MotoGP Aragon Qualifying report: A return to form

Marc Marquez returns to dominating form to take pole, Pedrosa second, Iannone third; Rossi sixth, Lorenzo seventh

motogp aragon qualifying marc marquez
2014/09/26 - mgp - Round14 - Aragon - MotoGP - Marc Marquez - Repsol Honda - RC213V - ActionAndrew Northcott

After suffering his worst race finish of the year two weeks ago at Misano, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez returned to his dominating ways at Motorland Aragon, setting fast times right from the beginning of practice, and then steadily improving throughout the weekend. Although Ducati’s Andrea Dovisioso was marginally quicker Friday, Marquez swiftly asserted his dominance during the Q2 final qualifying session. While playing games with Pramac Ducati’s Andrea Iannone (the Italian is known for trying to catch a tow from faster riders in qualifying), his teammate Dani Pedrosa snagged the top spot with a couple of minutes left in the session. Marquez saw that he only had a lap remaining to grab, and promptly shattered the 1:47.804 track record he had set last year by 0.617 seconds to take the 20th MotoGP pole position of his career.

“This weekend I’ve really been enjoying myself because this is one of my favorite circuits,” admitted Marquez. “We’ve worked alot on the race pace, and in qualifying I felt good; in the last lap I saw that Dani was a little bit faster and I was playing a little bit with Andrea, so I pushed a little bit more on the last lap to get the pole. Dani also has a really high pace, and it will be interesting to see how the weather is, because it looks a little bit unstable. It will be a really great battle tomorrow with him I’m sure.”

Pedrosa was disappointed to be knocked off pole, but took consolation in remaining on the front row, which most agree is important at Aragon. “It’s been a long time that we’ve been on the front row, and this was one of the targets this weekend. We have to wait for the weather; tomorrow we have to see the condition of the track as things can change. If it’s dry, we have a good setup. This track has a special first turn, it’s really close to the start. It’s very important to be on the first row because even if you don’t make the perfect start you are immediately already in the turn, so it was really important to be in the front row.”

Like all the Ducati riders, Iannone knows that while good qualifying performances are usually helped by the increased grip of the softer tires, the race is a different matter when harder option tires must be used. “The soft tire helped me a lot in qualifying, the bike improved a lot in the turns because of more grip,” Iannone said. “It helped the performance but for sure I can’t use this tire, and I’ll have to use the medium option tire because I can’t use the hard. The 14.2 (Desmosedici) chassis is very similar to the old bike, but the engine has improved power.”

While Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Pol Espargaro upheld Yamaha honor by just missing out on the front row, the factory Movistar Yamahas of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo have been struggling all weekend with grip issues. Both were languishing near the outside of the top ten on Friday, and were only able to marginally improve their positions in final qualifying. Rossi even had to run through the Q1 qualifying session to transfer to Q2. “It’s been a difficult practice yesterday and today, we suffer a lot at this track because we have a lack of grip,” lamented Rossi. “It’s difficult to ride the bike at the limit because after some laps it starts to slide a lot. So we did a lot of work to improve, we tried a lot of different settings, and this afternoon it looks like we found something so I’m able to start on the second row which is not so bad. But we need to improve a little bit more for the warmup and the race if we’re to be at the maximum.”

Lorenzo was in surprisingly good spirits despite all the problems he’d encountered so far this weekend. “We haven’t improved as much as we’d like because we found so many problems,” revealed the Majorcan. Part of those issues were what he termed defective tires from Bridgestone. “We also got two wrong tires today, they weren’t giving us the normal grip; the first one in the morning, but more importantly in the afternoon the second one in qualifying so I could only improve one tenth and I was risking so much, but I couldn’t even stay in the second row. But anyway I think our pace is better than the one second we’re behind Marc, so if we make a good start and remain patient and have a good pace, maybe we can improve some positions.”

MotoGP Aragon final qualifying results:

Pos. Rider Country Team Machine Time
1 Marc Marquez SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 1:47.187
2 Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 1:47.549
3 Andrea Iannone ITA Pramac Racing Ducati 1:47.685
4 Pol Espargaro SPA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 1:47.865
5 Cal Crutchlow GBR Ducati Team Ducati 1:47.897
6 Valentino Rossi ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1:48.226
7 Jorge Lorenzo SPA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1:48.246
8 Stefan Bradl GER LCR Honda MotoGP Honda 1:48.368
9 Andrea Dovisioso ITA Ducati Team Ducati 1:48.542
10 Aleix Espargaro SPA NGM Forward Racing Forward Yamaha 148.562
11 Bradley Smith GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 1:48.810
12 Hector Barbera SPA Avintia Racing FTR/Kawasaki 1:48.991
13 Yonny Hernandez COL Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Ducati 1:49.051
14 Hiroshi Aoyama JPN Drive M7 Aspar Honda 1:49.209
15 Alvaro Bautista SPA GO&FUN Honda Gresini Honda 1:49.274
16 Scott Redding GBR GO&FUN Honda Gresini Honda 1:49.703
17 Karel Abraham CZE Cardion AB Motoracing Honda 1:49.790
18 Nicky Hayden USA Drive M7 Aspar Honda 1:49.835
19 Alex De Angelis ITA NGM Forward Racing Forward Yamaha 1:50.263
20 Danilo Petrucci ITA Octo Ioda Racing Ioda/Aprilia 1:50.635
21 Michael Laverty IRL Paul Bird Motorsport ART/Aprilia 1:51.280
22 Broc Parkes AUS Paul Bird Motorsport ART/Aprilia 1:51.489
23 Mike Di Meglio FRA Avintia Racing FTR/Kawasaki 1:52.181