2015 Motegi MotoGP Qualifying Practice Result: Head To Head Battle Awaits

Results and summary of qualifying for the MotoGP class at Motegi:

Jorge Lorenzo has taken his fourth pole position of the year in a scintillating qualifying session that went down to the wire. It was a session in which tactics and strategy proved crucial, right from the very start. Lorenzo got out of the pits first as usual, but Valentino Rossi was lying in wait, following his Movistar Yamaha teammate out and using him as a target. Lorenzo's first flying lap took him to the top of the timesheets, but Rossi's strategy paid off, crossing the line and taking over at the top straight away.

Lorenzo came in early, and went out on the same bike with a new rear tire, and on his second run became the first rider to ever lap the Motegi circuit in under 1'44 seconds, taking provisional pole with a time of 1'43.990. Rossi also came in to swap tires, taking his time to go out for a second run, then pushing hard to take pole position back on his final lap. In the meantime, Lorenzo had come in for second stop, this time swapping bikes before going out again to a bike with a softer front. The gamble paid off, Lorenzo topping Rossi on his final run, securing pole and pushing his teammate back into 2nd.

Marc Marquez had a strong run to take 3rd on the grid, the Repsol Honda rider rounding out the front row despite a painful hand injury. Marquez was incapable of matching the pace of the Yamahas, though, finishing over four tenths behind Lorenzo's pole time. The two Ducatis which Rossi had feared might insert themselves between him and Lorenzo are on the second row, Andrea Dovizioso leading his teammate Andrea Iannone, while Dani Pedrosa rounds out the second row in 6th. Aleix Espargaro put the Suzuki into 7th spot, a second slower than the pole time of Lorenzo, finishing ahead of the two British riders, Cal Crutchlow taking 8th on the LCR Honda, Bradley Smith ending 9th. Smith's qualifying was marred by two big crashes, including a very fast one at Turn 12. The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider was lucky to walk away unharmed.


Pos No. Rider Bike Time Diff Diff Previous
1 99 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1'43.790    
2 46 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1'43.871 0.081 0.081
3 93 Marc Marquez Honda 1'44.216 0.426 0.345
4 4 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 1'44.322 0.532 0.106
5 29 Andrea Iannone Ducati 1'44.436 0.646 0.114
6 26 Dani Pedrosa Honda 1'44.582 0.792 0.146
7 41 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki 1'44.809 1.019 0.227
8 35 Cal Crutchlow Honda 1'44.932 1.142 0.123
9 38 Bradley Smith Yamaha 1'45.067 1.277 0.135
10 25 Maverick Viñales Suzuki 1'45.081 1.291 0.014
11 44 Pol Espargaro Yamaha 1'45.219 1.429 0.138
12 45 Scott Redding Honda 1'45.333 1.543 0.114
Q1 Result
Q2 25 Maverick Viñales Suzuki 1'45.030    
Q2 45 Scott Redding Honda 1'45.259 0.229 0.229
13 6 Stefan Bradl Aprilia 1'45.432 0.402 0.173
14 68 Yonny Hernandez Ducati 1'45.438 0.408 0.006
15 21 Katsuyuki Nakasuga Yamaha 1'45.496 0.466 0.058
16 19 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia 1'45.608 0.578 0.112
17 9 Danilo Petrucci Ducati 1'45.691 0.661 0.083
18 8 Hector Barbera Ducati 1'45.724 0.694 0.033
19 72 Takumi Takahashi Honda 1'45.743 0.713 0.019
20 50 Eugene Laverty Honda 1'45.751 0.721 0.008
21 69 Nicky Hayden Honda 1'45.843 0.813 0.092
22 43 Jack Miller Honda 1'46.039 1.009 0.196
23 76 Loris Baz Yamaha Forward 1'46.048 1.018 0.009
24 63 Mike Di Meglio Ducati 1'46.179 1.149 0.131
25 24 Toni Elias Yamaha Forward 1'46.256 1.226 0.077
26 64 Kousuke Akiyoshi Honda 1'47.760 2.730 1.504
  15 Alex De Angelis ART      


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That was an epic session and sets up for a great race. Nice write-up, David. 

Very good, looks like the old man has a few tricks up his sleeve without the need for rain.
He has found 1.7 seconds since FP2, astonishing.

It was his reason to "gamble" with a 3-run strategy. At the very end, 1 push for pole with the soft front. He also mentioned to Dylan Gray in parc ferme that this allowed him to save a "32" which (iirc) is the Medium compound tire.

JL's body language in parc ferme was nowhere near to a pole sitter...I don't think that he expected to this kind of difference to VR in qualifying...

Closer than I thought it would be. Well done by Rossi and his crew.

Question is, we saw this at Brno too. Then he faded during the race. Can he keep up this time?

At Brno he was almost 0.4 behind. Beside Lorenzo used soft front to get pole back. On the same tires he was slower (.990). But then again..you never know. I would say Rossi has good chance for a win.

If I'm reading the timeshares correctly then the top 12 riders are all inside the "Official" pole time from 2014!
Quite incredible!

2014 pole on Motegi was 1.44.502 (Dovizioso). So only 5 riders are inside last year pole. It is possible he mistakenly replaced 1.44.5 for 1.45.4 (then first 12 riders would be inside 2015 pole).

