Marquez Shines at COTA after the Storm
When the action resumed after stormy weather curtailed track time at the Circuit of Americas, the main man was once again Marc Marquez, who maintained his remarkable record at COTA, with his seventh pole position from seven visits.
Marquez Shines at COTA after the Storm
CIRCUIT OF THE AMERICAS, USA, April 13, 2019
Stormy weather curtailed track time at the Circuit of Americas today, with torrential rain and potential lightning strikes forcing the cancellation of morning practice for the MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 categories.
However, when the action resumed this afternoon the main man was once again Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V), who maintained his remarkable record at COTA, with his seventh pole position from seven visits.
The 26-year-old four-times MotoGP World Champion was once again in a class of his own around the bumpy and immensely challenging COTA circuit. His best lap was 0.273 seconds better than second-fastest Valentino Rossi, giving him the biggest pole-position advantage of the year so far. The front row of the grid was completed by third-quickest Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda CASTROL RC213V) who continues his run of impressive performances on Honda’s superb 2019 RC213V.
Marquez’s qualifying ride was particularly impressive, because strong winds buffeted the circuit, which was still slightly damp in places. The youngster showed his usual commitment, always obtaining the maximum possible performance from his machinery, whatever the conditions.
Six years ago Marquez made history here, scoring his first MotoGP pole and first victory at the venue’s inaugural MotoGP event. Those achievements made him the youngest pole sitter and youngest race winner since motorcycle World Championship racing began in 1949.
The current World Championship leader has yet to be bettered here in qualifying and will aim to maintain his supremacy in tomorrow’s race, the third round of 19 MotoGP rounds this year, despite the changeable weather conditions. Bumps all around the circuit have also caused problems and presented riders with an extra challenge, but Marquez and his RC213V seem better and coping with these issues than his rivals.
Crutchlow’s first front-row start of the season puts the 33-year-old Briton in the perfect place to chase his second podium result of 2019. Last month he chased second-placed Marquez over the finish line in the season-opening Qatar GP. And three weeks ago in Argentina he almost certainly would have finished second to winner Marquez if he hadn’t been controversially penalized for an alleged jump-start.
Crutchlow has never ridden better and he now has the best machine of his career beneath him – the 2019 RC213V is not only incredibly fast in a straight line but also allows riders to attack corners faster, thanks to improved front-end chassis performance.
Three-times MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) is riding at COTA for the first time on his RC213V, so he needed track time more than most. Thus the cancellation of this morning’s FP3 was a real problem for the 31-year-old. Sixteenth fastest at the end of yesterday’s practice, while he got attuned to the combination of the RC213V and COTA, Lorenzo and his crew had plenty of ideas for FP3 to significantly increase raise his speed. However, this was not to be, so he had to qualify from Q1.
Lorenzo once again gave a glimpse of what he’s capable on the RC213V by lapping fast enough to promote himself to the Q2 session for the fastest riders, despite the strong winds. Despite a technical glitch that forced him to switch to his second bike halfway through the 15-minute Q2 outing Lorenzo completed the session in 11th place, which gives him his best grid slot of the year so far, with plenty better to come over the new races.
Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU RC213V) found himself in a similar position – deprived of vital track time as he worked to get the best out of his 2018 RC213V, which he raced for the first time last month. Nonetheless the 26-year-old from Chiba acquitted himself well, gaining speed steadily and convinced that he will be able to significantly better this grid position in the race. Nakagami will start tomorrow from the fifth row of the grid in 15th position, alongside two rival factory riders.
Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP Kalex) was the fastest man in windblown Moto2 qualifying, scoring the second pole position of his career, just 0.058 seconds ahead of Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex). The front row was completed by Briton Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 Kalex), who was Moto2 winner here in 2015.
Twenty-six-year-old Schrötter starts his 160th Grand Prix tomorrow and is still chasing his first victory in any class. He has so far scored three podiums, the first at last year’s San Marino GP.
The second row of the grid is led by Thomas Luthi (Dynavolt Intact GP Kalex), ahead of Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM) and Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up Speed Up).
Moto2 rookies Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) and Dimas Ekky Pratama (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) had a demanding introduction to one of MotoGP’s most technically complex racetracks. There is so much to learn here, with 20 corners of every conceivable type, and an increasing number of bumps that are causing difficulties for riders in every class.
