MotoGP Austin qualifying: Who else but Marquez?

Marc Marquez holds off Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa to take pole, with LCR Honda's Stefan Bradl third

2014/03/28 - mgp - Round02 - Austin - MotoGP - Marc Marquez - Repsol Honda - RC213V - ActionAndrew Northcott

It was pretty evident from practice that unless someone other than Marc Marquez suddenly found a good dose of speed, the results of qualifying on Saturday at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas were going to be a foregone conclusion, at least for pole position. And nothing happened that might upset that prediction, with the Repsol Honda rider simply upping his pace with ease in the final moments to take pole, smashing the lap record he set last year during the race by 0.248 seconds. His teammate Dani Pedrosa looked like he might get close in the final minutes, and he did (within three-tenths of a second), but it never really threatened Marquez's position atop the leaderboard. Behind the Repsol Honda pair came LCR Honda's Stefan Bradl, the German rider steadily improving as he gets more laps to complete the front row in third.

NGM Forward Racing's Aleix Espargaro slotted his Forward Yamaha into fourth, ahead of the Movistar Yamaha pair of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi.

Marc Marquez smashed his previous pole position record at COTA from last year by 0.248 seconds en route to his second consecutive pole position in as many races this year.

"Yeah, you know the pole position is important," said Marquez after his qualifying performance. "I'm very happy about this whole weekend because the rhythm is so high. I feel good on the bike—okay, sometimes I had some moments, but I always try to have everything under control (Marquez was shown losing the front tire momentarily during one session, and then lofting the rear tire while trying stop for COTA's first turn in another on video)—but anyway tomorrow is most important. We need to keep focused because the weather will be a little bit unstable tomorrow. Yes, the leg is much better, I rode without painkillers yesterday and today; tomorrow I will take painkiller for the race just in case. Everybody now is closer; yesterday I was a little bit more relaxed because I have more advantage, but today everybody is closer. Tomorrow I think Dani will be there, his pace is quite good, it's as strong as mine. We will try to manage wear, it will be important in the first part of the race, because the second part, that temperature on the asphalt, the tires start to slide quite a lot."

Marquez's Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa drew closer to his speedy countryman in qualifying, and is just a shade under a quarter of a second behind.Andrew Northcott

"We did a good qualifying session today and got the front row," advised Pedrosa, who is known for his lightning race starts. "It's very important at this track because the first turn is so tight. You need to get a good start, and if you're in the front row, you have a better chance, so it was important. I had a little traffic on the first tire and had to slow down before the finish line. But I found a way to get more or less alone and get some good laps in."

LCR Honda's Stefan Bradl showed increasing speed with each session, culminating in his third place spot in Q2 qualifying after everything was said and done.Andrew Northcott

Bradl's first front row qualifying performance was a result of hard work and perseverance. "It's been a big improvement for me and for our team from yesterday to today. Yesterday was not so bad, but even today we could improve my feeling with the bike. I am really happy with the front row, it was good lap. But the most important is that I was not behind somebody, I was trying to do my lap by myself. Also in FP4 we've done an acceptable pace, so I'm quite happy with that. It looks like the Hondas are strong here, but behind me there are four Yamahas really close together. You can't make one mistake during the race, so you always have to be careful. I need to score some points, but on the other side I don't want to finish eighth or ninth. I believe we had a good position for tomorrow; the rest we will see, we just need a good start. For sure it's not easy, because physically it's hard and it's a long racetrack, it will be a big challenge for everybody."

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Jorge Lorenzo was clearly subdued in his assessment of his race chances tomorrow. "We are losing time almost everywhere (on the track)," lamented Lorenzo. "The only place we don't lose and even gain a half a tenth is the section after the first turn. In the section with the three fast chicanes in third gear; there I feel no disadvantge. The other parts...it's very difficult braking, they brake later and (in a shorter space). They have more top speed. So we are not that far from the first practice from yesterday. I didn't use the hard rear option tire because Valentino and Bradley tried it this morning and I think yesterday, and they said it was quire worse. It was the same tire I used in Qatar, so we decide to keep working with the soft one. "

"A lot of things can happen in race," he said about his chances in the race tomorrow. "Crashes can happen or engine failure. If nothing like this happens, I think our realistic position is third, fourth. Fifth would be a good position."

MotoGP Austin qualifying results:

Pos. Rider Country Team Machine Time
1 Marc Marquez SPA Repsol Honda Team Repsol Honda 2:02.773
2 Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 2:03.062
3 Stefan Bradl GER LCR Honda MotoGP Honda 2:03.196
4 Aleix Espargaro SPA NGM Forward Racing Forward Yamaha 2:03.240
5 Jorge Lorenzo SPA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 2:03.243
6 Valentino Rossi ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 2:03.244
7 Cal Crutchlow GBR Ducati Team Ducati 2:03.780
8 Bradley Smith GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 2:03.800
9 Andrea Iannone ITA Pramac Racing Ducati 2:03.842
10 Andrea Dovisioso ITA Ducati Team Ducati 2:03.846
11 Pol Espargaro SPA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 2:03.913
12 Alvaro Bautista SPA GO&FUN Honda Gresini Honda 2:03.923
13 Scott Redding GBR GO&FUN Honda Gresini Honda 2:04.617
14 Nicky Hayden USA Drive M7 Aspar Honda 2:05.062
15 Yonny Hernandez COL Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Ducati 2:05.677
16 Hiroshi Aoyama JPN Drive M7 Aspar Honda 2:05.788
17 Karel Abraham CZE Cardion AB Motoracing Honda 2:06.239
18 Hector Barbera SPA Avintia Racing FTR/Kawasaki 2:06.270
19 Colin Edwards USA NGM Forward Racing Forward Yamaha 2:06.741
20 Michael Laverty IRL Paul Bird Motorsport ART/Aprilia 2:06.939
21 Broc Parkes AUS Paul Bird Motorsport ART/Aprilia 2:07.403
22 Danilo Petrucci ITA Ioda Racing Project Ioda/Aprilia 2:07.745
23 Mike Di Meglio FRA Avintia Racing FTR/Kawasaki 2:07.761