Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after qualifying at Assen:
Double front row start for Repsol Honda after erratic weather causes havoc in Assen
After yesterday’s unfamiliar dry conditions in Assen, today the unpredictable Dutch weather arrived. Fortunately both Repsol Honda riders, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, recorded a time yesterday to promote them into this afternoon’s Q2 as this morning’s FP3 session the track wasn’t fully wet – or dry – and neither Marc or Dani set a flying lap.
The weather improved slightly for FP4 and Marc set the fastest ever lap here on two wheels with a time of 1’33.462 (lap 12/15). However, the elements soon rolled in and just as the riders exited pitlane for the start of Q2, the rain arrived. In an intense first five minutes – of the fifteen minute session – all twelve riders in the shootout competed for the best line, anxious to record a fast time before the track became too wet.
Marc and Dani attacked immediately, passing several riders, and set times fast enough to place them second and third on the grid. All riders returned to the garages but as the track became wetter, the qualifying was decided. Most riders then utilised the final seven minutes to get a feeling for their bike in the wet, incase tomorrow’s twenty-six lap race serves more of the same.
2nd - 1'40.194
"I’m happy with this front row, although we obviously wanted to take pole! The weather was very unpredictable, as sometimes it was raining and then it stopped – meaning that conditions were far from ideal. My goal was to get onto the front row, so when I saw that I was up into second I decided not to take any more risks; there was a lot to lose and not much to gain, so I kept calm because I had already reached my target”
3rd - 1'40.732
"It was a difficult session because the track was half-dry, half-wet, and then it started to rain more heavily. We went out with slick tyres and had time to put in a couple of laps, although there was a lot of traffic and we were all close together. It was hard to know how much of a risk we could take. Finally, with the track half-wet, we managed to set a good time and qualify on the front row which I'm happy with. Tomorrow we will continue working on the bike and try to have a good race, which could be either dry or wet”
Aleix Espargaro takes pole position on legendary Assen
Tomorrow the MotoGP race at the legendary TT Assen will see Aleix Espargaro get away from pole position on the grid, ahead of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa on row one.
After having set the new Circuit Best Lap yesterday, Aleix Espargaro chose the perfect strategy in a qualifying session affected by the rain. He waited the best moment to set a best lap time of 1’38.789, taking his first ever pole position in career.
It was a very special moment for the whole NGM Forward Racing Team and Colin Edwards congratulated his team mate. Aleix’s result was a shiny spot in a difficult day that saw the Texan rider struggling for lack of confidence. Tomorrow Edwards will take the start of the TT Assen from the 6th row (1’35.484).
“It was a difficult day, I’m struggling a lot as I don’t have the feeling with the front. I want to congratulate the whole team and it was great for Aleix getting the pole position. It’s a shiny spot for everybody and I’m happy for the whole team that is doing a great job”.
“I’m really happy. It’s so far a perfect weekend: yesterday we set the record of the track, today the pole position and tomorrow it will be a special feeling to take the start of my 150th GP from the first spot of the grid in front of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa. We have been fast in all the sessions and when it started to rain at the beginning of the Q2, I decided to wait just 30 seconds to avoid to be packed in the group. It was a risk but it paid and it was the right decision. I want to thank the whole team for the great work”.
Rain Disrupts TT Assen Qualifying For Movistar Yamaha
Assen (The Netherlands), 27th June 2014
This afternoon’s qualifying session for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of the Netherlands was anything but smooth with rain falling as the clock began its 15-minute countdown.
Movistar Yamaha riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi were quick to leave the pits as the first drops fell but were soon embroiled in a desperate pack of riders attempting to lock down a fast time before the track was too wet. With no clear space for a clean hot lap and grip rapidly disappearing the two returned to the pits with just over five minutes remaining, Lorenzo in ninth with a 1’42.259 and Rossi in 12th with a 1’43.625.
Both returned to the track for a last attempt but the track conditions made it impossible for any improvement. As a result Lorenzo will start tomorrow’s race from the third row in ninth position and Rossi will start from the fourth row in 12th.