Twenty-year-old Thai rider Chantra, who finished in a stirring tenth place in Argentina three weeks ago, ended today in 24th position, having missed the FP3 session which might have helped him unlock more of the circuit’s secrets. Tomorrow the 2016 Asia Talent Cup champion will work as hard as he did last time out to get into the points-scoring positions.
Ekky Pratama also focused mostly on finding the best lines through the many corners and between the many corners. The 26-year-old Indonesian rider, who is a former winner of the Suzuka 4 Hours race aboard a Honda CBR600R, ended today with the 30th fastest time after crashing at the beginning of qualifying, so he could not make a real attempt at setting his fastest lap time.
The changeable conditions and loss of practice time caused problems as much for Moto3 riders and teams as for everyone else. Moto3 qualifying began today’s action on a treacherous soaking track, with 23-year-old Italian Niccolo Antonelli (Sic58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW) making the best of the conditions to take his first pole position of the season as he fights to reduce the ten-point gap he has to series leader Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW).
Twenty-two-year-old Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3 Honda NSF250RW) made it two NSF250RW machines on the front row of the grid, the young Spaniard still chasing his first Grand Prix victory.
Honda riders dominated the category at the end of yesterday’s two dry practice sessions, with five NSF250RW riders filling the first five positions. Fastest was Romano Fenati (Snipers Team Honda NSF250RW), who won the Moto3 race here in 2016 and 2017, but the best the young Italian could do in the rain today was 12th quickest, for a fourth-row start.
The third row tomorrow will be an all-Honda affair, with Antonelli’s team-mate Tatsuki Suzuki (Sic58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW) leading the row with seventh-best time, just in front of John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda NSF250RW) and Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW).
Fenati’s fourth row is all Honda riders also, with the former COTA winner alongside tenth-fastest Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) and team-mate Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW).
World Championship leader and Qatar GP winner Toba has had a challenging two days here. The 19-year-old Japanese from Fukuoka has high hopes of maintaining his championship advantage; however he fell during the final moments of the Q1 qualifying session, during his fastest lap. That tumble put him on the eighth row of the grid, with plenty of work to do in the race.
Toba’s team-mate Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) also faces an uphill battle tomorrow, having qualified 19th, one row ahead of Toba, after running fractionally wide on his final lap and having the lap time cancelled.
Former Asia Talent Cup champion Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda NSF250RW) was 17th quickest today.
After tomorrow’s racing the MotoGP paddock returns to Europe for the main section of the World Championship, commencing with the Spanish GP on May 5.
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team: 1st, 2m 03.787s
“I’m happy to be on pole position but for tomorrow nothing is certain yet. Today we were fastest and got pole, but no one knows about race pace or tires yet as we lost FP3. We will have to work well in Warm Up to make up for the time we sadly lost to the weather. After Warm Up we will know more but there are many people who could be in the fight.”
Cal Crutchlow, LCR Honda CASTROL: 3rd, 2m 04.147s
“Maybe it’s old age, with Valentino (Rossi) in second and me in third, maybe we’re coming back round again with age! I feel good, although I was not overly pleased with my lap, because I lost the front three times in one lap. We changed the setting from yesterday, but because we didn’t have the morning session (FP3) we needed to use qualifying as a little bit of a test and I lost the front in all the hairpin corners. I was angry with the lap because of myself as I pushed a lot in the braking zone. I’m happy enough though, nobody is anywhere near Marc. You saw him in the damp session and he was two seconds clear. But we did a good job and the team is working very well. I’m happy with the team, happy with the bike, everything is going well and I look forward to tomorrow.”
Jorge Lorenzo, Repsol Honda Team: 11th, 2m 05.383s
“A challenging day today with the weather where we unfortunately lost some time. I was feeling strong in Q1 and pushed hard to get through, then we had an issue in Q2 which upset our plan. The other bike had a different setting as we are trying a lot of different things so we couldn’t unlock our full potential. Tomorrow will be a physical race, it always is here.“
Takaaki Nakagami, LCR Honda IDEMITSU: 15th, 2m 06.324s
“I think the weather made it really complicated for everybody. Yesterday we finished outside of the top 10 in P15, then FP3 was cancelled so we didn’t have any further chance to improve, ahead of qualifying. FP4 was in mixed conditions and at the end of the session we tested with slick tires to prepare for Q1, which was difficult for me and the strong winds didn’t help either. We struggled to make a lap time with the new tires and it’s been hard so far this weekend. But qualifying is gone now, so we’re preparing for the race and I think race distance will suit us better than qualifying. Of course we’re quite disappointed with our performance today and yesterday, but we hope to do better in the race.”
