Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo posted a new pole lap record at Valencia to earn the top-spot on the grid for Sunday’s race. Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez finished second-fastest, nearly half a second behind Lorenzo while Marquez’s teammate, Dani Pedrosa, will start from third.
Lorenzo was beaming during the post qualifying talk with MotoGP, saying that the performance was one of the most important pole positions of his career and the lap was one of the best of his life. “If I repeated this 50 or 100 times I couldn’t do this lap time. It’s unbelievable.”
Marquez looked to be in range of going one better during the latter stages of Q2, but a few mistakes along the way kept him from surpassing the Yamaha rider. The differences in Marquez’s and Lorenzo’s styles were on full display as they pushed round the track, Marquez twitching and swinging the rear out wide through many of the corners under hard braking while Lorenzo, especially on his fastest lap, appeared composed and smooth as ever.
This does not bode well for Lorenzo’s teammate and current championship points leader Valentino Rossi. The Doctor starts from the back of the grid, regardless of his qualifying performance, and in light of this he utilized the session to try “something else” since there was no pressure to chase after a fastest lap. What that something else was is not indicated in the team press release, but he did point out that the changes weren’t to his liking and feeling improved toward the end of the session. Unfortunately for Vale, a mistake toward the end resulted in an innocuous low side in Turn 8 which ended his day a bit early. To play the what-if game just a bit, Rossi’s top lap of the weekend so far, a 1’30.988 set in FP3, would have placed him sixth on the grid had it been set in Q2. His best lap of Q2 would have placed Rossi 12th.
Marquez, Lorenzo and Rossi have all taken wins at Valencia, Rossi and Lorenzo each with two apiece and Marquez with one from 2014. Pedrosa, however, is the winningest rider currently on the grid at the Spanish venue, holding three victories in the GP class at the circuit. The Repsol riders will likely prove crucial to Rossi’s chances of winning the 2015 title, since it will markedly improve his shot if anyone can finish ahead of Lorenzo. In the case of a Lorenzo victory, Rossi must finish second to retain the lead. If Lorenzo finishes second, Rossi must win or finish third to take the championship. If Lorenzo is third, Rossi can finish as far back as sixth and take the title. Two Repsol riders challenging for the top-two steps on the podium could be a game-changer indeed.
Of course the weather (track temperatures in particular) and tire wear will play huge roles. Both Marquez and Pedrosa mentioned in the post qualifying press conference that front tire degradation is a concern on the RC213V and Lorenzo also confirmed that tire management will be critical for consistency. Marquez assured reporters in attendance that if it comes down to a last lap fight with Lorenzo for the win, he will fight for victory if there’s a chance and not let the fact that Lorenzo is fighting for the championship concern him. Tension will be at an all-time high and the energy will be electric thanks to the massive crowd expected to be in attendance on Sunday.
Team Ecstar Suzuki’s Aleix Espargaro pulled out an impressive lap during the latter stages of qualifying to finish fourth followed by LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow in fifth. Tech 3 Yamaha’s Bradley Smith starts from sixth while Ducati’s Andrea Iannone finished in seventh. Tech 3’s Pol Espargaro claimed eighth followed by Iannone’s teammate, Andrea Dovizioso, in ninth.
MotoGP Valencia Qualifying Results 2015
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’30.011
2. Marc Marquez (Honda) 1’30.499
3. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1’30.516
4. Aleix Espargaro (Suzuki) 1’30.917
5. Cal Crutchlow (Honda) 1’30.948
6. Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 1’31.012
7. Andrea Iannone (Ducati) 1’31.056
8. Pol Espargaro (Yamaha) 1’31.080
9. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 1’31.245
10. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) 1’31.292
11. Maverick Vinales (Suzuki) 1’31.340
12. Michele Pirro (Ducati) 1’31.856
13. Stefan Bradl (Aprilia) 1’31.824
14. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 1’31.851
15. Loris Baz (Forward Yamaha) 1’31.856
16. Nicky Hayden (Honda) 1’32.083
17. Yonny Hernandez (Ducati) 1’32.142
18. Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia) 1’32.282
19. Scott Redding (Honda) 1’32.448
20. Jack Miller (Honda) 1’32.564
21. Mike di Meglio (Ducati) 1’32.716
22. Anthony West (Honda) 1’33.049
23. Eugene Laverty (Honda) 1’33.066
24. Toni Elias (Forward Yamaha) 1’33.092
25. Broc Parkes (ART) 1’33.577
26. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1’31.471