99 Jorge Lorenzo
9th / 1'42.259 / 8 laps
“It was a pity because I think with dry conditions we could stay in first row, but it was dry but spitting in some places like normal Assen circumstances. Like this it’s very difficult to go with slicks and understand the limit of the track. You can feel good in two or three corners and suddenly arrive on one corner and it’s wet and you crash. I tried to let some riders run in first position but they didn't want to so when we arrived in the last corner I decided to push. Maybe it wasn't the right strategy. It's a lesson to learn for the future. The pace is good but obviously it's not going to be easy to overtake the in theory slower riders tomorrow. I hope to pass some people on the first corners and little by little move up. The race is long and if we have a good pace we can fight for the podium.”
46 Valentino Rossi
12th / 1'43.625 / 8 laps
“It’s a shame because I was competitive today and in all the practices so I thought I could fight for a good position for tomorrow. Unfortunately we had rain at just the wrong moment and I have to start from the fourth row. This changes a lot and everything will be harder. Jorge is close to me but our competitors are on the front row so it will be hard. On the dry I know I can be competitive, I have a good pace so we have to try the maximum. We improved a lot the stability of the bike for today, so I can push. Especially this afternoon I was really good so I am happy with the pace. We have to wait for tomorrow to see what the conditions are but I hope for a dry race."
“Unfortunately this afternoon was a waste. The rain and probably the position of our riders when the rain began to fall compromised the work we’ve done during these two days. The riders are satisfied with the bike setting and the pace is good, so to start from the third and fourth row is not the best place where we would like to be. We have to deal with that and we still believe that we can achieve good results.”
Crutchlow and Dovizioso make the best of weather conditions to set fifth and seventh quickest time in TT Assen qualifying
In an incredible Q2 session, marked by light rain that increased in intensity, Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso managed to make the best of the conditions to set fifth and seventh quickest times respectively. As a result the two Ducati Team riders will start tomorrow’s TT Assen, round 8 of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship, from rows 2 and 3 of the grid.
The British rider in particular put together a good result after four difficult free practice sessions. Forced to take part in Q1, Crutchlow managed to move through to the next round, lapping in 1’34.598. Then at the start of Q2, as the rain increased, he immediately set a time of 1’40.796, which earned him fifth place on the grid for tomorrow’s race, his best qualifying performance so far with Ducati.
Dovizioso instead was unable to get the best out of the few moments of dry track time available and had to settle for seventh place on the grid. However Andrea declared he was quite satisfied with the work done today, during which he tried out a slightly different set-up as well as the soft tyre, which gave good results.
Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team #35) – 5th (1’40.796)
“Obviously again today was a tough challenging day. We went the wrong way with the set-up in FP4 and I couldn’t make the bike turn at all, but then for Q1 we changed something and it seemed to get better. My lap time was almost as fast as my pole time last year, so we can’t really say anything! In the damp conditions, I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t get past the riders in front of me because I feel we could have taken better advantage. The reality is that this afternoon we played the right cards and I threw the chips all in!”
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 7th (1’41.140)
“This qualifying session was a bit dangerous, but also enjoyable. Those who took the most risks went the quickest, and so in these conditions a seventh place is quite good: all I need to do tomorrow is get off the line well so as not to lose touch at the start. I’m happy with the work we did today, because in FP4 we tried a different set-up, which improved the feeling. We also pushed ahead with the soft tyre: performance drops off a bit, but it proved to be quite constant and I managed to set some good laps at the end.”
Andrea Iannone conquers the fourth position; fifth row for Yonny Hernandez
The final day of testing at Assen was characterized by an uncertain weather that changed several times the conditions of the track. The smartest riders in qualifying were able to do the better, including also Andrea Iannone. Instead his teammate Yonny Hernandez was not so lucky, and did not advance beyond the QP1.
The bad climatic conditions did not help The Pramac Racing Team, in the last timed practice session the riders were not able to improve their lap times recorded yesterday. Andrea Iannone, in the combined classification qualifies fifth, gaining direct access to the QP2. A slight but annoying rain started fall back on track on the first lap of the QP2, but the young Italian rider was not intimidated and wriggled out of his opponents, conquering a great fourth position just 0.054 from the front row.