Marcel Schrötter, Dynavolt Intact GP: 1st, 2m 10.875s
“It was a strange day today with morning practice cancelled and so much waiting. I am happy that finally we were able to qualify on a dry track, after all the rain this morning. I felt really good yesterday and good again today, despite the wind, which made the riding quite difficult. Although the conditions weren’t perfect I tried to focus on myself, to make the best possible lap. I am fast here and I hope tomorrow we can turn that into a win.”
Alex Marquez, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS: 2nd, 2m 10.933s
“It was a difficult day for everybody with the bad weather conditions this morning and it was not easy to go directly into the qualifying session. The conditions this afternoon were very tricky because the wind was so strong and the grip was low. I think we managed the situation in a good way and we improved the bike from yesterday. The objective was to be on the front row and we achieved that. I need the warm-up to work on being smoother and more consistent because I think that is going to be the key for the race. Like in Argentina, the rider who makes the least mistakes will be strongest. If I can be constant I know I have a great chance but we need to finish and collect maximum points. The podium is a good target but if I feel good I will push for the victory.”
Sam Lowes, Federal Oil Gresini Moto2: 3rd, 2m 11.123s
“It wasn’t an easy day given the lack of track time following the cancellation of FP3. We wanted to continue working on our race pace but I must say that the base set-up found yesterday is good so I’m ready to battle for the win tomorrow. It was really important to get on the front row at this track, but with a quick qualifying session and a bit of wind it wasn’t easy to achieve. We are ready and I cannot wait for tomorrow.”
Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia: 24th, 2m 14.240s
“I was waiting to go on track this morning to test something new but it was not possible due to the heavy rain which prevented up practicing. We therefore missed many important laps, but also to setting up the bike correctly. Finally we rode in qualifying and I felt really good, so the bike it’s ready for tomorrow. About myself I have many things to improve, but I cannot wait to go on track in full attack!”
Dimas Ekky Pratama (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia: 30th, -
“Today was a hard day for me. I went out on the track to focus on improving my lap time but from beginning I didn’t feel good with the tires. My first thinking was that tires were cold and didn’t push but in the corner before last I opened the throttle and I crashed. I’m very disappointed because I couldn’t do a lap. All the team worked hard to send me back out on the track but it was not possible. We have to forget this day and be ready for race tomorrow.”
Niccolo Antonelli, Sic58 Squadra Corse: 1st, 2m 31.346s
“All the rainfall made our qualifying sessions quite difficult, because the track was very slippery in these conditions. Normally I have struggled in the wet, but my team have done a great job and I felt very good on the bike. Also, I am not having the same problems I’ve had over the last few seasons, when I’ve had many injuries, so I have not been able to concentrate properly on riding the bike. now I can focus on riding the bike and this is a big difference for me – I now feel strong physically!”
Gabriel Rodrigo, Kömmerling Gresini Moto3: 3rd, 2m 32.129s
“I’m not fully satisfied with today's result. Yesterday I had good feelings in dry conditions, but on today’s wet track I didn't feel so good. Today the conditions were dangerous and tricky and with the new qualifying schedule we only have 15 minutes to try to understand the track. Anyway tomorrow we start from the second row and we can fight for a good race.”
Ai Ogura, Honda Team Asia: 19th, 2m 36.443s
“Today there is not too much to say. We missed FP3 and we went onto the track for qualifying in full wet conditions. The good point is that I also feel comfortable with the bike in wet conditions. We were close to being in Q2, but finally we were just outside, so Q2 was not possible. We will start from 19th position and again I will fight for points. I hope for a dry race tomorrow, because in the wet conditions can happen.”
Kaito Toba, Honda Team Asia: 24th, 2m 37.742s
“Today we qualified in wet conditions, and I have to be honest and recognize that this is not my strong point. I went onto the track full of confidence trying to set a good lap time. Lap by lap I was pushing little by little but on my best flying lap I tried to open the throttle earlier and I crashed. The position for tomorrow is a disaster but I will keep positive and focus to make a good start to catch the front group.”