Pole position, jorge was dejected and looked annoyed too at something. One thing is for sure that the performance of valentino concerned him. Plus i think the change in grip surprised him. He thought, he may have gone faster than that but was unable to do so. I hope it doesn't rains tomorrow coz though vale is 2 tenths down on pace he manages that deficit in the race easily. Lorenzo too is fast but looking not in the best of shape....I saw a person helping him to undress his leather during fp4. He is obviously downplaying the intensity of his injury.

No real surprise he had to use the soft tyre to finish ahead of the guy he'd convinced himself and tried to convince everyone else(some very succesfully) he had in his pocket in the dry. This is also one of Jorges best tracks with a couple Rossi likes next, though that is no guarantee of a result at this level. Should be a very tight race tomorrow(fingers crossed) but I suspect one will sleep easier than the other. Not sure whats occurrin' but that is a huge gap Rossi has closed up. Good to see De Angelis ok.

The soft front tyre does not give you an advantage. In motegi you are more likely to gain advantage with a medium front with so many hard braking points. Both vale & jorge used the same rear compounds but if you think jorge got pole by the soft front, you are mistaken. All factory options riders are allowed soft front.

Lorenzo himself stated twice that he felt that the soft front tyre gave him a little advantage in the last lap.

If there is anyone to judge that then it is him.

What a race this may turn out to me! Nothing could be better for Rossi than a head to head victory over Lorenzo in the dry. Not only would it likely shake Lorenzo's confidence at a crucial point in the season, but it would put to bed the idea that Rossi only beats Lorenzo when "luck" factors into the equation. Forza Vale!

Looks like 6mm (1/4") rain earlier, with very light rain or mist around the time of the MotoGP race...this should prove interesting, with a possible drying line...based on the current forecast, this might be one of those races where an intermediate might be useful. The race goes off at 14:00 local, and the forecast is calling for ~1mm around that time. Just enough to cause problems and anxiety.

Is Jorge going to use a breath mask this time? The world waits...

Following JL99 out into Q - brilliant strategy, so clear that I am surprised it hasn't happened sooner.

Jorge has a hurt shoulder. Mixed conditions tomorrow. Rossi has found SO much pace at Motegi.

I see this Q as the tipping point after which Rossi has advantage for the championship.

DeAngelis -
You had my stomach in a knot and frozen up with dread.
Glad you are looking "ok" in the sense of no life threatening or debilitating head/spine damage. A good friend did something similar but a bit more extensive at Portland International Raceway. It was the end of racing and a big life changer, tough to see. Heal up well Alex!

I believe the temperature in the afternoon qualifying sessions was cooler than the morning in FP3, and this hampered Jorge's speed. He mentioned this in parc ferme and also said he was careful not to push too hard and fall off, acutely aware of how important it is he finishes the season healthy. A bit more warmth with its stickier tyres and I think the gap would have been larger. Jorge is now going to be concerned about the race if it's dry and cool too, he'd prefer a warm and dry race I'm sure.

I think it's going to be a great race between the two Yamahas, and the weather will play a large part as it has done in so many rounds already this season. I can't remember another season with so many mixed weather Sundays!

Best of luck Jorge, stay cool and focussed!

Umm, same conditions for everyone the last I checked.

And to the guy who said the soft front for Jorge didn't make a difference......clearly you've tried it yourself with that statement because Jorge said it did make a difference.

Now, maybe the difference for him was psychological. And if that's the case, he may be in trouble because forecast now says rain at the track and even if it stops, it will probably be pretty cool.

Personally, I hope it stays dry and Rossi blows away all these stereotypes of who's better at this track and that track. This year is breaking all the "rules".

And still waiting for the race that finally cements the fact that their new relationship is a farce....

Let battle commence!

If we look at the 11 dry races ( 10 for marquez, he crashed to early in Aragon to set a fast lap in the race ) Rossi is only on average 0,69 seconds slower in race than in Qual.
Lorenzo is 1,03 seconds slower and Marquez is 1,005 seconds slower.
( Put all the dry times into excel myself so there might be some mistakes.... )

Does this mean that Rossi is on pace with Lorenzo tomorrow ? I hope so :)

if you are putting all dry times in to excel..do not forget to delete warm up laps or laps where some other riders slowed them down. Only this way you can get their real pace...sort off.

I only put the best qual times and the best laptime during the race.

It doesnt say anything other than Rossi is closer to his Qual time in race than anybody else.

Dont read anything more into it :)

Lorenzo expected to be .4 ahead of everyone and ended up having to be better than perfect to get the pole back from Rossi. The onboard of Lorenzo's pole lap on motogp.com is ridiculous.

On pace throughout the weekend they were close with Lorenzo a slight advantage and now maybe not even that. It was obvious from the interview after Q2 that Lorenzo was a bit gutted that Rossi was right there already even without his usual Sunday boost.

Best qualifying session since Silverstone 2013.

Even though I knew the result, watching the quali footage was still amazing - such a battle between Vale and Jorge. Despite being ahead on points, Vale has adopted the role of underdog; Jorge is now *expected* to be unbeatable in the dry, so for Vale to be less than a 1/10th behind feels like a victory - to us, to Vale, and most importantly to Jorge himself. In parc ferme, Vale was all smiles, Jorge disappointed.

Looking at the FP4 times, which I usually use as my guide to race pace, I think Jorge has a couple of tenths a lap. But Vale and his team have so often found a little extra on Sunday morning, I think it's impossible to predict for tomorrow.

And, of course, the weather could throw everybody's plans out the window.

I will have to set my alarm for 5:45am to watch the race live. And I think I might do it, too!

even without an improvement in warm up, is doable for a racer. Even more so if your last name is Rossi....well, and your first name is not Louis.