Missing the opportunity to take over the positions necessary to directly access Q2, Yonny Hernandez (EnergyT.I. Pramac Racing) focused all his efforts in the last free practice session to find the right setup of his GP13. In the first qualifying session, Yonny immediately went fast and on the second lap recorded a good time in 1’35.056, which earned him the second temporary position. Shortly after the rain started again and the EnergyT.I. rider, almost certain that the conditions of the asphalt would not improve, entered the garage to keep an eye on the times of his opponents. Five minutes from the end times begun to improve so Yonny went back on track to not lose the position gained. Unfortunately he was not able to and as a result will now line up on the fifth row for the start of tomorrow's race.
Andrea Iannone (Pramac Racing)
"It was a good qualifying, although we are a fare from the lap times we need to achieve. I saw that it was beginning to rain so I tried to push hard from the first lap, thinking it was the right thing to do and I managed to make a good time. During FP4 we worked on the bike so that I could improve my pace, after trying various solutions at the end of session we were able to get closer to what we wanted. "
Yonny Hernandez (EnergyT.I. Pramac Racing)
"It was not bad today, yesterday was much tougher. I lost access QP2 for a hair, I saw that it was beginning to rain so I decided to come back thinking that it would not stop but unfortunately it was not so. I am optimistic for tomorrow, we have done a good job and I’m sure to be able to finish in the points again. "
Best qualifying of the season. Abraham closely missed second qualifying
Karel Abraham will start from head of the fifth row to the Dutch Grand Prix at Assen. The Czech rider broke the psychological barrier of one minute and thirty-five second per lap and he missed tightly, with the thirteenth fastest time lap, movement the next round of elite riders fighting for first twenty positions on the starting grid. Nevertheless Friday result is Abraham's maximum of the season.
„I´m really happy, this is my best result of this season. But it´s something we must fought for. We were struggling with the excessive spin of rear tyre and the weather made everything unpredictable. However, the fact is that I was finally able to make a perfect „qualifying lap“, which was significantly better than the other ones. And this is the reason, why I got my position. We´ll see what tomorrow brings to us. But I´m pretty sure that it will be really exciting race.“
Marco Grana, Cardion AB chief mechanic
„We made really very fast lap time. We are 0,8 second faster compared to the 2011 prototype Ducati. And then it was enough for 7th position! I must stress, that this result is fantastic for us after many problems we suffered this weekend. Other good news is that we made fast lap on worn tyre, and this is very promising for the race. Our target is to stay in the front group and I´m sure we can make it, because Valentino is on 12th position just in front of us. So we will be in close touch with one of the best riders. On the other hand all qualifying times are very close to each other, so it will be tough fight for points. But I hope we would be able to confirm today´s shape.”
BAUTISTA TENTH AS RAIN DISRUPTS ASSEN QUALIFYING. REDDING 16th
The Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini experienced today a complicated qualifying day at the historic TT Assen circuit in the Netherlands: this morning the changeable weather with some light rain didn’t allow Alvaro Baautista to enter directly into the decisive Qualifying 2, which decides the first twelve positions on the starting grid and then, after a good Qualifying 1 on a dry track, closed by the Spaniard with a good 1’34”274, the rain disrupted again the crucial QP2 session.
With damp track conditions, all riders were on track during the first stages of the session: a difficult situation who saw Bautista clocking the tenth fastest time, 1’42”884, which means that the Spaniard will start tomorrow’s 26-laps race from the fourth row.
His teammate Scott Redding, closed the Qualifying 1 with the sixth fastest time, therefore he will start tomorrow from 16th place on the grid: the English rookie is satisfied with the behaviour of his bike in dry conditions and is confident ahead of tomorrow's race, but he’s a bit disappointed to be behind Abraham and Aoyama’s Honda RCV1000R machines on the grid, even if only by one tenth of a second.
ALVARO BAUTISTA (10th - 1'42"884)
“Today has been a really strange day: yesterday during practice we could set a lap time to jump right into the Qualifying 2, in order to feel more relaxed today, but it was not possible because of the traffic, and this morning it rained... During FP4 we also tried two different set-up solutions looking for more traction, but with no improvement, so we went back to the previous set-up for the Qualifying 1; in this session, however, I was able to be fast even if I didn’t use new tyres but then, right at the beginning of the Q2,it started to rain and it was very risky. The conditions were the same for everyone, but on the first lap I preferred not to push too hard because if I fell and the track had dried out, I'd be in an even worse situation. Tomorrow first of all we will keep an eye on weather conditions, because overall I’m happy with my feeling on the bike in the dry”.
