MotoGP: Pole for Marquez at the first Grand Prix of 2014 in Qatar
Commercial Bank Grand Prix Of Qatar,Saturday, 22 March– World Champion Marc Marquez will head the grid for Sunday’s first MotoGP™ race of the year at the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar with Alvaro Bautista and Bradley Smith also qualifying on the front row.
Despite only returning to riding his Repsol Honda machine on Thursday after breaking his leg in preseason training, Marquez showed his rivals he means business again in 2014 with a great charge to pole with a 1’54.507 lap.
“I’m really happy and this pole position is a special one for me, because after coming back from injury it gives me a boost in confidence. In any case, we know that tomorrow is the day that counts and it’s in the race that points are decided, so we have to be very focused. It is going to be a very tough for me physically, because I don’t have much strength in my leg and I have to compensate with my right arm. We are happy with how today went and seem to have found a good setup, with just a few details still to refine in tomorrow’s warmup. It will be difficult, because many riders have pace within a tenth of each other, but we shall try to have a good race.”
GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Bautista had provisional pole but eventually qualified second by a +0.057s margin, whilst Smith was also close to the top spot missing out by less than a tenth.
That result is Smith’s first ever premier class front row qualifying effort and was a great response to his FP3 horror crash.
Another solid effort for Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) sees him head the second row, with Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) managing to pull something out of the bag in fifth and sixth respectively having struggled for much of the weekend so far.
Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP) leads the third row with a time just 0.364s off the pace, with Q1 participant Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team) improving to eighth.
A disastrous session for Aleix Espargaro (NGM Forward Racing) saw him qualify ninth, having walked away from two crashes, appearing to crack under the pressure of Q2. He had led the way earlier in the weekend and was furious with himself after both falls.
Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) starts in the unfamiliar territory of row four, ahead of Andrea Iannone (Pramac Racing) and Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech3).
Aleix Espargaro-“I’m really sad because I have been the fastest rider in the first three sessions and also in the FP4 I had a strong pace with hard tyres. When we switched to the soft tyre, I was not so comfortable with the front. I pushed but I lost the front and crashed. I went back on track and in the T4 I was 1 tenth faster then the pole, when I crashed, loosing the front again. It’s a pity and I’m so sorry for the team that will have to spend the night in the garage to repair both bikes. It was my mistake, we have lost an opportunity but the season is long and we will have other chances. Tomorrow it will be a more difficult race, as we will have to pass more riders to stay with the front guys but I’m confident”.