but as soon as we lose a little bit of edge grip, it starts pumping. It was okay for qualifying, but we’ll have to try something tomorrow morning to see if we can make the tyre last longer. We know it won’t be an easy race, but hopefully we can put up a good fight and have some fun.”
“It’s a shame about the qualifying session. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do a perfect lap, and starting from the third row won’t be easy. That’s too bad because Barcelona is one of the nicest tracks to ride when you have a perfect lap, but I’m mainly disappointed that our spot on the grid will make it difficult for us tomorrow. My first exit was good, and I knew that if I could put all the sectors together, I could lower my time by three or four tenths. Then on my first lap with the second tyre, the bike closed the front in turn four. I almost fell and had to abort the lap in order to save the tyre. We’ve improved a lot from yesterday–more with pace than on a fast lap–but it will certainly be a very difficult race as we’ll all be struggling when the tyres wear. It will be important to make up some positions at the start, as anything can happen in the race.”
“I’m happy with today. We made it to Q2, and I did some good laps by myself, which is positive for tomorrow. The pace stayed high, and it may be the first weekend that we’ve really managed to ride hard, improve the bike, and understand the direction to take. I felt quite good today despite some problems that we still have–difficulty in slowing the bike for corner entry, for example–but we know that these are our limits at the moment. In order to remedy the problem, we probably won’t be able to use an ideal setting, as we’ll have to opt for better rear grip in order to decrease the sliding. We certainly won’t solve that for tomorrow, but together with Ducati, we’re preparing for the next GPs. Anyway, we’re improving little by little, and every day I understand better how to continue our work. I’m still not sure which tyre to use in the race. Today we worked mainly on getting the most from the soft tyre. We changed some things that gave positive feedback, and we’ll make our decision after analyzing the data to compare the pace in the different sessions, although I’m currently more inclined to use the soft. The guys did a great job, and now we have to stay strong in order to be fast in the race.”
“Unfortunately we were unable to get the best out of the bike’s potential and I struggled a bit but maybe it’s because it’s the first time we’ve had such high temperatures since the start of the championship. This morning we were one second off the best time but the gap widened considerably in the afternoon. So I’d say that as well as the not easy track, the lack of grip and the track temperatures also play an important role. The bike continues to move around a lot and tends to ‘pump’ at the rear and everything becomes even more difficult if the grip drops. As for the set-up we tried to use the one we found at Mugello but once again the results weren’t really positive. It’s strange how things change from one track to another and even from this morning. I had been going quite well and I thought we could have made more progress if we’d worked on the set-up a bit more. The only thing left now is to choose the best set-up for tomorrow and decide what tyre to use; for sure the soft one is better due to the pumping problem because when it kicks in it doesn’t stop until the bike straightens up again. Now we’ll just have to try our best and see what we can do to get a good result in the race.”
MotoGP Catalunya 2013 qualifying times
- FRONT ROW
- 1. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 1’40.893
- 2. Cal Crutchlow (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech3 1’41.501
- 3. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Yamaha Factory Racing 1’41.566
- SECOND ROW
- 4. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Go&Fun Honda Gresini 1’41.714
- 5. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Team 1’41.800
- 6. Marc Marquez (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 1’41.842
- THIRD ROW
- 7. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Yamaha Factory Racing 1’41.959
- 8. Andrea Iannone (ITA) Pramac Racing Team 1’41.963
- 9. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Ducati Team 1’42.053
- FOURTH ROW
- 10. Stefan Bradl (GER) LCR Honda MotoGP 1’42.090
- 11. Bradley Smith (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech3 1’42.548
- 12. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) Power Electronics Aspar 1’42.878
- FIFTH ROW
- 13. Randy De Puniet (FRA) Power Electronics Aspar 1’43.186
- 14. Michele Pirro (ITA) Ignite Pramac Racing 1’43.330
- 15. Hector Barbera (SPA) Avintia Blusens 1’43.659
- SIXTH ROW
- 16. Colin Edwards (USA) NGM Mobile Forward Racing 1’43.983
- 17. Karel Abraham (CZE) Cardion AB Motoracing 1’44.362
- 18. Danilo Petrucci (ITA) Came Iodaracing Project 1’44.369
- SEVENTH ROW
- 19. Claudio Corti (ITA) NGM Mobile Forward Racing 1’44.603
- 20. Michael Laverty (GBR) Paul Bird Motorsport 1’44.630
- 21. Yonny Hernandez (COL) Paul Bird Motorsport 1’44.913
- EIGHTH ROW
- 22. Bryan Staring (AUS) Go&Fun Honda Gresini 1’45.441
- 23. Lukas Pesek (CZE) Came IodaRacing Project 1’46.302
- 24. Javier Del Amor (SPA) Avintia Blusens 1’48.952