SCOTT REDDING (16th - 1'35"059)
“The Qualifying wasn’t bad, all the Open Class Hondas are very close; we made more or less the same lap time, and my race pace is quite good, so I’m not too worried about the grid position. Maybe it’s going to rain for the race, so we have to change our plans because I still made no laps on the wet with this bike. Overall I’m quite happy, also because I made my best lap alone, but I’m obviously a little bit disappointed to be only the third fastest Porduction Racer Honda, even if the gap is minimal”.
“I’m not happy with today’s Qualifying... We want and must do better results than the tenth position on the grid: we encountered difficult conditions in the decisive Qualifying 2, but it was the same for everyone. Tomorrow the race will be definitely not easy because on this track it’s really important to be in a good position in the first laps, and actually we will start from the fourth row. Scott set more or less the same time of the other ‘Production Racer’ bikes, so we can say that he has done his duty; I think that tomorrow he can do a good performance”.
Best qualifying performance for Danilo Petrucci ad Assen
Assen, June 27, 2014 – Excellent performance for Danilo Petrucci in qualifying for the Grand Prix of Holland at the Assen circuit. The Octo Iodaracing MotoGP Team rider gain the 17th time in Q1 in 1.35.346, better than we did last year by Aleix Espargarò in 2013 (the winner of the CRT, then riding the ART with Aprilia ECU) which stopped the clock at 1.35.500 getting the fifth time in the grid.
Petrucci, who still runs with little mobility and pain in the left wrist due to the accident at Jerez that kept him out of racing for almost two months, failed to handle the situation, trying to drive her over the issue.
After the choose to don’t ride in the third free practice session in the morning so as not to risk the rain, Danilo Petrucci and Team Octo Iodaracing Team have focused on the qualifications making some refinements to the ART number 9 in the fourth session of free practice.
Thanks to this final set up and the ability to Danilo Petrucci to bite the bullet and drive over to the pain coming from his left wrist, the Octo Iodaracing MotoGP Team has obtained the best qualifying performance of the year with an important recognition to level of lap times for the bike this year using the Magneti Marelli ECU provided for in Open regulation.
DANILO PETRUCCI – MOTOGP RIDER # 9 – 1.35.346 IN Q1 – 17 ° – SIXTH ROW - “I’m happy with the end result of these qualifications, I do not think I could do so well. This is a track that I really like from the times of the Superstock but with the wrist problem I would not bet on today’s lap time. The wrist now makes me quite ill and it is also a bit inflated, but since I took to the track this morning I just thought if I had to ride like all both arms were good. I’m really happy with the work of the team and Aprilia. I managed to change something before Q1 and immediately went strong. Tomorrow I hope in a race with the rain. Though we have not tried it with the wet, this condition could help me out in less strain on the wrist, otherwise it will be hard to do a race that points to the least points”.
Smith battles tricky conditions to seize second row start
Today’s qualifying session was different from the usual MotoGP script with the rain occurring just as the session began, leading all riders to undertake only a couple of laps and in one fierce pack. That did not hinder Bradley Smith’s determination to battle as the leading satellite bike in tomorrow’s race, who skilfully guided his Yamaha YZR-M1 around the fast flowing Assen circuit to 6th place in qualifying. The young British rider produced a firm display today with his performance from yesterday afternoon enabling him to glide straight through to Q2, after this morning’s FP3 session experienced slight rainfall which prevented the riders from improving their lap times. In the second 15 minute shootout session, the 23 year old rider formidably powered through the tricky conditions to produce a best time of 1.40,818 which will see him start tomorrow’s race from the second row. The lap was fractionally off 3rd place by the blink of an eye with a gap of only 0.086 and his positive qualifying leaves the British rider primed to forcefully battle to beat his previous best result this year of 5th in Austin.
