Marc Marquez celebrates his 100th GP start in Jerez by breaking the lap record en route to claiming his fifth consecutive pole position and fourth of 2014. Movistar Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo will again start on the front row between the Repsol Hondas of Marquez and Dani Pedrosa.
Before qualifying, Marquez and his team calculated that a three-stop run would be possible during the 15 minute session, which was important as the life of the soft rear tire is optimum for only one flying lap – especially with track temperatures in the 50s. Pedrosa opted for the more normal two stop strategy, completing two flying laps with each tire, and clocked a time of 1’38.630 placing him on the front row in third for tomorrow’s 27-lap race. Marquez recorded just one flying lap on each exit but on his third and final run, he stole Lorenzo’s lap record
from 2008 (1’38.189) – the last season in which there were still qualifying tires in MotoGP – and recorded the fastest-ever lap on two wheels at Jerez with a time of 1’38.120 on lap 8 of 8.
Said Marquez shortly after qualifying, “I am very happy with this pole position, as it was hard fought and I wasn’t expecting it. We are suffering a little more here than at other tracks, but despite this we are still at the same level as Lorenzo and (Dani) Pedrosa.” On his pit strategy he added, “We changed it at the last minute; I asked if it would be possible to use three soft tires, and they said that it was. It was all last minute and I am satisfied with how it worked out, but we know that Sunday is the important day. Jorge and Dani have a great pace.”
“We tried our best to make the best lap time,” commented Lorenzo, “but unfortunately with the second tire I don’t know why it didn’t feel the same. It felt a little more slippery which is why I didn’t improve my lap. The goal was to stay in the first row; that was important. Obviously pole position would be better but the most important thing is to start well in the race. I think we have a good pace so we can definitely fight at the front. It will be
important to stay close at the front for the first couple of laps, the rear tire is going to drop a lot but I feel physically good as I did last year which will be very important for the race.”
Pedrosa opted for the normal two-stop strategy, completing two flying laps with each tire, and clocked a time of 1’38.630 placing him in the third spot on the front row for Sunday’s 27-lap race. “We took a step forward with the bike setup today and also went better with the race tires,” said Pedrosa. “In the qualifying session we tried to do as well as possible, but it is always difficult to put in a really fast lap. We will try to get a good start, then have a good race.”
Nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi’s first flying lap of 1’39.050 gave him second initially before he dropped to third as the pace increased. Following a change to the rear and front of the bike, he was back on track with five minutes remaining. With three minutes left on the clock he dipped into the 1’38s with a 1’38.857 and looked safe for third on the grid until Pedrosa pushed him back to to fourth. Rossi commented, “I wanted to try for the front row but I knew it would be very difficult. In all the practice and also this afternoon I wasn’t very far from the top three and my lap time is good. I’m quite satisfied because it’s the best qualifying and especially I feel good with the bike. I will try to do the maximum to stay with the top three. We still have to improve something with acceleration as with the high temperature we spin a lot. We will decide on the tire when we see the temperature.”
The NGM Forward Racing Yamaha of Aleix Espargaro looked well on the way to a possible front row spot after a 1’39.007 qualifying lap but his Q2 session ended shortly after when his front tire washed out resulting in a low side crash. Espargaro’s best lap held for fifth position on the grid followed by Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovisioso to round our row two. Dovizioso commented, “I am very happy with qualifying and the time that I did, even more so because I did it on my own. I think I really managed to get the best out of my bike in these very difficult conditions because the temperature is very high for the tires we had available. I got an unexpected second-row start and this will help us for the race, because Jerez is a narrow track, and in the early laps you can lose a lot of time if you don’t start up at the front.”