13 June 2015
MotoGP: Suzuki one-two in Catalunya qualifying!
Aleix Espargaro takes pole position for the Catalunya MotoGP.
Aleix Espargaro claimed Suzuki's first pole position since 2007 during qualifying at Catalunya on Saturday.
Espargaro and team-mate Maverick Vinales made full use of the soft rear tyre to claim the factory's first one-two on the premier-class grid since 1993.
Fastest on Friday, Espargaro led early in the Qualifying 2 pole position shootout, before Marc Marquez and then Jorge Lorenzo took over with new lap records.
But fellow home star Espargaro wasn't finished and clocked a stunning 1m 40.546s on his 5th of 7 laps. Rookie Vinales, quickest on Saturday morning, then completed a dream day for the returning Suzuki team with a lap time just 0.083s slower.
Suzuki has provided long-awaited engine upgrades for its GSX-RR this weekend, although it is the sweet chassis handling - combined with the Open class soft rear tyre - that looks to have been key to their qualifying success.
Espargaro was only seventh best through the first sector and sixth through sector 3, both of which contain long straights. However he made it all up and more through the fast corners of sectors 2 and 4.
Behind the Suzukis, Jorge Lorenzo, winner of the last three races, snatched the final place on the front row for Yamaha as best of the non-soft tyre riders.
Lorenzo was 0.1s from pole and had been the clear leader in terms of race pace after day one. However Marquez, Valentino Rossi, Andrea Iannone and even Espargaro (on the medium tyre) set more sub-1m 43s laps than Lorenzo during this afternoon's final practice...
Repsol Honda's reigning world champion Marquez put his Mugello qualifying nightmare behind him with fourth position (+0.208s), while Andrea Dovizioso led the Ducati challenge in fifth (+0.361s).
Dani Pedrosa avoided team-mate Marquez's Mugello Q1 mishap to progress alongside Andrea Iannone into Q2, but was then held up by Yonny Hernandez and will start from sixth (+0.382s).
There was no qualifying breakthrough for world championship leader Rossi who will start from seventh, half-a-second from pole, but set more sub-1m 43s laps than any other rider in FP4.
Rossi will be joined on the third row by Tech 3 Yamaha's Bradley Smith and LCR Honda's Cal Crutchlow. Crutchlow lost the front of his RCV on his final lap, while on course to move up the order.
While brother Aleix celebrated, Pol Espargaro was left dejected after a tumble from his Tech 3 Yamaha meant he will line-up just eleventh on the grid. Mugello runner-up and FP4 leader Iannone was an unlikely twelfth and last in a session that saw all riders covered by less than one-second.
While the soft tyre available to Ducati and Suzuki shook up Q2,
Rossi will start Sunday's race with a six point lead over Lorenzo, with Marquez seeking to reduce a hefty 49-point deficit.
1. Aleix Espargaro
2. Maverick Viñales
3. Jorge Lorenzo
4. Marc Marquez
5. Andrea Dovizioso
6. Dani Pedrosa
7. Valentino Rossi
8. Bradley Smith
9. Cal Crutchlow
10. Yonny Hernandez
11. Pol Espargaro
12. Andrea Iannone
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