Pol Espargaro will begin round 8 of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship from 11th on the grid after having experienced unlucky circumstances during qualifying today. The reigning Moto2 world champion opened proceedings in a truly inspiring manner by clinching 1st place in the dry morning practice session yesterday. He then progressed instantly through to Q2 courtesy of his FP2 time and had to face his first ever wet experience of his young MotoGP career in the most inconvenient moment of the weekend where everything comes down to one lap. He remained resolute in the tricky conditions, before pulling off a lap time of 1.43.085. Nevertheless, the solid rhythm the Spaniard showed over the whole weekend sees him remain determined to storm to success in tomorrow’s 26 lap dash around the 4542 metre ‘cathedral of speed’.
Position : 6th Time :1'40.818 Laps : 4
"It’s good to get the second row for the race around here tomorrow as the start is always vital to the race whether it’s wet or dry. I am still a little disappointed with myself as I was in a pack of twelve riders and perhaps I should have dropped back so that I could have undertaken the lap on my own without the traffic or distraction of the others. The bike felt good today despite the ever-changing conditions but it was a bit tricky at times. On my only lap, I had a big moment in the last section of the track and at one point I touched the grass so for sure I could have gone faster which is a shame as I painfully close away from my second front row start of the season. Anyway, it’s a decent position to start from and I will use it to get the best possible result tomorrow whatever the weather decides to do."
Position : 11th
Time :1'43.085 Laps : 6
"I have no words to describe how disappointed I am. The feeling with the bike and the confidence I had this morning had been amazing and until the qualifying session it had probably been my best day on a MotoGP bike. That’s what really upsets me. However, I think we have just been unlucky. In the first and only actual lap I had, I passed Jorge and tried to follow Marc who managed to do a good time. But he then slowed down and hindered my pace in the first sector. I lost too much time before I was able to pass him, so I couldn’t improve my lap time anymore. Afterwards the rain was too intense to lower it further and that’s why we are starting in 11th position. Nevertheless we have to be positive and I am happy to say that in the case of a dry race, we are really competitive even when starting from the fourth row, which will not give us an easy task to ascend up the field."
BRADL TO START FROM 8th SPOT AFTER RAIN AFFECTED QP2 AT ASSEN
Assen, 27 June: tricky conditions affected day two at The Cathedral complicating MotoGP Teams and riders job ahead tomorrow’s 26-lap race. Initially the morning session saw the majority of the riders escaping the 45-min practice as the track was neither wet nor dry and the same mixed conditions influenced even the QP2 with LCR Honda Stefan Bradl setting the 8th lap time (1’41.982). Naturally the German, who will start from the middle of the third row, is not satisfied about his qualifying but he preferred to not take any risk on uncertain surface conditions.
Bradl: “We had a tricky qualifying today and even the free practice in the morning was not completely wet so we have been a bit unlucky with the weather. I do not have so much to say, we took the 8th spot in the grid because it was like a lottery. We could have pushed earlier in the session but it started to rain in certain parts of the track and in some others the asphalt was dry. We were a group of riders overtaking each others like in a race but in some points we could push and in some others we had to slow down so it was impossible for me to do a proper flying lap and I thought it was stupid to take risks”.
Aoyama narrowly misses out on Q2
DRIVE M7 Aspar rider to start from fourteenth after lapping just three tenths shy of second session qualification
The legendary Assen circuit lived up to its reputation for unstable weather today as a light rain shower came right on cue at the start of MotoGP qualifying this afternoon, making for an entertaining and unpredictable session. All riders went out on track and pushed for a fast time at the start of the session on slick tyres, before the track surface became too damp. It looked more like a race than a qualifying session but it was 'Open' category rider Aleix Espargaró who timed his run the best, hanging off the back of the group to clinch the first pole position of his career ahead of factory pair Marc Márquez and Dani Pedrosa.
DRIVE M7 Aspar rider Hiroshi Aoyama has been in determined mood all weekend after finding extra confidence from a change to his front suspension set-up, which is allowing him to ride more freely and with more confidence. Hiro made progress through the Q1 session and posted two fast laps, stopping the clock at 1'34.930 to close to within 0.3 seconds of a stop in Q2. His team-mate Nicky Hayden made an honest assessment of a disappointing day that saw his usual hard work and endeavour go unrewarded as he struggled to 22nd position.