|1||Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)|
|2||Valentino ROSSI (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP)|
|3||Cal CRUTCHLOW (LCR Honda CASTROL)|
|4||Jack MILLER (Pramac Racing)|
|5||Pol ESPARGARO (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)|
|6||Maverick VIÑALES (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP)|
|7||Alex RINS (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR)|
|8||Danilo PETRUCCI (Mission Winnow Ducati)|
|9||Fabio QUARTARARO (Petronas Yamaha SRT)|
|10||Franco MORBIDELLI (Petronas Yamaha SRT)|
|11||Jorge LORENZO (Repsol Honda Team)|
|12||Francesco BAGNAIA (Pramac Racing)|
|13||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Mission Winnow Ducati)|
|14||Joan MIR (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR)|
|15||Takaaki NAKAGAMI (LCR Honda IDEMITSU)|
|16||Aleix ESPARGARO (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini)|
|17||Andrea IANNONE (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini)|
|18||Miguel OLIVEIRA (Red Bull KTM Tech 3)|
|19||Johann ZARCO (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)|
|20||Karel ABRAHAM (Reale Avintia Racing)|
|21||Hafizh SYAHRIN (Red Bull KTM Tech 3)|
|22||Tito RABAT (Reale Avintia Racing)|
|1||Marcel SCHROTTER (Dynavolt Intact GP)|
|2||Alex MARQUEZ (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)|
|3||Sam LOWES (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2)|
|4||Thomas LUTHI (Dynavolt Intact GP)|
|5||Brad BINDER (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|6||Jorge NAVARRO (Beta Tools Speed Up)|
|7||Mattia PASINI (Flexbox HP 40)|
|8||Jorge MARTIN (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|9||Simone CORSI (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2)|
|10||Luca MARINI (SKY Racing Team VR46)|
|11||Andrea LOCATELLI (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|12||Marco BEZZECCHI (Red Bull KTM Tech 3)|
|13||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO (Beta Tools Speed Up)|
|14||Tetsuta NAGASHIMA (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team)|
|15||Lorenzo BALDASSARRI (Flexbox HP 40)|
|16||Bo BENDSNEYDER (NTS RW Racing GP)|
|17||Enea BASTIANINI (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|18||Remy GARDNER (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team)|
|19||Iker LECUONA (American Racing KTM)|
|20||Xavi VIERGE (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)|
|21||Jesko RAFFIN (NTS RW Racing GP)|
|22||Joe ROBERTS (American Racing KTM)|
|23||Khairul Idham PAWI (Petronas Sprinta Racing)|
|24||Somkiat CHANTRA (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia)|
|25||Philipp OETTL (Red Bull KTM Tech 3)|
|26||Lukas TULOVIC (Kiefer Racing)|
|27||Gabriele RUIU (MV Agusta Idealavoro Forward)|
|28||Xavi CARDELUS (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team)|
|29||Dominique AEGERTER (MV Agusta Idealavoro Forward)|
|RT||Dimas EKKY PRATAMA (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia)|
|RT||Jake DIXON (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team)|
|1||Niccolò ANTONELLI (SIC58 Squadra Corse)|
|2||Raul FERNANDEZ (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team)|
|3||Gabriel RODRIGO (Kommerling Gresini Moto3)|
|4||Jaume MASIA (Bester Capital Dubai)|
|5||Darryn BINDER (CIP Green Power)|
|6||Aron CANET (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team)|
|7||Tatsuki SUZUKI (SIC58 Squadra Corse)|
|8||John MCPHEE (Petronas Sprinta Racing)|
|9||Alonso LOPEZ (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|10||Marcos RAMIREZ (Leopard Racing)|
|11||Lorenzo DALLA PORTA (Leopard Racing)|
|12||Romano FENATI (VNE Snipers)|
|13||Andrea MIGNO (Bester Capital Dubai)|
|14||Dennis FOGGIA (SKY Racing Team VR46)|
|15||Jakub KORNFEIL (Redox PruestelGP)|
|16||Kazuki MASAKI (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race)|
|17||Ayumu SASAKI (Petronas Sprinta Racing)|
|18||Tony ARBOLINO (VNE Snipers)|
|19||Ai OGURA (Honda Team Asia)|
|20||Can ONCU (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|21||Celestino VIETTI (SKY Racing Team VR46)|
|22||Makar YURCHENKO (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race)|
|23||Tom BOOTH-AMOS (CIP Green Power)|
|24||Kaito TOBA (Honda Team Asia)|
|25||Sergio GARCIA (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|26||Riccardo ROSSI (Kommerling Gresini Moto3)|
|27||Aleix VIU (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team)|
|28||Filip SALAC (Redox PruestelGP)|
|29||Vicente PEREZ (Reale Avintia Arizona 77)|