14th Hiroshi Aoyama 1.34.930: “The track conditions were changing every five minutes today and it wasn't easy to judge. Luckily qualifying took place on a dry track and even though we didn't have much time available we managed to put two fast laps together and achieve our objective of setting a 1'34. I feel pretty comfortable on the bike this weekend thanks mainly to the changes on the front suspension. The new fork seems to be helping me although we still need to keep building confidence and gradually finding the perfect set-up. Anyway, I am more comfortable today and looking forward to the race tomorrow. I will give it my best shot and hopefully finish the weekend with a strong result.”
22nd Nicky Hayden 1.35.792: “It wasn't an easy session for us and it's a shame because we improved a little in the last free practice, getting down to 1'35.9 on used tyres. I improved my time in qualifying but made some mistakes. The bike didn't perform 100% but neither did I so there are no excuses, I have to take responsibility for today. I know I can do a lot better so tomorrow I will work hard to make sure that's the case. Today is over, we have to start thinking about the race now and how we can improve. We'll try to get the bike turning a little better and hopefully get a bit more out of the acceleration to keep the bike on the right line from corner to corner.”
Espargaro claims first MotoGP™ pole position in action-packed Assen qualifying
Round 8: Dutch TT - Qualifying
Assen, Friday June 27 2014
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Extra-soft, Soft & Medium; Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main), Hard (Alternative)
Weather: FP3 – Dry/Wet. Ambient 18-18°C; Track 22-23°C (Bridgestone measurement)
FP4-QP – Dry/Wet. Ambient 20-21°C; Track 27-30°C (Bridgestone measurement)
NGM Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro claimed his first ever pole position after a rain shower at the start of Qualifying Practice 2 turned the session into an exciting one-lap dash as riders tried to set a quick lap on slick tyres before conditions deteriorated.
Espargaro judged the conditions perfectly, running apart from the main pack of riders to set a lap time of 1'38.789 to end the session 1.405 seconds ahead of the next-best qualifier, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez. On the other Repsol Honda RC213V, Dani Pedrosa was third quickest in qualifying as he set a time of 1'40.732 before the rain intensified after which all the riders were unable to improve their times further.
Today’s weather was generally fine, although the occasional rain shower created variable track conditions at times. Light rain fell at the start of the morning Free Practice 3 session, with many riders taking the opportunity to scrub a set of wet tyres for later use, before conditions improved allowing riders to use slick tyres for the rest of the session. The afternoon FP4 session was dry, allowing riders to perform longer runs on their preferred slick tyre combination, and the fine conditions allowed Marquez to set a new Circuit Best Lap record time of 1'33.462. Ambient and track temperatures were slightly cooler than yesterday, with today’s peak track temperature of 30° being thirteen degrees cooler than yesterday.
The cooler conditions today resulted in the riders preferring softer rear slick options, while the soft compound front tyre was the most popular. However, some riders opted to use the extra-soft front slick, preferring the extra edge grip this option provides rather than the better braking stability of the soft option. If tomorrow’s race is run in dry conditions, it is expected that the majority of the riders will use the softest rear slick option available to them, paired with the soft compound front slick.
Weather forecasts indicate similar conditions to today, with a fair chance of rain. The next MotoGP™ session is tomorrow’s Warm Up session at 0940 local time (GMT+1) before the twenty-six lap race commences at 1400.
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department
“Today’s conditions were cooler with rainy periods, so the riders perhaps to use the same tyre combinations that they evaluated yesterday. In FP3 and FP4, the riders continued to use the softer rear slick options and due to the cooler weather, no Factory riders decided to try the hard rear slick option. If conditions are dry tomorrow I think most of the riders are clear on their race tyre choice, and I expect the majority of riders to use the soft compound front slick. For the rear, it appears that the Factory Honda and Yamaha riders will use the medium compound rear, while most of the Ducati and Open-class entrants will use the soft compound rear. In the case of a wet race, each rider will be able to choose from the soft and hard wet tyre compounds, so even if there is rain tomorrow tyre strategy could still play an important part in the race.”